Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak also known as Lokmanya Tilak or “Lokmanya” Bal Gandhar Tilak, “Lokmanya” means the man who was accepted by the people as their leader. The British colonial authorities called him “Father of Indian Unrest” because he stood with Indian people against British Government.

He is known for his famous quote “Swaraj (self rule) is my birthright, and I shall have it”. He was a Indian freedom fighter, national leader and social reformer who asked for Self Rule “Swaraj”.

Early life

Lokmanya, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born into a Brahmin family as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak on July 23, 1856 in Ratnagiri now in Maharashtra. His father Gangadhar Tilak was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar. His father died when he was just sixteen and he was married at the age of 16 months before his father died.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in first class in Mathematics in 1877 from Deccan College, Pune. In 1879 he obtained his LL.B degree from Government Law College. He start teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune and later left teaching to take up journalism as profession.

Tilak along with Vishnu Shastry founded the Deccan Education Society to impart teachings about India culture to India’s youth, their main aim was to create new system of education. They also established Fergusson College where he used to teach mathematics, but left Deccan Education Society for more involvement in political work.

He started newspapers “Kesari and “Maratha” that aimed at raising the political consciousness in people. Kesari was published in Marathi while Maratha was published in English. He openly criticized the British rule through his newspaper, and he highlight plight of Indians.

Gangadhar Tilak

Political career

He joined politics for agitating Indian autonomy from the British rule. He was a famous Indian political leader before Gandhiji.

In 1890, he joined the Indian National Congress and took towards the fight for self-government. He aimed to make national movement popular by introducing mass celebration of Hindu festivals. Ganapati Festival and Sjivaji Jayanti became popular mass celebration to bring people close together and join the nationalist movement against British.

In 1896 a bubonic plague spread from Bombay to Pune, taking an epidemic status, harsh measures were adopted by the British to control the same. He condemned the British effort through his newspaper he published inflammatory articles quoting the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, to say that no blame could be attached to anyone who killed an oppressor without any thought of reward.

Following this two British officers were shot and Tilak was charged with incitement to murder and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

It was then he opted a new slogan “Swaraj (self-rule) is my birthright and I shall have it.” After returning from prison he became a national hero and was the unquestioned leader of India.

In 1905 Tilak encouraged the Swadeshi movement and the Boycott movement. The movement consist of boycotting foreign goods and use natively produces goods.

In 1907 in the annual session of the congress party at Surat, Gujarat trouble broke out over selection of the new president of the congress and party was divided into two the moderate and the radical sections.

Lal-Bal-Pal Triumvirate

Tilak was supported by Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab, the trio is referred as “Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate” who were the radicals faction of the party. They advocated the Swadeshi movement involving the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods.

Lal-Bal-Pal were against Bengal partition they held demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods which soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the British Raj.

The trio was responsible for initiating the first popular upsurge against British colonial policy in the 1905 Partition of Bengal, before the advent of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi into Indian politics.

Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Lokmanya Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal
Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Lokmanya Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal

He was the author of the book Gita Rahasya, The Arctic Home in the Vedas and The Orion in which he tried to calculate the time of vedas by using position of Nakshatras.

He breathed his last on August 1, 1920, the day on which Noncooperation Movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi.

His Deccan Education Society and Fergusson College still are a part of education society. While his newspaper are still being published, The festivals of Ganesh Utsav and Shivaji Jayanti is still being celebrated on a large scale even today.

Top 10 Quotes of Bal Gangadhar Tilak

  • Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!


  • If God is put up with untouchability, I will not call him God


  • After all, our Killers are our …Brothers!!??


  • Poverty in India is due entirely to this rule.


  • Our nation is like a tree of which the original trunk is swarajya and the branches are swadeshi and boycott.


  • If we trace the history of any nation backwards into the past, we come at last to a period of myths and traditions which eventually fade away into impenetrable darkness.


  • The geologist takes up the history of the earth at the point where the archaeologist leaves it, and carries it further back into remote antiquity.


  • It may be providence’s will that the cause I represent may prosper more by my suffering than by my remaining free.


  • To be successful, you need family and friends but, to be very successful, you need enemies and competitors.


  • The problem is not the lack of resources or capability, but the lack of will.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak Quotes

Avatar for Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.