Foundations of Tilak’s Nationalism: Discrimination, Education and Hindutva shows how, as opposed to being simply a struggle of the colonised against the coloniser’s oppression, the anti-colonial struggle in India was much more nuanced and complicated. In this process, it examines the role of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and draws attention to issues concerning education, gender, caste, peasantry and communalism, how these were interlinked and had a decisive influence on his anti-colonial nationalism. The study also deconstructs the categories of the moderate and the extremist, the reformer and the orthodox and questions the validity of calling reformers like M. G. Ranade, G. K. Gokhale, N. G. Chandavarkar and G. G. Agarkar as moderates, collaborators and compradors of colonial rule.
In refuting the value premises of viewing an individual independent of caste identity, this book also sheds light on Tilak’s constant ridicule of the Reformers’ emphasis on the Bhakti tradition as a source of spiritual guidance. It introduces the reader to the vehement Nationalist critique of Vedic revivalism, i.e., the advocation of the Vedic religion and a Vedic way of life, which included Vedic rituals, relaxation of rigid caste restrictions and improvement in the condition of women by adopting post-puberty marriage, widow marriage and the education of girls that attempted to incorporate the lower caste groups into its fold—shattering the social and economic hegemony of the Brahmins.
This meticulous piece of scholarship is a crucial insight into Tilak’s role in India’s struggle for independence and questions the basis of his status as an uncompromising champion of the freedom movement and his being projected as the greatest Maharashtrian.
In our History and Politics sections, in hardcover, 372 pages, Rs 795. ISBN: 9788125039198