The Arabic and Persian Research Institute Tonk, designated lately as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Arabic and Persian Research Institute steeped in a chequered history of crowning glory of the splendid past passed through various stages of exhilarating and climactic character tracing its archaic origin to the establishment of Tonk Distt. Branch office of the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute in 1961 under the stewardship of a single man staff Shri Shaukat Ali Khan. This Distt. Branch office primarily commenced upon functioning with the transfer of 3064 manuscripts coupled with 133 rare books from the Saeedia Library which had been established by the erstwhile princely state of Tonk.
Encouraged by the unstinted efforts and indefatigable endeavourers of Shri Shaukat Ali Khan and wide ranging plans and projects and out grown output which brought home to the Government; this branch office was elevated by the state government to a full-fledged Institute for Arabic and Persian Research as an independent Directorate in December, 1978 by approving the sterling scheme of Shri Shaukat Ali Khan under his continued charge as Director.
The creation of the nascent Directorate under the candid caption as Arabic and Persian Research Institute Tonk is the boon of supremely sublime spiritual saint HazratSaulat possessing exalted and unexcelled excellence who exultantly and profusely prayed and professedly predicted perceptively for the creation of Arabic and Persian Research Institute thus it sees the light of the day. If we perceive characteristically and calculatingly its credit squarely goes to trinitetitans viz princely premier Shri Bhairon Singh Shaikhawat who patronized, Shri G.K. Bhanot (Former Chief Secretary) the ardent architect who prepotently created and the last but not the least Sahibzadah Shaukat Ali Khan - a pioneer-preceptor who prudently planned and prodigioiously reared, cultivated and professedly founded this nascent Institute.
Interalia, esteemed G.K. Bhanot the unrivalled scholastic maker of the Institute himself attributed the tribute of carving out the institute to Honourable Shaukat Ali Khan by highlighting his achievements "Shri Shaukat Ali Khan has won many laurets for the Directorate, the greatest being the creation of the Institute itself. The idea of a separate Arabic & Persian Research Institute seemed to me tenable. Hence its creation". He further remarks in flying colours, "Reputed Scholars and celebrities of India and abroad have eulogised lavishly the research pursuits and scholarly attainments of Shri Shaukat Ali Khan. I congratulate him for his laudable efforts and endeavours. He is a talented scholar in the field of oriental research". Professor Nurul Hasan-the Former Union State and Social Education Minister who by dint of his absorbing interest and patronising zeal and zest did a lot for this Institute. He exultantly congratulated his scholastic students in these words "remarkably, it is your singular and laudable achievement that you have carved out a cultural empire". Dr. Kapila Vatsayan-the Ramayan of art and culture who emphatically observed, "you have really made a history of your own by creating the Institute out of nothing". Last but not the least runs a historical and splendid observation of His Excellency GyaniZail Singh-the President of India, "Sahibzadah Shaukat Ali Khan the Founder Director is an outcome of the Institute while Institute is an outcome of his personification. He stands an Institute personified by himself".
Esteemed M.M.K. Wali the former Lieut. Governor of Delhi and the ennobling Chairman of the High Powered Committee on Arabic and Persian Research Institute by examining the potential progress and steadily soaring solidity and growth of the Institute, emphatically asserted "The Institute now has far out grown its parent (Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute). It has as of now a collection of 18829 Mss., and a large number of rare printed works and other documents and records in all numbering more than 90,000 with perhaps the richest collection of all on works related to Sufism besides history and culture of various parts of present day Rajasthan. Some members of the committee who are Arabic and Persian Scholars of international repute testify to the fact that the Institute has already acquired a favourable ranking not only within India but also in Arabic and Persian speaking countries. The committee is deeply appreciative of the continuing interest taken by the Government of Rajasthan and full support given by it to the development of the institute. The other factor in the remarkable growth of the Institution, whether in the initial stage as a Distt. Branch Office of Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute or later as an independent Institute, is the continued stewardship of Shri Shaukat Ali Khan. The committee can not overstate the single minded devotion and the unflagging zeal with which he has pursued the one single task of promoting the growth and literary utility of the Institute. He expanded the collection of mss. manifold by under taking extensive surveys and acquiring valuable mss. not only from various scattered collections in the libraries of other erstwhile princely states of Rajasthan but also from private sources. The process of acquisition still continues; substantial work of cataloguing and publication has been done, almost entirely by him. The Institute has been like a life's mission for him and he has pursued the cause of its advancement with a commitment so passionate and intense as one rarely comes across". Esteemed M.M.K. Wali further asserts, "Though Shri Shaukat Ali Khan is himself a member of the committee, the rest of the members of the committee would consider it unfair if they were not to place on record their deep appreciation of the invaluable contribution made by Shri Shaukat Ali to the growth and development of the Institute. They hope that the Institute will continue to benefit from the stewardship for many more years to come."
The Institute abounding in a tangible trove treasured in rare source material of abinding nature, encompasses multidisciplinary facets replete with orientalogy, Indology, historiography and Islamic Studies treating of the following oriental studies and Islamics of intrinsic value and verve:-
Quranic subjects, Holy traditions, jurisprudence astronomy, astrology, mathematics, metaphysics, materiamedica, music, orthography, palaeography, calligraphy, laxicography, sufism, classics, Islamics, ethics, syntax, etymology, education and occult sciences etc. The manuscripts of varied and veritable interests having been archaic, rare elegantly illuminated and artistically ornate belonging to A.H. 5th/AD 11th adorn the horizon of the Institute like a gleaming galaxy.
The profusely ornamented and ornate manuscripts embellished with gold, rubies, emerald, pearls, sapphire and lapislazuli form an exquisitely treasured nucleus of fantastic nature. The antique, unique and solitary codices and prince's, poineer's and pedagogue's autographs and emperors, courtiers and celebrities endorsed works par excellence are the masterpieces, the Institute boasts of owning. Scores of manuscripts on National Integration, Hindu Philosophy, Indian culture and on other fascinating fine arts such as decorative calligraphic panels, microscopic transcribed texts on rice, seeds and even on very small articles such as sesame, lentil bean and on even a single and small poppy seed invite amaze, attract and spellbound the research scholars and tourists even commoners.
There is also a pile up record of historical documents designated as Munshi Khana-i-Huzuri comprising FarmainKharait, documents and Amsila related to political and cultural history of Rajasthan with special reference to the TonkState.
The Shariat record is another unique collection treating of Muslim polity based on Isalamic jurisprudence. The TonkState was the only MuslimState which amassed a mass of important records dealing with social, cultural and economic aspects of the State in the context of Indian cultural heritage.
There is a also a very large body of translations and renditions done in India of Sanskrit works into Arabic and Persian. There is hardly any Sanskrit classic or philosophical work which has not been rendered into Arabic and Persian, including the Upnishads, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Lilawati, Panchtantra, Puranas,Bhagwat Gita etc. Indeed, in some cases the original Sanskrit versions from which these translations were made have become extinct but the translations are still extant. Infact, it was through such translations that the great store of knowledge and thought which the Sanskrit language represented went across to Persia and Arab and from Arab spread further to Europe.
Over all and above the rare of the rarest, there is a supremely magnificent and super humanly magnanimous masterpiece par excellence- masterly calligraphed Qura-an Sharif the biggest manuscript standing second to none in the world of 10.5x7.6 in size prestigiously prepared by Maulana Jameel Ahmed and Ghulam Ahmed another Haft-Qalam calligraphists of APRI according to the desire of Alhaj Muhammad Sher Khan- the prolific Milad Khwan and preeminent philanthropist of Sawa, Chittorgarh (Rajasthan).
It is not only worth seeing but heart hankering and soul stirring as well. There is also a treasure of unique and antique manuscripts of utilitarian interest not existing world over; to name a few at-Taisir, at-Talkhis, Al-Gharibain, Ijazul Bayan Aghrazus-Siyasat, Zibut-Tawarikh, Tahrir -i-Uqlidas, Tarikh-i- Taj Ganj and Unwan-ush-Sharaf (reading five different subjects with the same text simultaneously).
The impearled centralization scheme of Shri Shaukat Ali Khan the primus Director resulting in a cardinal corollary of characteristic and charismatic Arabic and Persian Research Institute is the historical and enterprising achievement of the dignified dignitaries of doyen Sayyidain- Professor Noorul Hasan and Farooq Hasan-former Centre Education Minister and the latter State Education Minister. Again an epoch-making decision of archaic achievement was taken by Hon'ble Chief Minister VashundraRajeSindhia for the renovation and reorientation of Arabic & Persian Research Institute. This prodigious project of digitization of Rs. 24 crore submitted by my humble self which was approved munificently and magnanimously by her goodself. It is her resoundingly history animating and adventurous achievement in rejuvenating and replenishing Arabic & Persian studies which revolutionized and revitalized the Institute as a restitute of exquisite action. The RajasthanState comes out conspicuously and crowningly as the first state in establishing an international centre of Arabic & Persian studies and again it shines out as prime state replenishing and reorienting this unique Institute by occidentalized scheme of Digitization. This prodigious project too standsout primely an unparalleled and unrivalled project in India by constituting conspicuously a wide ranging alma mater- a curious blend of Archives, and manuscriptalogy, orientalogy and Indology.
The constant stream of publication pouring out from the Institute since very inception is a raisondetre professedly and fascinating fascicle of renditions, redactions and catalogues raissones. Consequent upon this gignatic venture the following publications have been brought out after painstaking process of transliteration, renditions and redactions furnishing colophonic texts, superscribed writings on the fly leaves and interlinear spaces while deciphering properly and profusely the obsolete- calligraphy, chronograms and the taxing and time consuming legends of historical seal impressions.