Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian Nationalist, journalist, teacher, social reformer and popular leader of theIndian National Movement. The British colonial authorities derogatorily called him "Father of the Indian unrest" and founded “Deccan Education Society” to impart quality education to India's youth.He was one of the prime architects of modern India and strongest advocates of Swaraj (Self Rule).Tilak was a brilliant politician as well as a profound scholar who believed that independence is the foremost necessity for the well-being of a nation. He was also conferred with the honorary title of "Lokmanya", which literally means "Accepted by the people (as their leader)".
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born in a middle class family of Ratnagiri, a small coastal town of Maharashtra on 23rdJuly 1856.His father Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak was a Sanskrit scholar and a famous teacher. His mother's name was Paravti Bai Gangadhar.Tilak was a brilliant student and he was very good in mathematics. Since childhood Tilak had an intolerant attitude towards injustice and he was truthful and straightforward in nature.His mother had died when he was sixteen. His father also died when he was sixteen. Gangadhar Tillak married to Tapti when he was sixteen.
In 1877, Gangadhar Tilak secured first class in mathematics from Deccan College, Pune. Tilak also cleared the L.L.B. from the Elphinston College, Mumbai. Though, he was among the India's first generation of youth to receive a modern, college education Tilak was a critic of the educational system, the British had provided for the Indians.
He organized the Deccan Education Society with a few of his college friends, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar whose goal was to improve the quality of education for India's youth. The Deccan Education Society was set up to create a new system that taught young Indians nationalist ideas through an emphasis on Indian culture.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak launched two newspapers called 'Mahratta' (English) and 'Kesari' (Marathi). Soon both the newspapers became very popular. In his newspapers, Tilak highlighted the plight of Indians. He gave a vivid picture of the people's sufferings and of actual happenings. Tilak called upon every Indian to fight for his right. Bal Gangadhar Tilak used fiery language to arouse the sleeping Indians.
Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He opposed its moderate attitude, especially towards the fight for self-government. He was one of the most-eminent radicals at the time. He was a member of the Municipal Council of Pune, Bombay Legislature, and an elected 'Fellow' of the Bombay University.Tilak spurned the lucrative offers of government service and decided to devote himself to the larger cause of national awakening. He was a great reformer and throughout his life he emphasized on the concepts of women education and women empowerment. Tilak educated all of his daughters and did not marry them till they were over 16. To inspire a sense of unity, he introduced the festivals like 'Ganesh Chaturthi' and Shivaji Jayanti'. Today, Ganesh Chaturthi is considered as the prime festival of the Marathis. It is a sheer tragedy that for his allegiance towards extremism, Tilak and his contribution were not given the recognition, he actually deserved.
In 1897, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was charged with writing articles instigating people to rise against the government and to break the laws and disturb the peace. He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one and a half year. Tilak was released in 1898. After his release, Tilak launched Swadeshi Movement. Through newspapers and lectures, Tilak spread the message to each and every village in Maharashtra. A big 'Swadeshi Market' was opened in front of Tilak's house. Meanwhile, Congress was split into two camps-Moderates and Extremists. Extremists led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak opposed the moderate faction led by Gopal Krishna. Extremists were in the favour of self-rule while the moderate thought that time is not yet ripe for such an eventuality. This rift finally led to a split in the Congress.Tilak was well supported by fellow nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. The trio was referred to as the Lal-Bal-Pal. A massive trouble broke out between the moderate and extremist factions of the Indian National Congress Party in the 1907 session of the Congress Party. As a result of which, the Congress split into two factions.
During 1908-1914, Bal Gangadhar Tilak spent six years rigorous imprisonment in Mandalay Jail, Burma. He was deported because of his alleged support to the Indian revolutionaries, who had killed some British people. Following his growing fame and popularity, the British government also tried to stop the publication of his newspapers. His wife died in Pune while he was languishing in Mandalay prison.
Tilak returned to India in 1915 when the political situation was fast changing under the shadow of World War I. There was unprecedented jubilation in India after Tilak was free and back in India. After seeing such a grand welcome, Tilak decided to re-unite with his fellow nationalists and founded the All India Home Rule League in 1916 with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.Tilak went from village to village, and explained the aim of his league to the farmers and won their hearts. He traveled constantly in order to organize the people. While fighting for people’s cause Bal Gangadhar Tilak died on August 1, 1920.