BLTC Press Titles

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The Bhagavad Gita


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

by Bal Gangadhar Tilak




NEITHER Mr. Tilak nor his speeches really require any presentation or foreword. His speeches are, like the featureless Brahman, self-luminous. Straightforward, lucid, never turning aside from the point which they mean to hammer in or wrapping it up in ornamental verbiage, they read like a series of self-evident propositions. And Mr. Tilak himself, his career, his place in Indian politics are also a self-evident proposition, a hard fact baffling and dismaying in the last degree to those to whom his name has been anathema and his increasing pre-eminence figured as a portent of evil. The condition of things in India being given, the one possible aim for political effort resulting and the sole- means and spirit by which it could be brought about, this man had to come and, once in the field, had to come to the front. He could not but stand in the end where he stands to-day, as 'one of the two or tlfree leaders of the Indian people who are in their »(jjyes the incarnations of the national endeavour and the Godgiven captains of the national aspiration. His life, his character, his work and endurance, his acceptance* by the heart and the mind of the people are a stronger argument than all the reasonings in his speeches, powerful as these are, for Swaraj, Self-government, Home Rule, by whatever name we may call the sole possible present aim of our effort, the freedom of the life of India, its self-determination by the people of India. Arguments and speeches do not win liberty for a nation; but where there is a will in the nation to be free and a man to embody that will in every action of his life and to devote his days to its realisation in the face of every difficulty and every suffering, and where the will of the nation has once said, "This man and his life mean what I have in my heart and my purpose," that is a sure signpost of the future which no one has any excuse for mistaking.

That indomitable will and that unwavering devotion have been the whole meaning of Mr. Tilak's life; they are the reason of his immense hold on the people. For he does not owe his pre-eminent position to any of the causes which have usually made for political leading in India, wealth iand great social position, professional success, recognition by Government, a power of fervid oratory or of fluent and taking speech; for he had none of these

things to#help him. He owes it to himself alone

and to the thing bis life has meant and because he

has meant it with his whole mind and his whole i

soul. He has kept back nothing for himself or for

other aims, but has given allJiimself to his country.

Yet is Mr. Tilak a man of various and no

ordinary gifts, and in several lines of life he might

have achieved present distinction or a pre-eminent

and enduring fame. Though he has never practised,

he has a close knowledge of law and an acute ?8gal

mind which, had he cared in the least degree for

wealth and worldly positiqn, would have brought

him to the front at the bar. He is a great Sanskrit

scholar, a powerful writer and a strong, subtle and

lucid thinker. He might have filled a large place

in the field of contemporary Asiatic scholarship.

Even as it is, his Orion and his Arctic Home have

acquired at once a world-wide recognition and left

as strong a mark as can at all be imprinted on the

ever-shifting sands of oriental research. His work

on the Gita, no mere commentary, but an original

criticism and preseiltaTiorT~of ethical truth, is a

monumental work, The first prose writing of the

fronfrrank iu-weighTand importance in the Marathi

language, antl likelylo become a classic. This one

book sufficien"n'y~p'roves"that had he devoted his

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