Amit Paranjape’s Blog

‘Lokmanya Tilak – A Biography’ by A.K. Bhagwat and G.P. Pradhan

Posted in History by Amit Paranjape on November 19, 2010
Lokmanya Tilak

Lokmanya Tilak

Just completed reading a good book ‘Lokmanya Tilak – A Biography’ by A.K. Bhagwat and G.P. Pradhan. This book was written in 1956, to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Tilak. The book’s foreword is written by Dr. S Radhakrishnan. This biography presents an in-depth, detailed discussion of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s life. It provides the reader with a very good insight into the life of the great man.

The book starts with Tilak’s early life and formative years in Pune, and delves into a discussion around how his ideals and thought process were getting crystallized in College. The book covers at great length his friendship and differences of opinions with Agarkar. The first few chapters of this book provide mini-biographies of Agarkar and Justice Ranade. This is followed by a description of formation of Deccan Education Society, Fergusson College and establishment of Kesari and Maratha newspapers.

The subsequent chapters get into Tilak’s political life as he became the key figure in the Indian freedom struggle for the next three decades. Tilak’s prominent role in the early days of the Indian National Congress is very well described. The difference of opinion between the moderates and nationalists, that led to the ‘split’ at the Surat session is well highlighted and discussed.

That Tilak was an excellent lawyer is well known; but it was still great reading through the details of his legal arguments, especially the famous 1908 trial in Bombay High Court. His life at Mandalay and his struggle with diabetes are also discussed. Was interesting to note how he studied German, French and Pali, while in prison…his desire for knowledge was strong as ever in his late 50s.

This book also enables the reader to get a better picture of the surroundings in Pune and in other parts of India in that period. These surroundings, along with the global situation in the late 19th century/early 20th century had an important influence on Tilak. It was quite interesting to read how Tilak closely followed the various global geo-political developments in Europe, Russia, America, China and Japan.

The book offers good insights into the thought process of Lokmanya Tilak and his personality. His conviction, his forthrightness, his courage, his intellect and his other qualities are presented with plenty of examples.   The book is very well researched with detailed references and sources provided for various points. Many extracts from Tilak’s own writings in Kesari are also presented. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Indian History.

NOTE – Another excellent source of information about Lokmanya Tilak is the Tilak Museum at Kesari Wada in Pune.


11 Responses

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  1. Abhay Patil said, on November 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the review!
    Does it also talk about his dispute with the Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur? And about his association with Jinna?
    As for the “reforms” Tilak was quite a prisoner of his time – I am curious to understand how well that aspect has been explored in this biography.

  2. Amit Paranjape said, on November 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Abhay – Thanks for your comments. Yes..that and many other reform related debates such as the one surrounding the ‘Age of Consent Act’ are discussed in good detail.

    Tilak and Jinnah association is also discussed..with specific references to the 1908 trial. A recent new book has been published “Jinnah And Tilak: Comrades In The Freedom Struggle”… hoping to read it sometime.

  3. Abhijit Athavale said, on November 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Sometimes I wish that Tilak had bought into Agarkar’s vision of social reform/freedom before political reform/freedom. We would have been far better off …

  4. Bryan Still said, on December 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

    As an American interested in India’s history ( especially independence from Britain) I find Tilak fascinating. Always thought, if the country listened to him in 1914 India would be free much before Gandhi came.
    Did not know that he was a lawyer, from what I have read he was a Professor of Mathematics, and then a journalist.

  5. Amit Paranjape said, on December 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Bryan – Thanks for your comments. You should definitely read this book.

  6. mandar said, on May 5, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Amit- can you mention any specific bookstore/library to have this book. Although I am based in Mumbai I would not mind traveling to Pune just for this book. Also does this book have a Marathi edition too?

  7. Amit Paranjape said, on May 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Should be available in most major book stores and online.

  8. Sundar said, on July 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Shri Amit – Thank you for this valuable contribution. I wish I had seen your post earlier – I was in Pune last month and would definitely have visited the Tilak Museum. Maybe next time. I, too am, reading this bio now and it is amazing – the energy and vision of the Lokmanya. I think you will also find this post interesting.

  9. mohan said, on January 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks for your informative blog Amit… well done..

  10. uuttara patil said, on June 16, 2014 at 12:10 am

    He book marathi madhe ahe ki english madhe.. Ani jar english madhe asel t marathi t lya ekhadya book ch nav suggest kara. English kalayla jara vel lagto..

  11. Amit Paranjape said, on July 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    This book is in English. A good Marathi biography is the one written by Na. Chi. Kelkar. I think it is available in print (and also free online download).

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