Bal Gangadhar Tilak | Maker of Modern India!

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His Life: Father of Indian National Movement

  • Year 1856 – Born in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
  • Year 1872 – Married Tapibai aka Satyabhamabai.
  • Year 1884 – Founded Deccan Education Society.
  • Year 1890 – Joined Indian National Congress.
  • Year 1905 – Started Second Swadeshi Movement.
  • Year 1908 – Imprisoned by the British government.
  • Year 1916 – Co-founded the All India Home Rule League.
  • Year 1920 – Left the mortal world.

“Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!”

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian freedom activist, lawyer, teacher and a reformer. He was among the triad of Lal Bal Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Bipin Chandra Pal) and was one of the chief architects of the modern India. He was reverently called Lokmanya and is known for his rousing quote Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!


He was born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak to Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak, a teacher and Paravti Bai Gangadhar. He was born on July 23, 1856 in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. The family shifted to Pune after the transfer of his father. His father died when he was just sixteen. He was a brilliant student as a child and always spoke his mind without reluctance.

Personal Life

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He completed matriculation from Poona High School and graduation from Deccan college, Pune in 1877. His generation was supposedly the first to go to the college. Two years after, he received his L.L.B from the Government Law College, Mumbai. He married Tapibai aka Satyabhamabai at the age of sixteen, a couple of months before the death of his father.

Political Journey

After completing his graduation, he joined a school as a teacher of Mathematics. He left the job soon and became a journalist. On sensing the dire need for education, he along with his few friends founded Deccan Education Society in Pune in 1884. The institution focussed upon providing education while stressing upon the Indian culture to cultivate the spirit of nationalism. In 1890, Tilak quit the society to wage the war against Britishers. In the same year he joined Indian National Congress (INC) and encourage them to pursue self-governance or Swaraj.

He was the most radicalized leader who endorsed armed revolution against the British Imperialism. Due to this ideology, he and Gopal Krishna Gokhale never see an eye to eye. His extremist views were supported by other prominent leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai. Their triumvirate was famous with the name of Lal Bal Pal. He together with other revolutionaries started Second Swadeshi Movement in 1905 that lasted till 1911. This movement laid the groundwork for the Indian struggle of Independence, which was carry forwarded by Gandhiji.

Tilak was imprisoned multiple times during his lifetimes for working against the British government. He frequently spoke out in favor of the freedom fighters and used to defend their activities through his paper Kesari. In 1908, he wrote in favor of the two revolutionaries named Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, defending their attempt to assassinate one of the English officers. He was sentenced to six years in Mandalay prison, Burma for sedition charges. After his release in 1914, he again dived into politics.

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He co-founded the All India Home Rule League in 1916 with the popular slogan Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it! He then rejoined the congress party, but failed to reconcile the moderate and the extremist factions of the party. In 1918, he visited England as the President of the All India Home Rule and met the leaders of Labour Party, which would later grant India its freedom.

Later Life

After returning to India in 1919, he attended the meeting of INC. At that time, Mahatma Gandhi was rising up in the ranks of Indian revolutionaries. Gandhi advocated non-violence and non-cooperation approach to achieve independence, which was against the Tilak’s ideology. However, both the leaders hold great respect for each other. The journey of this remarkable leader came to an end on August 1, 1920. Paying tribute to him Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed him the Maker of Modern India.

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