Jagdish Shukla of Bangalore, India, is a professional magician and conjurer. He oftens entertains children in orphanages. In his spare time, Shukla collects rare books, a pastime which the Guiness Book of World Records has recognized. His copy of a tiny Bible has been recognised as the smallest so far in the world.
"I got it through a priest who had received it from his brother in Australia...there is no imprint to indicate its printing history but it appears to be fairly old," he says. This Bible weighs just 11.75 gm and measures 2.8 x 3.4 x 1 cm - about the size of a box of matches. It has 1514 pages and contains the full text of the Bible. The covers can be closed with a clasp. The print is fine but perfect and clear.
Shukla has already figured in the Limca Book of Records for two other tiny books in his collection. One is the Bhagavata Gita weighing only 1.3 gm and, the other, the Koran weighing 2.36 gm. "The Gita is available in the North and the Koran was bought 25 years ago...the print is so small it needs a magnifying lens to read," he explains. When he displays these rare books, he removes his shoes in reverence and brings out the books from tiny red pieces of cloth in which they are wrapped.
"All holy books are equally sacred," he says. he spends his spare time searching for such rare books wherever he goes. Sometimes acquaintances tip him off about such books and at other times he comes across them by chance. Like the miniature edition of the Gita he found at a religious fair in the North.
He is still trying to find the origin of the small copy of the Koran which he acquired with a lot of difficulty. Many such books do not have the publisher's name or the date of publication and most bookstores have no clue as to from where they can be ordered, he says.
Overseas news agencies and assorted TV channels are making a beeline to his house near Sriramapuram these days. One hopes his search for rare, miniature books never ends and that he unearths more such spiritual treasures.