The Gandhi-King Community

For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920); Indian patriot politician, scholar and writer, popularly known as “Lokamanya”; one of the founders of Deccan Education Society, Poona and the newspapers, the Kesari and The Mahratta.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article ‘Hinduism’ on dated 4 March 1905. In which he described about Tilak. The Hindus themselves claimed that the date of their scriptures was veiled in the mist of antiquity, the scriptures themselves being God-given. As against that, some Europeans contended that the scriptures were not more than 3,000 or 4,000 years old. Mr. Tilak, a wellknown Indian Sanskritist, has, however, calculated that, from certain astronomical observations made in these works, they were at least 10,000 years old, although they were only committed to writing some three hundred years after Christ. The Vedas, as these scriptures were known, consisted of separate hymns, each being held to cover a definite period, and quite independent of each other.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about Tilak in Indian Opinion on dated 1 August 1908 that The Fourth Resolution is the most important of all. Everything depends upon it. There is no disgrace in going to jail; rather it is an honour. Only a few people knew of Mr. Tilak before he went to jail; today the whole world knows him. We are not going to get justice at the hands of the British Government. It kills us with sweet words; we should not be deceived. They offer us sympathy, but we ask for justice, not sympathy. The British are ever willing to advise others.

The sentence passed on Mr. Tilak, the great patriot, is terrible. The few days’ imprisonment which the Transvaal Indians suffer is as nothing compared to transportation for six years. The sentence is not so much surprising as terrible. At the same time it is nothing to be unhappy about.

It is not surprising that a Government we seek to defy should inflict oppressive measures on us. Mr. Tilak is so great a man and scholar that it would be impertinent, in this country, to write of his work. He deserves to be adored for his work in the service of the motherland. His simplicity is extraordinary; but the light of his scholarship has reached even Europe.

Yet we should not blindly follow the policies of those whom we regard as great. It would be casting a reflection on Mr. Tilak’s greatness to argue that his writings had no bitterness in them or to offer some such defense. Pungent, bitter and penetrating writing was his objective. He aimed at inciting Indians against British rule. To attempt to minimize this would be to detract from Mr. Tilak’s greatness.

The rulers are justified, from their point of view, in taking action against such a man. We would do the same in their place. If we look at the matter thus, we realize that we need not feel bitter towards them. Mr. Tilak, however, deserves our congratulations. He has, by his suffering, attained undying fame and laid the foundations of India’s freedom.

If the people, instead of being overawed at the sentence passed on Mr. Tilak or being intimidated by it, rejoice at it and keep up their courage, the sentence will in the sequel prove to have been a blessing. What we need to consider is whether Indians should accept the views of Mr. Tilak and his party. We submit, after great deliberation, that Mr. Tilak’s views should be rejected.

India’s welfare does not consist in merely uprooting British rule. It will be harmful, even useless, to use force or violence for uprooting that rule. Freedom gained through violence would not endure. And the sufferings to which the people of Europe submit would also become our lot then. As for the masses, they would merely pass from one form of slavery to another. No one will gain this way and almost everyone will lose—that is what the result will be. We believe that the easiest way to make British rule beneficent is to adopt the way of satyagraha. If British rule becomes tyrannical, it will come to an end as soon as the British Government attempts to resist satyagraha. If the same workers who went on strike in protest against the sentence on Mr. Tilak were to become satyagrahis, they would be able to get the Government to agree to any reasonable demands.

What is our duty in this context? Though Mr. Tilak and other great Indians like him differ from us, we should continue to hold them in the highest esteem. We must emulate them in their capacity to suffer. Since they are great patriots, we must consider no honour too great for them, and act in the same spirit of patriotism. Their object is the same as ours, namely, to serve the motherland and to work for its prosperity. Compared to what they have been doing to secure that end, the course we have chosen is not in the least difficult. But we are convinced that the outcome of our exertions will be a thousand times better.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to B.G. Tilak on dated 27 July 1915 that

I have your note. I have not given anyone any authority to use my name in connection with the interviews I had with you. I have not even read the things you are referring to. The conversations between us were private and must remain so. The draft sent by you hardly does justice to the interview. I never said that I spoke for the Congress party or with its authority. I simply came as a friend and admirer and for friends. I did not know what view the Congress party would take. I simply put a tentative proposal before you.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to B.G. Tilak on dated 17 August 1915 that Immediately on receipt of your letter last week, I duly telegraphed as requested. I hope you got my wire in time.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke in meeting on dated 2 September 1917 that After Gandhi had delivered his opinion, it was suggested that B. G. Tilak should, after consultation with Gandhi, suggest to the meeting some acceptable amendment. On this Gandhi himself suggested an amendment but Tilak insisted on making his own alterations in it before placing it before the meeting. The President, after some discussion with Tilak and his party, declared that a certain amendment had been drawn up in agreement with Tilak and his party. The amendment was as follows:

‘Though the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee is of opinion that there is a strong feeling among the people to support the campaign of passive resistance on account of the coercive measures recently taken by the Government, it advises that, taking into consideration the fact that Mr. Montagu1 is coming on a visit to this country and that the reasons of his coming are well known, the work of the consideration of and giving opinion on the principles underlying passive resistance and the measures necessary to put them into effect, which has been entrusted to this committee by the All-India Congress Committee and the Council of the All-India Muslim League, be for the present held in abeyance, and the meeting expresses the hope that the Government will take the necessary steps to allay the bitter feeling aroused among the people by action of internments and coercive measures taken by the authorities.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke on dated 6 May 1918 that Lokamanya Tilak must be here to guide you and me. I am but a child of three in politics. I have yet to see, to consider, and to learn things. I apologize for creating this disturbance. In common meetings one may explain his views thoroughly freely without being charged with the idea of creating a disturbance. As I propose to put into practice the programme I have mapped out, I should not be anxious to ascertain the feeling running in all parts of India. But as you are all come here with preconceived notions, I cannot discuss my position here. I would like to exchange views and understand your feelings and deciding motives and reach the backs of your minds. But I shall prefer to come here in a calmer atmosphere and shall only then come to steel your hearts when we are not cramped with resolutions before us. I think Mr. Kelkar has taken the most reasonable position and that, at this stage, we must accept the Congress Committee’s resolution.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke on dated 16 June 1918 that there is no reservation here about political discussion. Mr. Tilak and Mr. Kelkar together with others sent in their names as speakers. In due course, Mr. Tilak rose to speak and hardly had he uttered three sentences, two of which consisted of an absolute declaration of loyalty, when he was stopped on the ground that he was speaking politics on the loyalty resolution. In vain did Mr Tilak protest that the loyalty resolution had an addendum to it which entitled him to offer relevant criticism? Mr. Kelkar followed and he shared the same fate with the result that there was immediately a dramatic withdrawal from the Town Hall led by Mr. Tilak.1 In my humble opinion, His Excellency, in giving the ruling that he did, committed a grave blunder and did a disservice to the cause which he had come to espouse. He offered a gratuitous insult to Messrs.’ Tilak and Kelkar, and thereby, to a great, powerful organization in the country. It is impossible to ignore or insult Mr. Tilak and his followers. Mr. Tilak is an idol of the people. He wields over thousands of men an unrivalled influence, his word is law to them. I have great differences of opinion with him, but I would be untrue to myself if I failed to acknowledge that his burning love of his country, his immense sacrifices and a resolute advocacy of the popular cause have earned for him a place in the politics of India which no other leader has. The insult offered to him, and through him to the Home Rule Leagues, is, therefore, an insult to the nation at large. Whether, therefore, we differ from him in politics or not, it is the duty of us all, who feel that Lord Willingdon’s treatment of Messrs Tilak and Kelkar was wrong, to protest against it. I am prepared to admit that it would have been better if Mr. Tilak had risen to speak to the said resolution. It is my special and personal opinion, not shared perhaps by anyone else, that it would have been better still if he had preserved dignified silence; but, in my opinion, he had a right to speak to the loyalty resolution and offer criticism. I must dissent from the view that a loyalty revolution debars a free expression of one’s sentiments. That loyalty must indeed, be skindeep which requires a wall of protection against criticism. I hold it to be perfectly consistent with my loyalty to the King to tell him that things are done in his name which ought not to be done.

My declaration of loyalty will sound all the truer for the warning and I think that among the many services rendered by the Home Rule Leagues, special mention deserves to be made of their having emboldened the people to speak out their minds: and I doubt not that if they but do their duty to the fullest extent, they would place India’s loyalty above suspicion. For, with a true Home Ruler it must be an article of faith that the Empire must be saved; for, in its safety lies the fruition of his fondest hopes. Not to help the Empire is to commit national suicide. How can we wish harm to our would-be partner without hurting ourselves?

Mahatma Gandhi spoke on dated 24 June 1918 that You all know the purpose of this meeting. You also know that Bombay has protested against the insulting behavior of His Excellency the Governor towards members of the Home Rule League at the War Conference. At the Bombay meeting, too, I was in the chair and, having expressed my views there, I shall not take much of your time. This meeting is for two things: one, to support the action of Bombay and, two, to explain the position to those who do not read newspapers and, since even newspaper reports are often fragmentary and incorrect, to place the facts before newspaper readers as well. This is what today’s meeting is for. His Excellency the Governor was faced with the question whether or not to invite Mr. Tilak and other swarajists to the War Conference. Since Mr. Tilak and Mrs. Besant had not been invited to the Delhi Conference, the question was an unusual one for Lord Willingdon and he gave it careful consideration. In the end, he invited them and Mr. Tilak accepted the invitation. The latter enquired whether he would be free to address the Conference and whether any amendments would be in order. He was told in reply that no amendments to the resolutions could be moved but that, after selected speakers had addressed the Conference on the resolutions, he would be free to speak and comment on their views. His Excellency sincerely meant what he said and there was no ambiguity in his words.

And so Mr. Tilak and others went to the Conference. But what was their experience there? Before Mr. Tilak had completed his second sentence His Excellency the Governor interrupted him—stopped him from making any criticism. He did not know what Mr. Tilak wished to say. He knew nothing, of course, about what the speech would be like. And yet, believing that the sentence which Mr. Tilak had commenced with a ‘but’ would be objectionable, the Governor did not allow him to complete it and stopped him from proceeding further. Not that His Excellency would not have been within his rights in doing so, on some other occasion. It was, however, improper of him to have thus stopped a guest whom he had invited to his place to address a meeting and, in doing so, he has offered a gross insult to Mr. Tilak and the other distinguished guests, in fact to all the people of India. Mr. Tilak is no ordinary man. He is adored by the whole of India. It is really in tolerable

that he should have been ordered in this manner to resume his seat. We have assembled here today to demonstrate that the people of Ahmedabad too cannot tolerate this and to support Bombay’s action.

In this we are but doing our duty and showing ourselves to be true swarajists. It must be one of the implications of swaraj that any insult to India should be treated as an insult to Indian independence. We have come together today to call the Governor to account for having insulted Indian independence. We should tell him that he has offered us a serious insult and that he should apologize for that. With few exceptions, there is no newspaper in India which has approved of the Governor’s action.



Mahatma Gandhi gave tribute to B.G. Tilak on 31 May 1919 that A public meeting was held on Saturday evening at Shantaram’s Chawl, Girgaum, Bombay, under the presidency of Mr. Gandhi, for the purpose of expressing appreciation of the services rendered by Mr. Tilak to India and calling upon his countrymen to contribute to the expenses incurred by him in his case against Sir Valentine Chirol. The following is a full translation of his speech in Gujarati:

I am thankful to the organizers of the meeting for asking me to preside. The goal of every thinking Indian must be the same, though the methods for its attainment may be different and it is a matter known to all that my ways differ from Mr. Tilak’s. And yet I would wish to heartily associate myself with every occasion to pay a tribute to his great services to the country, his self-sacrifice, and his learning and with the present occasion in especial. The nation does not honour him any the less for his defeat in his case against Sir Valentine Chirol. It honours him, if that were possible, all the more, and this meeting is but a token of it. I have come to offer my hearty support to it.

Truly speaking, I am in no love with fighting in law courts. Victory there does not depend on the truth of your case. Any experienced vakil will bear me out that it depends more on the judge, the counsel, and the venue of the court. In English there is a proverb that it is always the man with the longest purse that wins. And there is a good deal of truth in this, as there is exaggeration in it. The Lokamanya’s defeat therefore made me only wish he was a satyagrahi like me, so that he would have saved himself the bother of victory or defeat. And when I saw that far from losing heart at the result of his case, far from being disappointed, he faced the English public with cool resignation and expressed his views to them with equal fearlessness, I was proud of him. He has been in his life acting to the very letter up to what he has believed to be the essential teaching of the Gita. He devotes himself entirely to what he believes to be his karma, and leaves the result thereof to God. Who could withhold

admiration from one so great?

I think it our duty to contribute to the expenses of his suit. He surely did not fight for his personal ends, he fought in the public interests. I am sure, therefore, that you will accept the resolution that is going to be proposed this evening to find for Mr. Tilak the expenses of his suit, and to express our gratefulness for his services to the country.

Mahatma Gandhi gave tribute to Tilak on dated 2 August 1920 that Love of India was the breath of life with Mr. Tilak and in it he has left to us a treasure which can only increase by use. The endless procession of yesterday shows the hold the great patriot had on the masses.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article ‘Lokmanya’ on dated 4 August 1920 that Lokamanya BAL Gangadhar Tilak is no more. It is difficult to believe of him as dead. He was so much part of the people. No man of our times had the hold on the masses that Mr. Tilak had. The devotion that he commanded from thousands of his countrymen was extraordinary. He was unquestionably the idol of his people. His word was law among thousands. A giant among men has fallen. The voice of the lion is hushed. What was the reason for his hold upon his countrymen? I think the answer is simple. His patriotism was a passion with him. He knew no religion but love of his country. He was a born democrat. He believed in the rule of majority with an intensity that fairly frightened me. But that gave him his hold. He had an iron will which he used for his country. His life was an open book. His tastes were simple. His private life was spotlessly clean. He had dedicated his wonderful talents to his country. No man preached the gospel of swaraj with the consistency and the insistence of Lokamanya. His countrymen therefore implicitly believed in him. His courage never failed him. His optimism was irrepressible. He had hoped to see swaraj fully established during his life time. If he failed, it was not his fault. He certainly brought it nearer by many a year. It is for us, who remain behind, to put forth redoubled effort to make it a reality in the shortest possible time.

Lokamanya was an implacable foe of the bureaucracy, but this is not to say that he was a hater of Englishmen or English rule. I warn Englishmen against making the mistake of thinking that he was their enemy. I had the privilege of listening to an impromptu, learned discourse by him, at the time of the last Calcutta Congress, on Hindi being the national language. He had just returned from the Congress pandal. It was a treat to listen to his calm discourse on Hindi. In the course of his address he paid a glowing tribute to the Enlgish for their care of the vernaculars. His English visit, in spite of his sad experience of English juries, made him a staunch believer in British democracy and he even seriously made the amazing suggestion that India should instruct it on the Punjab through the cinematograph. I relate this incident not because I share his belief (for I do not), but in order to show that he entertained no hatred for Englishmen. But he could not and would not put up with an inferior status for India in the Empire.

He wanted immediate equality which he believed was his country’s birthright. And in his struggle for India’s freedom he did not spare the Government. In the battle for freedom he gave no quarter and asked for none. I hope that Englishmen will recognize the worth of the man whom India has adored. For us, he will go down to the generations yet unborn as a maker of modern India. They will revere his memory as of a man who lived for them and died for them. It is blasphemy to talk of such a man as dead. The permanent essence of him abides with us forever. Let us erect for the only Lokamanya of India an imperishable monument by weaving into our own lives his bravery, his simplicity, his wonderful industry and his love of his country. May God grant his soul peace.


Mahatma Gandhi spoke on dated 1 December 1920 that Mr. Gandhi, in declaring the school open, said he was very glad to perform the ceremony. He heard from Mr. Shyam Lal Nehru that the school would be called Tilak Vidyalaya instead of National High School. No man made so much self-sacrifice for swaraj as Mr. Tilak and it was in the fitness of things that it should be named after the great patriot. If college students came they would open a college also. The school would take up the teaching of subjects which were taught in other schools. He then announced the names of the members of the executive committee of the school, which consisted of Pandit Motilal Nehru, president, and Messrs Jawahar Lal Nehru, Mohan Lal Nehru, Shyam Lal Nehru and Gauri Shankar Misra, members. Continuing, he said there were 15 teachers, some possessing degrees, and he thought that they were all men of good character. If the teachers were good, the school would prosper.

Those who promised to serve in the school must forget other things. In some schools teachers used to do outside work besides their school work. That should not be the case there. The teachers in the National School must concentrate their attention on school work. The students would not get any furniture in the school. The Government had taught them the bad habit of using furniture, but they must be prepared to use asanas only. They must show that they were superior to the boys of the other schools by their learning and character. They would not get any comforts in that institution. If necessity arose, the students must study under the trees in the open air, and, in his opinion the old tradition of India insisted upon that point. In ancient times, when the rainy season arrived the students used to work on farms. He was glad to find that typewriting, shorthand and spinning and weaving also found a place in

the school course. Boys would have to learn both the scripts, Urdu and Devanagari.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article on dated 9 August Along with a resolution on non-co-operation, a resolution for raising a swaraj fund in memory of the Lokamanya has also been passed. Some contributions were also received during the last session of the Congress. There is no doubt at all that it is everyone’s duty to contribute to this fund to the best of his means. It would be more fitting if many people gave a little each and a good fund was raised than if a few persons donated large amounts; in this way alone can the title of ‘Lokamanya’ conferred on the departed leader be justified. One business man giving a crore of rupees is no proof of Tilak’s being ‘Lokamanya’; it would be far more important to collect one crore from crores of people and it would be taken as a convincing proof of the late Lokamanya’s popularity. It is in our own interest to collect this fund since the money is to be spent for our own good.

Swaraj was the one sacred aim to which the Lokamanya’s whole life was dedicated. For us, it is the door leading to our moksha1, the key to our happiness, the solution to the hunger of the poor, the means for clothing the poor and the weapon with which sin may be fought and Deliverance from phenomenal existence as the supreme end in life  destroyed. Thus in honouring the Lokamanya we serve our own interests. There; should be no delay and no hesitation on our part in taking up collections for this fund. Since collections have to be made from countless people, there will be a great many persons to go round collecting. They must start the work with a pledge to remain honest. During this year, there should be only one collection, this one in the name of the Lokamanya, as it can be used to support any worthy cause. We should also see to it that the collection does not fall short of the target of one crore. With the money, we can open schools wherever necessary and start similar activities. For collecting this fund, we should go to every village, should carry the message of swaraj to the people of every street in each city. I hope that the work will be taken up without delay.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke 27 January 1921 that Mr. Gandhi then addressed the meeting. At the outset he wished the school success. He next spoke about the wrongs done to the Punjab and to the Khilafat. He dwelt at length on the efficacy of the charkha and said that the authorities would see that special stress was laid on spinning so that the boys might be well trained in this art. He suggested that instruction should be given both in Devanagri and Urdu to both the Hindu and Mussulman boys. Addressing the students Mr. Gandhi asked them to follow his advice and assured them that if they did so swaraj would be attained very soon.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article in Navjivan on dated 20 February 1921 that The nation has a duty to perpetuate the memory of Tilak Maharaj. It was a wholly worthy idea to associate his memory with swaraj work. That the money received for a memorial to him should be spent in the cause of swaraj is the only right course. By contributing for such a purpose, people serve their interests in two ways. It is to our benefit to perpetuate the memory of the Lokamanya and winning swaraj is plainly in our interest.

The Congress Working Committee has decided that the various provincial committees will collect contributions [in their respective provinces]. Three-fourths of what each committee collects will be spent for the purpose of the non-co-operation movement in the particular province and one-fourth will be passed on to the All-India Congress Committee. Collections for the Fund are not to go on for years; they must be completed in a month or two.

Everyone, young or old, man or woman, should contribute to the Fund to the best of his or her ability. Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians, Jews—all who look upon themselves as Indians should contribute their full share. Contributions should be remitted to the Treasurer, All-India

Congress Committee, or to Sheth Jamnalal Bajaj, Treasurer of the Congress or to Mian Chhotani1. If any persons wish to send their contributions to the Navajivan office instead of to one of these, the amounts will be acknowledged in the paper and sent on to the Treasurer of the Gujarat Provincial Committee.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article in Young India on dated 16 March 1921 that The Punjab deserves the first place in having organized the Tilak memorial in a methodical manner. The new committees should now be in working order and we must dot the whole of the country with collectors for the fund. In the Punjab, the Congress Committee has issued one-rupee receipts, thus expecting those who can to pay nothing less than one rupee. A memorial week, subsequently extended to a fortnight, was declared and trusted volunteers went round to make collections. They have collected over one lakh of rupees in that province. The Committee has already forwarded Rs. 25,000 on account of its contribution to the All-India Congress Committee In my opinion, the rest of us cannot do better than copy the useful example of the Punjab. It is necessary to fix the sum we should collect. One crore of rupees for the whole of India is a most modest tribute to the memory of a patriot so great as the Lokamanya. It is a trifle when we think of the object with which the memory of the deceased is to be associated. To contribute one crore of rupees towards the attainment of swaraj is not much. And it may be noted here that the money is not to be spent in foreign or other propaganda, but largely in spinning, weaving, and other educational activity.

It is to be spent in educating our children. The collection has to be distributed among the twenty one provinces and should be finished before the 30th June next. Each province will on an average be expected to collect about five lakhs of rupees. But Bombay, Gujarat, Bengal, Punjab, and such other provinces, may be expected to collect much more than Orissa or Andhra for instance. The Working Committee has made the task easier by allowing each province to retain 75% of the collection for provincial expenditure. It is to be hoped, therefore, that not a moment will be lost in organizing the great memorial. It will be a fitting and noble tribute to the memory of one who gave his life to the attainment of swaraj and died with swaraj only in his thoughts. The Working Committee will no doubt issue authoritative instructions. But we need not await instructions in a matter of clear duty. We may safely follow the Punjabis’ lead and show to the forthcoming All India Congress Committee what we have done towards the fulfillment of our duty.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about Tilak in Navjivan on dated 20 March 1921 that An indirect reference to this Fund was made in my note on the Punjab tour. It is necessary for us to raise a fund worthy of the memory of the Lokamanya. Those who had assembled after his death and joined the funeral procession will have some idea of the unique regard in which he was held by the people. Is that devotion still alive?

The people have an opportunity to answer this question in the next few months. And what kind of memorial is it to be? There will be no statue. With that Fund, we are to win swaraj; it is to be utilized chiefly for providing education to children, for promoting the spinning-wheel movement and remunerating public workers, that is to say, the contributions we shall make to the Fund will be used entirely for us. I at any rate cannot imagine a better use for our money than this. I hope no one will consider it too much that the country should raise a crore of rupees for a memorial to the Lokamanya. It should be an easy thing to collect this amount so that we may be able to win swaraj. If we cannot even collect the money we need, we have no right at all to demand or gain swaraj. If the people are not ready to boycott foreign cloth, are reluctant to spin and do not donate money, what right can they have to demand swaraj? The amount of one crore, therefore, is in my view the very minimum. This sum must come from the 21 provinces. Some of these provinces are poor and some are very small, and one cannot expect them to be able to pay their share. One may certainly expect more than their share from Bombay, Gujarat, the Punjab and other parts.

We should complete the collections by 30th June. If we collect sums from many people, no one will feel the burden and we shall find it easy to collect the amount of one crore. I suggest that we should start the collection immediately, and complete the work by the end of June. All that is needed is determination and a band of honest volunteers. In this matter, other provinces would do well to follow the example of the Punjab. Everyone will remember that the collection is to be separated for

every province and that 25 per cent of the amount collected by each province is to be made over to the All-India Congress Committee. No one should give his contribution to any person not authorized by the local Congress Committee. If we follow this simple rule, we shall probably escape a good many difficulties. While this Fund is being collected, no demand should, as far as possible, be made for any other fund.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke on 7 April 1921 that While declaring the institution open, Mahatma exhorted the trustees of the institution that they should concentrate their attention and energy on the one important issue of the day, the attainment of swaraj, and said that spinning and weaving were the central factors of the Congress resolution. He did not like the idea of the trustees raising subscriptions for this institution separately inasmuch as it would affect the important Tilak Swaraj Fund, which was recently started and which required a crore of rupees. There should be only one activity for which there should be begging. Therefore he advised the trustees to consult the president of the Provincial Congress Committee before embarking on any scheme. Swaraj was not to be attained by any heroism but by disciplined thought and disciplined action. He warned the trustees against the danger of putting fantastic educational schemes before the country. There was no educational scheme before the country except one and that was the attainment of swaraj. He wished prosperity to the new institution.


Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article on dated 24 July 1921 in Bombay Chronicle that Mr. Tilak was not noted for making long speeches. He was noted for brave deeds. The country loved him not for his oratory. It was possible to name some of his contemporaries who were better orators from the ornamental standpoint. Mr. Gandhi therefore did not need to detain the audience with a long speech. He would draw their attention to some of the most marked qualities which made him the idol of the people, qualities which were so needed for the nation when it was making a supreme effort to obtain its emancipation during the year. The truest tribute they could render to the memory of the deceased was by imitating his qualities and weaving them into their own lives. One great quality that the country prized in the Lokamanya was his fearlessness. It was so marked a quality in him that some even accused him of rudeness. We know that he never spared the bureaucracy. He therefore roused its ire and was accused of raising hatred against Englishmen. He knew however that if Mr. Tilak was unsparing in his criticism of the bureaucracy, he was ready to give praise to its members when it was merited. He remembered, during the last Calcutta session, which the deceased attended, Mr. Tilak presiding at a Hindi Sammelan. He was coming from a strenuous discussion at the Congress session. But he was able to deliver a learned extempore speech at the Sammelan. He gave unstinted praise to English scholars for their service to the vernaculars. He said that future historians would acknowledge their service. That did not mean they had come to India for the purpose of benefiting the vernaculars but he said it would be unjust not to acknowledge the debt India owed to the many Englishmen who had helped them to Held at Empire Theatre, under the auspices of the Parsi Rajkiya Sabha. A number of ladies in the audience, including Perin Captain, grand-daughter of Dadabhai Naoroji, were dressed in khadi. Money raised on admission to the function was set aside as help for the best biography of Tilak.

The second great quality which the country needed so much was Mr. Tilak’s self-sacrifice. He never stinted himself for the service of his country. He did not bargain. For him sacrifice of self was a pleasure. The speaker said he did not need to give illustrations because the audience knew the examples of sacrifice better than the speaker. The third great quality was his extreme simplicity. Mr. Tilak had always observed swadeshi. If khadi had been manufactured in his time he would have unhesitatingly worn it. He could not believe him to be capable of seeking personal adornment. He appealed to the audience to copy Mr. Tilak’s swadeshi spirit. They must not do it in a niggardly spirit. He had heard that ladies who had done so wonderfully in June were hesitating to part with their foreign saris. He could not forget the jewels a Parsi sister had sent at the Parsi meeting. He wanted the ladies to continue in the same spirit about swadeshi. If it was a difficult thing they must recall Mr. Tilak’s example. This was no time for shedding tears over their wardrobes. He hoped that the citizens of Bombay would signalize the 1st of August by discarding all their foreign cloth and wearing khadi. He then called upon Shrimati Sarojini Naidu to speak.

Gandhi gave answer about Tilak in Young India on dated 23 February 1922 that

QUESTION: After the last postponement of civil disobedience at Bardoli, the number is increasing among the non-co-operationists who do not understand the mind of the Mahatma. What do you think about it?

ANSWER: Everything is easy to understand in the attitude of Mahatma

Gandhi if one remembers that his true aim is not what people generally think, but what he has expressed to me a few days ago, saying, “I do not work for freedom of India, I work for non-violence in the world and that is the difference between me and Mr. Tilak. Mr. Tilak was telling me, ‘I would sacrifice even truth for freedom of my country’ but I am ready to sacrifice even freedom for the sake of truth.” In the light of these words you can understand the reason of the actual postponement of national programme, until the spirit of violence has been shaken everywhere in India; that means probably until the end of the world!

The mind of Mahatmaji can be expressed in a word “Non-violence at any cost”; just as the mind of Mrs. Besant and of the Moderate party can be expressed by the motto “Law and Order at any cost”; and such is also the will of the Government. But the will of the national soul behind and above all is “At any cost a new Law and a new Order”. This will of the new spirit in India, Asia and all over the World is the only one which by any way is sure to triumph.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke on 4 September 1924 that The education that you are receiving is intended for swaraj. I have taken up the responsibilities of a chancellor in Gujarat. That too I have done in my capacity as a fighter for freedom and with the intention of training students to be fighters for freedom. I landed in England on 4th1 of August, 1914. What did I see there? As the War spread, the Inns of Courts went on closing. Many faculties in Oxford and Cambridge were also closed. During the War, they allotted a minor role to education. And why should they not? The outcome of education is that the student becomes an ideal citizen, an ideal patriot and an ornament to his family, his community and his nation.

I had witnessed the same scene twenty-four years earlier in South Africa. College students were enrolling themselves in the army and the Red Cross; girls and boys had all left their colleges and taken up this work. I was a black man; but I saw white pleaders and barristers joining the War. I was ashamed, on entering the court, to find it deserted. I thought that I should also undertake this work. When the nation is in danger, only work to meet it needs to be done. If you recognize this point of view, then an unscholarly man like myself standing before you makes some sense; otherwise inviting me as a chief guest here would amount to pulling my leg.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke on 1 August 1925 that Mahatma Gandhi, speaking in Hindustani, said that the great mantra that Bal Gangadhar gave to India was that “Swaraj was their birthright.” By swaraj he (Lokamanya) meant swaraj for the toiling crores of India. To Mahatmaji’s mind the call was clear: If they wished to achieve swaraj for the masses of India, they must have to work for it through charkha and khaddar and thus identify them with the poor, starving millions of Hindustan. If they really wanted to get inspiration from the memory of Lokamanya and if they really desired swaraj for the poor, then they should hear the old man speaking to them in season and out of season and take to the spinning-wheel. Let them promise from the very day that they would discard foreign cloth and take to swadeshi homespun and hand-woven cloth.

The other day, Mahatmaji proceeded; they declared a boycott of British goods in reply to Lord Birkenhead’s statement. He had his doubt as to the possibility of its achievement. But although he was on principle against boycott, he would be glad if the people discarded British cloth. They had failed to act up to their leaders’ advice for the last four years; they had not as yet universally taken to charkha and khaddar. They might, however, from now rectify their mistake the take a solemn vow from today onward to discard the use of foreign goods and use swadeshi.


Mahatma Gandhi wrote an article on 9 August 1925 that This death anniversary has come and gone. It was celebrated here in Calcutta—too. I had to attend the celebrations. Meetings were held at two places and I attended both. What should I have said there? What does a son do on the death anniversary of his father? If he is a worthy son, he does not make a speech on his father’s virtues but rather does something that the latter would have liked him to do. In the present-day meetings too we shall not invite the sons and relatives of the departed leaders to make speeches. Both they and we should be ashamed if we did. The death anniversaries of two leaders came in close succession, viz., that of Moulvi Abdul Rasul and later that of Lokamanya. I saw the former gentleman’s son-in-law at the first meeting. No one asked him to make a speech; that task was left to others. This would suggest that just as fingers are kept at a distance from the nail, we too are separated by a distance from relatives. As a matter of fact, this should not be the case. If a son is not permitted to sing his father’s praises like a minstrel, we too should not do so. I had, therefore, decided against singing praises.

 I felt embarrassed on the day of the anniversary. Only the previous day I

had spoken of the spinning-wheel in the same hall. Would I have to repeat all that again? I received the reply: “Where will you run to for fear of criticism, derision or defeat? You have assumed the task of adhering to truth. Of what consequence is it if that which appears to be true to you does not appear to be so to the rest of the world? It is your dharma to tell the truth and practice it.” Hence, I repeated the very same things.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke 23 October 1927 that Lokamanya Tilak has told us that Bhagavad Gita is pre-eminently a gospel of work and work that is absolutely selfless. And selfless work is nothing but service, nothing but sacrifice. I have ventured to suggest in spite of whatever might be said to the contrary that the true sacrifice of this age, sacrifice in terms of the Bhagavad Gita, is hand-spinning done for the sake of and in the name of the starving mil lions. And if the students will establish a living bond between themselves and the starving millions as they ought to do, they will find that there is nothing so powerful as the spinning-wheel to enable them to do so.

First I met Lokamanya Tilak. He said: ‘You are quite right in seeking the help of all parties. There can be no difference of opinion on the South African question. But you must have a non-party man for your President. Meet Professor Bhandarkar. He has been taking no part of late in any public movement. But this question might possibly draw him out. See him and let me know what he says. I want to help you to the fullest

extent. Of course you will meet me whenever you like. I am at your disposal.’

Gandhi spoke on dated 28 February 1929 that It is clear beyond doubt that after Vallabhbhai’s entering the Municipality, it too has become courageous, and I compliment it for the courage it has shown in installing the statue of the Lokamanya. There was a time, only a few years ago, when such acts were considered impertinent, because, formerly, if any library displayed a photograph of the Lokamanya, the Government either compelled the library to remove it or stopped any assistance given to it. But now times have changed, which is a matter for rejoicing.

The late Lokamanya Tilak had sacrificed all his energies for the cause of Swaraj. Only one who is ready to lay down his life for swaraj and is capable of winning swaraj for us within a short time can perform the ceremony of unveiling Tilak’s statue. Today you have all joined me in performing this ceremony; so, it is your duty too to prepare yourselves to win that swaraj for which the Lokamanya sacrificed his life. That being the directive of the Congress also, it is the duty of everyone to prepare himself for it.

Though, at the moment, the political sky of India is clear, one cannot predict when clouds will gather. The Municipality should display, even in difficult times, the same courage that it has shown today in having this statue unveiled and in hoisting the national flag. Formerly the very mention of the word ‘swaraj’ was considered an act of high treason. The mantra of Swadeshi and swaraj which the Lokamanya breathed into our ears even during such difficult times should find a place first in our minds and then in our hearts. We should be ready to lay down our lives for it. The other great quality of the Lokamanya was his simplicity.

Although he could collect funds running into lakhs yet he was extremely economical and simple in matters of food and clothing. Our country is very poor compared to rich countries such as England and America. Here the average daily income of a person is just seven pice. If we exclude from consideration millionaires like Seth Lalbhai and Seth Ambalal, we shall immediately get an idea of the wretched condition of ordinary people. Hence, everyone should be simple and economical in food, clothing, and so on, and should encourage swadeshi.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke 2 August 1929 that This is what I understand your question to mean: to what extent does Tilak Maharaj’s life reflect the belief that tit for tat was his principle? We shall not be able to gain much from pursuing this question. But I had a brief correspondence on this subject with Tilak Maharaj. As a humble student of his life and an admirer of his virtues, I can say that he had a sense of humour. Vinod means humour. Since we have not begun to use the word vinod in that sense, I have to use the English word in order to make myself clear. If the Lokamanya did not have that sense of humour, he would have gone crazy … he carried such a great national burden. But by this gift he used to save himself as also others from difficult situations. Another characteristic of his was that, while arguing with anyone, he deliberately used to indulge in exaggeration.




Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter 30 June 1932 that Tilak should take all the rest he may need. He must build up his body.

Gandhi spoke on dated 24 July 1934 that I am thankful to you for inviting me to perform this sacred ceremony this morning. When I learnt early this morning that I had to come here, my memory went back to the day 20 years ago when I first visited Cawnpore as a stranger. It was the late Babu Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi then a youth unknown to me, who then housed me in his press which was also his residence, for nobody else would dare harbour me. I was then an utter stranger to the bulk of our countrymen. Whatever little was known of me was through my services in South Africa. Neither the people nor the Government knew what I would do here. Nor did I myself know what was in store for me or what part I was to play in the national affairs. It was a happy coincidence that Tilak Maharaj came to this city that very day and was accorded a very hearty reception. To me the association with this city is bound up with the memory of Ganesh Shankar. I came to know him more intimately later on and found in him a simple, straightforward, upright, selfless servant of the nation. You know more than I do of the services he rendered through various channels to this city in particular and the country in general. He was a lover of the Hindi language.

If Tilak Maharaj taught us that swaraj is our birth-right, he also taught us that selfless service is the key to win it. Selfless service may have been in existence before Tilak Maharaj came, but he it was who systematized

it. He began public life by pledging himself to work on a mere pittance, and ever since Maharashtra has had a galaxy of workers who have been content to work on a pittance. They do not need Rs. 75. This and the two items that follow have been extracted from Mahadev Desai’s account.

Gandhiji wrote a letter to Shankar Rao Deo on dated 20 July 1937 that as to my relations with the late Lokamanya Tilak, our differences were well known and yet we were on the friendliest terms. After all, you, Gangadharrao Deshpande and others who know me would perhaps testify that I yield to no one in my regard to Lokamanya for his burning patriotism, his fearlessness, his magnetic personality and his great learning.


Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Hindu on dated 29 January 1945 that Tilak has given a mantra that “Swaraj is our birthright”. It is a simple one. I will only add that the way to realize the mantra is through truth and non-violence and I claim that that way is possible only if millions work the Constructive Programme.

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