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FREEDOM HERO:
LOKMANYA TILAK
by Aditya Joshi

History is my favourite subject because it teaches me about the great heroes of our nation. I am moved by Rani-Laxmibai's courage. Gandhiji's strength of character and honesty fascinate me. But I must confess that the national hero that appeals to me the most is Lokmanya Tilak.

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

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Once, when Tilak was very young, he asked his father to let him read Kadambari, a Sanskrit novel. This novel is 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 record time.

Tilak worked as a lawyer and later as a teacher. The social and political condition of India distressed him a great deal. He launched two newspapers, Kesari in Marathi and Mahratta in English in 1881. Through these newspapers, he expressed his ideas and awakened the masses.

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Tilak opposed evil social practices such as child marriage. He advocated literacy and widow remarriage. He started the public celebrations of the Ganesh Festival in Maharashtra. He also started the Shiva Jayanti Festival. These festivals were organized with a view to bringing people together to fight against the British power in India.

Tilak was jailed several times. While in jail, he wrote his famous book entitled, Gita Rahasya. After his release, he plunged into the Home Rule Movement. This great hero died on August 1, 1920. He was mourned by lots of people around the nation.

Tilak's greatness lies in the fact that he worked tirelessly for uniting the Indian people against the British rule. He created the slogan, "Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it." He commanded devotion from all. He was a staunch patriot. Such men are indeed rare to find.



Written by Aditya Joshi from Pune, India
Photos courtesy of Historylink101.com and Pictures of India
Last changed on: 9/2/2005

Pune Festival 2005 This festival honors the memory of Lokmanya Tilak.

National Council for Teacher Education This Web site has a series of essays on Lokmanya Tilak.

 

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