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History is not my favourite subject. But throughout my school time I have learnt a lot of things about great leaders. Some of my favourite are Mahatma Gandhi, Rani Laxmibai, Lokmanya Tilak. In some of my further posts I would be writing about each of my favourite leader.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, was an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. Tilak sparked the fire for complete independence in Indian consciousness, and is considered the father of Hindu nationalism as well.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on July 23, 1856 at Chikhalgaon, a coastal town of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. In his later life he was given the title ‘Lokmanya’, which means ‘one respected by the people’.

Once, when Tilak was very young, he asked his father to let him read Kadambari, a Sanskrit novel. This novel was very difficult for children to understand. Instead, his father gave him a mathematical puzzle to solve. The puzzle was very difficult. Tilak, however, solved it in a record time.

Tilak worked as a lawyer and later as a teacher. Tilak began teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune and later became a journalist. The social and political condition of India distressed him a great deal. He launched two newspapers, the Kesari in Marathi and the Maratha in English in 1881. Through these newspapers he expressed his ideas and awakened the masses.

Tilak opposed evil social practices such as child marriage. He advocated literacy among women and widow remarriage. Tilak started the public celebrations of Ganesh festival in Maharashtra. He also started the Shiv Jayanti Festival. These festivals were organized with a view to bring the people together and inspiring them to fight against the British rule.

Tilak was jailed several times. While in jail, he wrote his famous book Gita Rahasya. Geeta has been explained differently by different writers. In this book Bal Gangadhar Tilak compared all explanations and gave his impartial views

After his release he plunged into the Home Rule Movement. This great leader died on August 1, 1920. He was mourned by lakhs of people all over the nation.

Tilak’s greatness lies in the fact that he worked tirelessly for uniting the people against the British rule. He gave the slogan ‘Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it.’ He commanded devotion from all. He was a staunch patriot.

His philosophy towards life was like his philosophy towards politics. He believed in unarmed movement along with armed revolution. I offer my humble regards to this principled leader who had firm belief in his ideals and who fought for his country throughout his life till his last breath!

Such men are indeed rare to find.