Translated by Katyayna Patil from the original piece published in Marathi by Vaibhav Chhaya
Babasaheb, who had a great appetite for knowledge, had a great desire to be educated. His unquenchable desire to learn was immense. Scholars around the world were, and still are, curious about his modern and liberal views on education. Maybe it will last forever. Thompson, who was a great English writer, once said, "Read all the literature of Dr. Ambedkar that you encounter and you will understand why Dr. Ambedkar is driving the traditional trends crazy." It was a sentence of the twentieth century. This situation persists even in the twenty-first century. Even today, the Sanatanies are very much afraid of the originator of this Rajgruh.
Babasaheb's early days were very difficult. After becoming a barrister, he started practicing law. In a short period of time, his reputation as a brilliant lawyer spread all over. After 1930, his economic situation began to improve. At that time, Babasaheb's office was near Damodar Hall in Parel. Now the number of people visiting him at Damodar Hall was increasing. The house in Poybawadi wasn’t sufficient now. There were piles of books all over. So he decided to build a new house for himself and for the books.
While constructing his own building, Babasaheb had prepared a detailed outline plan as to how the library would be. He tried to have the best of the best features of the libraries from abroad while constructing his building. In that structure, two blocks of three rooms per block were built on the ground floor of Rajgruh. He had made arrangments for his family to stay in those two blocks. On the first floor of the Rajgruha, Babasaheb had arranged for his favourite library and office as well as his own accommodation. He had prepared the outline plan himself and had made arrangements according to the conveniences.
In 1930, he bought two plots numbered 99 and 129 each in the Hindu Colony of Dadar with an area of 55 square yards each. He decided to build a building to live with his family on Plot No. 129, 5th Street, and to rent the other building i.e. Plot No. 99, 3rd Street. He got a loan from the Central Bank of India and immediately started construction. Shri. Aiskar was appointed to look after the construction work. In the month of January, 1931, construction of a residential building on Plot No. 129 started. The construction was completed in 1933 and thus 'Rajagruha' was built.
Construction of the second building on Plot No. 99 started in 1932. When the construction was completed, he named the building "Char Minar". The name "Rajgruh" was associated with Hindu culture and Buddhist culture, while the name "Char Minar" was associated with Islamic culture. The actual construction of the building was started on January 1931 and was completed in the year 1933. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar with his family came to live in this beautiful and spacious building called 'Rajgruh'. He later sold the Char Minar building on May 9, 1941 to pay off the debts for the purchase of books and other things. However, he retained ‘Rajgruh’, as his permanent property.
His collection of books had started long ago. He was first felicitated with a book when he passed matriculation. On that occasion, Babasaheb’s mentor Krishnaji Arjun Keluskar (Keluskar guruji) gifted Babasaheb a book on Gautam Buddha’s literature. He was greatly influenced by the Buddhist literature. Since then, the passion of collecting books began. The last grantha brought by Babasaheb in this ‘Rajgruh’ was also about Buddha, "The Buddha and His Dhamma."
The layout of the library in the Rajagriha building is similar to that of the Library in New York, while the magnificent windows are alike to the grand library building in England. Similarly, to get the appropriate sunlight, the magnificent windows are at specific distance. The pillars are as grand and tall as the Roman system. They have the same internal structure as the Oxford Red Clique Gallery. The decoration of the walls and the attic are the important features of the "Rajgruh" built for books.
Katyayna Patil is the Centre Head at Kidzee Dehuroad.