Padma Vibhushan to late Radhey Shyam Khemka: A Well-Deserved Tribute to a Saintly Editor

Gorakhpur stands out for three things- Geeta Press, Gorakh Nath Mutt, and its Railway Station, which has perhaps one of the biggest platforms in the world. It was here in the Railway quarters, the world-renowned Kriya Yogi – Parmahansa Yoganand was born, who wrote the bestselling book, ‘An Autobiography of a Yogi’. Two Marwaris, Hanuman Prasad Poddar and Radhey Shyam Khemka associated with iconic Geeta Press, have been the other inspiring and impelling persons to bring Gorakpur on the world map. While Shri Poddar was one of the primary trustees, along with Jay Dayal Goenka, to set up the Geeta Press, Radhey Shyam Khemka edited the Kalyan Magazine for 38 long years. He literally took the Sanatan literature to masses through Kalyan, apart from publishing innumerable religious books, which have been sold in crores across the world.

My journalist friend Shri Chandrashekharam of Munger tells me that Shri Khemka also belonged to his hometown but for the last many years he lived in Varanasi and his food was always cooked in Ganga Jal. So, when this year Padma Vibhushan Award was announced for him, it was a long-overdue recognition of a person for pursuing spiritual journalism and taking it to new heights. No doubt, it was a well-deserved tribute to him. It would have been better if it had been conferred on him in his lifetime but better late than never. The Kalyan is perhaps the only journal, where the maximum care is taken about the correct spelling and the
purity of the language. Late Shri Khemka insisted that no spelling mistake should occur in the Kalyan because people read it like a religious scripture.

Shri Khemka used to say that if somebody is reading the wrong mantras because of incorrect spellings, it means that he/ she is not getting the virtuous fruits of the mantras. This is the reason that it is almost impossible to find any spelling mistake in the Kalyan. The famous American journalist Herald Evans used to say that it was impossible to bring out a newspaper or a magazine without some mistakes. However, there is no hesitation for us in saying that the tenacity and painstaking editing of the Kalyan have been an exception. The language of the Kalyan has always been puritanical but the way the suffixes (Pratyayas), inflexions ( Vibhaktis) and cases (Karakas) in the construction of sentences are used in the magazine are hardly approved by any journalist. That is the main linguistic drawback, as we feel, with the Kalyan but then that is its style.

The Kalyan is coming out almost for a hundred years and that too without any advertisement support. It shows the grit and determination of the Kolkata based Trust that it would not be an instrument in purveying any exaggeration or falsity, which is largely boasted in the advertisements, for the sake of earning more profits. The credit for it largely goes to the late Shri Khemka, who died last year in Varanasi. The Social and religious organizations will do well to further his ideas and ideals by setting up some institutes and training the younger generation to sincerely follow him.