Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a great man of India not for his wealth or position, but for his service to his countrymen. There have been few Indians to equal him as a man of modern times. He was born in 1856 at Ratnagiri in the Presidency of Bombay (now Maharashtra).
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an educationist, a scholar, a journalist, an orator, a religious man, a reformer, a patriot, and a political leader.
He was the pioneer of a great educational movement. His ardent desire was to educate the people of Maharashtra and to infuse into them new ideas and thoughts of modern times.
He began his life as a schoolmaster, though he had taken a degree in Law. He founded a school at Poona, the Ferguson College, and also the Decan Educational Society. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and a Mathematician of his age.
Professor Max Muller, Jacobi and other great scholars paid warm tributes to Tilak’s memorable works The Arctic Home of the Aryans and Orion.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was also an eminent journalist. His periodical Keshari still occupies a prominent position among the vernacular journals of India. With its help, he brought about the unity of the Marathas. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first to show that a vernacular paper if conducted with ability and sincerity, can bring about the national unity of the masses.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a forceful orator. His eloquent speeches were straight forward, lucid and powerful. His speeches delivered in the Congress platform or elsewhere inspired the masses.
He was an earnestly religious man and he stood firm on his faith in the midst of great storms and strifes in his life. He was also a social reformer. He fought against many cases of abuse and social evils. He had a saintly character and he was always firm and bold. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a born statesman. It is no wonder that a true lover of his native country and a scholar of his type should come to the foremost of politics in the end. During the last phase of his life, he devoted most of his time to politics. He started the call for responsive cooperation, i.e., to cooperate with the then British government only when the government was ready to cooperate with the people.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a great patriot. He could not think of anything except the welfare of his country. He was loved, admired and trusted by all and for long he was an all-India leader. He was perhaps the first Indian politician who suffered long term imprisonment for his political views — and yet stood firm as a rock to fight for his distressed countrymen. His heart was full of the milk of human kindness. When famine or plague broke out in the country, he worked heart and soul to relieve the distress of the people. His unflinching faith in God, his devotion to religion, his love for his motherland, his service to his countrymen, his courage, sufferings and his self- sacrifice for the national cause of freedom had made him great. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was popularly known as Lokmanya as a token of love and respect by his countrymen. He breathed his last at midnight on 1 August 1920 at Sadar Griha in Bombay (now Mumbai), leaving the whole country to mourn his loss.