In 1932, Shri R.R. Khana, the then registrar of Lucknow University, got Shri Nathji’s book Zahoore Haqueeqat and its English translation, “Rays of Light”, published at the Nawal Kishore Press at Lucknow. This was Shri Nathji’s first book which was printed and the work was done by the legendary, Newal Kishore Press.
Newal Kishore Press was not only the most distinguished printing house in Lucknow, but also one of the most successful publishers in 19th century North India, and the largest Indian owned printing press in the subcontinent at that time. latter the press was renamed as the Raja Ram Press.
In 1982 Shri Nathji recollects Newal Kishore Press at Lucknow which had originally printed his books, “Rays of Light” and ‘Zahoore Haqueeqat’ in 1932 and 1934, and is very anxious that any remaining copies in that press be bought immediately before they rot away.
It has been over 50 years since they were printed. He asks HH Priya Nath to write to them and find out. And HH Priya Nath does so. The press is now named, “Raja Ram Press” and they have raised the prices of the books exorbitantly because of their rare nature and contents.
Priya Nath was able to obtain only a few of them from the Press, which afforded great pleasure to Shri Nathji who had only five copies of Zahoore Haqueeqat in the house and only one or two copies of Rays of Light.
The Hindi translation of the Rays of Light which was entitled, Prakash ki Kirney, was also lying in the press and Priya Nath regretted that due to paucity of funds he was not able to get them.
Newal Kishore Press was founded in 1858 at Lucknow by Munshi Newal Kishore (1836—1895) who was a legend in preservation and propogation of Urdu literature. This great man was born in Bistoi Village in Aligarh. He was the second Son of a landlord Jamuna Prashad Bhargava. For higher education, he took admission to Agra College. Reading was his obsession and soon he began writing articles that were published in `Safeer`, a prestigious Urdu newspaper published from Agra back then. At the age of 17, he was a known writer. After a brief stint with `Safeer`, an Urdu newspaper of Lahore named `Kohinoor` offered him a job which he accepted and soon proved his mettle both in editing and printing.
In 1858, he reached Lucknow. He felt that the environment at Lucknow, once a jewel in the Indian crown and a centre of oriental learning, was conducive to his ambitious plans. Here he bought some litho hand presses and began business in a small rented house. He had but a small capital and could not afford any whimsical ideas so he began with printing some textbooks and some religious volumes as they, just like these days, would not take long to sell. Soon the press was doing a roaring business and printing orders from government were pouring in. Neval Kishore was quick to switch over to bigger and better printing machines. But his real aim was to launch a newspaper and publish academic and literary works. On November 1858, he launched `Avadh Akhbar`, a newspaper considered among the milestones of Urdu journalism in the subcontinent.
He knew that thousands of rare Indian manuscripts had been taken hold of by the British and many of them ended up at the European libraries but still hundreds of them were there and he feared that if not taken care of they would be ruined. He began buying the manuscripts and asked scholars to edit them. Through his sole efforts, hundreds of such rare books and manuscripts could see light of the day that eventually played a role in joining the dots of literary history. He procured some extremely rare manuscripts of Sanskrit and published them. There can be no denying the fact that of all his interests, Urdu received the most of Naval Kishore`s attention. He published virtually every Urdu manuscript he could lay his hands on.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that although he was a printer, publisher and writer, services rendered by him for the promotion of Urdu are unmatched and hardly any other individual can claim to have played such a great role. He published some 3,000 titles in Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Hindi of which most were in Urdu. Another aspect of this great man`s personality that seems even odder is that despite being a Hindu, Munshi Naval Kishore took special interest and special care in the printing and publishing of the Holy Quran and Hadith. A detailed account of the life and contribution of Munshi Neval Kishore can be read in the books - Munshi Newal Kishore Life and services by Sayed Mustafa Hussain and Munshi Newal Kishore Mirror of Urdu Printing in British India by Jalaluddin Haider Syed.
Later Pandit Ratannath Sarshar joined the Nawal Kisore Press and become the editor of Avadh Akhbar. Pandit Ratannath Sarshar. Was born in Lucknow in 1846 and died in Hyderababd in 1903. He was a school teacher in District Kheri in U.P. before he joined Nawal Kishore Press Lucknow. He wrote one of the first Urdu novels Fasana-E-Aza, which was published in four big volumes in 1880 by Newal Kishore Press. This tale is told in 4000 large pages and is regarded as one of the finest novels in Urdu. Newal Kishore Press continued to grow and attracted great talent. A very good account of Naval Kishore Press in given in a book by Ulrike Stark. This lady is a professor at Chicago University and is specialized in Hindi & Urdu language and literature and print culture and book history in South Asia. The full title of Stark’s book is An Empire of Books: The Naval Kishore Press and the Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India.