|Biographical detail : ||A notable bibliophile of India
Khuda Baksh Khan was the founder of a “Public library” at Patna, India, which is better known as Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library. He acquired a passion of collecting rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts from his father who left him a collection of 1,400 manuscripts when he died in 1876.
Khuda Baksh added to his father’s collection, which reached 4,000 manuscripts in 1891, and in the same year he established the library. Incidentally, the first public libraries were established in Britain in 1850.
The Library has a good collection of rare manuscripts including a page of the Holy Qu’ran on parchment in Kufic script belonging to the 9th century AD. A collection of about forty Sanskrit manuscripts, written on palm leaf, also forms part of the Library’s possessions.
Currently the Library has a collection of 21,125 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Pushto, Sanskrit and Hindi in addition to printed books numbering 250,000 in several languages – Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, English, French, German, Russian and Japanese.
The government of India through an Act of Parliament, in 1969, declared it as Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library. It has assumed the responsibility of providing funds for its maintenance and development.
The Library has also undertaken to promote research activities in certain areas, such as Islamic Studies, Arabic, Persian and Urdu literature as well as comparative study of religion, Greek medicine, Tasawwuf, medieval Indian history and culture and national movements.
Khuda Baksh “was a man of striking personality” and “who has left India richer by a treasure surpassing the gifts of princes and millionaires.” He was rightly named Khuda Baksh ‘the gift of God.’
Khuda Baksh Khan was born in Chapra, Bihar. He achieved his success as a lawyer and became Chief Justice of Hyderabad High Court in 1874.