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Has the country forgotten Lokmanya Tilak?
8/7/2020 12:07:39 AM

By RK Sinha

“Swaraj is my birth right and I shall achieve it”, the the inspiring words of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, had ignited the spark of patriotism among countless indians. The clarion call which mobilised people from all sections of the society and deepened the connect between our citizens and our glorious past. But the question is whether he being disregarded and forgotten by indians? If he has not been forgotten still, why we the Indians did not pay him the required respect and remembrance on his 100th death anniversary. Tilak died on 1st of August, 1920 at bombay(present day Mumbai).
If we direct our focus to other programmes barring, a few government programmes, we can safely conclude that historical personalities like Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and others who dedicated their life, so that their new generation could breathe fresh air, in independent India, are not getting back the respect that they deserve,from new generation. His contribution and sacrifice to nation and its people are somewhat being ignored and disregarded. COVID-19 has brought a lot of changes in the world but citing this reason when we forgot to remember these great personalities is unfair and can never be justified. The social media, which has given attention and time to various issues,debates and discussions, also ignored Lokmanya Tilak.
Lokmanya Tilak was a sharp-minded journalist, well-known mathematician, philosopher and a proud nationalist, contributed to lay the foundation stone for india’s Independence. He started ‘Indian Home Rule League’ in 1914. One can easily encounter with roads, colonies, Colleges etc. named after Tilak in almost every City-metropolitan of India. The full-length statue of Tilak on the busiest roundabout of Tilak bridge of Delhi, gives an impression that he is closely monitoring the capital city. The statue is so lively. An another statue of him is placed at Maharashtra Sadan, situated at Kasturba Gandhi Marg of Delhi. Talking about Parliament Of India,a picture of Tilak was mounted in Central Hall of the Parliament on 28th July 1956. It was made by famous painter Gopal Deshukar. The politicians formally remember him by garlanding this picture on his birthday and death anniversary every year. The contribution of Lokmanya in india’s struggle for independence is incredible, he along with others made the struggle lively. His famous slogan of Swaraj helped in imparting public awareness and transforming freedom struggle which was more paper based and less applied base ,into public movement with mass support. While writing in hindi, spelling of Maran(death) and smaran(remember) in hindi differ by a half of a single letter s(one of conventional sibilant trio of the devnagri alphabet), but adding this half letter into actions need a devotion of entire life and Tilak has proved the best example of its indulgence. Probably, a few people might be remembering that Tilak was the first nationalist leader who motivated Veer Savarkar to burn foreign clothes and goods publicly in 1907 at wooden bridge of Pune, which spread the movement to the masses, until then such slogans were confined to Congress offices only. We will have to read often Bal Gangadhar Tilak and his contribution, if we want to know about India and its glorious past. In order to connect the Indian masses with the movement, Lokmanya Tilak started to celebrating Shivaji Jayanti and Ganesh Chaturthi Festival as a mass occasion with delight, merriment and pleasure. This legacy is still widely and religiously celebrated at grand scale in Maharashtra and several other states of India. These steps completely changed direction and state of india’s struggle for Independence. He was a strong critic of untouchability. To reunite the society ,divided on caste religions and other factors, he started and coordinated a massive movement. He stated that, had god accepted the curse of untouchability, he would have rejected the God.
Talking on his contribution in independence movement, central Home Minister Amit Shah, rightly said recently that he spent every bit of his life to the nation to prepare a ideological generation of revolutionaries. While protesting against the injustices done by British to indians in their own home land, his slogan”swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it” secured a special place in the history of india’s struggle for independence and will be always written in golden words and inspiration for coming generation. Bal Gangadhar Tilak always insisted on pride of Indian Culture, so as to generate a strong nationalist feeling,common belonging and native connectivity. For the fulfilment of this strong and far reaching vision, he established many exercise centres(gymnasiums), akhada (palestra), anti cow slaughter organisations and others for involvement of masses for Nationalists causes. This seems an easy task, at present times, due to availability of ample resources and facilities but in early 19th century talking on this and devoting entire life realising this, was possible for a few people like Tilak only. This sentence of Lokmanya Tilak has helped in providing consciousness to the public and transforming freedom movement run by a few elites into a freedom movement with vast public support, and this contribution earned him the title of “Lokmanya” by the people.
Before Tilak, people were aware about “renunciation action” mentioned in “ Bhagwat geeta”. But during his imprisonment, he wrote Geeta Rahasya (secrets of Geeta) which paraphrased the karma yoga or karm marga, so that it can benefit entire humanity. Geeta Rahasya is still relevant and a guiding light for today’s generation . The introduction itself of Geeta Rahasya authored by Tilak is in almost 600 pages and its explanation alone is a daunting task for well renowned scholars of Philosophy of today. Fundamentally, marathi speaker Tilak’s appeal towards own language and own culture has been included in Modi government’s New Education Policy(NEP) . Tilak believed that children should be given primary education in mother tongue,then only they will enjoy true education.This vision has been undertaken by Modi government and is proposed in NEP. Lokmanya Tilak was deep intellect thinker, philosopher, successful journalist, social reformer and a multifaceted personality. Lokmanya Tilak who understood India, Indian culture and Indian people is relevant even after a century of his heavenly abode. Every citizen of India will have to understand that India cannot prosper and step towards a brighter future if we ignore the thoughts of Tilak. If we have to understand glorious history of india, then reading Tilak and his contribution repeatedly is a must. New knowledge will come out of Tilak’s great personality every time we read him and our youth will get inspiration from him to reach new heights of their career. Lokmanya Tilak was a brave journalist. He strongly condemned British oppressive policies in his inspirational article named “desh ka durbhagya” (Misfortune of the country) in his letter “Keshri”. He was arrested on 27th July 1897 under section 124-A of Indian Penal Code. He was sentenced to six years rigorous punishment in Mandley Jail, Burma(present day Myanmar). I feel highly blessed when witnessed this jail in 1986. But even after leading a tough life in jail, he never got distracted by his thoughts. During his imprisonment he asked for some books but British government had banned him from writing any letter that is related to political movements. Lokmanya Tilak also wrote a book in jail. Before completing his jail term, his wife died. This information reached him through a letter in jail. Lokmanya Tilak was also denied to have a last visit to see his wife. Life of Tilak will always be a guidance for the country. Getting distracted from his thoughts and beliefs will lead to distraction of country from its track of growth and prosperity. And grave consequences can be seen.
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