Thursday, November 5, 2015


The year 2015 is centenary year of the publishing of GEETA RAHASYA by Lokamanya Tilak. It will be right time for the review of his mile stone GRANTH ( book ). The book is his attempt to find the secret contained by the Hindu Holy book Bhagvad Geeta by  who was admittedly well qualified even by his critics to attempt independent interpretation.

He lived his life as he preached. One can better understand his interpretation by taking closer look at his life, his book and his arguments. He lived as he preached. He did not advocate the secret of the Geeta as KARMAYOG in mere scholarly and academic work but as a way to live. His life demonstrates this fact in abundant manner.

Easily on the top of the list of leader of freedom fight belonging to pre-Gandhian era, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was much more than that. He was a scholar, an author, an editor, a  social worker,a mathematician, an astronomer of far excellence. 

Born in an orthodox Chittapavan Konkanasth Brahmin family in Chikhali village of Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra , the Sanskrit scriptures came to him almost as legacy. The majority of Brahmin boys  would be content with threading ceremony, Yadyopavit and Sandhya or may be few Mantras of rituals and puja.  Tilak was different. His studies of Vedic scriptures is quite evident even with a cursory glance at the quotes he has used in GEETA RAHASYA . They come from all vedas, Upnishads, Smrities, puranas, Bhagwat, Mahabharat, Marathi saints like Jnaeshwar, Tukaram and so on. Not only that but he quotes from Buddhist and Christian texts also. He has also referred  to the Western philosophers like Spencer, Kant, Maxmullar etc. What makes his memory outstanding is the fact that the book was written in the prison of Mandale where no was available to any books, magazines. What British Government provided him was only few pencils and writing pads. Still  has made mention of the source at every single quote. That makes not only scholar by an humble scholar a true example of Vdya Vinayen Shobhate. 

The book itself can be classified as Bhashya Grantha like those coming from Adi Shankaracharya and other Acharyas following him. The Bhashya Granth  intended to interpret already written ( or established through reciting by many for many years ) text. Perhaps it is the last such book in Marathi and the most popular after Janeshwari or Bhavartha Deepika by Sant Janeshwar.  Obviously he was prompted to write it because he had new diversion or dimension to be given to the earlier interpretations by earlier scholars. Rarely any one attempts to write a Bhashya Granth till he has demonstrated mastery over the subject. Not even his critics at any time doubted his mastery or authority. The one word to summerise his interpretation is NISHKAM KARMAYOG but will be dealt with later on in detail.

In a way we have to thank the Judge of British Government for sending Tilakji to imprisonment for six long years. ( who was reminded by Tilak that the last Judgement never comes from a mortal person but from the GOD in his argument for self defence ). It gave much needed respite from the busy political agenda and allowed the author in him to come to the fore. The HERO in him chose to live of the life of hero rather than writing about it . So was also declared by Veer Savarkar to explain the inconsistency  in his writing. He was even less fortunate than  Tilak . He did not gte even pencil and pad. He had to write one verse of the Long poetry Kamla by chalk on the wall and memorise it before proceeding to next verse. Strong memory was stronghold of both. When the British Government to long time to returns the note pads on which the book was hand written, Tilakji declared thta the notes can be with the Government but the memory is with him. He will go one self declared confinement at Sinhagada and rewrite the whole book ( of over 800 pages ) in matter of few days. 

Thankfully the note book were returned and the first edition came out in 1915 even if the writing was completed some where in 1910 only. The subsequent editions keep coming up at regular intervals. The author of this article is inherited with seventh edition of it published in 1956 and bought by his father. It contains comments by people like Maharshi Aurobindo Ghosh and Mahatma Gandhi. The book is translated into almost all Indian languages and many westren language including English. The only other example of such wide popularity crossing many boundaries is in Marathi is Sant Tukaram Mahraj.

The GEETA RAHASYA may be the most appreciated and largest in size but that is not the only work by Tilakji. Two booklets with titles of " The Hosrizon " and " The Arctic Home of Vedas " are written by him much earlier.  It is interesting to note that GEETA RAHASYA begins with about  12 lines composed in Sanskrit dedicating the book to the GOD found in mass people or Janata Janardana . In those days such opening was almost compulsory. Wefind similar opening in Jnaneshwari of Sant Jnaneshwar or Ram Cahrit Manas by Sant Tulsidas.

Tilakji started two news paper from Pune in 19th century . One of the earliest established press in Maharashtra. One was The Maratha in English and The Kesari in Marathi. The Kesari had a great role to play in awakening masses to arise and participate in the Freedom Fight. Many of his editorials have literary value and stood the test of time. One can easily remember the obituary he wrote after the death of Justice Ranade. It  is considered as model case study even now. Other editorial quoted often is " PUNASHCA HARI-OM " ( START AGAIN ). It was written soon after he was released from the prison after six years. Indomitable spirit displayed by a man in his sixties and suffering from Diabetes. The average life expectancy of Indian Male was below sixty at the time. He continued in same old fervor and was termed as " the creator of Indian unrest "  for Freedom Fight.The three leaders  Lal Bal and Pal from Punjab, Maharashtra and Bengal were responsible for laying foundation of the freeedom fight which was taken over by Mahatma Gandhi after wards.

Not much of his spoken word is preserved due to lack of facilities at that time.  Tilakji was a forceful speaker of outstanding caliber who could move masses and galvanize them in desired action. Some his spoken words have become slogans of freedom struggle like " Freedom is my birth right and I shall have it "  These words are part of lesson on him all over India in all medium schools and made by heart by all students over generations.

Ironically he differed with Agarkar as to the right sequence between Social reforms and Freedom Fight. Agrakar was for Social reforms first and Tilakji was for freedom first. Still his contribution to social work has considerable impact on the society then and now. He started two festivals . SHIV JAYANTI UTSAV and SARVAJANIK GANESHOTSAV. Both the festivals continue  or be celebrated today after 100 years. He was not against reforms but wanted to push them gradually. The gap between intellectuals and masses happy with status quo does not serve purpose. All noble ideas remain theory on paper till it is accepted by masses and it is bound to be slow and gradual process. 

One can find an example of his interest and command of Mathematics. While arguing on the secret of BHAGVAD GEETA. He uses the defination of straight line to augment his argument. The straight line is defined as the shortest path between strat and end points. He argued that any interpretation must take account of the beginning and the end of it and stick to shortest course ignoring deviations.  Arjuna declared " Na Yutsam " ( will not fight ) at the beginning and declares to listen to Krishna ( and fight ) " Karsihya vachanam tav ". He did fight and was major contributor in the Victory of MHABHARATIYA YUDHHA . So the essence of Geeta has to be what  prompted the. change of his mind.

Another story of his genius as mathematician goes like this.  Wrangler Paranjpye was a teacher in New English School in Pune again started by none other than Tilakji where his son was a student. Once he gave a riddle to his class as home work. Nobody could solve it except for junior Tilak with help coming from father. Next day when he showed it to wrangler teacher, he merely said " Convey my salutes to your father. Not only he has solved the riddle correct but did so in fewer steps than I had used to solve! "

A  new calendar or PANCHANG was named after him. A PANCHNAG decides about the time using five parameter like the SANVASTAR , the MONTH , the  DAY, the NAKSHATRA and the KARAN.  It takes detailed long calculations to tell all these with correctness.The calendar named after him boasts of being VISIBLE or Druk Prataykari . This being visible parameter is used in today national calendar 

That he was a great appreciator of the ART especially Vocal Music is evident by the Title BAL GANDHARVA he gace to young Naryan Rajhans. The tile stuck instantly so much so that the boy was more known by his title than real name. Many great variations and of the title were coined later on like SAVAI GANDHARVA, CHHOTA GANDHARVA,  KUMAR GANDHARVA etc. All of them great Indian Vocal music artists. In the golder area of Marathi theatre that followed had a Drama company named after him BALAVANT SANGEET MANDALI.

His work in the field of freedom struggle has overshadowed many shades of his personality. Each shade was capable of making him outstanding person in that particular field. He chose the path of freedom struggle as the call of duty and stuck to it for life. Struggle is as important as freedom. Not only the goal but the course adopted to reach the goal decides life style of the person. It is in this context Lokmanya Tilak is referred to as KARMAYOGI in the title of this article. 

It is noteworthy to look at him in his death. Died in 1920 in Mumbai. His funeral procession amply demonstrated that  he was leader of masses. Loved and respected by masses. Not only the number of people joining was unprecedental till the time but spontaneous reaction was noteworthy. The Mill workers of Mumbai just stopped the work in order to be able to join the funeral procession . It is considered as the first Mill strike that too without any call. The communists were quick enough to see the opportunity and formed trade unions who made strike as regular agenda. Another noteworthy feature is that his body was carried in sitting posture, a feat reserved only for Yogi. This author became aware of it recently through an image shared on whatsApp which has admittedly prompted the title chosen for the article.

to be continued in part 2

No comments:

Post a Comment