“No man of our times had the hold on the masses that Mr Tilak had.”
– Mahatma Gandhi, in his obituary for Lokmanya Tilak in Young India, August 4, 1920
“The greatest Indian of the day… indomitable Tilak, who would not bend though he break.”
– Jawaharlal Nehru, in An Autobiography
“Tilak is at the moment probably the most powerful man in India.”
– Edwin Samuel Montagu, British Secretary of State for India between 1917 and 1922, in An Indian Diary
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the foremost leader of India’s freedom struggle before the advent of the Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi era, breathed his last, after a brief illness, in Bombay in the early hours of August 1, 1920. He was 64.
Destiny snatched him away at a relatively young age. Had he lived longer, this lion among Indian patriots could have changed the course of the nation’s freedom struggle for the better.
The funeral at Chowpatty Beach, not far from where he lived – in a modest rented room in a guest house called Sardar Griha – was attended by over a million people. Among the pall-bearers were Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Shaukat Ali, a prominent leader of the Khilafat Movement.
A grief-stricken Gandhi wrote in Young India on August 4, 1920: “A giant among men has fallen. The voice of the lion is hushed…His patriotism was a…