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.
The Country’s Misfortune of Bal Gangadhar Tilak
When the British divided Bengal, people used to boycott it. A powerful movement flared up to protest against the division of Bengal. There was a District Magistrate who was the embodiment of injustice. A revolutionary by name Khudiram Bose threw a bomb on him.
The government used inhuman methods to break the will of the people. Aurobindo was arrested and taken to the police office. Anyone suspected of trying to use explosives could be sent to prison for 14 years.
As a result of these atrocities, the people revolted against the government. Tilak’s blood boiled. He wrote an article in the ‘Kesari’ under the title ‘The Country’s Misfortune’ and stated:
‘It is unfortunate that bombs are being made in the country. But the responsibility for creating a situation, in which it has become necessary to throw bombs, rests solely on the government. This is due to the government’s unjust rule.’
The government made this article ‘The Country’s Misfortune’, a pretext to charge Tilak with treason against the government. He was arrested on June 24, 1908, in Bombay. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment outside India. These six years led his health to a very shocking stage.
The prison where Tilak was imprisoned was very malarious and bad for human health. The Bombay High Court judge who gave Tilak the punishment was earlier a lawyer in the Bombay High Court and had pleaded in favour of Tilak. In his judgement he had also observed that he has his doubts whether the prisoner is sane or of unsound mind. But the judge was wrong.
Tilak had a very strong will power. In his editorial, he had challenged the British government to do its work. He was prepared to face their wrath but they should get their brains properly examined by efficient doctors. Perhaps the judge had this threat of Tilak in his mind; when he called him ‘mad’.
Tilak was then 52 years old. He had plunged into the struggle for freedom with no thought for his health and had grown weak. Diabetes had further weakened him. How could he withstand this severe imprisonment for six years far away from India?
The country was plunged in grief. Even foreign thinkers condemned this severe punishment to Tilak, who was a scholar, highly respected and honoured throughout the world.
Tilak’s room in the prison in Mandalay, Burma was a small room made of wooden planks consisted with a cot, a table, a chair and a bookshelf inside it. There was no protection from wind and cold. He was not allowed to meet anybody.
When Tilak completed one year in that jail, he got a note through one of his friends. The note said that if he accepted certain conditions, then he would be released.
Tilak wrote back saying, 7 am now 53 years old. If I live for another ten years, that means I shall live for five years after I come out of the prison. I can at least spend those five years in the service of the people. If I accept government’s conditions, I am as good as dead’.
The Government reduced rigorous imprisonment to simple imprisonment. So he was allowed to read and write. It was here that he wrote the book ‘Gita- Rahasya’. It is a mighty work.
Tilak’s imprisonment set in motion, a wave of resentment throughout the country. Many young men specially from Bengal actively participated in the movement started by him.
Subhash Chandra Bose, a patriot, was also kept at Mandalay. He got TB and was therefore released. He showered a lavish praise on Tilak and wondered how he lived in such a dangerous place where human life was not safe.
Tilak stayed in that jail for six years. Now he was an old man with shattered health and he knew instinctively that the end of his life is very near. Love for Sanskrit was in his blood. Before leaving this world, he wanted to let Indians know what is the real advice of Gita— the supreme gospel. Therefore he started writing ‘Gita- Rahasya’.
The British government’s agents monitored carefully as to what this old and dangerous man was writing. They took away his manuscript and gave it to their experts to interpret. When they okayed it, the manuscript was returned to Tilak.
In 1914, after his term of punishment came to an end, Tilak was released. He was taken to Pune. He at once got the manuscript printed and published as a book. It had huge sale all over the country. In all Indian languages its translations appeared and even in Germany, France and England learned men showed high praise on Tilak for the monumental work of permanent value.
His ailing wife died while he was in jail at Mandalay. It was unbearable but he swallowed his grief with great courage and equanimity. At a meeting session, arranged in honour of his release, he said:
“Six years of separation from you has not lessened my affection for you. I have not forgotten the concept of several. There will be no change in the programmes I had already accepted. They will all continue as before. ”
When Tilak returned from Mandalay, he found a serious rift between the two Congress groups. His efforts to unite them were in vain. Then Tilak decided to build a separate powerful organization called the ‘Home Rule League’. Its goal was swaraj.
Tilak went from village to village, explained the aim of his league to the farmers and won their hearts.
‘Home Rule ’ means that we ourselves should manage our homes. Should our neighbour become the master of our house? An Indian should have as much freedom in India as an Englishman has in England. This is the meaning of ‘Home Rule ’ — so Tilak explained.
He travelled constantly, in order to organize people. He spoke from hundreds of platforms about ‘Home Rule’. And wherever he went, he received a hero’s welcome.
In 1916, Bal Gangadhar Tilak formed the Home Rule League in Bombay. Six months later Annie Besant founded the league in Madras. The Home Rule League became popular and it broke fresh ground even in small towns that hitherto had little or no political consciousness. Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant, the two pivots of the movement, designed a new flag.
It comprised five red and four green horizontal stripes arranged alternately, with seven stars denoting the Saptarishi configuration.