Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak (23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), was an Indian nationalist, journalist, teacher, social reformer, lawyer and an independence activist. The British rulers called him “Father of the Indian unrest.” He was also conferred with the honorary title of “Lokmanya”, which literally means “accepted by the people”.
Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of “Swaraj” (self-rule) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. He is known for his quote in Marathi, “स्वराज्य हा माझा जन्मसिद्ध हक्क आहे आणि तो मी मिळवणारच” (“Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!”) in India. This quote was coined by his close associate Joseph Kaka Baptista.
Tilak started two weeklies, Kesari (“The Lion”) in Marathi and Mahratta in English in 1880–81. By this he was recognized as ‘awakener of India’. As Kesari later became a daily and continues publication to this day from Pune.
In 1894, Tilak transformed the household worshipping of Ganesha into a grand public event (Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav) in that house. The celebrations consisted of several days of processions, music and food.
In 1895, Tilak founded the Shri Shivaji Fund Committee for celebration of “Shiv Jayanti”, the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of 17th century Maratha Empire. The project also had the objective of funding the reconstruction of the tomb (Samadhi) of Shivaji at Raigad Fort. For this second objective, Tilak established the Shri Shivaji Raigad Smarak Mandal along with Senapati Khanderao Dabhade II of Talegaon Dabhade, who became the founder President of the Mandal.
The Swadeshi movement started by Tilak at the beginning of the 20th century became part of the Independence movement until that goal was achieved in 1947.
He obtained his matriculation in 1872. He graduated in Bachelor of Arts in first class in Mathematics from Deccan College, Pune in 1877. In 1879 he obtained his LL.B degree from Government Law College of University of Mumbai.
After graduating, Tilak started teaching mathematics at a private school in Pune. Later due to ideological differences with the colleagues in the new school, he withdrew and became a journalist later. Tilak actively participated in public affairs.
Tilak was imprisoned in jails of Mumbai and Burma for several years by the British on sedition charges.
He formed a close alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Tilak being a strong vocal advocate of Swaraj, did not see eye to eye with Mahatma Gandhi on the means of achieving independence. He was against Gandhi’s policy of total-ahimsa and advocated to use force wherever necessary.
He organised the Deccan Education Society with a few of his college friends, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar. Their goal was to improve the quality of education for India’s youth. The Deccan Education Society was set up to create a new system that taught young Indians nationalist ideas through an emphasis on Indian culture. The Society established the New English School for secondary education and Fergusson College in 1885 for post-secondary studies. Tilak taught mathematics at Fergusson College. He began a mass movement towards independence by an emphasis on a religious and cultural revival.