Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad

Connection with Gandhiji 
Gujarat Vidyapith was established by National Education Committee in 1920 to implement national education under the guidance of Gandhiji in the backdrop of the non-co-operation movement. Gandhiji was appointed its chancellor for life.

The Beginning
• Fourth Gujarat Political Conference held at Ahmedabad during August 27-29, 1920 decided to start an initiative for providing national education. A committee was formed for the purpose. Gandhiji was appointed its president. ‘I was primarily responsible for the boycott of Government schools and formulating a policy for national education.’ Wrote Gandhiji in an article in 1929.
• Gujarat Vidyapith was established on October 18, 1920, under the direct guidance of Gandhiji. He was appointed the chancellor of Vidyapith for life. Kishorelal Mashruwala was appointed as the first registrar.
• Gujarat Mahavidyalaya, an institution of higher learning, was started on November 15, 1920, with A.T. Gidwani as its principal. It was a constituent college of Gujarat Vidyapith. Gandhiji delivered an inaugural speech on the occasion in which he said, ‘I have done a good many things in my life; some of them I feel proud of, though some other I regret…nothing I have done so far can stand comparison with what we are about to do today.’
• As Gandhiji explained in his speech, ‘The reason [for starting a Mahavidyalaya here] will not be that Gujarat has wealth or that it has learned; it will be, rather, that non-co-operation had its origin here.’
• Gujarat Mahavidyalaya and the office of Gujarat Vidyapith were shifted to its present location in December 1920.

Active Engagement
• Gandhiji could not attend the first convocation ceremony of Gujarat Vidyapith on June 12, 1922, as he was in prison under charges of sedition. Vallabhbhai Patel headed the ceremony.
• Gandhiji started staying at the Vidyapith in 1928 so that he can keep close contact with the students. He engaged with the students, took lectures, and wrote articles on the Vidyapith and its students in his Gujarati weekly ‘Navjivan’.
• Many institutions, colleges, and schools were affiliated to or recognized by the Vidyapith. The total number of students in these institutions was 30,000 in 1923.
• Several associates of Gandhiji, scholars, and litterateurs were associated with Gujarat Vidyapith and made it a lively institution of national education.
• Gujarat Vidyapith undertook the herculean task of trying to regularise the anarchy in Gujarati spellings, compiling a Gujarati dictionary ‘Saarth Jodani Kosh’. Gandhiji took the initiative and Kakasaheb Kalelkar, Vice-Chancellor of the Vidyapith guided the project. ‘Saarth Jodani Kosh’ was published on April 7, 1929

Bible Room
• This is the room of Gujarat Mahavidyalaya where Gandhiji delivered lectures on the Bible on most of the Saturdays from July 24, 1926, to November 20, 1926.
• The initiative created controversy among the conservatives. Gandhiji was criticised for reading the New Testament to the students.
• In an article titled ‘Crime of Reading Bible’ in weekly ‘Young India’, Gandhiji narrated the facts. ‘When they [students] invited me to give them an hour per week, I gave them the choice between reading the Gita, Tulsidas’s Ramayana, and answering questions. By a majority of votes, they decided to have the New Testament and questions and answers.’
• ‘I hold that it is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world.’ wrote Gandhiji. In concluding remarks, he warned against the ‘hypersensitiveness’ and ‘the wave of intoleration that is sweeping through this unhappy land’ and wrote, ‘Let those who can, remain unmoved by it.’
• In a letter to Rameshwar dated August 7, 1926, Gandhiji wrote, ‘Those who claim to follow the sanatan dharma should not be ignorant of other religions. By studying other faiths, we only serve the cause of our religion. We should not be afraid of such study.’

Overcoming Interruptions
• Replying to the criticism that Gujarat Mahavidyalaya should be closed due to diminishing number of students, Gandhiji wrote in 1925, ‘If the people support it or if the teachers have the stamina whether the people support it or not, the Mahavidyalaya must continue so long as there is one true boy or girl who will finish his or her training in that institution with all its ideals. Fairweather was no condition of the continuance of that institution.’
• In an article titled ‘Development of the Vidyapith’, ‘Navjivan’, December 19, 1929, Gandhiji wrote, ‘At the very inception of the Vidyapith, I had suggested a test for judging it. The Vidyapith is going to be judged neither by its buildings nor by the number of its students. It is going to be judged by the patriotism of its students, by their capacity to give to others the knowledge of the subjects which they have learned, by their knowledge of Hindi, by their knowledge of the science of the spinning wheel, by the strength of character of its students and teachers, and by their turning towards the villages.’
• The functioning of the Vidyapith was interrupted for short periods due to Civil Disobedience movements in 1930 and 1932 and the Quit India movement in 1942.
• After Gandhiji’s death, Sardar Patel was appointed as the Chancellor of the Vidyapith.

Digital Experience
Virtual Tour | Architectural Documents

Site Address/Contact Details
Gujarat Vidyapith
Nr. Income Tax Office,
Ashram Road,
Ahmedabad, Gujarat - 380 014
Phone: +91 79 2754 1148, +91 79 2754 0746, +91 79 4001 6200

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