Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Gokhale, Gopal Krishna, 1866-1915, Indian nationalist leader. A Brahman from Maharashtra, he was educated in India and became involved in the nationalist movement when he was quite young. A moderate, he stressed negotiation and conciliation rather than non-cooperation or violence. He was elected to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1899 and to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1902. The conflict of Gokhale's moderate views with the more militant ideas of Bal Gangadhar Tilak led to a breach in the Indian National Congress that nearly immobilized it from 1907 to 1916. Gokhale was instrumental in founding the Servants of India Society, a nationalist organization whose members, sworn to poverty and obedience, were enlisted to serve as volunteers for the social, political, and economic welfare of India.

See biography and collected works by J. S. Hoyland (1948); M. K. Gandhi, Gokhale, My Political Guru (1955); S. Wolpert, Tilak and Gokhale (1962); D. B. Mathur, Gokhale, a Political Biography (1966).

Gopal Krishna Gokhale, CIE (गोपाल कृष्‍ण गोखले ) (May 9, 1866 - February 19, 1915) was one of the founding social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and the Servants of India Society. The latter was committed to only social reform, whereas the Congress Party in Gokhale's time was the main vehicle for Indian political representation.

This section was about Dadabhai Naoroji and not about Gokhale.

Education and social reform

Gokhale was an early Indian champion for public education. Being one of the first generations of Indians to receive a college education, and a teacher at Fergusson College, Pune, Gokhale was respected widely both in the nascent Indian intellectual community and by the people of India. He was seen by the people as one of the least elitist of the educated community of India. Coming from a background of poverty, Gokhale was seen as a man of the people, and was a hero to young Indians of the early 20th century. He worked among the common people to encourage education and public development. He actively spoke against ignorance, casteism and untouchability in Indian society. He was also reputed for working towards trust and friendship between the Hindu and Muslim communities of India.

Indian National Congress

Along with other contemporary leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Annie Besant, Gokhale fought for decades to obtain greater political representation and power over public affairs for common Indians. He was moderate in his views and attitudes, and sought to petition the British authorities by cultivating a process of dialogue and discussion which would yield greater British respect for Indian rights. Gokhale had visited Ireland and had arranged for an Irish nationalist, Alfred Webb, to serve as President of the Indian National Congress in 1894. In 1906, Gokhale and Tilak were the respective leaders of the moderates and the "extremists" (the latter now known by the more politically correct term, 'aggressive nationalists') in the Congress. Tilak was an advocate of civil agitation and direct revolution to overthrow the British Empire, whereas Gokhale was a moderate reformist. As a result, the Congress Party split into two wings. The two sides would later patch up in 1916.

Political convictions

Gokhale did not explicitly support Indian independence, for such an idea was not understood or expressed among Indians until after World War I. Historically, Gokhale is viewed as a teacher and nurturer of a whole new generation of leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi. Gokhale even criticised Tilak for his views on Swaraj. One such infamous view of Gokhale was "Swaraj is for the madman in lunatic asylum to think about". He was considered a moderate.

Mentor to both Jinnah and Gandhi

Gokhale was famously a mentor to Mahatma Gandhi in his formative years. In 1912, Gokhale visited South Africa at Gandhi's invitation. As a young barrister, Gandhi returned from his struggles against the Empire in South Africa and received personal guidance from Gokhale, including a knowledge and understanding of India and the issues confronting common Indians. By 1920, Gandhi would emerge as the leader of the Indian Independence Movement. In his autobiography, Gandhi calls Gokhale his mentor and guide. Gokhale was also the role model and mentor of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the future founder of Pakistan, who in 1912, aspired to become the "Muslim Gokhale". Gokhale famously praised Jinnah as an "ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity."

Gokhale Institute

The Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE), commonly known as Gokhale Institute, is one of the oldest research and training institutes in Economics in India. It is located on BMCC Road in the Deccan Gymkhana area of Pune, Maharashtra. The Institute was founded with an endowment offered to the Servants of India Society by Shri R R Kale. The Servants of India Society are the trustees of the Institute.

He passed away on February 19, 1915 due to excessive exertion, diabetes and cardiac asthma.


Gokhale was appointed a CIE (Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire) in the 1904 New Year's Honours List.



  • M.K. Gandhi: My Autobiography, or The Story of My Experiments With Truth, (1929) ISBN 81-7229-008-X; also, ISBN 0-8070-5909-9.
  • M. K. Gandhi, "Gokhale, My Political Guru," (February 19, 1918) in Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, v. XIV. Also, on line.
  • Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan, Oxford University Press (1984); (2006). ISBN 0-19-577389-6
  • Stanley Wolpert, Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modem India, Berkeley, U. California (1962) ISBN 0520033396
  • D. B. Mathur, Gokhale: A Political Biography: A Study of His Services and Political Ideas, Bombay, Manaktalas (1966)
  • John S. Hoyland, Gopal Krishna Gokhale: His Life and Speeches, Calcutta (1933); Rupa (2003) ISBN 8129102021
  • B. R. Nanda, Gokhale: The Indian Moderates and the British Raj, Princeton (1977); Oxford (1998) ISBN 0195647513

External links

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