Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rampur Raza Library


“I have consulted this library several times. There is no better collection in India than this. I have also seen the library of Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Europe and I can say that this library is richer than any one of them”
These are the words of Well-known historian, Islamic scholar, Urdu and Persian literary critic Maulana Shibli  Naumani (also known as Allama Shibli Naumani) when he visit the Rampur Raza Library on 6th April 1914. It contains very rare and valuable collection of manuscripts, historical documents, specimens of Islamic calligraphy, miniature paintings, astronomical instruments and rare illustrated works in Arabic and Persian languages besides 80,000 printed books. 
This library was established by the Rampur ruler Nawab Faizullah Khan(1774-1794) for his personal collection during the last decades of 18th century. All the succeeding Nawabs were made notable developments and additions for the library. Before the merger of Rampur State in the Union of India, it was under the patronage of Nawab Raza Ali Khan (1930-1966). It was established as an Institution of national importance by the Government of India on 1st July 1975 by Government of India through an Act of Parliament.
If we go through Arabic collection in the library we can see Holy Quran calligraphed by Yaqut-ul- Musta Simi, the master calligraphists of Bagdad on 13 century AD. Another valuable Arabic manuscript is ‘Diwan-al-Hadira’ dated 1221 by the same calligraphists which was once in the royal library of Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapore. The manuscript ‘Sharhul Kafia of Razi’ is a great asset of the library which contains marginal notes of Sadullah Khan, the prime minister of Shahjehan, notes by Shahjehan in his own handwriting and also bears the seal and signature of Sadullah Khan, Inayat Khan, Itimad Khan, Muhammad Salih Khan, Aurangzib Alamgir etc. We can also see Holy Quran written in 7th  8th 9th century AD.
The Persian collection includes rare books on medicine, philosophy and miniature paintings. The notable titles of Persian manuscripts in the library  are:  (1) ' Zakhirai Khawarizm Shahi' on medicine by Zainuddin Ibrahim Gurgani of 11 century AD. (2) ‘Diwan-i-Hafiz’, a rare and valuable illustrated manuscript which was scribed in Akbar's eventful reign around 1575-80 A.D. and was illustrated by the celebrated court painters. They are attracted the attention of Sufis and scholars, the worldwide. There are some paintings bearing the signature of Jahan Ara Begum. Another unique collection in persian is the illustrated translation of  Ramayan of Valmiki by Sumer Chand and illustrated during the reign of Farrukh Siyar ,a  late mughal, dated 1715AD.
The collection of urdu manuscript possesses the Dewan of Shah Hatim, Kulliyat-i-Mir, Jurat, Hasan, Dewan-i-Soz, and very important manuscript of Dewan-i-Ghalib which contains the correction and modification in the handwriting of Ghalib himself. There are two rare copies of Insha's Rani Ketki Ki Khani, the first short story in Urdu. 
Miniature Sheet of Rampur Raza Library
Sanskrit and Hindi Manuscripts manuscripts includes  Probodh Chandrika, a work on hindi grammer by Baijnath Dev Chauhan Vanshi and scribed by Girdhari lal Mishra. , incomplete commentary on Jyotish Ratanmala by Shri Shripati Bhatta. Another striking aspect of the collection of Raza Library is the holding of hundreds of Hindi Manuscripts written in Persian script.
The library has collection in Turkish language, which include 50 rare books and manuscripts. The Holy Quran is there in the library in Pushto and the work of the great Pushto writer Khushal Khan Khatak are there. It also has a unique collection of art works and rare astronomical instruments. We can also see the manuscripts belonging to the libraries of Haib, Mecca, Medina, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
So this library is rich with classical traditions. India Post issued 4 commemorative stamps based on Rampur Raza Library on 19th June 2009, with a denomination of Rs.5.00 each ,Miniature sheet of Rs.20 and a first day cover.
First Day Cover with special post mark

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