Jan 20, 2007

Lokmanya Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (July 23, 1856 - August 1, 1920)

Tilak sparked the fire for complete Independence from the British Raj. His famous quote

Self Rule is our birthright, and we shall have it.

is very popular and well remembered in India even today. He was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. (1857 - 1947). He is addressed as Lokmanya -- meaning beloved by the people.

Tilak proposed various social reforms, such as minimum age for marriage and prohibition on the sale of alcohol. His call for boycott of foreign goods also served to inspire patriotism among Indian masses.

Tilak is considered to be the father of Hindu Nationalism. He started large scale celebration of Ganesh festival as a way to gather and energize people against British Raj. This was a perfect way to educate masses about the freedom movement. This is now celebrated on a large scale all over Maharashtra and Mumbai.

He was also the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi should be accepted as a sole national language.

Tilak was a critic of Gandhi's strategy of non-violent, civil disobedience. When Tilak died in 1920 in Bombay (Mumbai), Gandhi paid his respects at his cremation along with 200,000 people. Gandhi called Tilak the "Maker of Modern India".