When the nightingale sang for Tilak

When the nightingale sang for Tilak

July 23 marks the 163rd birth anniversary of Bal Gangadhar 'Lokmanya' Tilak.

What comes to mind for most is the clarion call of "Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it", which became one of the cornerstones of the freedom struggle. Then there are his newspapers Kesari and Maratha and their sedition saga. He was the architect of the modern-day Ganesh Ustav celebrations, among other things.      

A journalist, lawyer, teacher, philosopher, reformer and so much more, the leader invoked a fresh sense of freedom that inspired an entire generation of freedom fighters.

While many revered him, Tilak found a special, lesser-known admirer in Sarojini Naidu, the first woman president of the Indian National Congress.

Naidu penned her admiration for Tilak in a memorial piece called 'Lokmanya Tilak.' On his birth anniversary, we look back at Naidu's words written in his memory:

Lokmanya Tilak

How shall our mortal love commemorate
Your sovereign grandeur, O victorious heart?
Changeless, austere, your fame is counterpart
Of your own storied hills, inviolate.
Your proud immortal deeds irradiate
The darkness of our land, and star-like dart
The luster of your wisdom, valour, art,
Transfiguring sorrow and transcending fate.

Hail dauntless soldier, hail intrepid sage
Who taught our nation Freedom's Gayetri!
Immutable from the redeeming flame
Your ashes are our children's heritage.
And all the epic rhythms of the sea
Chant your triumphant and underlying name.