Book review: Durdamya

Durdamya’ written by author Gangadhar Gadgil is a biography of great Indian freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak. I was eager to read about this great man who spent his entire life fighting for the independence of the country. While searching for his biography, I came to know about the book Durdamya. I looked for this book in few book stores and when I found it, I got so engrossed in reading it that I decided to buy it.

Durdamya begins with Tilak’s life in Deccan College, where he did his college studies. There he became friends with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar. The two great men always used to share their thoughts about education system and ways to attain freedom for the country. Their thoughts are written very clearly in this book. After reading this book, I came to know that due to the eagerness to attain freedom for the country, Tilak joined Vasudev Balwant Phadke in the initial stage of the latter’s rebellion against the British. During their time together, Tilak learnt to use a sword from him. The book then tells about the enormous efforts Tilak and Agarkar took to establish and run the Deccan Education Society and Kesari, Maratha newspapers.  The description of the situation during the start of Ganeshotsav is very absorbing. Tilak and Agarkar, though very close friends had some disagreements which led to Agarkar leaving the post of editor of Kesari. Tilak became the new editor of Kesari and continued the work of awakening of the society and imbibed love for the country in minds of the youth. His advice to the young freedom fighter like Chaphekar and Savarkar used to be that “Never take any courageous action without giving it a proper thought, but if you do take such an action for the sake of the country then remember that I will support you”. After reading this, I realized why Tilak is called ‘Father of Indian unrest’. Further, the meetings of congress are mentioned in the book. Tilak asserted that freedom should be the ultimate aim of the congress. But other leader whose views were moderate disagreed with him. This divided the congress into moderates and extremists. Tilak was not happy with such division and strived to unite the congress. At times, he was ready to compromise. After reading this, it came to my mind that, Tilak, though very much headstrong, never valued himself more than the unity of the nation. The author has written about all the meetings of congress that Tilak attended. He has also mentioned that unlike other congress leaders, who used to be well-dressed and used to occupy the stage during the meetings Tilak used to wear simple clothes and would sit among the people. He used to express his views from there itself. After the partition of Bengal and subsequent bomb attacks, Tilak was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment in Mandalay. The government accused Tilak of conspiring the attacks. Due to old age, Tilak suffered a lot in prison. Even in that situation, ignoring all the pain, Tilak wrote a book titled ‘Geeta Rahasya’. Reading about his days in prison brings tears to the reader’s eyes.

Durdamya is a well-written book. It is easy to read. This book lists every little event in Tilak’s life. Tilak’s thoughts, his way of tackling obstacles in life, his sacrifice is mentioned in this book. I sometimes wonder that we now live in a free country and still we have no love for our country then what inspired our freedom fighters to sacrifice their life for it. It is written in the book that while criticizing the education system then, Tilak said “Education is making our people sheepish”. Our school books give us little knowledge about our freedom fighters. History is meant to inspire us. But the history that we are taught fails to do so. Maybe that is the reason why we have forgotten our true heroes like Tilak and maybe that is the reason why we have stopped loving our country.

Durdamya is book that should be read by everybody. We must understand the thoughts of this great man and keep him alive in our minds.

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