by Sulaiman Razvi
We studied about Bal Gangadhar Tilak in school, we were presented with the wrong picture of Tilak that he was a great freedom fighter and a great human being. But we were never told about his real side. This article intends to uncover real side of this Brahmin leader who was communal, misogynist, casteist, xenophobic. This article is based on the book “Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings” by Biswamoy Pati. Biswamoy Pati was an Associate Professor in Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Delhi. His book also includes the work of J.V. Naik, Parimala V. Rao, Bhupendra Yadav, and Shri Krishan. The primary sources cited in the book are the columns in newspapers like the Marathi “Kesari” and English “The Mahratta’ by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The book provides great insight into some of the facts which are brushed under the carpet by Saffronized textbooks in India. It is not possible to quote every detail from the book, so I request you to purchase the book “Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings” by Biswamoy Pati.
Tilak quoting the Manu Smriti said that women must not be independent,
“Referring to the Dharmashastra of Manu, Tilak asserted, ‘There is a verse the beginning of which is that women should always remain under guardianship: when children under their parents, when young under their husbands, when widows under their children but our Government has even surpassed Manu. They have liberated the women and placed the men under the surveillance of an everlasting nature’…Speaking to the Hindu Mahila Samaj he insisted that the supreme duty of women was to produce great patriots. They were also advised to perform as teachers of the nation, their mission as teachers was not to offer textual knowledge, but good etiquette and conduct, civility, and self-sacrifice.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.78, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Since Tilak venerated the Dharmashastras, he supported child marriage and paedophilia and also opposed Age of Consent Bill,
“Tilak’s opposition to reform was not new but it assumed new proportions during the controversy over the ‘Age of Consent Bill’ in 1891, in a context when Behramji Merwanji Malabari campaigned intensively in its favour. This was occasioned by the death of the child-bride Phulmoni in Calcutta, when her husband had sexual intercourse with her. Under the plea of upholding the idea of non-intervention in indigenous customs and traditions, and in the name of voluntary prescription, Tilak attacked the Bill as ‘damaging’ to the traditions and shastras of India.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.77, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Now some of you may be wondering that the Age of Consent Bill may have increased the age of marriageable girls to 18 years, but you would be shocked to read that the Bill aimed to increase marriageable age of Hindu girls from ten to twelve and this was opposed by Tilak,
“In the case of Phulmoni, this child bride who was ten years old died when her husband twenty-nine years older than her had forcible intercourse with her, towards the end of 1890 in Calcutta. This incident created a stir. On the basis of the ‘shastras’ Tilak argued that Hindu girls had to be married before attaining puberty, although consummation had to wait until puberty. A host of historians have discussed the issues involved, connecting it to the Age of Consent Bill that aimed to increase the marriageable age of Hindu girls from ten to twelve years.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.97-98, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Against Girl’s Education
Bal Gangadhar Tilak who is hailed as a great Hindu scholar and freedom fighter opposed education for girls, it was not just him but even his associates opposed girl’s education. Tilak’s associates in the Shivaji festival were Shivram Mahadec Paranjpe and Shridhar Ganesh Jinsivale who were staunchly against women’s education. Birds of same feather flocks together.
“The third campaign led by the Nationalists was against education for girls. In 1884, Ranade and other Reformers established the first girls’ high school in Poona. The school admitted girls belonging to all castes. For Tilak this amounted to double treachery. He attacked the school for teaching English, mathematics, and science to girls and insisted that ‘the curriculum of the girls’ school should consist of vernacular, needle work and sanitation’. Tilak repeatedly insisted that teaching English to women ‘amounted to loss of nationality’. He argued that ‘English education had [a] dewomanising impact on women, by denying them a happy worldly life’. He also argued that it ‘hurt the sentiments of the orthodox Hindus’ as it ‘destroyed the Hindu household’. Tilak articulated that ‘teaching Hindu women to read English would ruin their precious traditional virtues and would make them immoral and insubordinate’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.16, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
“In 1884, William Wedderburn (one of the founder members of the Indian National Congress and twice its president) proposed a municipality-sponsored high school for girls. Tilak fervently opposed this, since for him women must only ‘to look after the house’, and he argued that society would suffer if girls were provided equal educational opportunities, since the duties of men and women were different. As Tilak saw it, this distinction between duties and rights was of a fundamental nature that set the traditional Dharmashastras apart from from Western legal thoughts. The former assigned specific spheres of duty in accordance with age, gender and caste. He went on to add: ‘[If you] start with founding a high school for girls…it would soon lead to women running away from their homes’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.75, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Upheld Caste System & had high regard for Manu Smriti & other Dharmashastras
Because he adhered to Chitpavan sub-sect of the Brahmin caste so he was a staunch supporter of casteism.
“They defined their identity in political terms and as rashtravadi or ‘nationalists’ and asserted that ‘they alone could show the right way to the nation’. Tilak argued that to be a Nationalist one had to defend the varnashrama dharma (caste system) and oppose reform. Summing up the Nationalist defense of the caste system, he wrote, ‘had it not been for the influence of caste, the Hindu nation would have long ceased to exist’…’Caste alone is the basis of a Hindu nation’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.14, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Forbade Education to Lower Castes and to Non-Brahmins
“The Nationalists mounted their second campaign against the Reforms regarding the introduction of compulsory education and university reforms. Tilak argued that teaching reading, writing, and the rudiments of history, geography, and mathematics to non-brahmin children would actually harm them. He also opposed the admission of children form ‘untouchable’ Mahar and Mang communities in schools. The Nationalists effectively controlled nine out of eleven municipalities in the Marathi-speaking areas of Bombay Presidency, and all of them turned down the introduction of compulsory primary education. They prevented the entry of untouchable children into schools with considerable success.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.15, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Opposed Inter-Caste Marriage Bill
Bal Gangadhar Tilak vehemently opposed Hindu Marriages (Validity) Bill 1918 which aimed to allow inter-caste marriage. Tilak argued against the Bill citing Hindu scriptures,
“When Vithalbhai Ptel introduced the ‘Hindu Marriages (Validity) Bill’ in the Imperial Council (1918) to legalize inter-caste marriage, it was supported by Sriniwas Shastri, Tej Bahadur Sapru, and Lala Lajpat Rai. However, Tilak opposed it. In a letter to the editor of the Mahratta he said it would interfere with the law of succession. Tilak described marriage as a sacrosanct ritual, which should be treated neither an entry in a register nor a mutual agreement. He warned against borrowing ‘other people’s customs’ and legal patterns. Reiterating that India had a multiplicity of castes, the absence of common dining practices and matrimonial relations among castes, and that even marriages within sub-castes were not tolerable to people, he investigated scriptural positions on such marriages. On the basis of this he confirmed that anuloma marriage (i.e. marriage of a male of high caste to a low caste women) was in principle acceptable to Manu. Neverthless, he argued that since the aims of marriage were twofold to produce offspring and the continuation of the family (with its traditions and inheritance) and, as Manu had specifically and purposely deprived the varna-sankara (hybrid progeny of such mixed marriages) of inheritance and the right to pind-dan (offerings to ancestors), such legislation was neither sensible nor suitable. Even as he reiterated that the individual had the freedom of choice, he questioned whether a person could be a Hindu and not marry according to the Dharmashastras.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.81, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation)
It were Hindu leaders like Tilak, Savarkar, Gowalkar, Lala Lajpat Rai and many others who dreamt of establishing a Hindu Rashtra, they had proposed division of India into a Hindu Rashtra even before the Muslim League adopted two-nation theory. Tilak not only advocated for Hindu Rashtra but even opposed secularism,
“Tilak called upon his supporters ‘to capture the institutions like the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha and the Congress’ to facilitate ‘the regeneration of the Hindu nation’. Ranade opposed the aggressive emphasis on the Hindu nation by pointing out that ‘it is not a mere accident that has turned the vast country of ours into a temple where all religions meet in adoration to the common God of all in a way that can be said of no other country’. Tilak called Ranade’s secularism an ‘unnational tendency that strike[s] a deathblow at the very fabric which has interwoven us into the Hindu nation’.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.20, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
“He asked if these common allegiances to the Vedas, Gita and Ramayana were not our common heritage. He exhorted the Hindus of different sects to forget minor differences between themselves so that ‘by the grace of providence, we shall…be able to consolidate all different sects into a mighty Hindu nation. This ought to be the ambition of every Hindu’ (emphasis mine).”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.69, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Bal Gangadhar Tilak during his initial career was so communal that he couldn’t even tolerate some educated Muslims establishing English school for Muslim students so as to employ them in government services,
In 1885, Badruddin Tayabji and a few other educated Muslims in Bombay established the Anjuman-i-Islam to encourage Muslims to enrol for English education. They addressed a memorial to the government to employ educated Muslims in government services. It received wholehearted support from the Hindus, and Lala Uma Shankar was made the Vice President of the Bombay Presidency Mahomedan Educational Conference. Tilak called the memorial ‘a good deal of exaggeration’ and commented that, ‘better say immediate orders should be issued that the Hindu being a conquered nation should be deported bag and baggage and the Mohammedans again restored to the throne of Delhi’. Tilak constructed a fearful image of Muslims as ‘the descendants of the Pathans and Moguls who were once a terror’, and had began to assert that they were receiving the support of the British. He argued that the government preferred educated Muslims to Hindu candidates in government service.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.18, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Tilak blamed Muslims as the first aggressors whenever a Hindu-Muslim riot broke out, a leader is supposed to calm down the situation but Tilak used violence to further his political mileage and used it as an opportunity to instigate Hindus.
“In September 1890, two anonymous letters in the Mahratta reported riots between the two communities in Belgaum. Six months earlier in the month of March, during the Holi festival, disturbances had taken place in which three persons were killed and thirty-six were injured. After providing a graphic description of the incident, the letters stressed the aggressive physical attack by the Muslims and the partiality shown by the district administration to Muslims. In his editorial Tilak supported the statements made in these anonymous letters. He argued that first, the Mohamedans ‘in their fanatical zeal…were aggressors…the attack was deliberate as they were jealous of the Hindus’. He said that ‘the government under the guise of religious neutrality is actually supporting Muslims’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.19, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
We shall also discuss whether Muslims were really the “first aggressors” as alleged by Tilak.
Justified attacks on Muslims as “Retaliation”
“Tilak declared that Hindus had resorted to a counter-attack not just in self-defence but ‘to give an opportunity to Mohamedans to experience vindictive power of those whom they had so seriously offended. The Hindus’ counter-attack contributed in no small degree to the minimizing of the contingency of similar outbreaks in future’.
The Commisioner of Police of Bombay R.H. Vincent was injured in the clashes, which had left 80 persons dead and 700 injured. He brought the riots under control within two days. He attributed the violence to the leaders of the cow protection societies.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.21, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Despite Commissioner Vincent holding Cow Protection Movement’s Hindu extremists responsible for the violence Tilak blamed Muslims as first perpetrators, Tilak criticized the British government and warned of “Retaliation” against Muslims,
“It must be distinctly borne in mind that the people of Maharashtra if left to themselves, have sufficient capacity and intelligence to make the Mahomedan respect the rights of the Hindus…we in the Deccan, never lived by the sufferance of the Mahomedans…It is true that the Marathas are not as rash and inconsiderate as the Mahomedan roughs so as to be aggressive but recent riots have made it plain that they will not be slow, if assaulted to take revenge upon the Mahomedans…[T]he history of Marathas bears testimony to the fact that had it not been for the appearance of the British on the stage, the Hindus of these parts would have wrested the power out of the hands of the Moguls.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.21, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Tilak and Christians
Tilak was excommunicated by the Shankaracharya,
“Tilak performed prayascita (penance) for drinking tea with missionaries in 1892 and for undertaking a trip to England in 1919. But Tilak also criticized the orthodox section among the Hindus who compelled him to do this penance.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.43, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Called for the boycott of Muslims
“He emphasized that ‘the Hindu nation will, as one-man resolve to have nothing to do…with the Mahomedans’. This suggesion for a boycott received little response, and the Reformers criticized Tilak for ‘deliberately creating animosity between the two communities’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.25-26, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Tilak’s associate had also called for boycott of Muslims,
“The government for its part held Barve responsible for encouraging the Hindus to boycott the Muslims in order to maintain the feeling of animosity after the compromise was reached.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.24, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was one of the first to make public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi and he was the first one to politicize it. Tilak’s celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi is an perfect example of hating other religions more than loving one’s own, the reason he started public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi is to deter Hindus from participating in Muslims’ Muharram because he didn’t like Hindus carrying the corpses of Hasan and Hussain (Grandsons of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ). Misinformation is also spread even by some secular Hindus that Tilak began grand celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi and Shivaji festival to mobilize Hindus against the Britishers.
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated publicly by Tilak to deter Hindus from participating in Muharram
“Nevertheles, these political manoeuvres actually accentuated fissures and divisions within Indian society. With the revitalization of the Ganpati festival, the issue of ‘music at the mosque’ became a prominent concern in the public domain, increasingly communalized. In an article, Moharram va Hinduchi Vritti, Tilak advised Hindus not to participate in Moharram: it was a demonstration of stupidity and lack of pride.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.74, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
During these celebrations there were also songs urging Hindus to stop participating in Muharram,
“The tradition of joining Hindu-Muslim festivities was giving way, initially to strategic emulation of Muslims by Hindus, and later on, to strident condemnation of Muslims. Hindus had participated in Muslim processions earlier, but this give-and-take began to disappear in the 1890s. It seems that even while public festivities associated with the Ganapati festival grew, Hindu artisans, musicians and dancers continued to participate in Muharram processions. The 1894 Ganpati festival was promoted on the lines of Muharram in Poona. The organizers were successful: 25,000 persons participated in the Ganpati procession in 1894 and another 50,000 showered the procession with sweets, parched rice, and gulal from the roadside. In the Ganpati festival of 1894, a song urged Hindus to stop worshipping Muslim tabuts (floats) of Muharram and to return to Ganpati and the holy cow:
Oh! Why have you abandoned today the Hindu religion?
Have you forgotten Ganpati, Shiva and Marti?
What have you gained by worshipping tabuts?
What boon has Allah conferred upon you
That you have become Mussalmans today?
Do not be friendly to a religion which is alien condemnation
Do not give up your religion and be fallen.
Do not at all venerate the tabuts,
The cow is our mother, do not forget her.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.49-50, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Violence during Ganpati festival
District Police Act of 1890 prohibited playing music near all worship places. But Tilak didn’t care about this and insisted on playing music near mosques as a show of might. Bal Gangadhar Tilak didn’t care either about Muslim sentiments or about the law, he brazenly defied the law which lead to a riot, it is possible that the riot was orchestrated by none other than Tilak through his associate Barve, as violence used to erupt only when the celebration was by Brahmins, more particularly by Nationalists (Tilak and his associates). During Ganpati Celebration, Hindus vandalized Patel mosque in Yeola and also vandalized a temple, police and authorities present there blamed the Hindu mob but still that didn’t seem to convince Tilak and as usual he blamed Muslims as first aggressors. Hindus were not brainwashed in a day, they were brainwashed by their politicians and religious scholars over a span of centuries, now you know why present day Hindus halt procession near mosques and raise objectionable slogans and if Muslims react to these provocations then Muslims are accused of pelting stones at peacefull procession. And I quote from the book,
“Ramachandra Ganesh Barve, a close associate of Tilak, at Yeola in the Nasik district was prompt to utilize the Bombay riots politically. Barve had stood by Tilak over the past twelve years to oppose the Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act and the reduced power of Mamlatdars. Now he extended complete support to the ideas of Tilak. Within a month (on 18 September) Yeola witnessed riots during the Ganapati festival. The Patel Mosque and the Muralidhar Temple were desecrated. The Mamlatdar, the chief and the head constable (all of the Hindus) who were present when the attack took place, reported to the government that ‘certain Hindus had attacked both these places of worship’. Tilak called it ‘aggression by the Muslim of Yeola’ and criticized the district administration for ‘encouraging the Muslims to demand unjust interference, with the exercise by the Hindu community of their customary right of carrying their idols in a chariot procession accompanied by music according to established customs’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.23, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Tilak made Hindus play anti-Muslim songs during Ganpati celebrations and despite prohibition, Bal Gangadhar Tilak insisted on playing music near mosques
“In August 1894, Tilak began a rigorous campaign supporting the playing of music in front of mosques. He discussed at length the District Police Act of 1890 which prohibited the playing of music ‘within forty paces of all places of worship during hours of services and at all times while passing a mosque, when Puran, or Kuran is being read near a street, while passing public offices and when carriages or horses are passing’. Tilak argued that the clauses of the act ‘speak of music in or near a street and not specifically of music on the occasion of festivals and ceremonies’. He went on to proclaim that the police and the Act were ‘ridiculous’ and that ‘the police very often create or attempt to create a breach of the public peace by hasty and injudicious interference with the rights of the people’. He also stressed that the police had no power to regulate music during a procession. Ranade warned Tilak that his argument was inflammatory and Gokhale cautioned him not to stir up further communal conflict.
However, Tilak intensified his campaign against the prohibition of music near mosques. In September 1894 he began a mass celebration of Ganapati festival at Poona. This involved public celebration, with singing parties and large-scale processions. The songs sung in the festivals were anti-Muslim and against the Reformers. Songs were also sung to encourage Hindus to stay away from the festival of Moharram. Tilak’s close associate Hari Ramachandra Natu, also known as Tatia Saheb Natu, led one of the processions near the mosque, deliberately playing music. The procession was attacked by Muslims. The government arrested the concerned persons before extensive damage could take place. Tilak blamed ‘the anti-Hindu Europeans reporters in The Times of India and Bombay Gazette’ for misrepresenting the facts and gave his account of the violence…He stressed that the ‘mild Hindu, as a rule, never resists authority’, while Muslims were ‘always the first violators of law, hence always the aggressors’
…In his endeavour Tilak received support from not only affluent Chitpavans, but also from several anti-reformist Marathas like Bhau Rangari and Vinayak Ramachandra who were closely involved in the violence following the Ganapati festival. The Mahratta widely reported various stone throwing incidents against the Ganapati procession as well as the court proceedings against the Hindus arrested. In the midst of riots, violence, and sarcastic songs against Reformers and Muslims, The Mahratta continued to report the success of the melas as a festival of ‘gay dresses and sweet songs’, orderly and good tempered, and stressed repeatedly that Hindus did not desire to insult or offend the religious feelings of any other community by this festival…”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.25-26, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
The success of grand Ganpati celebration was short-lived. Ganesh Chaturthi had mostly attracted the Brahmins, Tilak wanted to garner more support to show his might to the Muslims so he decided to celebrate Shivaji festival publicly as Shivaji was not an icon of any particular caste. Tilak communalized Shivaji festival with an aim to radicalize Hindus. Biswamoy Pati explains it in detail,
“The uneducated non-brahmins who had participated in the Ganapati festival refused to be part of a larger political agenda. The communal riots took place mostly during brahmin Ganapati processions led by Nationalists. In order to gain support from non-brahmins, Tilak began the Shivaji festival. The valour of Shivaji, the seventeenth-century Maratha king, was celebrated in ballads or pavadas in rural Maharashtra. This was an aspect of popular culture. The pavadas were sung by a sub-caste of professional musicians called Gondhalis in village festivals and entertainment forums. Shivaji was one of the most popular icons of the non-brahmins in the nineteenth century. He was perceived as a popular and just king.
Shivaji was now projected by Tilak, not as a good king but as a protector of cows and brahmins gobrahmana praipalak. He was a defender of Hinduism from the onslaught of Islam. This was historically inaccurate. When Afzal Khan marched against Shivaji in 1659, Sambhaji of Supa, and Moray of Javli, Khondaji Khopde, the Deshmukh of Utroli, and a number of Mavali Deshmukhs joined hands with Afzal Khan. Even Baji Nimbalkar, the Deshmukh of Phaltan and the Savant of Wadi Bhaskar, Krishanji Kulkarni supported Afzal Khan. Hence, Shivaji’s struggle against the Mughals and the Bahmani kingdom can hardly be considered a struggle between two contending religions. The popular (non-brahmin) journal Din Bandhu began to oppose Tilak’s attempts to co-opt the figure of Shivaji. Countering such opposition Tilak declared that ‘it is the duty of every Hindu to celebrate the Shivaji festival’ and elevate it to the level of a national festival.
Tilak called for a public meeting in May 1895, in order to raise funds to repair the tomb of Shivaji, to erect a suitable canopy, and to arrange a permanent endowment that would provide the necessary funds for an annual festival at Raigadh. He had limited success. The Maharaja of Kolhapur who was a descendant of Shivaji provided no financial assistance and the Gaikwad of Baroda gave 1,000 rupees, a tiny sum in comparison with his contribution of 33,000 rupees to the Deccan Association around the same time. During the debate, Shivaji as a just king was completely sidelined and the killing of Afzal Khan was a focus that emphasized the Hindu-Muslim aspect. Tilak defended Shivaji’s actions by declaring that ‘great men were above common principles of morality’. Ranade opposed such a defence and the eulogizing of Afzal Khan’s murder. Tilak declared that Ranade was ignorant of the philosophy of the Gita and insisted that ‘in reclaiming independence from the Mahomedan rulers Shivaji committed no sin, either according to the Penal Code or the laws of Manu or Yagnavalkya’. The Kesari wrote that the murder of Afzal Khan at the hands of Shivaji was an occasion in which ‘every Hindu, every Maratha must rejoice’.
The representation of Shivaji as ‘a Hindu king with a deep yearning for religious freedom fighting against the galling oppression of Mohamedans rulers’ was opposed by educated people. Tilak argued that at the time of Shivaji the Hindus were threatened by the ‘merciless foreigners’ and criticized educated people ‘for joining hands with traitors and a large crowd of hostile foreign critics of…Maratha rule’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.29-30 Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Why Tilak’s attitude towards Muslims changed in his later career?
“One reason advanced to explain this is that Tilak was forced to initiate an entente with Muslims due to the increasing pressure of non-brahmin protest in the Deccan. Rao feels that
Tilak’s insistence on allegiance to the ancient laws like caste rigidity, selective education to women and non-Brahmins and denying Indian Nationality to the Muslims and an intense hatred of foreigners, were the cornerstones on which the later day Hindutva ideology stood. In the first and the second decade of the twentieth century Hindutva and Hindu Nationality was not very articulately propagated, as the socio-political scenario kept on changing due to the non-Brahmin movement and opposition by liberal Brahmins which necessitated Tilak to extend the hand of friendship to the Muslims.
This explanation seems to have a logical basis, and, even the newspapers run by Tilak seems to have recognized these pressures.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.56, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Tilak’s Pro-British stand
Tilak actually didn’t oppose the Britishers, in fact after his release from Mandalay jail, he extended support to Britishers and urged Indians to fight for England in the first world war, Tilak’s opposition to Britishers had to do more with the social reforms brought by the Britishers which liberated the low caste Hindus which Tilak as a Brahmin couldn’t digest. He also opposed recruitment of Mahars and other low castes into the British Indian army.
“His political engagements made him look back into the past, but he was far too modern, given his association with the anti-imperialist struggle and his methods of intervention in the public sphere that were influenced by European history and political methods. Consequently, Tilak was influenced by colonial modernity. At the same time, the man who was an ‘extremist’ shared with the ‘moderates’ the anxieties of the masses and the ‘revolutionary terrorists’. Thus, after his release in 1914, Tilak condemned terrorism and praised the benefits of British rule, besides calling upon Indian to support England during the First World War.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.95-96, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
Why did he oppose Britishers then?
“Tilak opposed colonial rule because it gave rights to the peasants and lower castes to complain against the ‘natural’ leaders of ‘Hindu’ society. For him the Gita could serve as the focal point of these ideals, as it was a call to temporal action from God.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.68, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
“Richard Cashman has argued that the Chitpavan Brahmin community was threatened by a range of colonial reforms during the late nineteenth century that created openings and opportunities for non-brahmins castes. This led to political agitations among several brahmin groups to regain their lost status in the 1880s. Tilak worked precisely on these fears and insecurities. In fact, Cashman is also of the view that Tilak sought to work primarily on Ranade’s more moderate conception of Shivaji, with the intention of raising funds from the landed classes.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.72-73, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011
“Tilak’s perception on the low/outcastes is quite revealing when it comes to the recruitment for the colonial army. Explaining the success of Shivaji’s army which was able to defeat the well-equipped Mughal forces, he said it was composed of patriots, not mercenaries. Simultaneously, he linked the downfall of the Peshwas to the employment of foreigners, such as Arabs in their army. He questioned the colonial policy of recruiting people of the lower castes into army. As he asserted, the vocation of the Mahars and Berads was ‘thieving’, and by employing them the government was alienating brahmins and Marathas, the very soul of the ‘nation’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.80, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011