The Chaudhary Charan Singh University (CCSU) in Meerut has digitised a copy of the Ramayana in Urdu, published in Lahore way back in 1919.
The digitised version will soon go online.
Professor JA Siddiqui, who helped procure the Urdu Ramayana said, "It will be available on the university's website within four to five days."
The book reached the Raja Mahendra Pratap library of CCSU, from Lahore via Sardhana. It was translated to Urdu by Mahatma Shiv Brat Lal 103 years ago.
Siddiqui had procured the book for the university from one Muqarram Ali, a resident of Sardhana, Meerut, over six years ago.
"The Urdu Ramayana is a very rare book. I took it for the library from Muqarram Ali, a relative of renowned actor Naseeruddin Shah. I visited Ali's house around seven years ago and saw it in his collection. He told me it was gifted to him by a friend over 60 years ago. He was initially not keen to give it away, for obvious reasons," Siddiqui said.
He further said, "During my second visit to his house, I urged him again to give the book to the Raja Mahendra Pratap Library and finally agreed and gifted the precious Urdu Ramayana to the library."
"The pages of the book are in very delicate condition. That is why we have kept it safe. We open the book very carefully in order to avoid damage, " he added.
The book is unique not just for its antiquity and language but also its voluminousness. It has over 1,000 pages, with pictures of Lord Rama and his durbar.
Vijai Laxmi, part of the digitisation team, said, "We digitised the Urdu Ramayana so people can get access to it online. We will also try to get its soft copy on a CD available in the future."
Siddiqui said, "Perhaps no other university in the country has such an old copy of the Ramayana in Urdu. The CCSU library also possesses a copy of the Bhagwad Gita in Urdu."