Heroes of the hour: Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak Maharaj, Sir Subramanya Iyer/Tilak Maharaj
Indian leaders we have many. Every one of them has a place and a province where he receives the maximum homage. There are some who are for special reasons enshrined in the hearts of certain sections of the people. There are others still who are actually idolised. It may be said without fear of contradiction that if there is one leader to-day whom all India loves with pride, that leader is Balwant Rau Gangadhar Tilak. Maharshi Gandhi certainly steals our hearts as powerfully, but his is a unique life far and away from the ordinary world. He is the calm, cool simple yet unreachable mount Kailas. Mr. Tilak is the nearer, the more readily reachable Varanasi combining in itself the holiness of a shrine and the attraction of a city. The feeling that we extend to Mr. Gandhi is a feeling of reverence and that which we extend to Mr. Tilak is one of love and esteem. The one is Maharaj, the other is Maharshi. The very address that we use is an indication of our attitude towards each. The ordinary human mind no doubt worships the ideal, and the God-Head in great and aweful reverence, but it can grow practically enthusiastic only over what is nearer, what is closer to its own image, what is, as a matter of fact, a more perfect and powerful identity of its own self. This peculiar trait in human nature is at the bottom of all hero-worship and all such heroes as appear to mankind to be made of the stuff of which it has experience do stand on a footing of closer relationship than others. It is the privilege of only a few souls to be in essence the greatness that ordinary humanity is not and yet at the same time appear to be made of the stuff of which it has full experience. That one of such exceptional souls is Mr. Tilak goes without saying. He is a man of the world, still he is a man beyond and above the world. He is the type of the Indian Hindu contemplated by the particularly Indian institution of Ashramas. Our method of Sikshana never tolerates what is either abnormal or subnormal. It emphatically lays down, as a beautiful sloka in Raghuvamsa puts it, that man is made to enjoy the good things of the world in proper time. Only our Gurus tell us we should never be slaves unto our desires. Mr. Tilak in all the life that he has led has truly exemplified the truth and significance of our ancient wisdom. Though simple in habits and simpler in appearance, he has never advocated abnormal renunciation either by word of mouth or by action in life. He has most undauntedly stood all privation and suffering when such conduct became necessary for the sake of the land and the cause he loved. Beyond and above this fine Indian Hindu character of worldliness and unworldliness, he has exhibited a strength of consistency not much rivalled by any great leader of mankind. He has therefore become the man that is nearest the heart of every feeling Indian and the brother—the elder brother—of all patriotic souls born in this land of Bharatavarsha. To study his life is to study that which is a beacon-light in the path of all Grihastas willing to lead the life ordained for them in the history of this great land in this eventful Yuga.
To picture unto one's own mind Mr. Tilak without once at least seeing him with the physical eye is to attempt to realise only half the truth. He is short in stature and thin in build to-day. Both these characteristics indicate and are most often associated with great nimbleness. Look at him as he enters an informal company of friends and you will feel that some very near relation of the group is getting into its midst to give it life and liveliness. You may have around men seven feet high and twenty stone in weight but your impression would be the same. The moment you are face to face with Mr. Tilak your impression grows stronger. At close range as at a distance his beaming eyes pour forth their abundant effulgence on you. His countenance is certainly always serious but it never looks as though there were peevishness or sullenness anywhere lurking. Nor does ever fear raise its muscular contortions. His forehead is spacious and it becomes that which hides behind a brain conspicuously capacious. It is only those who had the advantage of watching Mr. Tilak stand supremely cool and motionless on the congress platform at Surat amidst a sea of turmoil that can recognise the courageous beauty of that Lion of Indian's face. Mr. Tilak's voice is no less attractive. His accents have a clear ring. His sentences are always simple and his ideas directly expressed. There is no vehemence in his utterance. There is a pleasing reasonableness about his manner. In conversation, in public-speaking this is the keynote of Mr. Tilak's achievement.
Mr. Tilak is not given to parading his knowledge of English. He is as great a scholar in that language as any born in this country but he is one of those rare sons of India who early recognised that our salvation lies only through the vernaculars of the land. Most of his speeches have been delivered in Maharatti and almost the whole of his career has been that of a Maharatti journalist. We do want English. No advocate of Vernaculars has ever disputed its place as a common medium for the Britisher and the Indian, and as a common world language bringing to our doors the developing culture of the world. Mr. Tilak by his work as a professor of the Fergusson College, by his literary contributions to the English language and by his occasional English endeavour for the education of his fellow countrymen has certainly proved his desire to honor English and be honored by its use. But what he has constantly refused to do in precept as well as in practice is to attach an undue importance to the English language as a medium of national education—political or otherwise. The English educated elite of our brethren do no doubt feel that the vernaculars should be given a place—an important place, nay sometimes, a predominant place. But yet the Moha of the English language and English surroundings has not quitted. Even to-day, the day of Home Rule talk and Home Rule Agitation, you will find English and English educated and English-mouthed leaders exalted over the vernaculars and its votaries. If the latter escape without insult and injury from the elite they have to consider themselves fortunate. If they get a word of sympathy and a nod of approval they have to feel honored by demi-Gods. If they get a few rupees or a few notes worth of practical help they must bow and feel they have had their soul's Mukti. In the absence of Home Rule i.e., the rule of the people by the people not the rule of any Beauracracy Brahmin or Non-Brahmin, European or non-European, religious or non-religious; in the absence of that enlightenment which the populace gets by the exercise and practice of political right which is the privilege of every well-born and well-bred human individual; in the absence of an effective consciousness in the popular mind that its own self is the master and all the so-called leaders and the so-called officials are its servants,it is no wonder that as in administration so in public life the magic wand of an unfamiliar, mysterious language has had its influence. If to-day that influence is not bereft of its predominence, sometimes even in matters religious, it is easy enough to estimate what its influence mast have meant to the life-work of Mr. Tilak these thirty seven years. Wedding himself to the service more of the real people than of people as represented by the half and quarter English-educated classes he surely could not expect much understanding or substantial help from the latter. What he lost in the way of sympathy from a few educated gentlemen of easy disposition he amply made good by the staunch adherence of masses of India's sons who have gradually awakened to the greatness of the brother that has through a life of struggle and suffering stood by them and worked for their well-being. Led by the masses the classes have begun to rally to his banner and forget their own ancient forgetfulness of duty. The process has just begun and it is yet to spread and complete. It therefore seems opportune that the world should be better acquainted with the life history of that great soul known to the world under the name of Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Mr. Tilak's ancestry has in itself the seeds of his personal greatness. His fore-fathers distinguished themselves in the History of Maharashtra. From them he has inherited that attachment to the land of his birth which is at the bottom of all his enthusiasm for work. Mr. Tilak's father Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak was in himself a great scholar and a great educationist. He was first an assistant teacher at Ratnagiri and later rose to the position of a Deputy-Inspector. While he was at Ratnagiri Mr. Tilak was born on the 23rd of July 1856. Young Balwant Rau must have been early influenced by his father and he must have taken after him in the matter of mathematical capacity and the burning desire to teach what he knew to the world. While yet the young lad was dreaming the happy dreams of boyhood Mr. Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak left him to struggle alone in the world and departed to the next in 1872. To Mr. Balwant Rau who was yet in his sixteenth year the bereavement must have been really unbearable. Yet Providence works in mysterious ways. Young Baiwant Rau pursued his course of studies and by the time he was twenty he had graduated with honors from the Deccan College. Though there was in Mr. Tilak's nature, hidden far away from the gaze of the moment, the necessary trait to bring him to the profession—to that Godly profession—of teaching he yet followed the usual course all Indians of University Education were and are following and entered the Law College to take the degree of LL.B. He passed out of that College in 1879. The Higher Power that guides the destinies of mankind is so shrewd that in spite of all the wonderfully mistaken ways of man it sets the circumstances of the world to its own tune and through the very mistakes of mankind fulfils its own purpose—the purpose of shaping the progress of humanity. Just about the time young Balwant Rau was passing through the Law College he came into contact with one of those few young spirits who made modern Maharashtra. Mr. Agarkar felt in unison with Mr. Balwant Rau Gangadhar Tilak and their brains sped in all directions to serve the motherland. Under the conditions of ignorance prevailing in our country—thicker in 1880 than to-day—the first idea that catches the imagination of all patriotic dispositions is that of doing something to chase away the darkness from around us. This idea has a special fascination naturally to the hearts which are themselves searching after the light of knowledge. Many an young man, many a band of youg men must have felt enamoured of the thought that he or they shall be the instrument of spreading cheaper, freer, sounder education in a country like ours where all education has long been cramped, long been denied to all except the few who can command enormous amounts to spend at schools and colleges. But all those that dream dreams cannot realise them. It was given however to Mr. Agarkar and Mr. Balwant Rau Tilak to achieve their object through toil and turmoil. With the determination to succeed, Messrs. Agarkar and Tilak pledged themselves to absolute independence of Government service and started on the path of establishing an institution wherein Education should be cheap and effective. Two raw young men just out of college attempting to do such an impossible feat of establishing a cheap national college was reason enough to elders to look upon these as idealists and fanatics. However a third enthusiast was later found to join the two young men who had burning notions of service. That third was no other than the famous Maharatti prose writer Mr. Vishnu Krishna Chiplunkur. When the ball begins to roll the players gather by instinct. So when three could be found to espouse the ideal of cheap education there were others more who could help them on the journey. Messrs. M, B. Namjoshi and V. S. Apte joined forces with the trio above named and thus by the end of 1880 the Poona New English School, ushered into existence on the 2nd of January that year, was in full swing with five enthusiastic masters to steer it to safe haven.
The thirst for educative work when once it begins does not easily subside. Large schemes and methods suggest themselves to thinking minds and one of such is the good work that may be easily done through the publication of leaflets, pamphlets and journals. Agarkar — Tilak — Chiplunkar Brotherhood found ample energy awaiting in themselves for more useful work and so decided to start two papers—one in English and one in Maharatti. The English paper they started was the Maharatta, It was but right that they intended to indicate national rather subnational—consciousness oven in the name of the journal they were starting. The Maharatti paper they established was the Kesari probably foretelling even then that that would be the paper which would bring home to the Indian mind that we are lions when we realise it, not sheep as we have been habitually taught to think of ourselves.
Even from the earliest period of his journalistic career Mr. Tilak the hero of this life-sketch has had to undergo persecutions and prosecutions. Really the story of Mr. Tilak is the story of his prosecutions. His is the life consecrated to suffer penalties imposed by a law made and interpreted by a close Bureaucracy; so that, others may have the advantage of the exposition of the principles on which that law is founded nay more of the gradual broadening of those very principles in response to the growing abhorence of humanity in this country towards a managed and arbitrary system of legislation. Mr. Tilak 's first experience of law's tyranny came to him in company with his friends and co-workers Agarkar and Chiplunkur. A little while after they started the Maharatta and the Kesari they had to take up cudgels against the Kharbari of the state of Kolhapur. As Maharattas still holding dear in memory the greatness of the house of Shivaji they could not reconcile themselves to the treatment accorded to H. H. Shivaji Rau the Maharaja. It is the duty of every honest journalist to expose most fearlessly the vagaries of any official whatsoever who oppresses in the name of the authority he possesses the people left in his charge. It is no wonder that Maharatta young men with still the light of greatness of their race burning in them took most seriously to heart the indignities heaped on a prince who in different circumstances might have been the peer of all the Majesties of the world. As a consequence of the intrepid courage of the trio conducting the Maharatta and the Kesari, they were brought before a court of law on a charge of defamation. While the trial was proceeding Mr. Chiplunkur died and Mr. Tilak and Agarkar were left to keep each other company in jail. They were sentenced to simple imprisonment for four months. Looking back upon the history of India these thirty seven years, one feels that after all the first incarceration of Mr. Tilak for four months was a blessing in disguise to the whole country. In the case of ordinary men that do not question or inquire, short term and easy-conditioned imprisonment may be itself a real set-back. They may sit idle in their cells brooding over the calamity that has befallen them and imagining to themselves how worse their condition might have been if they had longer to serve and more rigorous lives to live. To one who is conscious of his sin and who is oppressed by the weight of his own evil-doing this brooding and this ennui may be more real still and his whole nature may thereafter be bent to attempting to desist from the course of his past. It may even be stated without fear of exaggeration that if real reformation is meant, short-termed, easy-conditioned punishment should be the rule. If fear of punishment is a corrective, the fear should be kept up, not obliterated by the imposition of actual experience. This whole theory of punishment, however, is inoperative in the case of real, thinking, honest patriots. There are some even amongst these who call themselves patriots and saviours of the world, who under restraint feel that they have to fret, fume and waste and thus proclaim their own selves as very great suiferers. Such a frame of mind is not consistent with either strength or the future development of the individual or the cause. It is endurance in the dungeon-depths, calmness in the midst of dark enveloping confinenent that feeds the stream of patriotic enthusiasm and forges the power that ultimately shakes the tyrant and his tyranny. Therefore, when conditions are easier, when the imprisonment is simple, the true patriot finds his duty in studying the world around him—the world of prison and its denizens and sympathising with the common felon and the common criminal with whom his association lies learn to appreciate the meaning of the lowly life of the lowliest brother. To one who thus contemplates in love the great secret of existence and the utter meaninglessness of the socalled privileges of social life, all obstructions, all difficulties, all dangers become mere chaff and straw as against the solid wellbeing of humanity. That Mr. Tilak's first imprisonment gave him this opportunity is provedby the splendid results of his life. On return from jail Mr. Tilak joined Mr. Namjoshi as usual and carried on the work they had set for themselves. The Poona new English School by its very success aroused hopes of a greater and greater expansion. The patriotic comrades at its helm decided that it should grow into a college. They therefore started and founded in 1884 the Deccan Education Society. The staff of teachers ready to serve the motherland on a mere pittance was strengthened by the addition of Professors V. G. Kelkar, Dharap and M. S. Gole. Consequently in 1885 the Deccan Education Society brought into existence under its own management that institution which to-day is the pride of Maharashtra—the famous Fergusson College. Mr. Tilak took upon himself the duty of teaching Mathematics, Science and Sanskrit. As Professor of these three subjects he proved himself a veritable, versatile genius. With his example of independence and industry,students must have felt themselves in a real haven of knowledge and culture. Mr. Tilak, however, did not continue long as Professor. He worked for five years with all his might and then differences of opinion arose as to certain matters relating to the duties and conduct of the teachers of the College. No fattier ever desires to serve his child ill. If it becomes impossible for him to keep the child under his protection he would rather see it well under some other roof than insist upon his own right and spoil its prospects. Just the same relation holds good in the case of children other than those made of flesh and blood. Mr. Tilak though he might have felt that he was perfectly right in his own conviction that the life-members of the College should confine their attention to their work as teachers and not distract it by other activities, yet resigned connection with the institution and permitted it to grow independently of himself. After-events have certainly shown that he did well. The Fergusson College has become a force in the land, its Professors standing out as the exponents, of a new Social and Economic thought. Mr. Tilak himself has had the advantage of being free to do much other work in politics and achieve the leadership of India by the most constant sacrifice any one person is ever privileged to exhibit. Mr. Tilak has always aimed at carrying the people with him, and has ever stood against the interference of others and outsiders in matters relating purely to the Hindu Society. He therefore has had to maintain a different angle of vision altogether from the more ardent spirits the extremists among whom, dazzled by the absolute theoritical social justice taught in English schools and oblivious to the very many differentiations made by and existing under a system of alien Bureaucracy, have maintained and sometimes still maintain that the oppression of the weak, the lowly born, the lowly placed, is a special sin of this glorious land of Bharata Varsha and that we cannot and ought not to claim emancipation from dependence on autocracy on that account. Mr. Agarkar did not belong surely to this extremist school, but he did feel that more and better social justice should be practised in this land for its improvement. So Mr. Tilak and Mr. Agarkar as they developed each in his own line could not agree on matters religious as well as social. In 1888 Mr. Agarkar gave up his connection with the Kesari and later both the Kesari and the Maharatta came to be owned once more by a trio Messrs. Tilak, Kelkar and H. N. Gokhale. The trio did not achieve much. There were yet a further change and a further change and Mr. Tilak became both the Editor and Proprietor of the two journals. That these journals have had very great influence in moulding the life of Maharashtra in particular and India in general goes without saying. No other vernacular paper has had the circulation of the Kesari. When unhampered by the restrictions placed upon its circulation by certain Native princes of India it is understood to have circulated to the extent of well near thirty thousand. The prestige that the Maharatta maintains even to this day under a different but equally competent Editor bespeaks the care bestowed upon it by Mr. Tilak. It is probably the foremost independent paper in our country. A little after Mr. Tilak became the sole Editor of the Kesari and the Maharatta the controversy over the Age of Consent Bill arose. The fight was bitter and a great deal of recrimination was indulged in by the Social Reformers against the Orthodox and by the Orthodox against the Social Reformers. Though one's heart always yearns to support, the more radical, the more progressive section yet one has no right to forget that the more conservative have their own honest ways of thinking. Mr. Tilak sticking peculiarly to his idea of non-interference by outsiders in matters of development purely Indian—and this phase of thought it is that has very materially contributed to the emphasis he always lays upon self-help in all progress we have yet to make—threw the weight of his opinion and personality on the side of the Orthodox. With Mr. Tilak going over to the conservative two clearly cut parties sprang into existence in Poona. Patience cannot always be expected of men filled with new-born enthusiasm. And so the radical Reformer could not excuse Mr. Tilak of the abysmal fall he had suffered by pandering to the tastes of the populace. So abuse after abuse was heaped upon the head of the devoted Champion of the cause of the Orthodox. That such periods occur in the lives of great men proves neither their incapacity nor the ingratitude of the mass of mankind. It proves on the other hand that when great men are thrown up and great causes have to be worked, there is so much ferment let loose by an ordaining hand that leavens the world and creates a clearer and a better vision. Nor are the great really exercised over the frothy appearance of such a necessary ferment.
In addition to carrying on his other duties and conducting a law-class, about this time Mr. Tilak was utilising to the fullest his profound knowledge of Sanskrit and Mathematics to search out certain Astronomical references in the Vedas and prove from these their hoary age. As his original genius unfurled its banner and began to make conquests in the unknown realms of the long, long past, his name was well-recognised as that of a solid and independent scholar of Antiquity. He contributed papers to the International Congress of Orientals held in London during the year 1892, published subsequently under the name of “The Orion” or “Researches into the Antiquity of the Vedas.” They received the approbation of European scholars like MaxMuller, Whitney and Weber. Consequent upon this fame to scholarship, Mr. Tilak was obliged to carry on detailed discussions with some of these Professors. One of them Dr. Whitney ultimately recognised the merit of this native oriental scholar and gave him deservingly the highest praise in the Journal of the American Oriental Society. Mr. Tilak's Control of Vedic literature drew from another scholar Dr. Bloomfield of John Hopkin's University an admiration which could describe Mr. Tilak only as a Lion in learning and no less.
In dealing with the subject of the age of the Vedas in such detail Mr. Tilak's purpose cannot be considered to be one of merely satisfying his own antiquarian curiosity. Though India could claim according to traditions a civilisation of long Yugas covering periods of thousands of years before Christ, scholars of Indian Chronology were wont to express doubts as to such great age of Indian institutions. If real data could be found on which the fact of the hoary age of Indian civilisation could be established, they would certainly serve two causes at the same time—the cause of human knowledge and the cause of India's self-realisation. The latter, to Mr. Tilak's mind, must have been the more appealing at the time. Whatever his immediate motives were or were not, the fact stands out clearly that he ably attempted to prove that the hymns of the Rig-veda were composed prior to 4000 B.C.
The same care that Mr. Tilak bestowed upon maintaining the honor of his beloved motherland was equally bestowed on maintaining the honor of all those whom he knew and loved. An incident happened about this time which clearly shows this peculiar trait of Mr. Tilak's personal character. Rao Saheb Bapat was an officer of the Settlement Department of the Earoda state. He was also Mr. Tilak's nearest friend. A number of charges of corruption was brought against him and he had to stand accused before a court of law. Mr. Tilak knew that his friend was in danger for no fault of his and so threw himself heart and soul into the defence of Mr. Bapat. Mr. Tilak the lawyer was fully utilised for relieving the distress of one near and dear and people were led to conjecture how great a luminary he might have been if he continued practising at the bar. No conjectures seem to be necessary now. The defence that he conducted for himself in the Kesari prosecution of 1908 struck the world dumb with admiration for his powers of argument and grasp of legal situations. Mr. Tilak might certainly have become a great lawyer, a greater judge and probably the greatest administrator and counsellor of Government under freer conditions. That he did not become an apke vaste judge or an apke vaste councillor—and that has been the fate of Indian Judges and Indian Councillors with very rare and noble exceptions—none need feel that the country has been the poorer for it. It is probably Mr. Tilak's renunciation of the legal walk of life that has made him the greatest advocate that he is of the dumb millions of Bharatavarsha.
Incident by incident brought Mr. Tilak gradually into the fore-front and he was called upon to fill positions which to him meant mere fields of so much more experience and to others meant and, mean even to-day, the be-all and end-all of existence. He was elected Secretary of the Deccan Standing Committee of the Congress and he held that office for a number of years. The first five Sessions of the Bombay Provincial Conference were his handiwork. He was twice elected to the Bombay Legislative Council and there did his duty undaunted by official or unofficial frowns. He enjoyed the privilege, so far as it is a privilege, of being returned a Fellow of the University of Bombay. He was also made one of the city fathers of Poona by the largest vote of the people in 1895. As in the capacity of a legislative-councillor so in the capacities of a Fellow and a Municipal Councillor Mr. Tilak followed out his usual method of thorough endeavour. It would be well to note here that none of these great qualifications of Mr. Tilak—qualifications which in the case of others would be trotted out every minute as huge claims to consideration and respect—do not require advertisement since his life has been consecreated to a higher purpose and a nobler aspiration. It is time we turn our attention to the story of his first connection with the political movement of the country—the Congress.
Secretary of the Deccan Standing Committee, as Mr. Tilak was, he was elected Secretary of the Poona Congress in 1895. It was the Eleventh Session of the Congress that had to sit. Differences had already arisen as to the propriety of lending the Congres Pandal for holding the Sessions of the Social Conference. Though no doubt the congress itself was started with the intention of helping the political as well as the social well-being of the country, it had early been recognised that in a land where the structural edifice of society was largely based on a kind of religious sentiment it would not be right to mix up political and social matters in any abrupt and officious manner So the idea had grown stronger day by day that it was better to keep social and political matters apart in Indian development for a long time to come; and no amount of honest enthusiastic—nay fanatic—advocacy of the cause of Social Reform as not really very distinct from either religious or political reform can establish the theory that the Social Reformer at the time and out of the heat of the moment tried to establish—that Mr. Tilak acted as he did out of the ambition to win cheap notoriety and popular favour. To-day when in all fields of thought—political, social, and religious—we have advanced towards a vision of freedom and absolute freedom, it looks strange that a person of the stamp of Mr. Tilak should have made common cause with the illiberals who denied the use of a patriotic Pandal for purposes of free and honest discussion of matters vitally concerning the well-being of the peoples of the country. We have to bear in mind however two cardinal facts. In these early times Mr. Tilak foresaw what to-day is being very loudly preached by us Indians, and our friends the liberal Europeans, that political emancipation through the Co-operative awakening of the masses was as important for the cause of Social Reform as the movement of Social Reform itself. He also felt bound to protest against the extravagances of the Social Reformer who, in his zeal for introducing what he considered modern civilization and the only civilization possible, proved more iconoclastic than constructive, and considered that right Reform which spoke ill of all that was past and ancient in the history of India. Surely to a patriotic mind which most properly believed that the future greatness of any nation could only be possible by the consciousness of its past glory and past achievement, this frenzy for things modern and things foreign must have tasted gall and wormwood. If under such circumstances Mr. Tilak showed the narrowness he did, it certainly did not arise out of any personal ambitions but out of a real conviction that he was taking the only possible course left to him under the imperfections of the moment. From later history we do know Mr. Tilak is not such a fanatic on behalf of Orthodoxy as he was attempted to be made out by his opponents. His endeavour has all along been to shape the present on the foundations of the past with the new bricks and the new mortar that the moment may yield. To harmonise the past and the present and to formulate the future on the basis of such harmony is certainly not a blunder, not a sin. In doing it, it is possible that Mr. Tilak on account of his strong nature made stronger still by keen opposition did lay at one time greater emphasis upon national lines of reform than was necessary. His practice however has proved him the opposite of a fanatic orthodox. He has educated his daughters and postponed their marriage till the Shastras, as at present understood by the orthodox, have been violated. He has definitely declared that caste-distinction was merely based on Division of Labour and does not signify superiority or inferiority by birth. He has also set at nought the authority of all accepted commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and stood forth boldly as the champion of a new school of thought of action as against the old school of secluded contemplation. He is to-day thinking of crossing the seas to work for Mother India. In this wise Mr. Tilak has vindicated himself. It is therefore idle to be bemoaning the incident that occured in 1895 his resignation of the Secretaryship of the Eleventh National Congress. He felt keenly on the particular issue, and probably believing that continuing as Secretary there-after was not in keeping with a sense of self-respect, he resigned the position. Had he continued who knows if he might have not proceeded from one compromise to another and landed himself in a position where-from he could not rise and lead the Great new National thought which he did lead later and which to-day has become the thought of the country. Resigning as he did the Secretary's place Mr. Tilak did not cut himself away from the Congress. He remained with the Congress, spoke at the Congress more than once during the sessions held at Poona, carried on work on the lines of the Congress till the split at Surat appeared to part friends, only to reunite them later.
1896 was a year of famine; and prices rose so high that people despaired of living. Men in Poona went about as elsewhere with the cry of high prices and scarce supply written large on their famished bodies and sorrow-struck faces. It was at this time that Mr. Tilak 's humanity was drawn out to its fullest and his sympathy for fellow-men exhibited in its real proportions. He toiled hard, and incessantly poured into the ears of grain merchants streams of pathetic appeals. They were ultimately overpowered by his entreaties and then sprang up in Poona cheap grain shops which proved antidotes both to the severity of prices and the shortage of supplies. Nothing touches the chord of human affection more powerfully than friendship in times of necessity. A. friend in need is a friend indeed. The whole population of Poona immediately felt grateful to the hand that was outstretched to relieve, and henceforth Mr. Tilak became practically the uncrowned king of the masses. Having attended to the wants of the people in his own place Mr. Tilak proceeded to work some relief to the famine-stricken population of Sholapur and other places. He had the intention of thoroughly co-operating with the officials and concerting measures of relief. But authority is always suspicious of men who may capture the hearts of the people. So any little cause that may show itself is enough to make it discredit the honest work of sincere friends of mankind. The same thing happened in the case of Mr. Tilak. As Mr. Tilak was trying to get to, the official imagination and influence it to do something effectively, there was a little flutter in the dovecots of the bureaucracy on account of the criticisms passed by the Sarvajanaick Sabha. So Mr. Tilak was distrusted and all his pious intentions to work in harmony with the agents of the Government were frustrated.
Not merely did Mr. Tilak work during times of famine but he also rendered great services to the people during the first outbreak of plague at Poona. If he chose to run away from the danger of possible contagion he could have very easily and comfortably followed the example of other armed chair politicians. But his is a message of undaunted courage and incessant; service. He stayed in Poona and helped in all possible ways the attempts the Government were making to stop the ravages of the fell disease. He organised a hospital and incessantly preached in his paper the absolute necessity of the people's co-operation with the Government. The agents of the British Government in this country have seen no greater critic than Mr. Tilak when they were in the wrong. Equally have they not seen a greater friend and co-operator in matters where they strove to serve the cause of the public consigned to their care. In spite of the rebuff Mr. Tilak received when he attempted to work for the amelioration of the famine stricken communities of Sholapur and other places, he did all he could during the prevalence of plague in Poona to assist the authorities. This itself must have been a sufficient eye-opener to the men in power as to the genuine character of Mr. Tilak's Patriotism and loyalty. But such eye-openers rarely operate on the parched up consciences of sun-dried bureaucrats.
The occasion soon arose for power to show itself against a patriot whose honest work on behalf of his brethren was making him gradually more powerful than itself. Having the stern stuff of the hero in him, Mr. Tilak felt, most unconsciously perhaps but none the less strongly and convincedly, that the only source of salvation for a land lay through the worship of its heroes. A hero is always a man of action and the two traits of heroism according to Carlyle, are earnestness and sincerity. Action sincere and honest is probably the highest virtue that any nation may cultivate; and that nation particularly which is in the throes of a decadent Yuga with a history of past greatness and glory, has the highest need of it. So it happens that when any such nation awakens to its budding life out of a temporary decadence, its prophets always appeal to the gay vegetation, the gayer flowers and fruits which once adorned and beautified the very place on which the hand of time has had its effect. They point to the wonderful purposes of the Higher Power and in accents of ecstacy speak of the opening spring and its promise. This leads to the dawn of the consciousness that we have the power to realise ourselves and find self-expression incessantly in eternity and that what was in life yesterday can be reproduced to-day and what we achieve to-day may yet be achieved by another generation near or far in the future. This wonderful aspect of life it is that appeals to mankind in heroworship and it was left to Mr. Tilak to grasp the situation instinctively and introduce into Maharashtra the cult of hero-worship in the form of Sivaji celebration. What other name in history can appeal to the Maharatta more strongly than the name of Sivaji that great founder of the Maharatta Empire and greater embodiment of Maharatta genius? What more effective weapon could there be in the armoury of an emasculated nation than the memory of such a great one to chase away the oppressive consciousness of incapacity for real life? Though Mr. Tilak or his followers never for a moment dreamt that sinister meanings would be read into the celebration of a feast, which merely roused national consciousness, yet it was exactly that which happened. The authorities smelt sedition in a report of the proceedings that appeared in the Kesari and forthwith connected it in their own minds with an unfortunate incident which unhappily occurred about the same time. However much educated men like Mr. Tilak restrained people from thinking ill of the sanitary measures the Government was taking against the spread of plague, during times twenty years ago when ignorance was thicker in the country, men were not prepared to confide in what the English-educated said about sanitation and matters like that. It happened therefore that certain strict measures adopted, gave rise to a ferment in the superstitious mind of the populace and led ultimately to the murder of Mr. Rand and Ayerest. Even Sir Valentine Chirol admits to this extent, that Mr. Tilak could not be directly connected with the murder and then proceeds audaciously to suggest that Mr. Tilak's writings did tend to cause not merely this single act but also all later acts of violence in the country. In support of his theory he adduces the statement of an accused person that read the reports of certain oppressive acts of the whites in the Kesari and other papers and decided to act as he did. If this is an argument for the audacity of Sir Valentine Chirol then he will have consistently to libel all papers which publish reports of the high-handed behaviour of individuals or even reports of legal proceedings where misbehaviour of the Superior Races has come into light in a court of law and has been judicially dealt with. No wonder that when men of Sir Valentine Chirol's type could be found even to-day there were lesser and more illiberal men still, in charge of administration in the nineties of the last century. Pressed by the panic pestilence had caused, the Government of Bombay launched a prosecution against Mr. Tilak. He was arrested in Bombay and as became lower Magistracy the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Poona refused him bail. At that stage even the High Court did not interfere. When however bail was again applied for after the case was committed to the High Court Sessions Justice Tyabji granted bail founding his action upon an admirable recital of the Custom of the Criminal Courts in England. A Jury consisting of six Europeans and three Indians was empanelled and Mr. Tilak stood his trial before it. The sensation that Mr. Tilak's trial created at the time cannot be adequately described in words. The writer was then no older than fourteen and studying though he was in the third form in a far off mofussil station, he could not escape the vague knowledge and the vaguer excitement of the hour. Mr. Tilak's 1897 trial was but the second under the Press Law in India, the first being that of the Bangabasi long anterior. During the trial of Mr. Tilak's case a great deal of the discussion turned round the meaning of individual Vernacular words and his conviction was obtained by an appeal to the seditious nature of such words. To-day after the judgment of the learned judges who tried the latest of Mr. Tilak's cases a much needed legal dictum has been arrived at, that it is the effect of the whole speech or writing that must be taken into consideration not the meaning of any particular word or even passage. That the decision in Mr. Tilak's first trial did have a very baneful effect on honest journalism in India is manifest by the scores of later decisions in several cases which followed exactly the same lines as the judgment in Mr. Tilak's first trial. Mr. Tilak certainly suffered once again in 1908 and had to survive that suffering and the suffering of the later trial in 1916 to get a small Judicial Dictum established in the administration of the law of the country. Mr. Tilak was convicted of sedition by the six Europeans of the Jury that formed a majority therein and was sentenced to eighteen months rigorous imprisonment. To-day it comes back to the mind as a romantic tale and one still hears the popular whispered talk “Mr. Tilak it seems is reduced 4 lbs in weight, 8 lbs in weight, 10 lbs in weight. Is it possible that the Government could inflict on a patriot like this a suffering so disproportionate.” The sympathy for Mr. Tilak was very greatly enhanced at the time by the peculiar stubbornness with which a number of obstacles were placed in his way when on his behalf attempts were made to get a hearing of the full bench upon some points at issue and later to appeal to the Privy Council. Even the appearance of such a famous lawyer as Mr. Asquith at the bar of the Privy Council could not procure for Mr. Tilak a chance of justice. The last refuge of all who are punished for no fault of theirs is the throne and to the throne did the literary friends of Mr. Tilak like Professor Max Muller and Mr. William Hunter betake themselves on behalf of the Indian Scholar of the Vedas. Negotiations opened and Mr. Tilak was released on the understanding that he would keep to certain conditions. A great deal was made of these conditions later. It is therefore well to mention them in their proper place. Mr. Tilak was to avoid public demonstrations after release and if he committed the same offence he had to undergo in addition to the sentence that might be imposed on him. for the fresher offence six months imprisonment that was excused at the first release. That the first stipulation was kept has not been disputed. The second stipulation does not mean much in so far as the whole issue has to rest on the view that certain people, set up as judges, take of particular acts done or said to have been done. By the latest decision in his favor, Mr. Tilak may very well claim that he never broke the stipulations he entered into, and claim also that even the imperfect law was more imperfectly administered so as to injure him and help his enemies.
Return from jail and a few months rest found Mr. Tilak fit again for public work. With his usual energy he threw himself again into Congress politics and travelled in 1898 so far South as Madras to attend the Congress that was being held there. He undertook a journey further South to Ceylon and got into better touch with the people of Southern India. The Sivaji celebration was once more an accomplished fact in 1900 and the inspiration Mr. Tilak gave at Raighad established it for ever as an annual festival. It came later on to be copied all over the country including the so-called benighted Madras.
Mr. Tilak was incessantly at work with his theory of the antiquity of the Vedas, working as he was very strenuously in the more mundane spheres of existence and this time he evolved not a statement merely based upon the Vedas and their astronomical significance but also on the undisputed facts of Geological Science worked out and stated by the most eminent scholars of the world. He called his work “The Arctic Home of the Vedas.” In it Mr. Tilak located the original home of the ancestors of all civilised nations somewhere in the Arctic regions. To the modern mind which has long been accustomed to believe that the Aryans migrated to the several continents from either Mid-Asia or Mid-Europe this was a revelation and this seems yet to be a revelation. Mr. Tilak's conclusions have not been generally accepted and they have not had the superb fortune of that wonderful “Theory of Black Hole of Calcutta” which vitiated and in certain cases still vitiates Indian history by obtruding into the realm of text-books. It may be hoped however that time will ere long arrive when the researches of the real native Vedic scholar will be accepted as deserving of greater attention than the researches of men whose knowledge of the things that were at the beginning is after all second-hand and thirdhand. One thing however may be taken as a sign that sooner or later Mr. Tilak's Arctic Home in the Vedas will have its influence in the making of historical theories. His methods of critical study have not been questioned. An eminent American scholar Dr. F. W. Warren Principal of the Boston University has characterised Mr. Tilak's methods as the outcome of absolute candour and respect for the strictest historical and scientific investigation.
For once in the life of Mr. Tilak he had to suffer the agonies that to a public man are the most excruciating. Imprisonment for sedition has no terrors absolutely none when compared to the anguish that an impeachment of private character brings with it, especially when such an impeachment arises out of circumstances into which the individual enters with high motives to render service as best as it lies in his power to do. When one has done one's duty and satisfied one's own conscience one has no need to feel worried over the littlenesses of others who, actuated very often by small selfish ends, sometimes by mere jealousy and malice, and sometimes by their own imperfect understanding, try to besmear the loftiest characters with mud and tar. Still caring, as every one does, for the opinion of the world, all that have to deal with the many-headed and the many-tongued public feel, under normal conditions, the insult wantonly offered by little tin-gods possessing, for the time-being, the varying ear and the queer heart of the scandal monger. The feeling is certainly keener when this attempt at defaming is made in courts of law and the individual is put to the trouble of expending energy, time and money in a thousand ways of waste. However, born in an imperfect world with small imperfections in our own nature which lend to evil-doers pegs on which to hang for a time their own theories of our wickedness, we have ever to stand erect in our honesty of purpose, and through Jgood report and bad, fight the battle ultimately to reach the haven where the very evil-doers and calumniators do stand trembling in their own evil-doing and sin. Mr. Tilak had a great friend known as Shri Baba Maharaja. That was a great aristocrat of Maharashtra, a first-class Sirdar of Poona. Mr. Tilak took always very great interest in the welfare of the family of Sri Baba Maharaja. So the latter had the greatest regard for a friend whose greatness as a man gave a higher title to respect than anything else others could claim. Shri Baba Maharaja died just a short time after Mr. Tilak's release. While on the death-bed he sent for Mr. Tilak and pressed him to accept the great responsibility, of executorship of the property. With the generous heart that Mr. Tilak possesses to satisfy the demands of personal friendship as well as to safe-guard the interests of those dear and near, he took upon himself the task of guiding the affairs of the Maharaja's family. The air that surrounds aristocratic families in general and Indian aristocratic families in particular, is, as is well-known, not very congenial for strictness and goodness to thrive. When the situation is complicated by the appearance of a young widow as the heir to the property, the position becomes certainly much worse. Mr. Tilak with the zeal of the puritan began cutting away the stinking rubbish that had accumulated. He decided to pay off the debts of the family and with that view shortened the allowance of the widow. He recommended the adoption of a boy as the most advisable step for the future well-being of the family's affairs. All this must have meant to the hangers on of the widow a death-blow. So they worked on the young susceptibilities of Tai Maharaj and gradually set her up against Mr. Tilak. The work of the evil-doers might have begun at the very beginning but it did not manifest itself till too late. Tai Maharaj went along with Mr. Tilak and others to Aurangabad and there took in adoption a boy belonging to another branch of the old family. This was really the most natural course to take for a Hindu woman of an aristocratic family to keep up the traditions of such a family. But somehow immediately Tai Maharaj had returned from Aurangabad, she found herself entirely in the hands of her evil-counsellors. They probably put into her head wonderful notions of her own importance. What it was that happened we cannot know. She instituted proceedings against Mr. Tilak and others in the court of the District Judge of Poona asking for a revocation of the probate of the will of her late husband. Mr. Tilak was not a favourite with the Heaven-born service. Mr. Aston the district judge took a very perverse view of the matter and not only did he invalidate the probate and revokeit, but also permitted floods of irrelevent evidence on points having no direct connection with the matter under consideration. He recorded, against all the protests of Mr. Tilak, much gossip as to the unlawful confinement of Tai Maharaj and the adoption at Aurangabad. This was done with the clear intention of damaging the personal reputation of Mr. Tilak and crushing him once for all as a trusted leader of the people. Mr. Aston the District Judge did not feel his purpose fulfilled by the mere record he made. He therefore proceeded against Mr. Tilak under the Criminal Proceedure code and handed him over to the Poona Magistrate to be dealt with. The opportunity was attempted to be availed of to the fullest as a long list of criminal charges—seven in number—including Forgery, and Perjury was drawn up. In an appeal to the High Court against the judgment of Mr. Aston, Mr. Tilak and his comrades were successful in the matter of the rehabilitation of the probate but they failed to get the criminal proceedings against Mr. Tilak stoped. The Poona Magistrate found Mr. Tilak guilty, convicted him and sentenced him to eighteen months rigorous imprisonment. How the enemies of Mr. Tilak chuckled at the prospect of their plans so well succeeding, it is needless to think of. They however received an immediate potion of severe disappointment when the Sessions Judge Mr. Lucas reduced the sentence to six months and, more remarkable still, declared in his judgment that Mr. Tilak's character was absolutely untainted by any corrupt intentions. One step further and the High Court set at nought all the astute labor of that glorious judge Mr. Aston. They quashed the conviction completely and the prosecution had to withdraw all charges intended to be pressed. The High Court by the way pronounced on the question of the adoption and pronounced in its favour. Mr. Tilak could thereafter easily obtain a civil decree fully recognising the validity of the adoption.
The latest episode of this dramatic scene has now been played out. The Privy Council has delivered judgment and Mr. Tilak's innocence has been proved to the hilt. As in public life so in private life he has passed through the severest fire. Sanctified in it and emerging from it with a wreath of the finest laurel fresh and fragrant, he stands to-day victor over evil-tongues and black hearts, pointing unto the younger generations the path of thorns that, tread boldly and erectly, leads to the life of peace and progress.
Tai Maharaj and her counsellors gave full employment to Mr. Tilak and his energies for three years from 1901-1904. From 1905 onwards we find Mr. Tilak again on his usual war-path and it so happens, thanks to the Unseen Hand which worked through that great Lord Curzon, that that year marked the new era in Indian politics. The partition of Bengal was an event full of potentialities for the awakening of the Indian political consciousness and the leaders of Bengal—old and young—took up the question of Indian aspirations in right earnest. The partition of the Bengalee speaking population, knit as they were into a peculiar fabric of unity by long established development of literature and thought, threw the whole country into the suspicion that the Bureaucracy was beginning to use the imperialistic weapon of “Divide and Rule” to its fullest capacity over-riding even the natural affinity of language. Hence the movement against the step taken by the Curzon Government spread like wild-fire and developed gradually into the Swadeshi-Boycott-National Education-Swaraj agitation of the first ten years of this century. Mr. Tilak would not be Mr. Tilak the leader, if he did not see into the great prospects of a wonderful movement like the Anti-Partition movement. The obstinacy of the Bureaucracy in the face of voilent opposition proved the utter futility of the old methods of mendicancy. It was all very well to petition and pray as long as what was asked for was nothing that came directly in the way of vested interests. But it was perfect moonshine to depend upon mere petition and prayer when what was expected of the Giver was something directly touching his pocket and power. Personal relationship between the Rulers and the ruled, a kind of common fellowship when conveniences of life were not so mechanically procurable, and the comparative ignorance of the people, had helped in earlier days to keep the credit of the Bureaucracy and to induce faith in the all-curing power of prayer. But as knowledge grew on the part of the governed, and form and stiffness developed on the side of the rulers, the real defects of a lifeless Bureaucracy were out and people felt that some moral strength behind petition and prayer was essential to force from out of the way of the Beauracrafc's vision the great obstacle of self-interest. And so arose the weapon known as protest used even by the mildest of agitators before the new era of Swadeshi-Boycott-National Education and Swaraj. What the apostles of the New Era advocated—Mr. Tilak was the strongest and at the same time the most far-sighted apostle—was an extention of the principle of moral force and a practical realisation of it in action founded upon self-help. It is needless to go, in any great detail, into the history of the new movement. It is sufficient if the cardinal points in the evolution of Indian life are noted. True enough, at one time during the Swadesi agitation, academic discussion as to perfect Independence was very largely indulged in and true enough also that the extreme school of Nationalism preached the gospel of absolute “hands off” to educate the people to a complete dissociation from the governmental machine in order to put a spoke into it and make it feel its helplessness if people did not co-operate. But none of the methods employed need have terrified a strong Government if its foundations were broad based upon the contentment of the people. But Bureaucracy, being what it was and what it can only be, discovered in all these methods of agitation danger not to itself—that would certainly have been frank and open—but to the British Government and the British Empire. It therefore began to forge one repressive measure after another and this sitting-over-the-safety-valve brought forth a crop of trouble and turmoil. The bomb, the new dastardly weapon of the man of despair, found its way from the Tamasic West, where it is most common, into the pure Satwic East. The tremor of the autocrat could know no bounds. In times such as that, it is not to be wondered that confusion worse confounded the whole issue. Men were found who, with the solicitude to appease the angered in authority only to gain advantages to the country,set their faces strong against any advance in the direction of independent action. There were others, more forward but still cautious, who advocated a mixed method of protest and prayer deprecating all suggestion of indignant aloofness. There were yet others who believed in no other weapon but that of strict moral force as exhibited by a thorough going policy of Passive Resistance. The school of the Extremist bomb thrower which at no time was appreciable developed last and happily for the country has not spread to many provinces even according to the testimony of the C. I. D. officers. Excepting this Extremist school all other thought was open and frank and as openly and frankly expressed.
That complications did arise is a fact wellknown. From the time the Anti-Partition movement was set on foot differences did make their appearance. At the Benares Congress held under the presidency of Mr. Gokhale the New spirit showed itself very plainly and the next year the Bhishma of Indian politics, Dadabhai Nowroji, had to be called in to preside at the sessions held in Calcutta. It was there that the then Grand Old Man of India unfurled the banner of Swaraj and carried the resolutions of the Nationalist party. Progress required that the programme accepted at the Calcutta Congress should be struck to. But vested interests were not idle. Ways were found by the elements opposed to Indian development to work upon the imagination of some of the best sons of India. Unhappily for the moment, there were certain other causes also, into which it is useless to enter, that contributed to estrange feelings between leaders and leaders. Long before the time arrived for the holding of the Congress session of 1907 at Surat, there were virulent personal and party strifes in news-papers and the air was surcharged with suspicion of moderate thinkers. Mr. Tilak himself was not above being considered a politician "touched with the modest caution of the past." It is best to give Mr. Tilak's position in his own words. Speaking at the Congress session of 1916 on the resolution relating to Self-Government, he says
"It is the resolution of Self-Government. It is that for which we have been fighting, for which the Congress has been fighting for the last thirty years. The first note of it was heard ten years ago on the banks of the Hughli and it was sounded by the Grand Old Man of India, that Parsi Patriot of Bombay, Dadabhai Nowroji. Since the note was sounded, differences of opinion arose. Some said that the note ought to be carried on, and ought to be followed by a detailed scheme at once, that it should be taken up and made to resound all over India as soon as possible. There was another party amongst us that said that it could not be done so soon and the tune of that note required to be a little lowered. That was the cause of the dissension ten years ago and I am glad to say that I have lived these ten years to see that we are going to put our voices and shoulders together to push on this scheme of Self-Government."
Another quotation from his evidence before the Decentralization Commission urged by Mr. Tilak himself at the Kesari trial of 1908, may also be found interesting in this connection. He said "The mere shifting of the centre of power and authority from one official to another is not, in my opinion, calculated to restore the feelings of cordiality between officers and people prevailing in earlier days. English education has created new aspirations and ideals amongst the people and so long as these national aspirations remain unsatisfied it is useless to expect that the hiatus between, the officers and the people could be removed by any scheme of official Decentralization whatever its other effects may be. It is no remedy not even palliative against the evil complained of, nor was it put forward by the people or their leaders. The fluctuating wave of Decentralization may infuse more or less life in the individual members of the Bureaucracy but it cannot remove the growing estrangement between the rulers and the ruled, unless and until the people are allowed more and more effective voice in the management of their own affairs in an ever expansive spirit of wise liberalism and wide sympathy aiming at raising India to the level of the governing country."
Mr. Tilak's position in 1907 was exactly the same as it is to-day, with reference to Self-Government. He was as practical then in his ideas as he is to-day. He did not endorse either the fanatic methods of the bomb-thrower or the academic ideal of the Seperatist Independent. Yet he became the leader of the forward party at the time and all the calumny consequent on the holding and the break up of the Surat Congress was heaped on his devoted head. Keeping with the moderates in their ideals, Mr. Tilak had yet to break away from them and suffer, to say the least, very many indignities. There is only one reason that can be thought of for such a state of affairs. Mr. Tilak embodied and even to-day embodies in himself the spirit of democracy. The other leaders in spite of their transparent sincerity, nobleness of character, and honesty of purpose had yet the fibres of aristocracy in them, the remnants of beaucratic disposition induced by the very endeavour they were making to soften the Eeauracrat. Mr. Tilak did not believe in his own omniscience. He knew that a Higher Power was guiding the destiny of the nation, that as leader it was his duty to expose himself to all trouble that may come upon him as a consequence of the short-sightedness or wrong-headedness of his own following, that he had no right to suppress the freedom of thought and expression in anyone simply because that one desired to take his lead, and that to break away from real, advanced thought merely because the exponents of that thought did not run in the same groove as he himself ran, was only to shun the duty of co-operating with mankind for its good in so far as that co-operation was possible without detriment to self-respect. The moderate leaders of the day it is absolutely no disrespect to them were much more calculating. They somehow imagined that getting concessions lay in their power, that a mistake here or a mistake there would spoil all prospect of improvement, that what they believed to be right all their followers should implicitly believe to be right, and that if perfect co-operation were not possible, co-operation itself should not be sought. It is this difference of view-point, this impatience to stand extreme forms of thought, this solicitude to dictate the good of the world, that has stood in the way of real progress. The mistake has occured a thousand times in the history of the world and it is occuring even to-day. Mr. Tilak in 1907 stood firm against the temptation of the hour to dictate, and desired that the people's will should be carried out as evidenced by the feeling up in the country, whatever personal opinions leaders might hold. But the congress was to be at Surat, a place full of antagonism to Mr. Tilak and the New party. It is no good attempting to read the private motives of individual Great Men but it is a fact that the prominent leaders of Bombay stood resolutely against even a re-iteration of the Calcutta Congress Resolutions. The Nationalists were equally strong that the water-mark once reached should not be lowered. The momentous period of the Surat Congress arrived. Great attempts were made to bridge the gulf between the Moderates and the Nationalists. Lala Lajpat Rai and others plied their mission with the greatest care and earnestness. But all was of no avail. The Nationalist party had to make up its mind either to seek means to frustrate the ends of 'their moderate brethren, or get out of the congress without the resolutions of the previous year being recorded. There was not at the time enough organisation nor is there yet to get adequate number of delegates representing all shades of opinion from all parts of the country. Local delegates could always outvote the country. At the place Mr. Mehta was the uncrowned king. So the situation was clear. On questions where there might be sharp division, the local power could certainly succeed. It would ultimately mean the Congress stultifying itself. Arguing in this manner the Nationalist Party met in a a Conference and concerted measures to solve the problem of recording the country's opinion. Mr. Arabinda Ghose presided at the Conference and most of the prominent Nationlist leaders took part in the deliberations. The conclusions they arrived at, and the methods they adopted, looked then and look even to-day, a bit too punctilious. They had always a course open to them to make their own proposals, and if defeated, to appeal to the country for help at the next recording of opinion. They would not take it. They decided to follow a policy of obstruction from the start. Tit for tat was the phrase used. “Our moderate brethren have cajoled the Congress into Surat to get their opinions endorsed by freely flooding into the pandal their own men. We shall adopt an equally efficacions weapon ready to our hands, the weapon of obstruction.” This was the disposition displayed. It may be wohrt recording here that some nationalists at the time, though they could see the force of an argument of this kind, could not subscribe to an instrument which meant a fratricidal war. The vast majority of the Nationalist party however decided to hamper proceedings constitutionally by beginning opposition to the very choice of the President not because the party had any quarrel with Mr. Rash Bihari Ghose or any suspicion that he would not make a good President; but because every act of the party in power had to be opposed. This policy of obstruction led naturally enough to a great deal of confusion and on the first day speakers were all hooted down. The Congress was adjourned for the day and fresh negotiations were opened for peace. All that had any care for the Congress believed that the Second Day everything would go off peacefully. But strange to say, while the Nationalists were orderly, the moderates grew wild at the very appearance of Mr. Tilak on the platform to propose a certain Amendment. The Congress was no more controlable. There were two eminently pleasing factors, however, in that great flight of benches, chairs, and lathies. The unflinching, immovable figure of Mr. Tilak was a sight worth one's life to see. Over and over again the mind runs to catch a glimpse of that calm, serene, satwic face and those motionless limbs which, in their absolute muteness, loudly proclaimed utter defiance of all danger and turmoil. The seething ocean of free-fight made absolutely no impression upon the nerves of that astute warrior-politician and there was not as much as a wrinkle of a muscle in the face. The second factor in the situation was an equally grand endurance on the part of the uncrowned king of the place Mr. Mehta the Lion of Bombay. His consummate courage never yielded to the temptation of calling in the aid of the keepers of the peace and the protectors of the land. The whole scene when it ended was more a scene of an unfortunate domestic occurence than that of a street encounter between strangers.
The break up of the Congress at Surat however gave an opportunity to the foes of India to “Rally the Moderates.” Adverse from mistaken notions of principle to co-operating with their more forward brethren,the moderate leaders of the time were attempted to be imposed upon by men whose interest It was to crush the rising spirit of India. While yet the Moderate and the Nationalist were fighting as to who was or who was not responsible for the Congress fiasco, the cult of the Bomb made its appearance. An unfortunate outrage was committed at Muzafarpore and later the District Magistrate of Dacca was shot at. This was a splendid opportunity to divide and rule. The most honest nationalist could be called a Seditionist with immunity. In the name of good sense and moderation and loyalty, all moderates could be called upon to support authority and help the Government in its determination to put down seditious agitators who were in the habit of exciting disaffection. The liberal had come into power. Lord Morley was in England to show sympathy; Lord Minto was in India to carry into effect that sympathy. What else did a moderate require as an assurance of the good will of the British Governors? Probably one or two of the moderate leaders were also told by hints and signs what may be coming? Was that not sufficient matter for gratification and should not all the sincere moderates co-operate with the Bureaucracy to solve the insurmountable difficulties of administration in a tropical climate like India with a population yet to learn the A.B.C's of Local Self-Government? The Heaven Born Service of the times knew perfectly well this trend of thought that was the heritage of the Indian arm-chair politician and fully utilised it for averting danger to the British Empire. The Governor of Bombay took his Legislative Council into confidence to tell it that a policy of thorough repression would be thenceforth (20th June 1908) followed. On the heels of that declaration prosecutions began in the Bombay Presidency, equally as in other presidencies including the benighted and, according to Mr. Valentine Chirol, the model Presidency of Madras. Mr. Paranjpe the Editor of the Kal was committed to the Bombay Sessions for writing and publishing seditious articles in his paper just at the time when an young man known as Surendranath Arya was being tried in Madras for taking part in the Sivaji Celebration Ceremony held on the beach on the 3rd of May 1908. Mr. Tilak went from Poona to Bombay to help the cause of Mr. Paranjpe. Little did Mr. Tilak think that he was going there only to be arrested in his turn on a charge of sedition, though he had always the suspicion that he must ever be prepared to be handled by the Bureaucracy. On the 24th June the law laid hands on him and he was marched to the jail from the Sirdar Griha, the hotel in which he was putting up. Readers in the Madras Presidency can certainly recollect the times and their nature. Down in Tinnevelly 124 A was utilised to bring into trouble Messrs. Chidambaram Pillai and Subramania Siva. The Bezwada Swaraj case which resulted in the conviction of Mr. G. Hari Sarvottama Rau, M.A. was another instance of repressive action. There were others still like the Cocanada riot case, the Ashe Murder case, the Cocanada attempt of Murder case which were all off-shoots of the Main Game. When the benighted Presidency received so much attention, provinces like Bengal and Bombay had very much better attention bestowed upon them. Mr. Tilak's case was pushed on with the greatest vigour and as a later chronicler records
"The Government were evidently in a terrible mood then and the close and stuffy atmosphere itself in the dingy room of the High Court was surcharged with emotional electricity. It is a wonder if the imagination of some people did not show them bombs hanging from the ceiling or pistols stuck up on the walls of the Court House! The friends of Mr. Tilak could see nothing but the unseen Andaman Islands, or the Penal Settlement of Port Blair. People who had not read the Penal Code might have even thought that on conviction Mr. Tilak might be blown off from the cannon's mouth. It was a time when the habitually merry became serious and the habitually serious dazed and awe-stricken."
The preliminaries to the Court House scene were equally awe-striking. As one batch of police officers was hunting after Mr. Tilak, another had left from Bombay to make great searches in Poona and elsewhere. It was at 10 P.M. in the night that the protectors of public tranquillity appeared before the Gaikwad's Wada in Narayanapet Poona, where Mr. Tilak's house and the Kesari and the Maharatta offices are located. Even the worst panic-stricken Government could not have ordered searches during* the night. So the police did the next best thing. They turned out every other resident in the wada except Mr. Tilak's family. Even these were not left in the undisturbed possession of their own house. They were asked to find solace in a room down-stairs with a single attendant to cheer them. Every entrance to every room was carefully sealed and a strong police guard was placed over the wada during the night. At the same time as the scene was being enacted in Poona, another section of the police had advanced to Singhad. The search there was conducted in a more wonderful fashion. None of Mr. Tilak's men were present. Only the watchman was there and at the sight of the police he was overawed. He was in no mood to remonstrate whatever they did. So the guards that keep watch over the locks and hinges and the property of the public as against unwelcome intruders and interlopers in the absence of the owners, themselves forced open the hinges of doors and entered Mr. Tilak's bungalow at Singhad. All these closed and forced searches brought forth nothing ultimately except a piece of card used in the trial but not pressed either by the prosecution or by the judge and jury. To-day the Indian wo rid has become accustomed to the vagaries of police searches but that is absolutely no reason why steps should not be devised to minimise if not abolish such vagaries. At the time, i.e., in 1908, all this hubbub created by the maintainers of peace must have had its own effect on the mental equilibrium of the people.
The peculiar trend Mr. Tilak's trial took also must be noted to gauge exactly the psychological atmosphere of the times. Bail was applied for twice by the friends of Mr. Tilak and it was absolutely refused both by the Presidency Magistrate and Justice Davar who had to preside at the trial in the High Court. Mr. Tilak did not desire a special jury. His Counsel Mr. Baptista appeared for him and in the most convincing manner appealed that his client might be saved the great favour of a special jury. But the court was bent upon safe-guarding the interests of the accused against his will. So a special Jury with a majority of Europeans who knew no Maharatti was empanelled and Mr. Tilak was asked to stand a trial before them. During the trial Mr. Tilak conducted his own case. His cross-examination of the translator to the Government does credit to any eminent practising lawyer and his address to the Jury extend ing over five days has been acclaimed one of the finest pieces of argument ever advanced in cases of sedition. It was also characterised by a candour and frankness specially Mr. Tilak's. In one place he said “I have not come here to ask you any grace; I am prepared to stand the consequences of my acts... I have written it believing it my duty to write in the interests of the public in the way.” In vain Mr. Tilak argue that he was being tried not for what he did write but for what was a mistranslation into English of his writing. In vain did he attempt to establish the utter futility of relying upon the translators. The judge in summing up to the jury did what exactly Mr. Tilak had foreseen. “Here is the article, we have got it translated from the original, we place it before you, you can see that some of the words are very strong and likely to excite disaffection, therefore as a matter of legal inference the accused is guilty, so return a verdict of guilty and go away.” This exactly was the spirit of the trial. However there were two Indians amongst the Jurors. They could not, as men who could understand the language of the articles, convict Mr. Tilak. When the verdict had to be given they differed from the rest. If it were England Mr. Tilak would have been acquitted. But this is India, the law here gives the judge power over the Juror. If a majority of the Jury should agree with him he can do as he decides. So Justice Davar the very same man that had defended Mr. Tilak at his first trial convicted him of sedition and class hatred and sentenced him to six years transportation and a Rs. 1,000 fine. The words that Mr. Tilak uttered as the sentence was passed have now become historic.
"There are Higher Powers that rule the destinies of men and nations and it may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may be benefitted more by my suffering than by my freedom."
What consummate Satwic Power must have reigned in the mind of Mr. Tilak it is not easy to estimate. At a time when the whole country was in the throes of repression and people were dazed after a sudden dash of effulgence, by the brazen conduct of the reactionaries, the display of such serenely optimistic resignation to the worst that might happen to any constitutional patriot was a marvellous feat of strength even in a Hindu Grihastha like Mr. Tilak. The declaration sent a thrill through the country never experienced before and nerved a great many souls that had, with the first show of repression, felt well-nigh broken down. The example that Mr. Tilak is is due, in the greatest measure, to that declaration of faith, courage and sacrifice. There have been men who have suffered, there have been men who have exhibited courage in ecstasy, there have been men who have sacrificed their lives on the altar of a cause, but the world has not seen many who, in the hour of peril, have calmly put faith in the purposes of a Divine Power in preference to their own importance as makers of evolution. Many a weaker nature would have fulminated in wrath that the bureaucracy had shackled it and shut the world out of the great good that would have accrued by its own freedom. It was left to the true Indian Grihasta Mr. Tilak to understand the inner significance of man's effort and realise at the supremest moment in his life the truth of truths, that man after all is an instrument of God.
Mr. Tilak's calm stand appealed even to the Government, though not to the Advocate-General. The latter declined to give any certificate that there was an error in the decision of a point or points of law decided by Mr. Justice Davar in spite of the fact that Mr. Tilak's attorneys Messrs. Raghavayya Bhimji and Nagindas had specified in a number of paras the Judge's misdirection to the Jury. The Government were more considerate and they commuted transportation with simple imprisonment and remitted the fine of one thousand Rupees. An independent appeal to the Privy Council also proved useless.
Mr. Tilak's incarceration had moved however the people to the very heart. From all parts of India and from all political parties of the country protests arose in very very large numbers. Even the illiterate masses that could rarely realise the gifts or the genius of Mr. Tilak were greatly affected. The mill hands in Bombay actually struck work and showed their resentment in their own perfectly practical manner. In fact Mr. Tilak's incarceration in 1908 was the first occasion on which the whole of India, in a sense, rose to a man and demanded explanation of a high-handed action of the bureaucracy. It may be noted there were the seeds of a re-approachment again between the several sections of Indian political thought though the fruition of it had to wait for a number of years till 1915.
To wander into the realms of confinement along with Mr. Tilak is not necessary. First to Ahmedabad and, then to Mandalay was Mr. Tilak moved. One who had put faith in a Higher Power which desired his incarceration for better purposes could feel absolutely no pain even in jail. Placed under simple imprisonment Mr. Tilak could turn his mind to some high thought and with his usual determination he did so. There is no greater theme than the theme of man's existence and duty that could naturally suggest itself to him. The Bhagavadgita was a message of duty and Mr. Tilak decided to examine it in the light of his intellect and genius and interpret it for himself. A man of action that he was, he could not help realising the great message of Action the Gita contained. He elaborated his thesis and projected a work of large dimensions. The Gitarahasya is the result of all that labor in restraint. In Maharatti several thousands of copies have already sold. The work is being translated into a number of Indian languages and English. It is beyond the scope of a short life of Mr. Tilak as this, to enter into any discussion of Mr. Tilak's scheme of life. Differences of opinion there will always be and scholars belonging to diverse schools will always wrangle. It is best to note that Mr.Tilak by his interpretation of the Gita has made it a book of hourly application to life. It is no longer a book for meritorious reading alone. It is no longer a book to be bound in silk, worshipped and put aside. It is no longer a book for the C. I. D. officers to suspect a revolutionary in its possessor. It is a book for all men, women and children to read and digest. It is a book for all mankind to look upon as a gospel for daily existence in the ordinary world. It is a book most harmless in its message that no individual born in this world has a right to lead an idle life even in the name of spirituality. Let Mr. Tilak himself give in his own words the gist of Gitarahasya. He says:
"The conclusion I have come to is that the Gita advocates the performance of action in this world even after the actor has achieved the highest union with the supreme Deity by Jnana (knowledge) or Bhakti (devotion). This action must be done to keep the world going by the right path of evolution which the Creator has destined the world to follow. In order that the action may not bind the actor it must be done with the aim of helping his purpose and without any attachment to the coming result. This I hold is the lesson of Gita. Jnana Yoga there is. Yes. Bhakti Yoga there is. Yes. Who says not? But they are both subservient to the Karma Yoga preached in the Gita.
"The primary question of Arjuna is well-known and the essence of it may be stated thus: What was to be done in a case of conflict of duties, e.g. where one urged him to fight and the other not to fight. Krishna's answers always ended in asking him to stick to his duty as a Kshatriya. All philosophical ramifications of Krishna's advice always converged towards saying; Therefore do your hero's part. The word therefore occurring at the end of all his particular disquisitions indicated the point which he was proving and that point was Karma or Action and not Knowledge or Dhyana nor Sanyasa or Renunciation nor again Bhakti or Devotion. The real question at the root of the Gita is: Is it better to be content with knowledge and renounce the world or to participate in the action of the world. And Krishna definitely answers: Action with Knowledge is better than Renunciation with Knowledge. Arjuna was urged to Action on four grounds, (1) because action could not be shirked (2) because there was no sin if action were performed through reason as a duty (3) because if action or no action was the same, there was no ground to choose the one before the other (4) finally because for the sake of Lokasangraha a philosopher must act and show how to act.
"I differ from almost all commentators when I say that the Gita enjoins action even after the perfection in Jnana and Bhakti is attained and the Deity is reached through these media. There is a fundamental unity underlying the Logos (Ishvara), Man and the world. The world is in existence because the Logos has willed it so. It is His will that holds it together. Man strives to gain union with God; and when this union is achieved the individual Will merges in the Mighty Universal Will. When this is achieved, will the individual say “I shall do no action and I shall not help the world”—the world which is because the Will with which he has sought union has willed it to be so.” It does not stand to reason. It is not I who say so; the Gita says so. Sri Krishna himself says that there is nothing in all the three worlds that He need acquire and still He acts. He acts because if he did not, the world's Will will be ruined. If man seeks unity with the Deity he must necessarily seeks unity with the (interests of) the world also, and work for it. If he does not, then the unity is not perfect, because there is union between two elements (man and Deity) out of the three and the third (the world) is left out. Serving the world and thus serving His Will is the surest way of salvation and this way can be followed by remaining in the world and not going away from it."
That Providence took away Mr. Tilak from the ordinary routine of life for six years to employ him in a superb attempt to give the world this great message of active existence is no doubt a factor for partial gratification. There was another aspect of Mr. Tilak's personal life however which was not without its sombre colours. His wife who, in a greater Satwic spirit than her husband, had borne separation more than once in her life to prove unto the world the supreme heroism of which Indian women have always been capable, left this world for good during Mr. Tilak's incarceration. The only solace to the departing , soul must have been the solace that all Indians of noble lives feel that they can meet their nearest and dearest, if they only cboose, in a better more developed life of the future. To Mr. Tilak the disappearance of such a trusted and worthy comrade during forced absence from home must have been a matter for considerable pain. But the very High Power in which Mr. Tilak always trusts along with all his real Hindu brethren had willed it so. And that Will must be obeyed.
Mr. Tilak had to serve out full six years. He had not the advantages of special remissions in jail. The mercy extended to the ordinary criminal at the coronation or the Delhi Durbar was not extended to political prisoners in general, much less to Mr. Tilak. In the usual course he could not be kept in jail beyond the end of July 1914.
He had not long been out of jail before the present great world-war broke out. By the time he turned his attention to public work once more, the war was in full swing. Germany had rushed into Belgium and England had thrown its weight on behalf of the smaller state to protect the interests of the weak and uphold the liberty of nations. An open declaration of liberal intentions of saving art oppressed nationality had raised immense hopes in the subject nation of India; because India believed that if England chose, she could grant the boon of freedom to India without the great bloodshed or expanse England was undertaking on behalf of a stranger nation like Belgium. Indian troops had been despatched by the sagacious and liberal statesman Lord Hardinge to the field of battle in France and they had acquitted themselves in a manner worthy of the great traditions of this ancient land of valour. English imagination had been fired by the greatness of Indian effort; and statesmen and politicians, speakers and journalists had vied with one another in acclaiming the help rendered by India, and in ecstasy, suggesting that India should be treated after the war with very much greater consideration than she had received. Thanks to the labours of Mahatma Gandhi and his no less illustrious band of sufferers and followers including the noblest of men and women India has ever produced, the reputation of the Indian as a self-respecting member of humanity had also immensely risen and the western world, including the whilom. oppressors in the colonies, had been staggered into defeat by the superb Passive heroism of India's illustrious sons and daughters. This was the world's atmosphere into which Mr. Tilak emerged from his life in jail. How he gloried in his faith in a Higher Will than ours, others cannot possibly imagine. How he thanked that Higher Will for giving him another opportunity of serving it, is equally impossible of realisation by others. But one thing others can realise. He appreciated the psychological possibilities of the moment and once more heartily threw himself into practical political work.
With the same heartiness with which Mr. Tilak threw himself into public work the autocracy threw itself into opposition to him. He was not many days in the free air of Poona before the local authorities thought of watching his activities vigilantly. Two new police stations were improvised on both sides of his house and men who went there were harassed by enquiries. Ordinary espionage itself is hateful in this country. Men are stationed in the vicinity of your houses and they are required to note your movements for the benefit and safety of the lords above them. Poor ignorant tools of a more blindly ignorant hierarchy! constables and coolies on a pittance of a few annas a day sit on an opposite pial or loiter about in the dusty streets before the houses of men whom they recognise sooner or later to be at least as great, if not far superior to, their own masters. If the spied are sympathetic—as in most cases they are, because they know that these eight-anna-a-day men are there to eke out existence somehow—their lot is somewhat bearable. Even then occasions may occur when the spies have the hardest time of it for absolutely no purpose. A coach or a motorcar drives up Unexpectedly to the door and the spied is fast away. How to get the wherewithal to chase him secretly with the stomach half-ful? Even if the wherewithal be provided by the department where to get the swiftest conveyance at that particular moment at which it is required without notice? And after all if every impossible feat were performed by the man in the mask what is it that he can discover ? What have two friends conversed on the roadside? How can he know? What has happened within the interior of a club? How can he know? What is happening in a marriage party inside a house? How can he know? A stranger has come into the house. Who is he? How can he know? It is five minutes to the starting of the train. The suspected boss runs in a motor and he is gone. Where has he gone? How is it ascertainable? The wise spy knows his limitations. As long as he must be a spy he must seek the help of the spied themselves by service and be rid of the bother by reporting “so and so went to the market this morning and bought brinjals. The saleswoman was saucy and made faces at him. I noted even this small affair very carefully. In the noon at so and so's house there was a large party for dinner and I counted thirty leaves thrown outside. Evening at 5-30 p.m. so and so with wife and children and friends went to the theatre and an old woman was left in charge of the house. On enquiry I discovered she was a cook. Mid-night 12-21 so and so returned from the theatre and went upstairs to sleep. He is reported to be going to Mustanabad for a lecture to-morrow evening. This is a piece of secret information I have confidentially got from his clerk.“ The meeting would have been actually advertised. This is discovery indeed! The unwise spy or the new spy or the wise spy when he cannot use his discretion on account of extreme external pressure by men who spy him in turn, has no other go but to seek information from the maid-servant, the washerman, the scavenger, the betel-leaf vendor, the ghariwalla and others of wonderfullest understanding and based upon the information so traced build his castles in the air on a foundation of half and full lies. During times of great happenings when, for instance, a Viceroy or a Secretary of State visits the country, the brood of spies spontaneously grows and most obnoxiously chatters about your sorroundings. You may be admitted to an audience with the greatest worthy in the British Empire. Even a Local Government which smells danger in a lily may permit you to such an audience but still your guarding brood must not in the least be weakened. It strides across the road in curious costume and with more curious gait; it peeps into your window and peers at your writing table where friends from afar might have gathered; it whispers into your servant's ear, into your neighbour's ear, into your landlord's ear; it sometimes scares your visitor, it sometimes angers him; it haunts you like a useless burden always putting you in mind that it is an emblem of the waste of public money under a strange system of soulless administration ; if you are a feeling animal it makes you at least sometimes uncomfortable for no fault of yours.
What special espionage that was contemplated by the establishment of two additional Police stations meant can now be easily recognised by the reader. But when actual imprisonment has been the trophy of service to the motherland, this small worry of espionage has absolutely no effect upon brave souls like Mr. Tilak. From day to day Mr. Tilak went on as usual. Mrs. Besant had entered the political arena and was striving her best, somehow to bring together the Nationalist and Moderate camps especially as the Congress Session of the Year was to be held in Madras the field of her own just-begun political labors. Mr. Tilak was prepared—as he is always prepared—to do what lay in his power to bring about once more a united Congress. The second half of 1914 was mainly occupied with this attempt. By the end of November, Mr. Tilak had worked so far as] to bringl together important Nationalist leaders and procure their opinion and consent upon certain matters. Whichever side might claim to have climbed up or climbed down, the simple issue at the moment was nothing more than the issue of the form in which the Nationalists who separated at Surat should enter the Congress. As the statement issued from the Servants of India Society dated 9th December 1914 substantially put it, the nationalists were willing to join the Congress but they felt that they were humiliated by the way in which the Congress constitution was framed especially with reference to the election of delegates. They did not want to come into the Congress Committee and objected to personal inquisitions not regulated by rules, which had then to be framed. They did not desire to apply for the affiliation of their associations to the then Provincial Congress Committees. They wished to join the Congress, only if separate and independent constituencies (of course accepting article I of the constitution) were created which should automatically give the right to elect delegates either at meetings of such bodies or at public meetings convened under their auspices. This looked certainly very fair to ask and Mr. Gokhale, the great man that he was, really felt the force of it. He was quite amenable to the logic of the situation and willingly co-operated with Mr. Tilak and Mrs. Besant, as Mr. Tilak himself admits in his statement, in coming to an understanding on both sides that the success of the compromise depended not so much upon Mr. Gokhale's willingness but entirely upon the acceptance of the terms of the compromise by the conventionist leaders in the city of Bombay. The difficult task of winning over these people was assigned to Mr. N. Subba Rau. Mr. Subba Rau found that the Bombay conventionist leaders were dead opposed to the extention of the franchise to public meetings or to independent constituencies and that they felt great apprehension that the Congress would be running a great risk if Mr. Tilak and his followers came in. The fear was probably very real in their minds. To rely again upon the statement issued from the Servant of India Society.
"It is their (Nationalists') intention to take steps to widen the door of election as before to all public meetings if necessary, and get recognition of their methods by educating public opinion and working for and securing a majority in the Congress if possible. They are and have been willing to take the decision of the majority as binding on them and in cases where such decision is against them they would wait till opinion is created in their favour and not leave the Congress by quarrelling with the majority." To the free and simple mind of Mr. Gokhale nothing in this attitude appeared improper. But the Bombay Moderates had a fear of their own that some day their power would be lost over the Congress and therefore to secure that power they resolutely set their faces against the compromise altogether and their following began to misrepresent the constitutionalism of the Nationalists' methods. No quotation from Mr. Gokhale himself was enough to disabuse the minds of men who had resolved to misinterpret their brethren. The strangest incident in the whole scene was however the change of attitude Mr. Gokhale assumed at the last moment. He was somehow induced to side his nervous brethren of Bombay and confuse himself by issues not pertinent to the main proposition. He persisted in believing oral reports and accusing Mr. Tilak of having advocated the Boycott of Government. Mr. Gokhale was very near his end (he died on the 19th of February, 8 days after Mr. Tilak had issued his reply to the statements of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Gokhale) and he was led into committing most unwittingly the greatest indiscretion in his life of writing ill of a comrade who had toiled and suffered in the cause of the country. Whatever or whoever was at the bottom of the mischief the mischief was done. The hopes of a union of Indian parties at the Madras Congress were frustrated. Mrs. Besant's appeal to get Mr. Tilak to attend the Congress was of no avail. No amount of calumny, no amount of hesitation on the part of friends, no amount of C. I. D. favor, stopt Mr. Tilak from his even tenor of work. As early as 4th September 1914 he had, in a letter written to the Maharatta, drawn pointed attention to the aspect of political life which, Mrs. Besant later transformed into the Home Rule agitation with the characteristic energy she has of developing long-begun movements so as to make them her own in order to concentrate attention and achieve their purpose. He said.
"I have like other political workers my own differences with the Government as regards certain measures and to a certain extent even the system of internal administration. But it is absurd on that account to speak of my actions or my attitude as in any way hostile to his Majesty's Government. That has never been my wish or my object. I may state once for all that we are trying in India, as the Irish Home Rulers have been doing in Ireland, for a reform of the system of administration and not for the overthrow of the Government; and I have no hesitation in saying that the acts of violence which have been committed in the different parts of India are not only repugnant to me but have, in my opinion, retarded to a great extent the pace of our political progress. Whether looked at from an individual or from a public point of view, they deserve, as I have said before on several occasions, to be equally condemned." Mr. SyamjiKrishnaVarma used the term Home Rule at one time in his agitation. Earlier still referring to Lord Mayo's time Keene described the smallest measure of Local Self-Go vernment as Home Rule. Mrs. Besant and her followers have spread ideas of Home Rule more than anybody else to-day. But the clear grasp of the situation with reference to the parallelism of agitation in Ireland and India and the thorough insight that the war had come to make that parallelism real and practical were peculiarly Mr. Tilak's and the agitation for Home Rule in its present form may fairly be dated from that day on which Mr. Tilak wrote to the Maharatta that memorable letter.
To resume, the Madras Congress was held and the protest of the country on behalf of the compromise was quite visible at it, in as much as the Central Provinces and the Punjab held aloof from it entirely and other provinces than Madras did not contribute very much more than 13% of the total number of the delegates. Owing to the declaration of War in August there was some little difference of opinion as to the holding of the Congress itself and the country was thankful that after all there was not a break in the recording of the nation's opinion. The Congress was not very strong on the question of the compromise it being ultimately referred to a committee for consideration. The very hindrances that stood in the way of success in Madras helped to redouble the efforts for a more united and potent 'Voice of India.' The dawn of 1915 was marked by a closer examination of the issues arid January and February were months in which very great discussion ensued. It was then that statements and counter-statements were published. It is needless to enumerate here all the several incidents in the domestic struggle. A little has already been sketched. It only remains to be stated that Mr. Tilak's open repudiation of the charge that he desired to Boycott the Government in reply to a telegram sent by Mrs. Besant from the camp of the Madras Congress and the disinclination of the Powers that were in the Congress to take up the question of compromise in any earnest fashion came out very clearly during the discussions.
In the latter part of February, however, a very sad incident happened, the saddest incident in the history of the year and threw the whole country into a gloom bringing politicians and thinkers of all schools to a common platform. The Hen. Mr. Gokhale died and India lost one of her most resplendent jewels. Over-come by feelings of affections for one who had served the country with the sincerest singleness of purpose Mr. Tilak said of Mr. Gokhale "This diamond of India, this jewel of Maharastra, this prince of workers is taking eternal rest on the funeral ground. Look at him and try to emulate him. Mr. Gokhale has passed away from our midst after having satisfactorily performed his duty. Will any one of you come forward to take his place? I knew Mr. Gokhale from his youth. He was an ordinary and simple man in the beginning. He was not an Inamdar; he was not a Jagirdar ; he was not a chief. He was an ordinary man like all of us here. He rose to such eminence by the sheer force of genius, ability and work. Mr. Gokhale is passing away from our midst and he has left behind him much to emulate. Everyone of you ought to try to place his example before his eyes and to fill up the gap ; and if you will try to emulate him in this way, he will feel glad even in the next world."
This was another of Mr. Tilak 's exemplary utterances. It went straight home to the hearts of all men who had hearts and proved the real worth of an honest patriot who, while not shirking personal strife, utterly forgets it when higher humanity and the cause of the country require it.
Mr. Gokhale served the motherland in death as when alive. That he killed himself by over-work for the motherland sank into the bosom of every feeling Indian and at a time when there appeared prospect of effort proving fruitful, the sons of India and her daughters rose to a man to emulate the example of Mr. Gokhale at least so far as his industry was concerned. Mrs. Besant proclaimed herself the disciple of the departed great Guru and during 1915 attempted to follow closely in his footsteps to do what was most in the interests of the country and the Congress. The Congress had been invited to Bombay. Opinions were being expressed that Bombay would frustrate what Madras had faintly begun. So Mrs. Besant felt she must do her highest to get through the Bombay Session with credit to the cause of the compromise which she had so earnestly taken up. The Committee that was appointed at the Madras Sessions delayed decision to the last moment and ultimately decided against Mrs. Besant. In the meanwhile Mrs. Besant took up the cry of Home Rule and began to thrust it home to all thinkers in India. She did not start her league but attempted strenuously to bring the moderate leaders of the country as far as possible to her way of thinking and then alone she thought that sympathy could bd strengthened between the two wings of Indian opinion. She was perfectly right in her estimate. By the time the Congress met in Bombay Mrs. Besant had made a very fair start. Most of the influential leaders of Bharatavarsha had given consent to Mrs. Besant's Scheme of a League and on September 14, 1915 she formally declared the aim of holding a conference in Bombay and forming an All-India League. It had to be postponed however as Mrs. Besant felt the time had not yet come. Agitating as she was for Home Rule,she chose to fall in with the Congress and wait till the 1st of September 1916 the time limit fixed by the Congress Executive to come to a decision of their own. While Mrs. Besant, an unconnected individual, was endeavouring in this fashion to drag the Yesterdays into a line with the To-morrows step by step and achieving it as was evident by the difference in spirit of the Congress Sessions in Madras and again in Bombay Mr. Tilak as the leader of one of the parties to be reconciled was quietly and steadily doing his own work of educating the country. Under his guidanceorganisations sprang up in the Bombay Presidency and during the earlier part of 1916 work on behalf of Home Rule was well pushed forward. Immediately after the Bombay Congress Mr. C. Y. Chintamani spoke at Poona and Mr. Tilak presided at the meeting proclaiming, as the Common Weal at the time put it, the reunion of the Right and Left wings of the national party. The Non-Conventionist conference at Belgaum in the month of May 1916 under the inspiration of Mr. Tilak and the presidency of his friend and co-worker Srimant Rajamanya Rajasri Dadasaheb Khaparde proved another great link in the chain that was being patiently forged. The Conference was acclaimed most considerate and Mr. Tilak was particularly believed to have acted in the most friendly manner to all parties in the country, though it was probably unnecessary for responsible papers to construe him as promising “to work constitutionally” as if such a promise were ever necessary from him. The opening months of 1916 found him thoroughly busy with propagandist work. That in the prosecution launched against him later under the Criminal Procedure Code, speeches so near one another as 1st of May, 31st of May, 1st of June were indicted, is proof enough of the work that Mr. Tilak did unostentatiously with his own people in his own language taking for granted the establishment of the Home Rule League in Madras which was yet to come. The Government of Bombay were alarmed at the prospect of Mr. Tilak rising again into the leadership of India, this time the leadership of a United India, and so got convinced that they should gag his mouth unable to do more under war conditions for fear of a general excitement. The Madras Government had already acted against Mrs. Besant and demanded security from the New India. Their example must be perforce followed by the other provincial potentates. A notice issued from the secretariat of the Bombay Government asking Mr. Tilak to show cause why he should not be restrained in his headlong course of speech. The day chosen to serve the notice was itself sensational. Maharashtra was celebrating the 61st birth-day of Mr. Tilak and presenting him with a purse of a lack of rupees which he eventually dedicated for the work nearest to his heart Home Rule. The statesmanship of the Bombay Government was providentially so poor that they chose this particular moment for presenting in their tarn a repressive order. To Mr. Tilak the order did not matter much. He stood this trial as he stood other more exacting trials. But to the country it was of the greatest value. The day Mr. Tilak was executing the bonds totalling to Rs. 40,000 the affection of the country for him jumped up in volume to as many thousand times its own and everyone in the country, Nationalist or Moderate, felt the time had come when Mr. Tilak should be thoroughly supported. The Bombay Government as an instrument of God fixed Mr. Tilak in the hearts of Indians as their greatest example of sacrifice for the mother-land.
The proceedings in the security cases against Mr. Tilak are interesting and valuable. Before the District Magistrate of Poona the trial was of the same old kind. The points alleged against Mr. Tilak were wonderful distortions of his statements. He was accused of having said the following things in his speech.
1. The British Government keeps India in a continual state of bondage or slavery.
2. The British Government do not do their duty by India; they administer it for the benefit of England or Great Britain.
3. The British Government are not a real Government because they consider themselves insulted when told of things that have not been done and for the doing of which a desire was not apparent.
4. The British Government was full of self-conceit and think anything it does perfect.
5. The main objects of the British Government and its officials is to fill their aching bellies.
6. Intervening Collectors, Commissioners and other people are not wanted.
7. All British Rule except a mere nominal sovereignty is to be removed at an early moment.
8. The British have in the course of 50 years failed to educate India so that it is fit to rule itself.
9. The British are unfit to rule and must go.
10. The priests of the Deity i.e., the British Government—the officials—must be removed because this priest or that priest does not do good to the people.
11. Responsible officials in India keep back from the King Emperor the full facts, hence justice is not done.
12. The only reason the Viceroy and other officials in India get high pay is because India has to pay for them.
13. The Bureaucracy's first idea is to see that their pay is secured.
14. The present is a fit time of agitation for the getting of Home Rule.
15. Government consider this agitation bad because they will be losers by it.
16. There is a strong distinction between the administration in India and the sovereign's wishes.
17. Under the company's regime a letter used to come to the Governor-General as follows "so much profit must be made this year; realise it and send it to us"; this was the administration; the people's good was not considered; this was not a good sort of administration; Parliament under Queen Victoria did not approve of this system; now once more the administration of the country is in accordance with the Company's system.
18. Nobody in India told the country and its servants to come here; they are not wanted.
19. The Government is not generous and wise and will not listen to what you have to say and redress your grievances.
20. Its sight is so affected as not to see the figures in its own reports.
21. This Government is no Government at all because it evades its responsibilities.
22. The question is whether a certain nation India to wit is to be treated like beasts.
23. If people stand in the road of this Home Rule movement they must be pushed out of the way by giving them a push.
The speeches are now before the country and the world. They have been read over and over again. It is needless to give long extracts from them. They have been fully adjudged. Mr. Tilak was as careful as a speaker could be. He clearly defined what Government meant. He pointedly referred to the British Government and distinguished it from its Bureaucratic Agents. He carefully drew attention to the fact that he was criticising the system of Bureaucratic administration not any race or community. He expressly stated that when power was in the hands of the people it mattered not who was the official. On a basis so sure he built his superstructure of the condemnation of the present system. A system cannot be condemned without its details being examined and criticised. Details in an administration cannot be examined and criticised without examining the conduct and bearing of the administrators. The fatal fault in a Bureaucracy is that the administrators believe they are the rulers and construe all that is said against themselves as being said against the Government and when one of the administrators combines in himself a judicial function as well he becomes thoroughly and personally interested. This was what exactly happened in the case of the Collector of Poona who, in his judicial capacity as a District Magistrate, tried Mr. Tilak under 108, 112 Criminal Procedure Code. He had absolutely no judicial frame of mind. If he had, an examination of the very points urged against Mr. Tilak carried their own condemnation. If he had read the speeches and the alleged points side by side he would have discovered immediately that the prosecutors had not only mis-stated Mr. Tilak but had substituted every where the British Government for its agents the Civil Servants and tried to misrepresent the whole situation. The counsel for the prosecution went so far as to protect the C. I. D. and make it a part of the British constitution in India meaning that an offensive remark against it was itself sedition. True to the traditions of a Bureaucrat Mr. Hatch the Collector-Magistrate of Poona did not bother himself about the exaggerations of the Prosecution. He admitted the evidence of a man who had not made the translations of Mr. Tilak's speeches ; because, as the Public Prosecutor himself explained, the man who made the translations originally was a man who in the opinion of the prosecution would not be a good witness to be submitted to the skilful cross-examination of Mr. Jinnah (a wonderfully strange and just reason indeed!). He relied entirely upon the reports of short hand-writers who had told the court point blank that it was impossible they could make mistakes and especially upon a portion of the report which was all confusing. He admitted that Mr. Tilak had distinguished between the Bureaucracy and the Government and yet read into the speech as a matter of general impression a dishonest attack on the British Government. For purposes of law he relied upon the Judgment of Justice Stratchey who defined disaffection as absence of affection and whose judgment in this respect was long exploded by judicial announcements. It does not require great prophetic insight now to guess without being told what judgment he gave. All Mr. Jinnah's splendid defence of Mr. Tilak was a sheer waste. The Collector-Magistrate upheld his own earlier order and demanded security from Mr. Tilak. Mr. Tilak had no other choice. He executed the bonds. The official hierarchy of Bombay could certainly silence him temporarily. Another event happened about this time which showed the spirit in which Mr. Tilak was persecuted. It is a well-known fact that during the six years incarceration of Mr. Tilak, Sir Valentine Chirol wrote a book called “Unrest in India” and in it grossly libelled the Chitpavan Brahmins of Maharashtra generally and Mr, Tilak in particular. On return from jail Mr. Tilak with the advice of his counsellors decided to sue Sir Valentine in a proper manner for defamation. Action was taken in England on behalf of Mr. Tilak, and about the time he was persecuted in Poona under Security sections, it was in the knowledge of the general public that he was about to start to England in connection with the case he had launched. The official circles of Bombay seemed to take very great interest in the matter. The ordinary pass-port granted to all ordinary men who desire to go to England was refused to Mr. Tilak in the first instance. Naturally there was criticism enough of the act in the country. Then the powers that were, awoke to consciousness and undid what they had done and granted the passport. A question in the Bombay Legislative Council brought into light a more serious matter still. The Maharathi translator to the Government of Bombay had been lent to Sir Valentine Chirol to make for him translations of certain documents which were in the archivesof the Government. No such concessions were ever dreamt of being extended to Mr. Tilak. Who was Sir Valentine Chirol? Was he not a private party? What connection had he with the Government of Bombay? If he had no connection with them how did he get into the happy position of securing the services of the Government translator and the use of secreted state-papers? Was there any judicial proceeding in which he had acquired a right for such a service? If there were such would the world be unware of it? These were questions which filled the air. No satisfactory answer was forthcoming either from the agents of the Bombay Government or anywhere else. The inevitable conclusion people were obliged to draw was that the local Bureaucracy, to serve its own purposes and injure Mr. Tilak in all manner of ways, was helping the personal enemies of the great patriot and it was also suggested in some quarters that the prosecution of Mr. Tilak was practically designed to shut his mouth while in England and keep him from explaining the true state of matters in India to the British Democray. To Mr. Tilak such tricks of the trade on the side of the Bureaucracy had become common and he evidently knew also the worth of these tricks. As usual he calmly put up with them and proceeded in his usual tenor.
On the 23rd of August 1916 he filed a revision petition in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. This time of course the atmosphere was not electrical. As a chronicler who has already been quoted puts it, the very choice of the method, made by Government, of proceeding against Mr. Tilak had brought down the thermometer of feeling to the temperate point. The Judges of the High Court had a calm time of it and they went into the case most patiently and with an undisturbed judicial frame of mind. Justices Batchelor and Shah took the most dispassionate view of matters and once in the history of India there was a trial in which the Judges were anxious to know specifically the mind of the accused when he made speeches which were alleged to be seditious. The judgments of the two learned judges were based, as expressly stated, upon points of fact and as such, much of technical law has not been established by this trial on behalf of freedom of speech. But the whole procedure adopted and the observations made by the learned judges must prove thoroughly useful to an accused in all future trials. Justice Batchelor has clearly pronounced that Government does not mean an individual or individual officers. Government is an abstract conception. Though holding this view, both the judges have not accepted generally that the condemnation of a particular service is not the condemnation of the Government established by law in India. The views they have expressed however are clear that no service can be identified with the Government established by law in British India. Justice Batchelor says.
"It was contended that the speeches could not in law offend against Sec. 124 A because the speaker's attack was made not on the Government nominatio but on the civil service only. That, I think, is not quite so in fact. But assuming it to be so, it affords no answer to the charge, for the Government established by law acts through a human agency, and admittedly the Civil Service is its principal agency for the administration of the country in times of peace. Therefore where, as here, you criticise the Civil Service en bloc the question whether you excite disaffection against Government or not seems to me a pure question of fact."
Justice Shah is clearer still. He says,
"The Hon. Mr. Jinnah has argued that all the criticism directed against the Indian Civil Service generally described as Bureaucracy in the speeches cannot, under any circumstances, be treated as criticism against the "Government established by law in British India." I am unable to accept this argument. It may be that the various services under the control of the Government by law established in British India do not form part of the Government within the meaning of the section; and it may be that the criticism directed against any of the services is not necessarily criticism of the “Government by law established in British India.” But the feelings which it is the object of 124A to prohibit may be excited towards the Government in a number of ways. It would be a question of fact to be determined in each case with reference to its circumstances."
Though one can certainly understand the very sympathetic spirit of these observations, yet the situation with reference to the law of sedition in India cannot be held to have materially been helped by them. The agitation against the law in its present form must certainly be kept up and if it has to be tested in the manner in which Mr. Tilak has tested it we may have to sacrifice very many years of the life of such precious brethren as Mr. Tilak. Justice Batchelor and Justice Shah however have done the next best thing to judicially amending the law. They have once for all set aside the theory that everyone who is offensive or insulting to certain high functionaries must necesssarily be presumed to be seditious. No crime attaches according to Justices Batchelor and Shah to Offensiveness or Insolence towards great dignitories. The most important point in the Judgment of these two Judges has yet to be metioned. They have truly and practically applied the oft repeated maxim in seditious trials that fair construction must be put upon the indicated matter paying more attention to the whole general effect than to any isolated words or passages. This was cant ever repeated by even the subordinate judiciary. Never hithertofore was this practically applied in deciding. Always the magistrates and judges repeated the public prosecutor's list of offending passages and in view of them pronounced that the general effect was against the accused. The method followed by Justices Batchelor and Shah was itself a guarantee. They did not permit a hair-splitting wrangle over the meaning of terms nor did they browbeat Mr. Jinnah the defence counsel from going at length into the speeches and explaining the setting of certain passages considered objectionable. Justice Batchelor was so courteous as to say,
"Read all the speeches. I don't wish you to shorten your argument. If you want to read the passages do so! we are entirely in your hands." The judges actually found certain passages objectionable. They attached no great significance to them. Justice Batchelor said, "The impression left on my mind is that on the whole, despite certain passages which are rightly objected to by the prosecution the general effect could not naturally and probably be to cause disaffection."
Justice Shah said “undoubtedly there are some objectionable passages in these speeches. I am unable to say that the natural and probable effect of the speeches taken as a whole on the minds of those to whom they were addressed would be to bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in British India."
It certainly is not the mere personal triumph of Mr. Tilak that is achieved by these pronouncements but it is really the triumph in part of the cause of free speech for which Mr. Tilak has had to stand so much tribulation.
By the time the High Court of Judicature at Bombay quashed the judgment of the District Magistrate of Poona, cancelled the bonds into which Mr. Tilak had entered and set Mr. Tilak's tongue free to serve its master in bringing home to the Indian nation its own responsibility, the year 1916 had drawn almost to a close. It was on the 9th of November that the happy news of Mr. Tilak's triumph and the vindication of British Justice flashed through the wires to all parts of the country. Congratulations poured in on Mr. Tilak from every nook and corner of Bharatavarsha and testified to the great esteem he was held in. Two days after Mr. Tilak was set free by the High Court, he addressed an audience on the question of “the work before us” and gave the message of “work, work and work.” He drew pointed attention to the timidity of certain people who mourned the decision of Maharashtra of having formed the Home Rule League and also of those who were prepared to give money, everything in fact, but would not help with their names. He appealed to the triumph of constitutional agitation and called upon men to join the Home Rule League in thousands if not lakhs before the Congress held its sittings. The stage of talking was past he said and their sphere now lay in action. With such a programme before him it need not be said that Mr. Tilak achieved in the brief time before him very very great deal indeed. Between 1914 and 1916 an amendment had been accepted by the Congress to its constitution which created a doorway to the Nationalist leaders to enter it. So in the cold weather of 1916 when the Congress met on the banks of the Gumti at Lucknow, what, eight years ago, the Bombay moderate leaders had expected was fulfilled in so far as it related to the gaining over of the Congress by the nationalists. The country sent up from all parts, men who were strong in their convictions to attend the Congress in large numbers and the Lucknow Congress in addition to being a United Congress, also proved to be the Congress which made a definite demand of Home Rule though the description of the demand was not under this exact name. The Congress Moslem League scheme of Reforms drawn up by the committees appointed was passed by the Congress and a mandate was given to the associations in the country including the Home Rule Leagues to agitate for Self-Government on the lines of the scheme during 1917. The Speech that Mr. Tilak delivered at the Congress on Self-Government was characterised by sober vigor. He put it “the days of wonders are gone. You cannot feed now 100,000 people on a few crumbs of bread as you did in Jesus's days. The attaining of this object cannot be achieved by the wonders of the heaven. You have to do it.”
This message still ringing in the ears of country, Mr. Tilak set about propogandist work. Even in public life, it is one thing to strut in the lime-light of city life addressing in the superior English language admiring crowds that are easily lured by an opportune advertisement of a catching nature. It is another to speak—speak to thousands and thousands it may be—to unsophisticated hearts in the tongue natural to the audience and the speaker as well, most often under the canopy of heaven. Those who know the difference realise that after all it is the rural worker that has the real enjoyment of his work while his more noisy brother the urban demogogue has probably a little compensation in the title he gets in public print and on formal occasions. It is unnecessary to journey into the interior of Maharashtra with M r. Tilak. He was here, there, everywhere. The way in which he worked has however to be specifically noted. Pan Supari functions play an important part in the reports you have of Mr. Tilak's work. Sometimes these functions were substitutes for long formal lectures. Long formal lectures have a value of their own. But Pan Supari functions appear to be more social, homely and in greater keeping with the traditions of Indian life. It was there that Mr. Tilak was at his highest in touching the hearts of the populace and it was there that presents were made to him of offerings of platefuls of rupees for the cause of Home Rule. All this enhanced popularity of a leader who was already popular could not but affect the sensitive imagination of some Bureaucrats at any rate. Local Bureaucracy waited for a hint from Delhi and when that was given in the form of a mistaken circular they once more set the wheels of repression in motion. This time the Government of Bombay did not act. It was the Government of Punjab that dreamt a dream. It dreamt that Mr. Tilak, as also Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal, was going to Punjab to raise a revolt among the sturdy races of that province of the five sacred rivers. The moment appeared very dangerous in the dream. So the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab whose antics in the Imperial Legislative Council have now become a bye-word in all circles of India sent an order to Mr. Tilak neither to enter nor to reside in Punjab. Mr. Tilak wired immediately that he had absolutely no intention of going to Punjab or Delhi and requested to be acquainted with the information the Punjab Government had acted upon so that he might do the needful in the matter on his own behalf. His representation received no satisfactory consideration. Except that the Punjab Government helped to highten suspicion against Mr. Tilak in the minds of his enemies and to deepen the sense of love his brethren in the country bore towards him, this incident had no other effect. Mr. Tilak does not lose by his enemies being more confirmed in their folly. He certainly gains by his friends bearing more and more love towards him. The Punjab order has not yet been publicly cancelled though all other repressive orders passed by all other Governments have been cancelled in consequence of a broader policy now being pursued. It is significant however that Mr. Tilak's presence in Delhi for the deputations and interviews was not objected to.
The whole of the year 1917 was a year of very strenuous work for Mr. Tilak on behalf of Home Rule. Though others have shared with him the toil that has produced the splendid results we see in Maharashtra, there is absolutely no doubt that his inspiration it is which, given in the spirit of a Hindu Educationist (Brahman), has contributed most to the grand response from "Western India to the pulsating movement of India.
His eloquent plea on behalf of Volunteering in the midst of Home Rule work has again proclaimed at once his patriotism for the country and his sense of duty to the Government.
"I shall give up the Home Rule movement if you do not come forward to defend your Home. If you want Home Rule, be prepared to defend your Home. Had it not been for my age, I would have been the first to volunteer. You cannot reasonably say that the ruling will be done by You and the fighting for You."
These words are still fresh to the ears of all hearing Indians.
Few incidents more have to be recorded. For one thing they are too near to be adequately appraised. For another it is certainly difficult to maintain their proportion in a short life-sketch.
The Indian population has to a certain extent felt that Mr. Tilak must have been their mouth-piece at the Home Rule Deputation but that is after all a minor matter. In spite of it, to-day the whole country accepts him the foremost leader though of course he himself has made the following words he addressed to the poor ryots the rule of his life.
"I am myself a poor man like you and I have no greater privileges whatsoever. I earn my livelihood by doing some business as you do. I do not see any difference between what is done on behalf of the rich and what is done on behalf of the poor. I have long been thinking as to what are the grievances of the ryots, what difficulties are ahead of them, what help they require, and what things are necessary to be done. I have been doing this as a poor ryot myself and on that account not only do I feel sympathy for you but I feel proud that I am one of you.
Do not be afraid of speaking out things which are plain in themselves. There might be some trouble but nothing can be had without any trouble. Home rule is not going to be dropped into your hands from the sky."
May the great Tilak Maharaj be with us long in health and strength to lead us loyally and patriotically to that goal which has consistently been his from the start—Home Rule.