In this article, we have published an Essay on Gopal Krishna Gokhale, His Early Life, Education, Political Career, Personal Life, and Death.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was one of the political leaders in India. He was heavily involved in the social reformation during the Independence movement. He was a leading member of the Indian National Congress.
He founded the ‘Servant of Indian Society’. He always campaigned for the self-rule of the country. He is remembered in the history of India for his unthinkable contribution
Early life and education
He was born on 9th May in the year of 1866 at Kotluk village in Ratnagiri district in present-day Maharashtra (then Bombay Presidency). He belonged to a Brahmin family. His family was very poor.
Although they tried their best to ensure that he receive English education, which would help him to get a job under the British Government. He completed his secondary education from Ramraja College in Kolhapur.
He graduated from Elphinstone University in the year of 1884. His education had a great impact on his future career. He had been exposed to the western political system and greatly moved by it.
Gokhale was a leading member of the Indian National Congress. He joined the party in 1889. He always fought for increasing the representation of the political field for the Indians. He was moderate in his views.
He was in discussion for increasing the British respect towards Indian’s rights. He visited Ireland. There he arranged Irish nationalist, Alfred Webb to serve as Congress President in the year of 1894.
He was elected the joint secretary of the party along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the following year. Both of them had a parallel career initially as they had lots of similarities. But as their career progressed, their thoughts drifted apart. They had a difference in opinion regarding how to increase the rights of the Indians.
Both Gokhale and Tilak were front line political leaders in that era. Gokhale believed in a moderate approach where Tilak was more radical and aggressive. Gokhale thought Independence can be achieved with the cooperation with the British Government where Tilak was more inclined towards boycott and agitations.
The difference between the two ideologies came into limelight when Tilak wanted to move an amendment for the president-elect to make Lala Lajpat Rai the President of India. But Gokhale wanted to choose Rashbehari Ghosh. The negotiation went to a deadlock as no side wanted to compromise.
In the next meeting, both sides went for a tussle with physical involvement. Tilak was attacked but Gokhale protected him. The party was split. Tilak was charged for sedition and sentenced to jail. Due to his absence, the moderates were uncontested.
The major point of difference was regarding the Bill of Consent of Age, which was introduced in the British Imperial to curb child marriage. Thought Tilak didn’t protest against the bill, he didn’t want to involve the British to implement them. He wanted to do it by the country after Independence.
The bill became law in Bombay Presidency. Gokhale was very concerned about the split of the party. In spite of their difference, both Tilak and Gokhale had huge mutual respect for their love for the country. Tilak wrote an editorial in Kesari to tribute Gokhale.
Gokhale assisted justice M G Ranade to start Sarvajanik Sabha Journal. His research work about the financial condition of India was acclaimed worldwide. He spoke about the budget of the central legislative council.
He played a vital role in the implementation of the Morley-Minto Reform. He was a scholar, a statesman, a social reformer and arguably the best liberal in the history of India.
When Gokhale was the President of the Indian National Congress and at the prime of his career, he established Servant of India society. He believed that the development and flourishing of the country depend on the education of the future generations to civil responsibility.
He also thought that the existing education and schooling system is not enough to educate them. With this belief, he founded this institution to educate the next generation to make them understand their social duties and civil responsibilities.
As a result of his efforts, society was benefited by the mobile library, schools, night classes for the workers of the factory. Although after the demise of Gokhale, the institute became weaker. But till date, they are working for the society with a limited number of members.
Initially, Gopal Krishna Gokhale was not interested in achieving Independence. Rather he thought that the social reformation may be done with the help of the existing British Imperial Government. For his thoughts, he had to face fierce enmity from the radical leader of the country like Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
In the year of 1899, Gopal Krishna Gokhale had been elected to the Bombay Legislative Council. He was a part of the Imperial Council of the Governor-General of India on the 20th of December in the year of 1901. He again was elected as the non-officiating member representing Bombay Province 22 May in the year of 1903.
The exposure of empirical activities coupled with the experience of representing educational institutes made him a great leader and social reformer. His views had shaped the nationalist struggle to the reformation of an open society.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was a mentor and guide of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He went to South Africa on the invitation of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi Ji always took his guidance to understand the process of handling social matters.
Under his guidance, Gandhi jo emerged as the leading political figure and the primary face of India’s Independence movement. He always acknowledged the mentorship he received from Gokhale and respected him.
He was married two times. First, he married in 1880 with Savitribai in his teenage. She was suffering from an incurable disease. He again married in 1887 although his first wife was still alive. His second wife passed away during the birth of his two daughters. His daughters were looked after by his relatives.
His eldest daughter Kashi Anandibai was married to Justice S.B Dhavle, ICS. The house built by Dhavle in Pune was the ancestral house of his family and it is still the residence of Gokhale-Dhavle descendants. Even in his native village in Ratnagiri, he has his parental house.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale passed away on 9th February in the year of 1915. His departure created a huge void. But his contribution towards the social reformation is undeniable.