Our father, late Shri. Raghunath Jagannath Samant a.k.a. Raghuveer Samant alias Kumar Raghuveer was a multifaceted personality. During his lifetime, spanning almost 76 years, he waded in many fields and really immersed himself in a few of his choice.
He was an author of great repute in his heyday, introducing some novel forms of writing in Marathi such as word sketches – called ‘Shabda chitra’ in Marathi, short essays with a difference called ‘Chitra bandha’ in Marathi (both these Marathi words were coined by him). A four volume saga that also had a drama as one volume. He tried his hand, successfully, at novels, short stories, essays, biography, plays, poetry, and children’s literature in poem, story and encyclopaedia forms.
His journey as a creative writer began at a very young age of 15 years. He started contributing to popular magazines of that period (1927-1932) and his first book, ‘Hriday’ was published when he was just 23 year old! Funny part was that the book was prescribed for graduation programme for Bombay University in the year when Samant himself was not yet a graduate!
He vowed to publish all his books himself when he realised that his first publisher had tricked him by printing and selling new editions of his first book ‘Hriday’ (The Heart) clandestinely so he need not have to pay the author his due royalty! This publishing of his own books continued till end, with a tenacity that was his characteristic, although it was not a profitable business.
He also published two literary magazines ‘Parijat’ (1934) and ‘Jyoti’ (1940). Though they were short lived, they made a mark in the history of Marathi literary magazines due to their quality.
He also tried his hand, twice, at running a printing press as a means to be self sufficient in his publishing business. But with his honesty and trusting nature, he was defrauded by his partners and so scathed his hands in this venture.
Along with writing, he sincerely pursued his other passion – teaching. After graduation, he took up post graduation in teacher’s training. On completing the course he took up a job in Mumbai (called ‘Bombay’ then) as a teacher. He was very popular with his students. With his flair for acting, singing, creative writing skills he not only won their hearts but even stimulated some of them. Some of his students, later in their lives, became celebrated writers, critics, journalists, music composers, singers, instrument players; Jaywant Dalvi, Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni, Ravindra Pinge, Manohar Deodhar, among them. Many of them acknowledged the inspiration and support they got from Samant ‘Sir’ as teachers in India are called. He taught English and Marathi in schools and had a vision that his students should learn and love a language and its vast landscape rather than the text books excerpts. His teaching and evaluation techniques were novel and unique. In one of the exams he set Marathi question paper for students of standard 10. It was fully based on the text book for 100 marks but as a Samant touch he gave an ‘OR’ for these 6 questions: ’Write a word sketch of any personality you choose’ for full 100 marks! There was one student who attempted this ‘OR’ . This student did become a well known writer and critic – Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni.
During almost 24 years of his career in school teaching he progressed from being an assistant teacher to a principal. However, it was a broken stretch. He changed schools (a total of 6 schools in all) and there were spells of unemployment. Of course, not employed did not mean not working. Writing, publishing, marketing (a one man department, going from one book shop to other, carrying books in a shoulder bag). His rapport, rather friendship with book shop proprietors was great but the business he got was not so much. The stocks of his books at various stages of completion were kept at home. We children used to joke about it saying, “The books are not stored in our home but we are allowed to live in a storage space!”
While working in different schools in these 24 years he undertook two major ventures as seriously as writing or teaching. Though he put in his self in them with intensity, they were short lived and not very successful.
First he joined hands with his cousin to make a movie for which he wrote screenplay, dialogues and songs. The film was made in Nashik while he lived in Mumbai. Unfortunately, the reels of completed film were stored in storage place where they were gutted in a fire!
The second venture was running a ‘lodging and boarding’ (what can be called today as a holiday resort; of course, an austere version!) at Khandala, a hill station. His aim was to make this facility available for middleclass Marathi families for whom hotels there were too expensive. However, the staff at the ‘ Gharkul’ (a little home) as well as many of the customers for whom he had soft corner, both acted in ways that the Gharkul soon incurred great losses and he had to wind it up – with a big loan and a bank mortgage to settle!
These were some glimpses of the personality of Shri. Raghuveer Samant. You will come to know this person in depth – his life, his talents, his literature, his principles as you navigate through this website.