The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Swaraj is My Birth Right and The Final Days of Tilak
Swaraj is My Birth Right
Independence entails the power to the masses and conscious responsibility towards others. Tilak termed Swaraj as the natural consequence of the diligent performance of duty. ‘While the Karma Yogi strives for Swaraj, the Jnana Yogi yearns for it’.
He thundered the call ‘Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it’. Through Swaraj, freedom fosters creativity, empowerment brings forth responsibility, and enlightened consciousness inspires individuals to achieve higher ideals and propels them to ‘karma’ in right earnestness.
In India’s freedom struggle, millions of individuals sacrificed their lives for future generations and Gandhian vision and idealism inspired the nation to follow certain values and activised the masses into action and thrilled the nation with hope.
In short, Swaraj for him, meant independence from alien control, economic independence, moral and social independence, dharma, self-control, control over proximate environment and existence of peace and security. To attain Swaraj, all the citizen should fill the importance of it in their mind.
For Tilak, Swaraj was not freedom from all restraint but it is complete disciplined rule from within. It is the freedom to err and the power to correct them.
Thus, self rule and self control leads to creation of disciplined society. It also means a society whose ideology includes social upliftment, religious harmony, educated people, self-reliant villages and towns and a positive approach towards mental and moral development.
Swaraj was not isolated independence, but healthy, positive and dignified independence. The sense of duty and enlightened use of power makes the state an embodiment of equality and justice.
As days passed, Tilak began to stamp the slogan ‘Swaraj is our birth right’ on the minds of every Indian. Lokamanya Tilak’s popularity grew rapidly.
In 1916, Tilak completed sixty years of a fruitful life. Scholars, leaders and friends thronged his house on the occasion of the sixtieth birthday celebrations. Tilak was honoured with the presentation of an “Address of Felicitations” and a purse of one lakh rupees.
The celebrations were on a grand scale. Lokamanya gave away the money to be used in the service of the country. To him, money had nothing to do in his private life.
The British government also gave him a present on the occasion of his birthday. On the day before his birthday, the government served him with a notice; it ordered him to give a surety of Rs. 20,000/- for his good behaviour for one year.
His body gradually grew weaker. His talks and writings were not as fiery as before. Yet he successfully tried to unify the divided Congress.
In the mean time, a journalist of England by name Chiral, visited India. He studied the movement directed by Tilak and made false allegations against Tilak. He charged that ‘Tilak was the leader of a violent revolution in India.’
Tilak claimed that this was an insult to him and went to court for damages. He had to go to England for the ‘Chirol episode’ and had to remain there for 13 months. On account of this, he had to spend his precious time and money.
The visit to England was not solely for the case. His purpose was also to explain to the British government, the conditions in enslaved India. He addressed hundreds of meetings and intensified the ‘Home Rule’ movement. He won the friendship of leaders of the Labour Party.
The Final Days
During the World War-I, the British government sought the help of Indians. Victory in the war intoxicated the British and tyranny was let loose in India. When the Rowlat Act was opposed, the ‘Jallianwala Bagh Massacre’ took place. The heartless government murdered in cold blood hundreds of unarmed civilians in a brutal way.
This massacre made Bal Gangadhar Tilak rush back to India at once. He issued a call to the Indians not to stop their movement no matter what happened, till their demands were met.
The health condition of Lokamanya had become very weak by this time. The body was tired and yet, he undertook tours to awaken the people. He visited Sangli, Hyderabad, Karachi, Sollapur and Kashi and lectured at all these places. Finally, he aimed for Bombay, and came to the city with great enthusiasm.
In 1920, the condition of Bal Gangadhar Tilak was i worsened. In the early hours of August 1, the light went out. Even as this sad news was spreading, a veritable ocean of people surged to his house to have the last glimpse of their beloved leader.
Around two lakhs of people witnessed his last journey. Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Shaukat Ali and others shouldered the bier by turns.
The way the British feared Tilak, can be gauged from the letter the Governor of Bombay wrote in 1908 to the Secretary of State for India in England:
‘He is one of the chief conspirators opposed to the British rule in India. He may even be the Chief conspirator. He has planned the Ganesha Festival, the Shivaji Festival, the Paisa Fund and the National Schools, with the sole aim of destroying British rule in India ’.
When Tilak passed away, Mahatma Gandhi said: “He used his steel-like will power for the country. His life is an open book. Future generations will remember Tilak with reverence, as the man who lived and died for their sake. 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. The endless procession of yesterday shows the hold the great patriot had on the masses. ”