Lokamanya Tilak was the apostle of civil revolt in India’s struggle for freedom. He made the people aware that Swarajya was their birthright and helped kindle the flame of patriotism by involving them in the struggle through his four- point programmer of Swarajya. Tilak was an outstanding leader, an eminent scholar and, above all, a man of rare moral integrity.
G.P. Pradhan is a socialist who participated in the freedom struggle before taking to teaching English at Fergusson college where he has taught for the past twenty years. He represented the graduates in the Maharashtra Legislative Council for eighteen years and was leader of the opposition from 1980 to 1082. He has of his books, India’s Freedom Struggle in English and Sata Uttarachi Kahani in Mrathi, have won all- India awards.
The conquest of a nation by an alien power does not mean merely the loss of political freedom; it means the loss of one’s self- confidence too. Due to economic exploitation by the ruling power, the conquered nation is deprived of its natural resources and the people lose their sense of self respect. Slavery leads to moral degradation and it thus becomes essential to restore self- confidence in the people so that they become fearless enough to participate in the struggle for freedom. In this respect Tilak played a pioneering role in India’s freedom struggle. For nearly four decades, he directed his energies to the task of creating the consciousness in the people that swarajya was their birthright. As editor of the Kesari, he opposed the tyrannical British rule and raised his voice against the injustices perpetrated on the Indians. With Chhatrapati Shivaji as his perennial source of inspiration, Tilak appealed to the people to emulate the great Maratha warrior and revive the glorious past.
During the famine of 1896, Tilak made a fervent plea that the government must provide relief to the peasants, as stipulated in the Famine Relief Code. When Lord Curozon, the Viceroy of India, partitioned Benagal, the people of Bengal were enraged. Tilak, Along with Lala Rajpat Rai and BipinChandra Pal, Made the issue of partition a national cause and appealed to the people to assert their rights. In 1908, after the bomb blast in Muzaffarpore, Tilak, through the Kesari, warned the British government that the Indian youth would rise in revolt if the legitimate and just demands of the people were not acceded to. The government responded by arresting him and prosecuting him for sedition. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and transported to the Mandalay prison in Burma. Tilak suffered the punishment stoically, carried on his pursuit of knowledge even in prison, and wrote the Gita-Rahasya – amonumental philosophical treatise containing the message of the Bhagawad Gita and his own interpretation of the text.
On his release from prison in 1914, Tilak resumed his struggle for the freedom of the country. His entire life of sacrifice and political integrity earned him a place in the hearts of his countrymen who cake to refer to him a place in the hearts of his countrymen who came to refer to him as ‘Lokamanya Tilak’. He toured different parts of India, spoke to the people in his simple and direct style and aroused them to fight for swarajya. He succeeded in awakening them from their stupor and paved the way for reaching the goal of swarajya.
Though many books have been written on Lokamanya Tilak, here in this book, I have made an humble effort to present some of the lesser known aspects of his effort to present some of the lesser known aspects of his personality. Prof. A.K.Bhagwat and I had cop authored a biography on Tilak at the time of his birth centenary celebrations in 1956 for which, I am grateful to him. I started studying the life and works of Lokamanya Tilak in 1954;yet, even after four decades, I feel that my efforts to probe the depths of his personality are still incomplete.
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