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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lokmaya Tilak: the man who dared to dream

*Lokmanya Tilak

Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!”- Lokmanya Tilak

Every child in India knows the above sentence and the man who said it. However, when he talked about it Swaraj was considered a hopeless dream, a mission impossible. The British had invested in a lot of propaganda to make Indians believe that British Raj was for their own good and how freedom wasn’t a happy outcome. Many Indian leaders shared the outlook. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first leader who not only challenged the idea but believed that freedom was possible.

Most of the leaders of that time preached from the dais but half of them weren’t eager to work along with the people. They considered the Indian people backward in ideas. Tilak was the leader of the masses and earned the title ‘Lokmanya’(acceptable to the people) with his involvement with the people from all strata of society.

If God puts up with untouchability, I will not call him God.”- Lokmanya Tilak

Most of the then leaders amplified that Tilak opposed social reforms. This wasn’t true. He believed that social reforms shouldn’t be mixed with political reforms. Social reforms shouldn’t be used to play politics.

Social reforms come from within, people should be made to understand what is wrong instead of forcing the reforms through laws. Laws can never bring about change unless people are educated to accept it. Before arguing this point, let me ask you a question. We already have laws against dowry and child marriage. Have they managed to bring about the concerned social reform?

Unlike some leaders of his time, Lokmanya Tilak did not marry a child bride nor did he force his daughters into child marriage. He never ostracized anyone for marrying a widow. He opposed the laws on reform only because he did not want a foreign govt. to decide the future of our country.

In spite of the verdict of the Jury, I maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destinies of men and nations; and I think, it may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may be benefited more by my suffering than by my pen and tongue”. -Lokmanya Tilak


The sentence is the last sentence of his trial in which he was sentenced to six years imprisonment to Mandalay for sedition. This was the gross miscarriage of justice. All Lokmanya Tilak did was to point the inadequacies of the govt. Any fair govt. would have corrected their faults instead of imprisoning someone who points them. The moderates had immense faith in the British system of justice. Tilak sought to prove through the trial the bias of the British justice system.

He tried to point the unjust system again in the case against Valentine Chirol who termed Tilak, ‘Father of Indian unrest’. Lokmanya Tilak wasn’t the cause of Indian unrest, the British exploitation was.

The master political play


The British govt. had enforced a ban on holding public gatherings without taking govt. permission. Tilak was well aware that the govt. would never authorize him to hold assemblies. However, After 1857, the British Queen had promised the Indians a policy of no interference in religion to avoid the repeat telecast of the Indian war of Independence. The Public Ganesh festival served as a guise to hold political gatherings under the banner of religion.

The Indians had lost their confidence to fight the British. Tilak started Shiva Jayanti to idolize Shivaji. Shivaji was a regional hero who fought and threatened a mighty empire. The celebration stressed the fact that it is possible for Indians to fight the British empire.

Love of India was the breath of life with Mr. Tilak and in it he has left to us a treasure, which can only increase, by use.”- Mahatma Gandhi


#Respect for a benevolent leader who was ready to suffer for his people, a patriot who dared to dream for his country. Lokmanya Tilak had no personal grievances against the British;his fight wasn’t personal, it was national.

*The image of Lokamaya Tilak is in public domain. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia commons


  1. A good reminder for those who like to forget.

    1. Yes, after so many years people tend to take leaders of the independence for granted.

  2. A good read, a must lest we forget!

    1. Thanks Indrani. We do need to remember our national leaders and their work.

  3. Wonderfully informative post on great man.

  4. Leaders like him is always remembered by us...the Great Trio of the freedom movement of India , Lal-Bal-Pal ...

    1. Lal-Bal-Pal was indeed a great trio.
      Thanks a lot.

  5. A man of inspiration, a man of hopes! Timely post Kiran, we need to be thankful for all such selfless ancestors of ours! TC! Keep smiling :)

    The Arts & Me

    1. Yes, we have much to thankful for. We wouldn't be free if it weren't for those leaders.
      TC, Have a great day!

  6. Truly inspiring.
    May India have more sons like Tilak.
    Lovely that you shared this on his b'day, Kiran :)

    1. Thanks Anita. Amen.
      I wanted to write about Chandrashekhar Azad too, his birthday is on the same day. Well, next time.

  7. An Inspiring Reminder of the hero :)

  8. Wonderful tribute to such great leaders & hero of our Nation. good wishes.


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