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Bal Gangadhar Tilak Biography

Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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Who is Bal Gangadhar Tilak?

Keshav Gangadhar Tilak popularly known as Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian nationalist, teacher, journalist, and independence activist. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the Indian Independence Movement's first leader. He was one of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate's three members. He was dubbed "The Father of Indian Unrest" by British colonial authorities. He was also given the title of "Lokmanya," which means "accepted as a leader by the people." He was dubbed "The Maker of Modern India" by Mahatma Gandhi. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a strong radical in Indian consciousness and one of the first and strongest supporters of Swaraj (self-rule).


In this Bal Gangadhar Tilak biography, we will learn about early life information about Bal Gangadhar Tilak, his career as a teacher and a political leader, his political and social views, his contributions to the Indian independence movement and his death.

Early Life and Education of Bal Gangadhar Tilak

In this section, we will study early life and education information about Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak date of birth is 23 July 1856.

  • He was born to a  Marathi Hindu Chitpavan Brahmin family in Ratnagiri district, Bombay State, British India which is present-day Maharashtra, India.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s father's name was Shri Gangadhar Tilak and his mother’s name was Paravti Bai Gangadhar.

  • Chikhali was Bal Gangadhar Tilak ancestral village.

  • Gangadhar Tilak, Tilak's father, was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar who died when Tilak was sixteen years old.

  • In 1877, he graduated from Deccan College in Pune with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with honors.

  • He dropped out of his M.A. programme in the middle of the semester to enroll in the LL.B programme, earning his LL.B degree from Government Law College in 1879.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak's Family

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak was married at a young age of 16 to Satyabhama Tilak in the year 1871.

  • He had three sons Rambhau Balwant Tilak, Vishwanath Balwant Tilak and Sridhar Balwant Tilak.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s Teaching Career

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak began teaching mathematics at a private school in Pune after graduating.

  • In 1880, he co-founded the New English school for secondary education with a few of his college mates, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi, and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar. Their mission was to enhance the educational standard of India's youth.

  • The school's success prompted them to establish the Deccan Education Society in 1884 to introduce a national educational system that taught young Indians nationalist ideas while emphasizing Indian culture.

  • Fergusson College was established in 1885 by the Deccan Education Society for post-secondary education. At Fergusson College, Bal Gangadhar Tilak taught mathematics.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak Left the Deccan Education Society in 1890 to pursue more openly political endeavors.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak Indian Independence Movement

Bal Gangadhar Tilak had a long political career in which he fought for Indian independence from British rule. He was the most well-known Indian politician prior to Gandhi. By emphasizing religious and cultural renewal, he launched a mass movement for independence. Tilak was a radical nationalist who was also a social conservative. In this section, we will learn more about Bal Gangadhar Tilak political career.

  • In 1890, Tilak became a member of the Indian National Congress. He was opposed to its moderate stance, especially in the battle for self-government. At the moment, he was one of the most prominent revolutionaries.

  • The bubonic plague spread from Bombay to Pune in late 1896, and by January 1897, it had reached epidemic proportions.

  • Forced entry into private homes, an inspection of residents, relocation to hospitals and segregated camps, removal and destruction of personal belongings, and prohibiting patients from entering or leaving the city were among the harsh steps used to deal with the emergency.

  • The outbreak had been brought under control by the end of May. They were generally seen as acts of injustice and dictatorship.

  • Tilak took up the cause by publishing provocative articles in his newspaper Kesari, citing the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita to claim that no one should be held responsible for killing an oppressor without expecting a reward.

  • The Chapekar brothers and their associates then shot and killed Commissioner Rand and another British officer, Lt. Ayerst, on June 22, 1897.

  • Tilak was charged with murder incitement and received an 18-month sentence. He was respected as a martyr and a national hero when he was released from jail in modern-day Mumbai.

  • After this, he declared "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it."

  • Tilak encouraged the Swadeshi and Boycott movements after the Partition of Bengal, which was a policy devised by Lord Curzon in order to undermine the nationalist movement.

  • The boycott of foreign products, as well as a social boycott of every Indian who used foreign goods, were also part of the campaign.

  • Swadeshi was a movement that promoted the use of locally made products. When foreign products were boycotted, a void had to be filled by domestic demand.

  • Swadeshi and Boycott campaigns, according to Tilak, are two sides of the same coin.

  • Tilak opposed Gopal Krishna Gokhale's moderate views and was backed by fellow Indian nationalists such as Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. The "Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate" was their nickname.

  • The Congress Party's annual meeting was held in Surat, Gujarat, in 1907. The selection of the new president of Congress sparked a battle between the party's moderate and extreme wings.

  • The party was divided into two factions: the extremists and the moderates. The extremists were led by Tilak, Pal, and Lajpat Rai. Tilak was supported by nationalists such as Aurobindo Ghose and V. O. Chidambaram Pillai.

  • Tilak was tried for sedition three times by the British India Government during his lifetime, among other political cases, in 1897, 1909, and 1916.

  • Tilak was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1897 for preaching anti-Raj discontent.

  • He was charged with sedition and inflaming ethnic tensions between Indians and the British again in 1909.

  • In Tilak's defence, Bombay lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah appeared, but he was sentenced to six years in prison in Burma in a contentious ruling.

  • When Tilak was charged with sedition for the third time in 1916 over his self-rule lectures, Jinnah was his counsel again, and this time he was acquitted.

  • When World War I broke out in August 1914, Tilak notified King-Emperor George V of his support and used his oratory to recruit new soldiers for the war effort.

  • He applauded the British Parliament's passage of the Indian Councils Act, also known as the Minto-Morley Reforms, in May 1909, describing it as "a significant increase in trust between the Rulers and the Ruled."

  • During the Lucknow Pact of 1916, Tilak reunited with his fellow nationalists and rejoined the Indian National Congress.

  • Tilak tried to persuade Mahatma Gandhi to abandon the concept of total nonviolence in favor of achieving Swarajya by any means necessary.

  • Though Gandhi disagreed with Tilak on the methods for achieving self-rule and was a staunch supporter of satyagraha, he admired Tilak's contributions to the nation and his courage of conviction.

  • After Tilak lost a civil suit against Valentine Chirol and suffered financial loss, Gandhi urged Indians to donate to the Tilak Purse Fund, which was established to cover Tilak's expenses.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak, along with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18.

  • He gave up after years of trying to get the moderate and conservative groups together and concentrated on the Home Rule League, which advocated for self-rule.

  • Tilak went from village to village seeking help from farmers and locals to join the self-rule movement.

  • In April 1916, the league had 1400 members, and by 1917, it had risen to about 32,000. 


Social Views of Bal Gangadhar Tilak

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a strong opponent of liberal movements in Pune, such as women's rights and anti-untouchability reforms.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak used his newspapers, the Mahratta and Kesari, to vigorously oppose the establishment of the first Native girl’s High school in Pune in 1885 and its curriculum.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak was also opposed to intercaste marriages, especially those in which a woman from a higher caste married a man from a lower caste.

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak opposed the age of consent bill, which increased the age of marriage for girls from ten to twelve years old, but he was able to sign a circular that raised the age of marriage for girls to sixteen years old and for boys to twenty years old.

  • When it came to gender relations, Tilak was not a feminist.

  • He did not accept that Hindu women should be educated in the modern world. He was more religious, claiming that women were supposed to be homemakers who had to submit themselves to their husbands and children's needs.

  • In 1918, Tilak declined to sign a petition calling for the abolition of untouchability, despite previously speaking out against it in a meeting.


Lal Bal Pal

The group was named after the three important leaders of the nationalist movement during British rule in the 20th century. Lal Bal Pal stands for lala Lajpat Rai. Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. The main aim of the political group was to make the country “Self reliant” and “Self Sufficient”. To advocate this thought they launched the “Swadeshi movement” which trailblazer the way for the Indian movement for Independence. During that time India had lost its way and succumbed to the rule of british. While the Britishers were dividing India and leading movements like ‘Bengal Partition” they wanted to weaken India by dividing it following their motto of Divide and conquer. Lal Bal pal were the primitive forces to mobilize the country against the Bengal partition. They demonstrated their revolt through strikes, and boycott of forgein goods. The protest spread from Bengal and became a nation wide protest.


The britisher played their trick and arrested Bal Gangadhar Tilak for sedition, while Bipin Chandra pal retired from active politics lala lajpat rai was weakened due to the injuries he suffered in the lathi charge. Their hands were tied leading to the slow fading of the nationlist movement.


Indian Independence Movement

Indian Movement for Independence was the most heroic and historic series of events which aimed towards ending British rule in india.  The movement started from Bengal in 1857 and did not rest until we achieved independence in 1947. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was amongst the few leaders who blew the whistle for the ninety years of battle to end the British raj. The movement led to the formation of Indian national congress making the revolt a national revolt. The Indian National Congress was composed of intellectuals who wanted to take India towards  a better governance. The early years saw a radical approach and the main faces of the movement were lal bal pal, Aurobindo ghosh and v.o chidambaram pillai. In the late 1920’s congress adopted the Gandhian way and made the movement a nonviolent movement. Other movements and campaigns soon followed and a number of people joined the movement. Personalities like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim chandra chattopadhay and female leaders like sarojini Naidu, pritilata waddekar also promoted the movement.

When did Bal Gangadhar Tilak Die?

Bal Gangadhar Tilak died on 1 August 1920 in Mumbai.

Literary Contributions of Bal Gangadhar Tilak

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a Journalist by profession.

  • He used to write articles about the Indian independence movement in a Marathi newspaper called “Kesari” and an English newspaper called “Mahratta”.

  • He authored two books called Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya and Arctic Home of the Vedas.

  • He claimed in his book "The Arctic Home in the Vedas" that the Vedas could only have been written in the Arctics, and that the Aryan bards carried them south after the last ice age. He suggested a new method for determining the Vedas' exact period.

  • In prison at Mandalay, Tilak wrote: "Shrimad Bhagvad Gita Rahasya," which describes the study of "Karma Yoga" in the Bhagavad Gita, which is considered a gift of the Vedas and Upanishads.


In this Lokmanya Tilak biography, we got to know about Bal Gangadhar Tilak date of birth, his early education and career, his political career, his reviews on Indian society, Bal Gangadhar Tilak book written in jail and finally, we got to know Who was Bal Gangadhar Tilak. 


The Bal Gangadhar Tilak biography teaches us about the life history of the first political leader in modern India. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a philosopher-politician, which is a rare breed. His concepts of swaraj and swadeshi were based on making every Indian aware of the British insults and injustices. Through his home-rule campaign, he prepared a fertile ground for swaraj. The goal of the home rule movement was crystal clear to him. His demand was politically conciliatory in tone and tenor.

FAQs on Bal Gangadhar Tilak Biography

1. Who was bal gangadhar tilak?

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a scholar, mathematician, philosopher, and ardent nationalist who played a key role in laying the groundwork for India's independence by turning his personal opposition to British rule into a national movement. He was the first political leader in modern India.

2. What is bal gangadhar tilak date of birth?

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23 July 1856. He was born to a Marathi Hindu Chitpavan Brahmin family in Ratnagiri district, Bombay State, British India which is present-day Maharashtra, India.

3. What was the name of bal gangadhar tilak book written in jail?

When Bal Gangadhar Tilak was in prison in Mandalay, he wrote: "Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya," which describes the study of "Karma Yoga" in the Bhagavad Gita, which is considered a gift of the Vedas and Upanishads.

4. Which slogan was given by bal gangadhar tilak?

The times were difficult. While some were frustrated with the rule of britishers, some people had started believing that the britishers were now moving towards change. It was then when India was almost losing its hope for Independence that Lokamanya Tilak gave the slogan “Swaraj is my birth-right and I shall have it.  He believed that the “good government” by Britishers was not better then “Self-government”, he stirred people with new life for freedom. People should not have to earn freedom.

5. Who is the father of the indian revolution?

The first prime minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru called Bal Gangadhar Tilak ‘The Father of Indian Revolution”. He was a prominent figure in stringing the people of India with the idea of “Self Rule”. He was certain that India should not be a prisoner to the British and India on its own was and will be capable of Self rule. He wanted to make India free and independent of any Foreign interference. Thus he was called ‘The Father of Indian Revolution’

6. Who was lokmanya tilak?

Lokmanya means “beloved of people”. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was also known as Lokmanya tilak he was the first leader of Indian Independence movement and was loved by people. 

He was given the title of  “lokmanya Tilak” by Rabindranath Tagore. He was the frontline leader for the movement of Independence which brought him at conflict with the British government and was sent to prison in 1897 this is also said to be the reason that earned him the title of ‘Lokmanya Tilak’.

7. What was ‘Lal Bal Pal’?

‘Lal Bal pal’ was a trilogy of the three great nationalist; Lala Lajpat Rai,Bal Gangadhar Tilak and bipin Chandra Pal. They together made the vision for  swadeshi movement and advocated it during the british rule in the 20th century. They appealed to the masses to boycott the forgein goods and use the Indian made goods. They wanted India to become “Self reliant”, “Self Sufficient” and thus  became the torchbearers for Indian Independence. The movement was weakened with the arrest of Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

8. How was bal gangadhar tilak related to ‘kesari”?

“Kesari” was a regional marathi newspaper established by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the year 1881.  Kesari was an instrument to mouth piece during the Indian Independence movement. An article that tilak wrote in kesari became a reason for his arrest. Two bangali youth bombed the carriage carrying the chief presidency magistrate douglas kingsford of calcutta and tilak wrote an article defending the act, this was not taken well and he was sentence six years of prison in mandalay.