That time belonged to sea-green, incorruptible supermen like V.V.S. Aiyar, Sri Aurobindo, Mohandas Kharamchand Gandhi, and Subramania Bharati. No wonder we hail them as Maharishi Aiyar, Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi and Mahakavi Bharati. For them patriotism was religion and the phrase ‘Vande Mataram' was mantra. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai (1872-1936), the intrepid nationalist from south India, was a disciple of Tilak and there existed a warm relationship between the two. Pillai referred to Tilak aptly as Maharishi.
Venkatachalapati, to whom we owe many important retrievals from the past, has brought back to print the life of Tilak written by Pillai for Veerakesari of Ceylon. Tilaka Maharishi carries a critical introduction as also five appendices of vital interest to assess the flow of historical events. A fervent admirer of Tilak, Pillai had also suffered in prison willingly and had trod with a bleeding brow the patriot's way. He was an excellent speaker and writer in English and Tamil. The preface to the biography is actually a Tamil translation of Pillai's article published in the third volume of Reminiscences of Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1927). The words come out clear and ring true: “Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak is my political guru. From my 21st year … I was closely following his writings and speeches on politics. They made me feel that India was my country, that the British were wrongfully retaining it and that it must be got back from them.” How to do it?
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