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Balagangadhara Tilak

(1856-1920)
One of the important leaders of the first phase of India’s national freedom struggle, Balagangadhara Tilak known as Lokmanya Tilak was an educationist, editor, scholar, author, and a top leader of the Indian National Congress.

Balagangadhara was born in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra on 23 July 1856, a year ahead of the first armed move for India’s independence, to Gangadhara Ramachandra Tilak, a scholar in Sanskrit, and a deputy inspector of primary schools. When young Bala was 10, his mother died. When 17 he married 10-year old Satyabhama. And the next year, he lost his father. His grandfather was a sannyasin from whom he had learned a lot about the cruel British rule and the revolt of 1857 against the foreign rule. Bala was a brilliant student and he secured a degree in mathematics in 1976 and a degree in laws in 1979.

He entered into legal practice and made friends with a number of like-minded youngsters who shared with him their hatred for the British. One of them was Vishnukrishna, who started ‘Maratha’, a daily newspaper in English and ‘Kesari’, a daily in Marathi. When Vishnu died, Bala and Agarkar, another friend, took it up and ran it. They started a school in Poone, under what was called Deccan Educational Society. They followed it up with a series of educational institutions in different parts of Maharashtra. The famous Fergusson College of Pune was one among them.