A commemorative postage stamp on the Birth Centenary of Lokmanya Tilak (1856-1920), an Indian Marathi nationalist and freedom fighter, ‘the father of the Indian unrest’, part of Lal Bal Pal triumvirate :
Issued by India
Issued on Jul 23, 1956
Type : Stamp, Postal Used
Colour : Chestnut
Denomination : 2 Anna
Name : Keshav Gangadhar Tilak
Born on Jul 23, 1856 at Chikhali, Ratnagiri district, Bombay State, British India [now in Maharashtra]
Died on Aug 1, 1920 at Mumbai, British India [now in Maharashtra]
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak was for over a quarter of a century the ideal of his followers, the idol of the masses and the dread of his opponents. Born one year before the Great Revolt of 1857, he was the most outstanding among the pioneers of India‘s freedom struggle, and one who did not rest or let the alien Government rest till it was won. Finishing his studies in 1879, he spurned the security of government employment and took instead to public service. He founded the Kesari and the Mahratta, outstanding examples of his virile journalism in the vernacular. As he made Marathi an apt vehicle of his sagacity and subtlety, so he imparted to polemics in Western India the bold sweep, exalted aspirations and unflinching and unalloyed directness, which were his own characteristics in public life. Trained in a hardy school and master of the art of controversy, Tilak soon became the focal point of national resistance. No wonder that he was marked down for the special attention of the British Government of the time. Surendranath Banerjee‘s description of him as ‘India’s Man of Sorrows‘ fitted him well.
- In 1897, he was tried for sedition and sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment. That orientalists and scholars of the eminence of Max Muller and Weber carried on a campaign for his release was but a proof of the esteem and admiration which Tilak had won among the scholars of the world by his researches into the Vedas and by his books : the Orion and the Arctic Home of the Vedas. Again in 1908 he was awarded six years transportation in far-off Mandalay. His intellectual alertness, born of a fine restlessness of the soul, gave him no idle leisure even in confinement and he produced in jail the magnificent Gita Rahasya which reached the excellence and high water-mark of scholarship in a difficult field. On his release, Tilak again threw himself, heart and soul, into the freedom struggle and organised the Home Rule Movement in collaboration with Dr. Annie Besant. It was at this time that he gave the nation his slogan : SWARAJ IS MY BIRTH-RIGHT AND I WILL HAVE IT.
- This great son of India strode the critical political scene of his day like a Colossus, inspiring great devotion among his countrymen and awe among his opponents. He served the country manfully to the day of his death, even to the point of virtual martyrdom.
- There can be no better measure of Tilak‘s claim to the grateful homage of his countrymen in a free India than what Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, had to say of him soon after his death :
“My strongest bulwark is gone…. A giant among men has fallen. The voice of the lion is hushed…. No man preached the gospel of Swaraj with the consistency and the insistence of Lokamanya…. In the battle for freedom he gave no quarter and asked for none…. He will go down to the generations yet unborn as a maker of modern India.”