A Diamond Among Pioneers ...foremost and forever

He’s widely hailed as a legendary doyen of the publishing business, harbinger of the comic-book revolution in India. The list of awards and accolades conferred on him include the International Quality Summit Award for Excellence and Business Prestige from the Business Initiative Directions, Madrid, Spain; International Professional of the year from the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England; Bhartiya Udyog Ratna Award from the National Education & Human Resource Development Organization; World Business Leader Award from the World Confederation of Businesses Houston, US, besides the recognition and felicitation from the WHO’S WHO Historical Society, US.

But little does the world know that his vocational strides – from humble roots to succulent fruits – has been a mixed bag of remarkable achievements, mind-boggling challenges, breathtaking breakthroughs and mind-numbing tragedies. His life story is truly a towering inspiration for the mavericks of today and tomorrow; they would do well to emulate the quality and clarity of his conviction that has helped his time-tested enterprise stay relevant even in this age of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The story of his legendary enterprise dates back to the era before his birth, in Multan, Pakistan, where his father ran a successful business called the Bhartiya Bhandar Pustakalaya, which specialized in the sale of schoolbooks. After partition, the family moved to India, and the same business was rechristened as Punjabi Pustak Bhandar in the year 1949. It was set up as a small shop in Delhi’s Dariba Baazar of Chandni Chowk selling Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Sanskrit books. The bookstore became the supplier of unanimous choice for literature pertaining to religion, Ayurveda and Sanskrit. By this time, Punjabi Pustak Bhandar had carved a niche in publishing, having added Urdu and Punjabi literature, fiction and nonfiction, to its repertoire. In 1964, Hindi star pocketbooks were introduced in collaboration with Hind Pocket Books and four years later, a new showroom was launched at Asaf Ali Road in the name of Hindi Books Center; it was the biggest exclusive store in India with a collection of Hindi literature published across India. In 1971, the family established an export house at Bara Khamba Road, Connaught Place christened Publications India and also opened a shop in London under the name of Star Book International.

He was born in 1951, a couple of years following the inception of Bhartiya Bhandar Pustakalaya. He briefly studied at a government school before joining D.A.V School at Daryaganj. A diligent student with a penchant for science, he secured 1st Division in Higher secondary examination and enrolled for a Physics Honors. in Delhi university. Given his studious ways, he cleared his graduation in 1st division and appeared for the IIT entrance examination with thoughts of pursuing a Post-graduation or enrolling for IIT. But destiny had other plans. After having cleared his IIT entrance, just when he was looking forward to an independent professional life of his dreams, his father was averse to his son seeking employment elsewhere. During this time, a summer vacation pursuit, of learning photo processing and offset printing along with his school friend who was in possession of an automatic offset printing unit, eventually, not immediately, triggered a dramatic twist in his professional life.

What transpired is best narrated by, the man himself, Gulshan Rai, founder-editor-publisher, Diamond Comics in this exclusive conversation:

Physics to Publishing – what explains this astounding diversion?

Although I had no intention to join my family business, my aging father was keen that I follow the footsteps of my elder brother who joined the family business after his graduation. However, my uncle was of the view that a science student had no future in book trade. Unable to voice my true feelings, I decided to chart my course on my own. I absconded to Mumbai and joined the highly coveted Ajanta Print Art owned by my brother-in-law. My father was unaware of my plans, but I had taken my mom and brother in confidence. At Ajanta, I learnt the intricacies of printing, processing and photography in a short span of one year. Happy with my progress, they sent me to Heidleberg University for a course in advanced printing technology. Back home, I had landed plum job offers from prominent companies like Metal box and Thomson Press.

Then why and how did you join the family business?

On one of his visits to Delhi, my brother-in-law met my uncle and briefed them about my rapid progress as an accomplished printing professional. My uncle was mighty impressed and urged me to come back home. Although I had no inclination whatsoever, my father compelled me to join the family business. Besides, my sister’s in-laws cajoled me to abide by my father’s wish and command. I joined my family business on a condition that one department will be managed exclusively by me. Consequently, I was given independent charge of the Pocket Book Center. My father was overjoyed with my involvement which translated into a hectic schedule. Every morning from 9 to 11, I handled the purchase and dispatch of export orders at Publication India, my uncle’s office at Connaught Place; from 12 to 5, I worked for my section at another Dariba shop; and from 5 to 9, I was at Punjabi Pustak Bhandar, which was my father’s principal preoccupation.

How was the experience of working with your father?

I initially struggled with my Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi. I had no knowledge of bookkeeping of accounts, which was singlehandedly managed by my father for the main office and all branches. But with time, I learnt Urdu, Punjabi and accounts from private tutors; slowly but steadily, with the help of my father, I became a pro at managing the diverse affairs of Punjabi Pustak Bhandar.

Did you get the opportunity to launch new titles during this time?

I launched a series of mini paper backs under the fold of Pocket Books Centre, besides the first set of ten mini books called Filmy Nagme: sargams of noted singers Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Mohd. Raffi, Hemant Kumar, Asha Ji, Talat and others. I also published a series of Binaka Geet Mala. The second set of mini books was dedicated to the sher-o-shayari of Galib , Zafar, Sahir, and Shakeel Badayuni and many others. As part of miniseries, I published books on different topics including cookery and beauty. After the demise of singer Mukesh, our mini filmy Geet Mala series became bestsellers across India; we sold Mukesh ke Nagme to the tune of 10 lac copies in a mere six months.

When my dad was unable to devote substantial time due to health issues, the entire responsibility of managing Punjabi Pustak Bhandar fell on me. I quit Publication India and focused all my energies on Punjabi Pustak Bhandar and Pocket Books Center. We became the exclusive Delhi zone distributor of several top-notch bestseller publications including Times of India’s Indrajal comics, Amar Chitra Katha comics, Champak, Lotpot , Madhu Muskan, Deewana Tez, and Chanda Mama.

This was the time I planned to launch a series of comics based on indigenous cartoon characters as the market was flooded with foreign comic characters like Archie, Phantom, Mandrake, He-man, Tintin, Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. I shared my plan of writing a series of stories based on my own creations with my uncle. Unfortunately, he dismissed the idea and told me to stick to the existing business.

How was Diamond Comics (DC) born? What were the earliest DC characters?

In February 1975, following my father’s demise, we decided to part ways with my uncle. Soon after, we were left with Punjabi Pustak Bhandar and Diamond Mini Books, as rest of the business was captured by my uncle.

I and my brother struggled for three years; we eventually set up our own enterprise at Daryaganj under the new name of Diamond Pocket Books Pvt. Ltd. We published monthly fiction and nonfiction paper backs in Hindi, English and other regional languages. I was, in parallel, writing stories and was on the lookout for artists. In 1978, we launched a set of four comics in single-colour: Lambu Motu, Tauji, Chacha Bhatija and Fauladi Singh. We did heavy publicity on Vividh Bharti Geet Mala besides an add-spot on All India Radio.

However, the market didn’t accept single-color comics, and we had to quickly switch over to dual color and later four color; soon after, we began publishing a set of four comics every month, this continued for three years in Hindi, English , Bengali. Subsequently, we introduced six more Languages. The comics became a national rage in quick time.

How did your association with the great cartoonist Pran Sharma begin?

In 1979, I approached Mr. Pran whose comic features were regularly published in the weekly Lotpot. Pran in turn approached Mr. Kripa Shankar Bharadwaj and conveyed my proposition of bringing out a comic book, a collection of features published in their weekly magazine. Happy with the idea, they agreed the rate of Rs. 5000/- per book of 48 pages containing 12 features of each characters Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki and Motu Patlu. Thanks to the publicity across different media platforms, Diamond Comics assumed cult status; I managed the entire pre-production while my brother managed the rest.

How did you go about setting up the DC team of writers, artists, technical professionals, and support staff?

I was able to set up the team of writers and artists in quick time given the huge popularity of the Diamond brand. Meanwhile, my dream of having a captive printing press was also fulfilled in 1981; we began the full setup of offset multi-color printing unit with processing setup under the name of Best Photo Offset Printers, and the whole range of comics was printed in my supervision. Artists from other publications approached me for employment. I was given the exclusive rights for publishing comic books of features run by other magazines. In 1981, Diamond Comics became a Private limited company and solely focused on comics; Diamond Pocket Books published pocketbooks on fiction and nonfiction, and Punjabi Pustak Bhandar was the sole distributer of Diamond Comics and Diamond books.

What were the different magazines across diverse spheres that you published during this time?

We published a Diamond Horoscope every year in Hindi , English and Bengali; its popularity rivalled other players in the market like Bejan Daruwala. After the demise of Prime Minister Mrs. India Gandhi, we released a comic book Shanti ki Maseeha Indira Gandhi in her memory. We sold about 10 lac copies in a single month. We followed it up with another best-seller paperback in Hindi “Nostradamus ki Bhavishyawanian” which sold over 5 lac copies over six months

In 1988, we launched a series Film Chitra Katha every Friday, a comic book based on the Friday film releases. We published over 250 issues for five years at a stretch. In 1990, I edited and published a weekly crime magazine Dafa 302 based on sex-specific crimes; we achieved a sale of 5 lac copies weekly in Hindi , English , Bengali , Oriya and Nepali.

In 1991, when India Book House stopped the publication of Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), a visibly distraught Anant Pai called me up for help. He wanted me to join hands with him to resume the publication of ACK. I immediately went to Mumbai to reassure Uncle Pai of my support; I published and distributed all 275 titles of ACK. In January 1992, I launched a family magazine Grehlakshmi in Hindi for which I was the editor; I also floated a new company called Diamond Magazines.

You also had your share of turbulence…

In March 1992, an income tax raid was launched on all the offices of Diamond Group of Publications. All offices were sealed for one month. We won the case against the income tax authorities after three years, but at the same time, our head office at the Okhla Multi storied building was set on fire. The entire printing and publishing machinery was damaged. I was devastated but I somehow gathered the courage to rebuild the set up in two years with the help of my brother. Just when things began to look up, I had to separate from my brother. Both my sons were not interested in the family business while my brother’s sons were more than keen to join. In 1997, I took charge of Diamond Comics Pvt. Ltd. and Punjabi Pustak Bhandar besides a part of Best photo offset printers; the rest was handed over to my brother’s family.

But your penchant for innovation continued…

Of course. In fact, it grew stronger. Immediately after parting ways, I published a magazine Comic World in Hindi, English, Bengali, Tamil, and Malayalam ( a combination of all the features of the famous Indian and Foreign characters) and netted a sale of 1.5 Lac copies every month.

I also bought the rights for Phantom, Mandrake, He-man, Superman, Batman, and Spiderman after the closure of Inderjal comics of TOI, for publishing comics in Hindi , English and Bengali. I published over 160 issues of these characters in digest form across three languages and conquered the comic-book market. Of the 100-odd rival publishers of that time, only one managed to survive in the shadow of our popularity.

Soon after, I launched a series of mini Diamond comics priced Rs. 1 of over 500 different DC titles, which were given as freebies for the promotion of different products like Rasna, Maggi, Big Bubble, Boomer, Parle, and Britannia. I also initiated the publication of customized comics for different entities like Orbeez, Alex, Rasna, Todays Pen, Lays, Luxur, Stick pen, Mazaa, Perfeeti India among others. I also did comic series for Ford Motors and Sonalika Tractors. I have also published a series of comics for adult education, Yoga , Health , Swacch Bharat Mission. In the pipeline is a series on the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

In 1999, I launched 3D comics in Hindi and English, the first ever by an Indian publisher, which was blessed with a record sale. I then introduced printed Tattoos, again a first for India, for Boomer and Big bubble and sold tattoos worth 2.5 Cr. in just nine months. Later, I made tattoos for number of MNCs. In 2001, I started a series of monthly magazines Vastu Evem Jyotish , Manohar Kahaniyan, Satya Katha, Manohar Kaliyan in Hindi and Osho Dhara, Osho Today in both Hindi and English, and Health Plus in Hindi , English and Bengali.

How did Osho Today and Yog Sandesh happen?

In 1984, I met Acharya Rajneesh (Osho) in Pune with the help of Swami Om Prakash of Raj Yoga. I got the rights of all Osho discourses for publication in Hindi paperback; the sale of Osho books went into millions, and Diamond Pocket Books and Diamond Comics became the top selling publications in India; on the other hand, my uncle’s Star Pocket Books closed down.

During that period, Swami Ramdev’s Yog Shivirs were very popular across India. I met Acharya Balkrishna in 2004 and gave him a proposal to start a Yoga magazine in a specially designed format and books based on Swami Ramdev’s Yoga. The proposal to publish Yog Sandesh in Hindi , English, and other regional languages was approved. I myself designed the Logo for Patanjali Yog Peeth. Yog Sandesh achieved a sale of 5.6 Lac per month in 11 Languages with a subscriber of 4.1 lac, and the rest were sold and distributed by D.C.Magazines, a group of Diamond Comics

Some of Swami Ramdev’s books were translated in all Indian languages besides Urdu and Arabic under my supervision. I served Patanjali Yog Peeth for seven years, circulating their words of wisdom all across the country, even in the remotest areas. But due to few differences, I withdrew my services with them, and sadly Yog Sandesh and Swami Ramdev’s books disappeared from the market. Later, Patanjali Yog Peeth approached me several times later but I had made up my mind not to work with them again.

2007-2008 was one of the most difficult phases for you…

Yes. In 2007, I was diagnosed with cancer of the third stage; I underwent a major surgery. My business suffered in consequence, but by God’s grace, I recovered in three months and took 24 by 7 charge of DC like before. However, tragedy chased me yet again. My wife met with an accident in 2008; totally paralyzed, she was bedridden for seven years before I lost her. I was completely shaken but somehow resumed work, thanks only to the Almighty’s grace. Then, in the year 2014, my brother schemed with the son of Pran, and together they launched Diamond Toons based on Pran’s characters but made by another artist. As you are aware, Mr. Pran was heart and soul into Diamond Comics from 1980 till his death in 2014, but his son obviously believed in a different value system. I filed a suit against Pran’s son and my brother in court and managed to secure a stay order. The proceedings are yet pending in the High court.

What is the future roadmap of Diamond Comics?

I am an eternal optimist; I strongly believe in seamless continuity and I am confident of steering the cause of DC with the support of likeminded and committed individuals. I am now venturing into the digitization of all our multi-lingual publications for online and mobile access. I am also planning to develop innovative desktop and mobile games based on our memorable comic characters.

I am happy that I have throughout managed to keep Diamond Comics circulating in Hindi, English and Bengali. Now, I have launched an online platform for facilitating the digital sale, and boosting the physical sale, of all our offerings. Besides, top animation companies are working on five key DC superheroes at the moment. More characters would go digital soon.

Steer clear

Steer clear of those all-pervading tribes of self-attested savants and omniscient soothsayers,

their politically correct and scrupulously edited homilies,

their dim-witted validation of great minds across spheres,

their belaboured broadcasts, brazenly thriving on borrowed wisdom, and,

their carbonated clarion calls, clamouring for attention and applause

Maintain safe distance and you'll find bliss that only ignorance can yield...

...as blessed as the vulnerable hemlock that found its antidote in the venerable Socrates

...as potent as the virile magic potion that only the virtuous druid Getafix was known to brew

In search of my father

I meet my dad in each apt underline and every acerbic note on the yellowed pages of dog-eared books, priceless possessions he left behind to last a lifetime and even beyond...

I am sure this is His way of ensuring that I find him just the way he would have liked: delightfully detached and refreshingly relevant.

Watching the circus of many an 'enlightened soul' in our midst - hapless and helpless in the ceaseless struggle to defy age and ailment, faking bliss in playing doting grandparents, broadcasting bumptious travelogues to distant lands, and posting prescriptive sermons on every possible forum - I feel blessed to be the son of a father who taught me why we should learn to unlearn before we yearn to learn ...who reminds me in his inimitable style that it's time I become the same father to my son ...a challenge that I cannot lock horns with for the life of me but will still try all my life. Amen.


वेगळ्या वाटेवरचा अवलिया

डॉ. रायकारांच्या काही निस्सीम चाहत्यांनी अशी इच्छा व्यक्त केली की माझे बाबांविषयीचे मनोगत कुठल्या तरी वर्तमान पत्रात किंवा मासिकात छापून यावे आणि काहींनी तर यासाठी स्वतः जवाबदारी घ्यायची तयारी दर्शवली. बाबांबद्दल या साऱ्यांची आत्मीयता बघून मला गहिवरून आले आणि त्याबद्दल मी कायम त्यांचा ऋणी राहीन. पण एकंदर मिडियातील माणसे आणि त्यांची मानसिकता बघता त्यांच्या जवळपास देखील फिरकायचे नाही असे बाबांनी शेवटच्या दिवसांत ठरवले होते आणि माझे मत देखील वेगळे नाही … म्हणूनच हे मनोगत माझ्या ब्लॉग वर अपलोड करीत आहे …

डॉ. यशवंत रायकर (१९३२ - २०१५)
वेगळ्या वाटेवरचा अवलिया

आयुष्याची पायपीट येउन ठेपली आहे एका टप्प्या वर
कि जिथून पाहता येतंय अल्याड पल्याड
एक पहाड मी चढून आलो आणि उतार येथून सुरु होतोय

एकाच नजरेत मागचा मावतोय
साठ मैलांचा सारा टापू
नि त्यातून खुणावतायेत
ठळक पुसट उमटलेल्या
माझ्याच त्या पाऊलखुणा

बाबांची साठी पूर्ण झाली तेव्हा त्यांनी वरील ओळींनी सुरु होणारी "साठ मैल" नावाची अतिशय बोलकी कविता लिहिली होती. त्यांची प्रचलित ओळख लेखक म्हणून असली आणि लेखनात त्यांना विलक्षण गती असली तरी त्यांचा मूळ पिंड तो संशोधकाचा. त्यामुळेच कि काय लिहिताना तटस्थपणा कायम केंद्रस्थानी असे - हा ध्यास इतका कि अनेक वेळा त्याचा अनावधानाने अतिरेक होई पण "साठ मैल" मात्र भावनेची भीज आणि बुद्धीचे चीज यांची उत्तम सांगड होती जी ओढून ताणून आणली नव्हती - तिला "सिंहावलोकन" न म्हणता सहजच 'मागे वळून पाहताना ' ती ओघाओघाने रचली गेली होती. तशी कविता त्यांच्या कडून नंतर च्या २३ वर्षात परत लिहून झाली नाही याला बऱ्याच घटना आणि गोष्टी जबाबदार आहेत पण त्यांची मांडामांड करणे किंवा बाबांचे गुणगान करणे हा या मनोगता मागचा हेतू नव्हे.

कसे जगावे आणि कीर्ती रुपी उरण्याचा विचार न करता कसे मरावे - हे त्यांच्या वाचकांना कळावे - मग ते ओळखीचे असो वा अनोळखी, नात्यातले असो वा गोत्यातले, चाहते असो वा नसो - म्हणून एवढे मातृभाषेत लिहावेसे वाटले.

आजोबांच्या धाकात गुदमरून गेलेले बालपण, बाबांचा अकाली मृत्यू, आईने सोयीस्करपणे मुलांसोबत राहयचे टाळल्यामुळे लहान वयात झालेले अपार दुर्लक्ष, काका आणि आत्या यांच्या, तुलनेने कमालीच्या सुखवस्तू कुटुंबांकडून, झालेली टिंगल मिश्रित अवहेलना आणि त्यातून नाहक निर्माण झालेली लाचारीची आणि अपराधीपणाची भावना - याचा एकत्रित परिणाम त्यांच्या मनावर झाला असावा म्हणूनच कि काय भावी काळात एक प्रकारचे काटेरी आवरण घेऊनच ते वावरताना भासायचे. फारच मोजक्या लोकांना ते आवरण भेदून पलीकडच्या बावनकशी व्यक्तिमत्वाचे दर्शन घडले आणि त्यांच्या सानिध्यात आपल्या विचारांची चौकट रुंद करता आली - कुठल्याही विषयात शिरताना आणि कुठलाहि निष्कर्ष काढण्या पूर्वी स्थळ-काळाचे भान ठेवणे प्राप्त आहे हे शिकता आले. बाकी बहुतांशी माणसे मात्र "विक्षिप्त माणूस" या सदरात त्यांना मोडून मोकळी झाली. यात नातेवाईक मंडळी आघाडी वर होती हे वेगळे सांगणे नको. त्यांना बाबांच्या तथाकथित विक्षिप्तपणाच्या सुरस कथा रंगवून त्यांच्या कर्तुत्वाकडे डोळेझाक करणे खूपच सोयीचे ठरले. नाहीतर खुद्द मुंबईत असलेल्या आपल्या वडिलोपार्जित घराचा हक्क सोडून गुजरात,मध्य प्रदेश, आसाम आणि मेघालय या राज्यांना शिक्षण-नोकरी च्या निम्मिताने आपले घर मानण्याऱ्या आणि नंतर ८० च्या काळात परत मुंबईत येउन अठठेचाळीसाव्या वर्षी नव्याने सुरवात करणाऱ्या या अवलियाचे त्यांना कौतुक वाटल्याशिवाय राहिले नसते - पण एखाद्याच्या मोठेपणाला लहान भासवून आपला खुजेपणा कसा लपवता येईल या कडेच बहुतेकांचे लक्ष लागून राहिले होते.

'बालपणी चा काळ सुखाचा' म्हणायचे नशीब बाबांना लाभले नाही पण आपल्या दुखाचे स्तोम न माजवता त्यांनी आपली वेगळी ओळख निर्माण केली. कमालीच्या चिकाटीने त्यांनी आपल्या उपजत चिकित्सक वृत्तीला जपले आणि एक एक पाउल पुढे टाकत आपले भविष्य स्वतः घडवले. अलिबाग च्या छोट्याशा विश्वातून बाहेर पडून कुणाच्या हि मदती शिवाय इतिहास आणि पुरातत्व या विषयात प्राविण्य मिळवले आणि पुरातत्व खात्यात मोलाची कामगिरी बजावली - ईशान्य भारतात मौलिक अशा स्वरूपाचे उत्खनन तर केलेच, इतिहासाकडे संदर्भाच्या चष्म्यातून तटस्थ पणे बघण्याचा नवीन दृष्टीकोन दिला. "Indian History: A Study in Dynamics" या त्यांच्या शोध निबंधाचे लंडन यूनिवर्सिटी च्या A L Basham या सारख्या जगभरच्या तज्ञांकडून कौतुक झाले. मात्र कुठल्याही नोकरीत - सरकारी असो व खाजगी - त्या कौतुकाचा व्यावहारिक दृष्ट्या काहीच लाभ झाला नाही, उलटपक्षी बहुतांश वरिष्ठ मंडळींनी त्यांच्या प्रतिभेला न्याय मिळवून देणे तर दूर, त्यांचा गैरफायदाच घेतला. पण अलिप्तपणा हा स्थायी भाव असल्याने त्यांनी क्षणिक अपेक्षाभंगाला नैराश्या कडे झुकू दिले नाही आणि शेवट पर्यंत वाचत-लिहित राहिले. भारताबाहेर पाऊल न ठेवता जगाच्या कानाकोपऱ्या बद्दल इतकी आस्था, उत्सुकता आणि माहिती बाळगणारा त्यांच्या सारखा माणूस विरळाच. नाहीतर "ग्लोब ट्रोटर" म्हणवण्यात भूषण मानणारे व आपली पर्यटनाची स्वनिर्मित भूक एकसारखी भागवणारे आणि तरीही आपल्याच कुंपणात अडकलेले आणि खोल रुतत चाललेले अनेक महाभाग आज गल्लोगल्ली आढळतात.

"आज पर्यंत मांडला होता शब्दांचा संसार, तेच धावून आले मदतीला नि सोबती साधायला" असे म्हणणाऱ्या बाबांनी माणसे ओळखण्यात मात्र भरपूर घोडचुका केल्या आणि नको त्या लोकांना नको इतके महत्व दिले - त्यात प्रामुख्याने पत्रकार आणि प्रिंट मीडिया वाल्या मंडळींचा भरणा अधिक. कदाचित संध्या छाया दाटून आल्यावर "वेचक" सोडून "वाचक" शोधण्यात काही काळ दवडला आणि काही संपादक-प्रकाशक मंडळींच्या संकुचित मनोवृत्तीची वीण असलेल्या विळख्यात गुरफटत गेले. कोणे एकेकाळी महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स च्या एका ज्येष्ठ पत्रकाराला, ज्यांना खास पत्रकारी थाटात बाबांकडून "मुंबई - ज्ञात व अज्ञात" सारख्या अतिशय लोकप्रिय सदराला अमुक मुदती नंतर चालूच ठेवावे अशी याचना अपेक्षित होती, त्यांना "आज पासून हे सदर इथेच समाप्त होत आहे" असे स्पष्टपणे कळवणारे बाबा काही काळ का होईना कुठेतरी हरवले होते पण लवकरच त्यांना जुना सूर गवसला आणि त्यांनी संपादकांच्या मागे खेटे घालणे तात्काळ बंद केले. या मंडळींनी त्यांच्या नावाचा यथायोग्य वापर केला व त्यात काही गैर नाही पण श्रेय देताना मात्र काटकसर केली याची चीड कमी आणि दु:ख जास्त वाटते.

आपण आपल्या लेखणीने जगभर क्रांती घडवत आहोत अशी पक्की खात्री असल्यासारखी ही मंडळी वावरतात त्याला आमचा काहीच विरोध नाही, उसन्या तत्वज्ञानाच्या जोरावर जग पालथे घालून 'ओरीजिनल' असल्याचा दावा करतात त्या बद्दलही तक्रार नाही पण कुणा विद्वानाला लिहायची संधी देऊन आपण फार मोठे उपकार करीत आहोत हे किमान गृहीत तरी धरू नये. कारण सगळे विद्वान एकाच साच्यातले नसतात. अर्थात यात बरीच चांगली मंडळी त्यांना लाभली ज्यांच्या मुळेच बाबा महाराष्ट्राला लेखक म्हणून चांगले परिचयाचे झाले.

मृत्यू ला सामोरे जाताना बाबांनी थेट न. चि. केळकरांची आठवण करून दिली आणि अशा काही ऐटीत दुनियेला शेवटचा सलाम ठोकला कि मागे राहिलेल्या मंडळींना आपसूकच कमालीचा धीर आला. शेवटच्या दिवसात एका अति उत्साही आप्तांनी आपल्या ओळखीच्या डॉक्टरांना बाबांना तपासायला म्हणून आणले होते. हेतू निर्मळ होता म्हणून आम्ही विरोध केला नाही. डॉक्टरांनी आपला खास अंदाजात प्रश्न केला "बाबा काय होतंय? काय त्रास होतोय?" बाबांनी म्हटले "त्रास काहीही नाही, age is the only issue"

बाबांचे उत्तर ऐकून डॉक्टर मनातल्या मनात उडाले पण आपण आज एक नवीन प्रकार चा रुग्ण पाहिला या पलीकडे त्यांना काही कळले नसावे. शेवटच्या दिवसात बाबांचे श्रवण सुरु होते, याचा अर्थ त्यांना स्तवन किवा सांत्वन अपेक्षित होते हे त्या डॉक्टर साहेबांनी गृहीत धरले असावे. आणि त्या अतिउत्साही आप्तांची गम्मत वेगळीच "बाबा, उद्या चमत्कार होणार, तुम्ही ठणठणीत बरे व्हाल" असे मोठ्याने ओरडताना त्यांच्या गावीच नव्हते कि बाबा त्यांच्या बाळबोधपणाला हसत आहेत. दुसऱ्या दिवशी चमत्कार झाला खरा पण तो बाबांनी घडवलेला - स्वतः च्या इच्छेने देह ठेवण्याचा.

वयाच्या ७३ व्या वर्षी त्यांनी न. चि. केळकरांच्या स्मृतीस अर्पण करून आम्हाला उदयेय्शून काही ओळी लिहिल्या होत्या त्या अशा (बदलून लिहिलेल्या ओळींचे मनन व्हावे)

दिसो लागे मृत्यू परि न भिववु तो मज शके
तयाच्या भेटी चे सतत मजला ज्ञानचि निके

(पुढील दोन ओळी वगळून)

मला जन्मा येता तनुभरणकार्या कणकण
दिले पांचाभूती परत करणे ते मज ऋण

(पुढील दोन ओळी बदलून)

तदाधारे जैसा शिकत जगलो ते मज पुरे
तनुत्यागा ऐसा इतर मजला लोभचि नुरे

अखेर च्या दिवशी हे लिहिण्याची शक्ती किवा शुद्ध असेलच असे नाही म्हणून आताच लिहून ठेवले

तुमचा, बाबा
यशवंत रायकर

त्यांची शक्ती आणि शुद्ध त्यानंतर तब्बल १० वर्षे टिकून राहिली याहून आम्हाला लाभलेले मोठे भाग्य ते काय ….

- सुधीर रायकर, ठाणे