An institution established in 1921 as Kashi Vidyapith and later renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith is today a public university in Varanasi. Administered by the state government of Uttar Pradesh this university has more than four hundred affiliated colleges that are spread over six districts. Offering a range of professional and academic courses in Arts, Science, Commerce, Law, Computing and Management - this is one of the largest State Universities in Uttar Pradesh benefitting thousands of students.
Kashi Vidyapith was established by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and Bhagwan Das here in Varanasi in the year 1921which also happened to be the times of the non-cooperation movement of the Indian freedom struggle. The university was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith in 1995 and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi himself.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's call for self-reliance and swaraj, Kashi Vidyapith is among the first modern university organised by Indians in British India. The university, along with contemporaries such as the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Gujarat Vidyapith, were outside the control and support of British authorities. They were supported and managed entirely by Indian nationalists and educationalists instead. Attracting young Indians from across the country, its faculty included prominent nationalists and scholars such as Acharya Narendra Dev, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Jivatram Kripalani, Babu Shriprakash and Babu Sampurnanand amongst others. Gandhi and Indian nationalists encouraged Indians to boycott British-run institutions in favour of institutions managed entirely by Indians. Many prominent Indian industrialists and politicians provided financial and administrative support to the university.
Bhagwan Das was the first vice-chancellor and many other notable figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Jamuna Lal Bajaj, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta, Acharya Narendra Dev, Krishna Kant Malviya, and Purushottam Das Tandon were associated with it as board members.
Established with the resolution to keep the institution away from government recognition and grants, the Vidyapith was accorded the status of ‘Deemed University’ by the UGC in 1963 setting in motion a new chapter for the institution. Currently Vice-Chancellor Dr Prithvish Nag is at the helm of affairs.
Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith owes its birth to the educational, cultural and political aspirations of pre-independence India. Upon seeing an educational institution in Japan Prasad Gupt was inspired to establish an institution in India that would be free from government aid or interference. The boycott of government-aided educational institutions during the Non-Cooperation Movement coupled with Mahatma Gandhi's programme of National Education was a major reason that led to the birth and popularity of the Vidyapith.