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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

40) Chittaranjan Das ; Popularly called “Deshbandhu” (Friend or Comrade of the Nation) (05.11.1870 – 16.06.1925)



Chittaranjan Das (or Chittoronjon Dash in Bengali);Popularly called “Deshbandhu”- Friend  or Comrade of the Nation (05.11.1870 – 16.06.1925)
Chittaranjan Das (or Chittoronjon Dash in Bengali), popularly known by the honorific “Deshbandhu” (Friend or Comrade of the Nation) was born in Calcutta (present day Kolkata) on 5thNovember 1870 into a progressive Brahmo Samaj family of Telirbagh, now in Dhaka District (Bangla Desh). His father was a solicitor and a journalist, who also, edited the English Church Weekly “The Brahmo Public Opinion”. Chittaranjan studied at Presidency College, Calcutta from where he graduated and then went to England to write the Indian Civil Services Examination, in which he could not qualify.  Nevertheless, he completed his studies in Law and started practicing at the bar, on his return to India in 1893.

Prominent Solicitor and Leader in the Indian Nationalist Movement:
He rose to become a prominent lawyer of Bengal and a well known leader in the Indian Independence struggle/Nationalist movement. He gained immense popularity, when he successfully defended Sri Aurobindo Ghose (Sri Aurobindo, mentioned in my previous post), in the “Alipore Bomb case” trial, in 1908. He developed his strong patriotic ideas from his father Bhuban Mohan Das and Bankim Chandra.
He became an active member of the Nationalist movement from his Presidency College days, even when he was a member of the Student’s Association in 1886. He helped Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghose in publishing “Bande Matram”, an English Weekly for propagating the ideals of “Swarajya” (Self-Rule” – for Indians). It was only in 1917 that he came to the forefront of Nationalist politics.
He was a prominent member of the Congress Party, and served on all important Committees of the Party.  He was a powerful orator and denounced the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms which established a Dyarchy in India. He joined Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement in 1920, and travelled extensively throughout the country during 1919-1922, propagating the values of “Swarajya”.
He is well known, also, for starting the movement for boycotting British or Western dresses. He set an example by burning his own Western clothes and wearing hand made indigenous “Khadi” clothes only.   
He was a strong advocate of non-violence and stood for achieving India’s right to self-rule/Independence through peaceful and constitutional means of protest. He was arrested along with his family and imprisoned for six months in 1921.
On the failure of the Non-cooperation movement, he advocated the adoption of an obstructionist policy from within the legislative councils (No Council entry), so that the Government would sit up and take notice and do away with the Dyarchy.  However, the moderate faction within the Indian National Congress opposed this move tooth and nail. 
He was left with no alternative but to leave the Congress and  with Motilal Nehru, and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, he founded the “Swarajya Party” which gained immense popularity in Bengal and the Central Provinces winning majorities in the Legislative Councils , including the Calcutta Corporation, which made him as the first popularly elected mayor of Calcutta. Thus, Chittaranjan Das made the British Government sit up and take notice of his views, from within the Legislative Councils as originally envisaged by him.
Social contributions:
In 1917, he presided over the Bengal Provincial Conference, where he firmed up a plan for village reconstruction through the establishment of “Local Self Government”, Co-operative Credit Societies, and emphasis on Cottage Industries. 
He also, supported the cause of National Education and the vernacular medium, and wanted the youth to be properly educated, so as to participate in the Nationalist movement as informed and knowledgeable members.
He had a liberal social and religious outlook and was against caste discrimination and untouchability. He took up the cause of women’s education, equality and widow remarriage. He even donated his house and surrounding lands to the Nation for being used for the betterment of the lives of women.
He stood for “Self-rule for the masses and not the classes”. For him, “Swarajya” was a “Government by the people and for the people”.
Realizing that Hindu Muslim unity was a key  essential  for the attainment of  Indian Independence, in 1924, he put forward his famous “ Bengal Communal Pact” in 1923, for promoting permanent peace between the two communities .
He wanted an assimilation of the best of Eastern and Western cultures and even advocated a Federation of oppressed Asian Nations, including India. His commitment and enthusiasm for taking up the cause of ‘Self-Rule’ for India earned him the informal title of “DeshBandhu (Friend of the Country).
His writings:
In 1914, he started publishing a literary magazine “Narayan”. He had several poems/ writings to his credit, including “Malancha “(1895) which got him branded as an atheist, “Mala” (1904), “Sagar Sangit” (1913), “Kishore-Kishoree” (1915) and “Antaryami” (1915). He also started a newspaper called “Forward” to spread his message of “Swarajya” to the citizens of India. This paper was later called “Liberty”.

Death and legacy:
He passed away on 16.06.1925. At the time of his passing away Mahatma Gandhi and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, among others, paid rich tributes to him and the values he had lived for.
He was a great solicitor, a social reformer, and at the forefront of Indian Nationalism.
He will always be remembered for his active role in shaping the history of India during his time and his commitment to the Indian Nationalist Movement which played a prominent role in India achieving Independence in 1947.
He left behind him a determined set of committed followers/disciples to carry on his legacy for an Independent India, one of the most prominent ones being Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. 
A women’s hospital which was built on the lands donated by him to the nation called “Chittaranjan Seva Sadan” is now a Super Specialty Hospital. 
Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) , originally named Locomotive Manufacturing Works, set up in a village called Mihijam in West Bengal was renamed after him and after partition was relocated on the border of West Bengal and Bihar to a location named “Chittaranjan” in his honour. Chittaranjan Railway station is in Bihar.   CLW was inaugurated on 26th January 1950, on the day India became a Republic and the first steam locomotive which rolled out on the occasion was named “Deshbandhu” after him. CLW also manufactured Diesel engines and is now engaged in manufacturing Electric locomotives.
Chittaranjan Park is a predominantly Bengali locality, named after him in New Delhi, housing families which had been dislocated during the Partition of Pakistan from India.
The Reserve Bank of India, to commemorate the life of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, has brought out a two rupee coin in 1998 for general circulation.




The obverse of the coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate “ (Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “2” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.

On the reverse of the coin is a portrait/image of  Chittaranjan Das, with the words “Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das “ spelt out both in Hindi and English. His life years “1870-1925” are also engraved on the coin’s right periphery . The year 1998 which is the year of issue for this coin is mentioned below his portrait. This coin was minted at Kolkata mint. Notice that there is no  mint mark below the year of issue.

Posted on 11.03.2015:
On the Anniversary of Chittaranjan Das' birth, Indian Posts & Telegraphs brought out First Day Cover bearing a commemorative stamp in the denomination of fifteen paise on 05.11.1965.



(The First Day Cover on Chittaranjan Das is from the collection of Rahul Kumar).
 

Friday, 26 August 2011

39) Sri Aurobindo Leader in the Nationalist Movement for Independence of India ; Creator of a new method of spiritual practice termed as “Internal Yoga”: (15.08.1872 – 05.12.1950)


Sri Aurobindo
Leader in the Nationalist Movement for Independence of India ;
 Creator of a new method of spiritual practice termed as “Internal Yoga”:
(15.08.1872 – 05.12.1950)


Shri Aravind Ghose (popularly known as “Sri Aurobindo” or “Orobindo” in Bengali) was born on 15th August 1872 in Calcutta (present day Kolkata). He had his early schooling at Loreto Convent in Darjeeling and later studied at St. Paul’s Public School, London, and at King’s College Cambridge.

In 1893, he returned to India, where he joined the service of the Maharaja of Baroda State and also taught French, as a Professor in Baroda College.  Also, while at Baroda, he undertook a detailed study of Indian culture, Sanskrit, Bengali and Hindi. He also published his first collection of poetry “The Rishi” during this period. 

The partition of Bengal affected him deeply and in 1906, he quit his official and teaching positions in Baroda, and went to Calcutta, where, he became the Principal of the new Bengal National College, a post which he resigned, because of his participation in the Nationalist movement. 

He was the first Indian leader to demand full independence for India as the goal of the Nationalist movement and devoted all his resources, towards this struggle and cause.  He was in touch with Nationalist leaders in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, more prominent of them being Lokmanya Tilak, and Jatindra Nath Banerjee.   

 For some time, he wrote several inflammatory articles under the title “New Lamps for the Old” and advocated a militant policy, much to the discomfiture of the “moderate faction” in the Indian National Congress.  Nevertheless, he developed a keen interest in meditation and yogic exercises, which he practiced daily.
He was prosecuted twice on charges of sedition and once for conspiracy, but, every time he was released due to lack of evidences against him. 

On one occasion, famously known as “The Alipore Bomb Case ,” (1908) he was kept in solitary confinement, as an under trial prisoner in Alipore jail for almost a year, where he had time to reflect upon the mysteries of life and search for spiritual knowledge and advancement. While in Baroda, he had already taken active interest in the practices of Yoga and meditation, but, during his Alipore jail experience, he had the first of many spiritual realizations. 

He was ably defended in the ensuing trial by Chitaranjan Das, a leading legal luminary, and once again, acquitted for lack of evidences against him. Nevertheless, the British Government, still considered him dangerous to their interests and were looking for an opportunity to deport him or consider a retrial in the Alipore Bomb Case against him.
 
Wary of the British Government’s intentions towards him,  in two year’s time, i.e. in 1910, he withdrew himself completely from politics and started devoting himself entirely  to his inner spirituality at Pondicherry ( then a part of French India), where he developed a new yogic spiritual practice, which he termed as “Integral Yoga”, which aimed at transforming human nature through liberation of the human consciousness through spiritual realization a concept which he practiced and taught at the “Aurobindo Ashram” established in 1926 , with the help of his “spiritual” mother/collaborator Mirra Richard , who was known as “The Mother”. 

Through his new yogic concepts ( which were called the  “Triple Transformation – involving “Psychic Transformation”, “Spiritual Transformation” and “Supramental Transformation”) he continued to work for the upliftment of India and the World. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a stage which could be called “life divine”. Later the “Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education” was started to taking care of the education of children of families staying at the Ashram. In the mid-1960s an international township called “Auroville” near Pondicherry was established primarily due to the efforts of “The Mother”, and recognized by UNESCO, as a place where people from different Nationalities and cultures could live together in peace and harmony.


On 15th August 1947, when India gained Independence from the British, he was invited to speak on his vision for a better world which he encompassed in his five principles, called the “five Dreams”:
 
-          A revolutionary movement which would create a free and united India ;

-          The resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and its return to a greater role in the progress of human civilization;

-          A World-union forming the basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind;

-          The spiritual gift of India to the World;

-          A step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.


Books and publications:

He is credited with several writings both texts and poetry.  At least 25 published books/works, among them the more prominent ones, being “The Life Divine”, “The Synthesis of Yoga”, “Letters on Yoga” and “Savitri: A legend and a symbol”(an epic spiritual poem).  In his writings/poetry (“The Future Poetry”/ “The ideal of Human Unity”), he integrated Eastern and Western philosophies, literature, religion and psychology.
He wrote extensively on the Vedas and Upanishads (Hindu religious texts – “The secret of the Veda”, “Hymns to the mystical fire”, The Upanishads”), the Gita (Lord Krishna’s discourse to Arjuna, the Pandav Prince, in the field of battle, before the epic “Mahabharata” war – titled “Essays on the Gita”), social, literary, political and historical topics, as well as spiritual concepts and devotional works.

For some time, he also published weekly papers the “Karmayogin” in English and “Dharma” in Bengali.

Death and legacy:

He passed away in Pondicherry on 5th December 1950. He will always be remembered for his multi-faceted personality – that of – an Indian Nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, poet and spiritual guru. 

In addition to the institutions created/established by him to further his Yogic philosophies and teachings, the “Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research “ located in Pondicherry, provides Advanced education in various fields and also publishes books and educational audio-visual material on his thoughts and vision. The Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville are committed to carry on his legacy forward.

“Collaboration” a journal furthering the spiritual and evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo  and “The Mother” are published as well along with “Mother India” which is a fortnightly started by him in 1949.

The Reserve Bank of India, to commemorate the life of Sri Aurobindo, has brought out a two rupee coin in 1998 for general circulation.




The obverse of the coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate “ (Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “2” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.




On the reverse of the coin is a portrait/image of Sri Aurobindo with his name spelt out both in Hindi and English. The words “Sampoorna Jeevan Yoga hai” in Hindi and “All life is Yoga” in English are mentioned on the side of his portrait. The year 1998 which is the year of issue for this coin is mentioned below his portrait. This coin was minted at Mumbai mint. Notice the “diamond” mint mark below the year of issue.

                                 Sketch of Sri Aurobindo by Sumita









Links to other articles on coins issued on Prominent saints and temples of India: 

1) 25 Years of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board




Friday, 19 August 2011

38) Dadabhai Naoroji : The Grand Old Man Of India He laid the foundation of India’s Freedom struggle/ Indian Nationalism (04.09.1825 – 30.06.1917)


Dadabhai Naoroji : The Grand Old Man Of India
He laid the foundation of India’s Freedom struggle/ Indian Nationalism
(04.09.1825 – 30.06.1917)

 Dadabhai was born at Nasik (Maharashtra-India) on 4th September 1825 in Bombay (present day Mumbai) in a poor Parsi Priest’s family. He was a Parsi intellectual, businessman and an educationist. He studied in Elphinstone College in Bombay and took up assignment as the Head Native Assistant Master and later became a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in the same college. At the age of 27, he became the first Indian to become a Professor in Elphinstone College.

He was strongly opposed to the misrule by the British India Government and joined politics in 1852. He wrote several petitions to Governors and Viceroys regarding the sufferings of Indians under British rule and strongly opposed the renewal of lease to the East India Company in 1853, but when his communications elicited no response from the British India authorities and the lease to the East India Company was renewed, he realized that the path to achieving Independence from the British yoke and self-rule, lay in Education and informed action. 

Towards the goal of spreading education among the Indians and highlighting the concept of Independent and free India, he founded the “Gyan Prasarak Mandal” (Organization/ Society for spreading/promotion of knowledge).

He left India in 1855, at the age of 30, to join the first Indian business firm and in 1859, established his own cotton trading business firm there.  He also taught as a Professor of Gujarati at University College, London.

While in England, he joined several learned societies and made several speeches and   wrote about the plight of Indians under the British India Government, trying to influence the opinion of the British Parliament and citizens about the imperative need for an Independent self-governing India. 

In 1859 he started a campaign of agitation against the injustice meted out to Indians, in the system of recruitment in the Indian Civil Service (ICS).

He formed a forum called “East Indian Association” in 1867, for informing the English public on Indian affairs and to make them aware about giving a fair treatment to the Indians. He put before the British people the “Drain Theory” whereby he represented the systematic siphoning off of the wealth and resources of India to England. This forum also had access to, and support of several members of the British Parliament. 

In 1874, he returned to India briefly, and became the Prime Minister of Baroda and, later, became a member of the Legislative Council of Bombay (present day Mumbai) from 1885 to 1888. He was a founder member of  the “Indian National Association” (INA) in Calcutta (present day – Kolkata) , before founding the “Indian National Congress”  in 1886 in which the INA was merged, with Dadabhai as its first President, a post he was to hold three times in all on various occasions.

But, he felt that he should return to England and continue with the work of apprising the British citizens in England on the plight of Indians in India.

When all his efforts met with limited success, he got himself elected to the British Parliament from Central Finsbury as a Liberal Party candidate in 1892 (almost 40 years after he had gone to England to educate the British citizens and Parliament about the plight of Indians under the East India Company Government and later the British Crown). He was the first Indian/Asian Member of the British Parliament.  In Parliament, he spoke on the Irish Home Rule and the condition of the Indian people.

 He managed to get a resolution passed in British Parliament for holding preliminary examinations for the Indian Civil Services (I.C.S.) in India and England simultaneously. 

In 1895, he was appointed to the Royal Commission on Indian expenditure. He also got the Royal Commission on Indian expenditure to acknowledge that India was too heavily taxed, and its wealth was flowing back to England. He got the commission to acknowledge the need for more equitable distribution of wealth between England and India.

His efforts in this direction are summarized in his book “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India”, published in 1901.

He was the driving spirit behind the formation of the Indian National Congress along with A.O. Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, in 1885, and was elected the President of the Congress party three times. During his third term as President of the Congress party in 1906, there was a split between the “moderate faction “(led by G.K.Gokhale, who along with Mahatma Gandhi regarded Dadabhai as their mentor) and the “extremist faction” (led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and his associates). Nevertheless, as part of the moderate group, he made a vehement call for “Swaraj” (self-rule) for Indians, but, through peaceful, constitutional and non-violent means.

Literary contributions:

His writings include,  “ The manners and customs of the Parsees “  (1894), “ The European and Asiatic Races” (1866), “ Admission of educated natives into the Indian Civil Service” (1868), “ The Parsee Religion” (1861) and  “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India” (1901).

He, also, started two religious magazines – Dharma Marg (The path of Religion) and Raft Goftar (The Truth Teller) , to educate Parsis about their religion .


Death and legacy:

He passed away on 30.06.1917 at the age of 92, while still on his mission to achieve "Swaraj" (self-rule) for India.

He is fondly remembered as “The Grand Old Man of India” and as the architect who laid the foundation of the Indian Freedom struggle.  He was regarded as a mentor by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi, and was the uncle of J.R.D. Tata, the great industrialist of India. 

There is a Dadabhai Naoroji Road in Mumbai, which is named after him. Also, there are roads named after him in Karachi, Pakistan, as well as, in the Bloomsbury area of London.

The Reserve Bank of India, to commemorate the life of Dadabhai Naoroji, has brought out a five rupee coin in October 2003 for general circulation. 


The obverse of the coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate “ (Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “5” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.


On the reverse of the coin is a portrait/image of Dadabhai Naoroji with his name spelt out both in Hindi and English. The years 1825-1917 are mentioned indicating his life years. This s coin was minted at Mumbai mint. Notice the “diamond” mint mark below the year of issue.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

37) Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak; The Father of the Indian National Movement Also called “The founder of militant Nationalism in India” (23.07.1856 – 01.08.1920)


370 Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak;
The Father of the Indian National Movement
Also called “The founder of militant Nationalism in India”
(23.07.1856 – 01.08.1920)

He was born on 23rd July 1856 in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, India in a Chitpavan Brahmin family. At the age of 10, he joined the Anglo-Vernacular school in Pune. He was a brilliant scholar who was one of the first generation of Indians to receive a modern college education. He had a B.A. degree with a first class in Mathematics, from Deccan College, Pune, and later secured an LL.B. degree.
 
His newspapers and his Nationalist Agenda:

 He taught Mathematics at Fergusson College in Pune and, thereafter, became a journalist. A vociferous critic of Western education, which he considered was non-representative of Indian culture, heritage and ideals, he along with his friends G.G.Agarkar, M.D.Namjoshi and V.S. Chiplunkar founded the “Deccan Education Society” to impart good education to Indian students based on Indian heritage/cultural values. This Society also had a hidden Agenda – to prepare the Indian youth for Nationalistic ideals. He followed this up with publishing two weekly newspapers, along with his friends, “Kesari” (in Marathi) and “Maharatta”- pronounced as “Marattha” (in English) both of which highlighted the plight and sufferings of Indians under British rule. 
Posted on 07.02.2015:
 A bust of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak stands in the library of the Deccan Education Society, later the Fergusson College. During the recent Pune Heritage Festival organised by Janwani in February 2015, I spoke to the Librarian who informed me that they have several editions of the newspapers published by Tilak & his friends in the College library.
 A bust of Gopal Ganesh Agarkar stands in the library of the Deccan Education Society, later the Fergusson College.
 A portrait of Vishnushastri Krishnashastri Chiplunkar adorns the walls of the Fergusson College library among several other illustrious persons who later contributed to the College's outstanding position in Indian history.
The Emblem of the Deccan Education Society, which one College student helping us on the tour of the College mentioned is still the emblem of the College.
Back to the earlier post:

Tilak was intolerant towards injustice of any kind and did not mince words while exhorting his countrymen to stand up for their rights and pointing out British atrocities.  He was described by the British commentators as the “father of unrest in India” and his newspapers were called “the tools of this unrest”.  (Maharatta continued to be published till 1950s and “Kesari” continued its objective reporting and crusade against injustice from Pune, and is published even today). 

Fearless reporting of British atrocities in his papers:

One of the first injustices reported by Tilak-Agarkar was the expose’ on the British conspiracy to declare Shivaji  IV, the young prince of Kolhapur as mentally unstable , so as to take over his dominions by default. The young King died in Ahmednagar prison in 1883 due to the inhuman treatment meted out to him. The entire episode from the beginning was reported in both the newspapers and both Tilak and Agarkar went to Dongri prison for 101 days. As one not to be cowed down, Agarkar wrote a book “Dongri Karagruhatil 101 Diwas” (101 days in Dongri prison). 

Tilak, also, used Kesari to organize people of Pune and Mumbai during the outbreak of plague in epidemic form in 1897.

Tilak was known by the title “Lokmanya” (literal meaning – Accepted by the people – i.e. as their leader and trail blazer).

In 1897, he was charged with writing inflammatory articles against the British Government and violating laws as well as disturbing the peace. A particularly prominent incident took place, when he published inflammatory articles in “Kesari” quoting the Bhagwad Gita (Lord Krishna’s discourse to Arjun, the Pandav Prince in the field of battle at Kurukshetra before the start of the great Indian epic war the “Mahabharat”) mentioning that if anyone killed an oppressor without any thought of reward, no blame is attached to such a person/act. This led to the Chapekar Brothers and their associates killing an Asstt. Collector of Pune and his associate, during the time of the plague epidemic of Mumbai and Pune. 

Tilak was charged with incitement to murder   and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a second time for a period of 18 months. 

Tilak was hailed as a martyr and a National hero. 

“Swaraj is my Birth-right and I shall have it”:

Soon after his release in 1898, he famously said, “Swaraj is my birth-right and I shall have it”, (Self-Rule is my birth-right and I shall have it), a call that inspired millions of Indians to fight for their Independence.

He launched the Swadeshi movement (indigenous) and spread his message through his newspapers to every corner of Maharashtra. A big “Swadeshi” (indigenous) market was opened in front of his house.

Member of the Indian National Congress and holding of important public offices/posts:

Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890.  He was a member of the Municipal Council of Pune, Bombay (present day- Mumbai) Legislature and an elected fellow of the Bombay University. Tilak led the extremists faction in the Congress while the moderate faction was led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, which led to a split in the Congress in 1907 during the annual session of the Congress Party held at Surat – one group called the “Jahal matavadi” (extremist faction) led by Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal (called the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate) and the other group being called the “Maval matawadi (the moderate faction).

Imprisoned for a third time in Mandalay, Burma for his fiery writings:

In April 1908, when two Bengali youth threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzaffarpur to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate and the bomb instead killed some women travelling in it , Tilak wrote in the Kesari defending the two youth and called for immediate Swaraj or Self-Rule. He was charged with sedition and arrested by the British India Government and it was Mohammad Ali Jinnah a formidable advocate who led Tilak’s defence team .  Jinnah argued that Tilak was fighting for home rule, but the trial court still sentenced Tilak to 6 years rigorous imprisonment in Mandalay prison (Burma).

When the jury gave the verdict against him he said “In spite of the verdict of the Jury, I maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destiny of men and nations and it may be the will of providence that the cause may prosper more by my suffering than by my remaining free”.  

These words are engraved on the wall of the court-room where he was tried in the Bombay (present day Mumbai High Court) as a memorial to him.

At Mandalay prison, he continued to read and write and wrote his book “Gita-Rahasya” (Lord Krishna’s discourse to Arjun, the great Pandav warrior-prince, before the Mahabharat war, is unravelled here) in 1911 while in Mandalay prison. It is said that one day the British officials came and took away all his written material, but his memory was so strong, that he wrote the book all over again (his book has completed 100 years of publication in June 2011). 

He was released from prison in June 1914. 

On release from prison:

Tilak tried to reunite the two factions of the split Congress party, by abandoning his call for direct action and settled for agitations “strictly by constitutional means” as advocated by the moderate faction, but without success.  

Even Mahatma Gandhi looked upon him as a “Guru” (teacher), but always stood for getting self-rule through peaceful means. He , accordingly, decided to go it alone without the Congress Party and formed a separate Organization called the “All India  Home Rule League”  in 1916-18 with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant, G.S. Kharpade and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, whose goal was “Swaraj” (self-rule) a concept that he was the strongest advocate for. 

He travelled widely, educating and organizing people for the ideals which his party stood for. He was one of the first and strongest advocates of “Swaraj” (self Rule).

Nationalist and a social Reformer:

He was a Nationalist and a great social reformer. He opposed the “Age of Consent Bill “ which raised the age at which a girl could get married from 10 to 12, terming it as an interference with Hindu religion and culture, and stood for banning of child marriages altogether. He, also, stood for widow remarriage. He was instrumental in transforming the household worshipping during the Ganapati or Ganesh Festival into a“Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav” (Publicly organized Ganesh Festival) and celebration of “Shivaji Jayanti” (birth anniversary celebrations of Chhatrapati Shivaji) as a social festival, all over Maharashtra, which are celebrated as such, even today.

He wanted a genuine Federal system for Independent India where every religion and race was an equal partner. 

He was the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi written in the Devanagri script should be accepted as the sole national language of India.

Books:

Apart from his newspaper articles   and “Gita Rahasya”, he had several writings to his credit, some of them being “The Arctic Home in the Vedas” (Vedas are Hindu religious texts), “The Hindu philosophy of life, ethics and religion”, “Vedic chronology and Vedanga Jyotisha” (Vedic Chronology and Vedic Astrology), “Letters of Lokmanya Tilak” and” Selected documents of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak”, among others.

 Death , memorials and legacy :

He passed away, while fighting for his cause on 1st August 1920. It was only 27 years after he passed away that India became Independent in 1947. 

He left behind him two newspapers which fearlessly advocated the cause of self-rule and millions of Indians who were inspired to carry on his ideals towards attaining “Swaraj” and self-respect for their cultural heritage and cultural values.

The house where he was born in Ratnagiri District (Maharashtra) has been converted into a museum and is a must see whenever one visits Ratnagiri.  I went to Ratnagiri a few months ago and made it a point to visit Tilak’s residence which is a fine example of Konkani architecture. The museum contains a lot of information on his life’s important events and his works.

   The above is a picture taken at Tilak’s residence in Ratnagiri.

The above is a picture-panel of some events from Tilak’s life placed on a wall in the compound of his residence.
A huge portrait of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Parliament House ,  constantly reminds all Members of the Indian Parliament, the ideals and fearlessly standing up for Indian citizen’s rights and causes which he always stood for, even if he had to go to prison for his beliefs.

 The Reserve Bank of India, to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of his birth, has brought out a five rupee coin in 2007 for general circulation, which was issued in both cupro-nickel and Ferritic Stainless Steel (FSS). 


The obverse of the coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate “(Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “5” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.


On the reverse of the coin is a portrait/image of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak , with the inscription “150th Birth Anniversary of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak” in English  on the bottom half of the coin and the  words “Lokmanya Tilak ki 150vin Jayanti “ in Hindi on the top of the coin . The year 2007 is seen in very small engraving on the bottom of the coin. This coin has been minted at Mumbai mint. Notice the “diamond” mint mark, below the year of issue.

Posted on 28.07.2016:

I have yesterday received this Full Sheet of 100 Stamps of the denomination of Re.1/- or 100 Paise each from the epostoffice, New Delhi which was issued under the 11th Definitive series of Stamps: 

The above full sheet of 100 stamps depicting Bal Gangadhar Tilak   has been issued under the 11th Definitive Series by India Security Press, Nasik Road, in the denomination of 100 Paise or Re.1/- each.





Links:

1)Our trip to Ratnagiri including seeing the Thibaw Palace, where the last King of Burma Thibaw was exiled by the British

 2) Currency Coinage of Burma, including the coinage of King Thibaw