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Balgangadhar Tilak

Relentless Fighter Balgangadhar Tilak 1857- 1920

The most outstanding leader among the Extremists, Balgangadhar Tilak later came to be known as `Lokmanya Tilak` played a leading part in popularising the culture of patriotism. He started two newspapers `The Maratha" in English and "the Kesari" in Marathi. He was the first congress leader to suffer several terms of imprisonment. He organised the "Ganapati festival" and the `Shivaji festival"

Balgangadhar TilakA great fighter, both in political and social fields, one of the greatest Extremist leader, Balgangadhar Tilak was born in 1857 in Maharashtra. Having graduated from Bombay University, he played an important role in the Renaissance Movement. After qualifying as a lawyer, he devoted his entire life to the services of the country. He made excellent use to his great flair for journalism to mould public opinion in favour of his political aims and objectives.

Tilak started two newspapers `The Maratha` and `The Kesari` along with G.G. Agarkar. It was through his editorials in these papers that he infused firebrand patriotism among the Marathas in particular and the Indians in general. He told people to be unafraid and selfless, self confident and proud of being Indians. He popularised the "Ganesh Festival" and introduced festivals in honour of `Shivaji`. These festivals were ostensibly socio-religious but there was a political motive behind them. This was to rouse the masses and promote amongst them feelings of brotherhood and fellowship. Tilak was the first to advise peasants in Maharashtra to withhold payments of land revenue when their crops failed owing to drought or famine. He gave the slogan of complete independence and proclaimed. "Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it". Use of swadeshi goods, boycott of goods manufactured in England and national education were the three cardinal features of Tilak`s political programme. He said. "I regard India as my motherland. People of India are my kith and kin. Political and social emancipation of India is my biggest religion.

Tilak left the Indian National Congress in the Surat Session held in 1907 and organised his own party of Extremists in collaboration with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal. The British Government got panicky with the activities of the Extremists and deported Tilak to the Andaman on charge of sedition. He was a fearless fighter who instilled confidence among the Indians by his precepts and preachings. He said, "your future rests entirely in your hands, if you mean to be free, you can be free." In his journal "The Kesari" he once wrote. "If thieves enter our house and we have no sufficient strength to drive them out, we should without hesitation shut them up and burn them alive.

Tilak, while in Mandalay prison, wrote the famous `Gita Rahasya`. On his release in 1914 he plunged again into the freedom struggle. He established the Home rule league in Bombay. The British rulers called him the "Leader of the Indian Unrest" and the Indians hailed him as "the prince of patriots" Tilak died on 1st August 1920.

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