HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY

ll  Historical Perspective  ll  Foundation of the University  ll  The Initial Phase  ll  The Developmental Phase  ll  Continuing the Legacy  ll

 

Historical Perspective:

The Idea of a Hindu University was made known to the world by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji at a meeting held in 1904 at Varanasi under the Presidentship of his Highness Maharaja Sir Prabhu Narayan Singh of Varanasi. A prospectus of the University was published and circulated in October, 1905 and it was discussed at a select Meeting held in the Town Hall of Varanasi on the 31st December, 1905 at which a number of distinguished educationists and representatives of the Hindu community of almost every Province at India were present. The meeting appointed a Provisional Committee to give a final shape to the prospectus and to promote the scheme. The Congress of Hindu Religion (Sanatan Dharma Mahasabha) which met at Allahabad in January 1906, during the Kumbh fair, under the presidentship of Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Govardhan Math also considered and approved the scheme. The Congress further appointed a Committee with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji as its Secretary to take necessary steps to give effect to the scheme of the University. At the sacred Sangam (confluence of the three holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Prayag) Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji took a vow to dedicate his life for the establishment of the proposed University. The first prospectus along with the resolutions passed by the Sanatan Dharma Mahasabha was issued to the general public on March 12, 1906. Though the scheme met with Instant approval and support from the press and the public, owing to the unfavourable political atmosphere in the country, an organized endeavour to carry out the proposal had to be put off for a couple of years. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji, realizing that it was too a great project to be taken up alongwith his profession, gave up his lucrative practice at the Bar and launched his mission in January, 1911.

 

Almost at the same time, there was another proposal of Mrs. Annie Besant for establishing a University at Varanasi under the name of "The University of India". In 1907, she submitted a memorandum for the grant of Royal Charter for the establishment of the University. In April 191" Mrs. Annie Besant and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji met and decided to unite their forces and work for a common Hindu University at Varanasi. The great education enterprise was launched in full swing in July, 1911.  A revised prospectus explaining the need for the University and its aims was issued.

 

The objectives of University were formulated, thus: (1) To promote the study of the Hindu Shastras and of Sanskrit literature generally as a mean of preserving and popularizing for the benefit of the Hindus in particular and of the world at large in general, the best thoughts and culture of the Hindus and all that was good and great in the ancient civilization of India; (2) To promote learning and research generally in Arts and Science in all Branches; (3) To advance and diffuse such scientific, technical and professional knowledge, combined with the necessary practical training, and best calculated to help in promoting indigenous industries and in developing the material resources of the country; and (4) To promote the building up of character in youth by making religion and ethics an integral part of education.

 

An appeal for a crore (ten millions) of rupees for the establishment of the University was made to the public by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji on the 15th July, 1911. Deputations were organized for raising funds and they visited Calcutta and a number of places in the United Provinces, Bihar and Punjab. Promises of donation of nearly thirty Lac (three million) rupees were secured from the public in the course of a few months.

Besides the proposal of Pandit Malaviyaji and Mrs. Annie Besant, there was another scheme for the establishment of a Sarada Viswa Vidyalaya at Varanasi which was sponsored by a number of prominent Hindus interested in study of Hindu Religion under the auspices of the Maharaja of Darbhanga, Sri Rameshwar Singh Bahadur. On being approached by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji, Maharaja of Darbhanga agreed to extend his support to the Hindu University scheme after having been assured of the support of the Government of India. In October, 1911 the Maharaja of Darbhanga and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji called on his Excellency Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy, and the Hon. Sir (then Mr.) Hartcourt Butler, Member for Education, Government of India. The interview resulted in a very sympa­thetic response from the Government. The Maharaja of Darbhanga then joined the movement actively and besides promising a handsome donation of fifty lakhs of Rupees, he led the deputation to several Indian States and a number of districts of the Punjab, the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), Bombay (now Maharashtra and Gujrat to raise funds.

 

A society under the name, "The Hindu University Society", was soon formed and registered in December, 1911 with Maharaja Sir Rameshwar Singh Bahadur of Darbhanga as its President and Sir Sundar Lal, a Judge of the Allahabad High Court as its Secretary, its office was opened at Allahabad on the 1st January, 1912.

 

The campaign for collection at this stage went into full swing. The ruling princes extended their patronage to the scheme and helped it with generous donations. The response from the public was also very encouraging The poor and the rich, peasants and princes, all contributed their mite towards the funds of the University. Contributions came from all over the nation and people in the farthest corners of the country showed enthusiasm to rebuild once again Kashi as the cultural capital of India. The Government of India had required that a sum of rupees fifty lakhs must be collected before the scheme could be put into effect. By the beginning of the year 1915, this target was achieved,

 

Another pre-condition set by the Government of India was that the Central Hindu College should become Part of the University. Dr. Annie Besant, Dr. Bhagwan Das and their fellow Trustees of the Central Hindu College agreed to hand over the institution to be made the nucleus of the proposed University. The charge of the Central Hindu College was handed over to the Hindu University Society on the 27th November, 1915.

The Hindu University Society had submitted to the Government of India a draft of the Bill for the establishment of the University. After interminable and involved negotiations, by the beginning of the year 1915, matters assumed a definite shape. The establishment of the University was in sight.

 

The Banaras Hindu University Bill was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council In March, 1915 by Sir Hartcourt Butler. The Bill was referred to a Select Committee and it came up along with the report of the Select Committee for final reading before the Imperial Legislative Council. The Imperial Legislative Council passed the bill on 1st October, 1915 and the same day it received the assent of the Governor-General and Viceroy of India and became law.

 

Foundation of the University

Arrangements were soon made for laying the foundation stone of the University located at Nagwa in the Southern part of the city of Varanasi opposite to Fort of Ramnagar. Necessary land at this site was acquired for laying the foundation stone and elaborate arrangements were made for the function. At an auspicious moment on 4th February, 1916 Lord Hardinge, the then Governor General and Viceroy to whose broad-minded support the University owes a great deal, laid the foundation stone of the University in the presence of a distinguished assembly of Governors, Princes and the elite of India, This auspicious day will ever remain memorable in the history of our country. Never before perhaps the highest representatives of the Sovereign and the Rulers of so many States had met to cooperate with the people to bring into existence a great educational institution which sought to combine the useful­ness and efficiency of the modern system of education with the highest spiritual ideals of ancient India,

 

During the fortnight preceding, as well as on the four days succeeding the 4th February, 1916, various sacred rites and ceremonies, Vastu Puja, Rudra Yagna, Gayatri Japa, Puja to Guru Granth Sahib, Jain ceremonies etc., were performed. A series of lectures in the name of University Extension Lectures were delivered on the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th February 1916 by distinguished specialists like Dr. Sir J.C. Bose, Dr. PC. Ray, Dr. Harold Mann, Prof. Sam Higginbottom, Mrs. Annie Besant, Prof. C. V. Raman and others.  Mahatma Gandhi who had just returned to India from South Africa and had come to Banaras to attend the Foundation stone laying ceremony at the invitation of Malaviyaji addressed the audience on the 6th February. The closing functions were held on the 8th February 1916, the Vasant Panchami Day.

 

By a Notification published In the Gazette of India on the 25th March, 1916 the Banaras Hindu University Act of 1915 was brought into force from the 1st April, 1916. Dr. Sir Sunder Lal was appointed the first Vice-Chancellor. Various University bodies were soon formed and all attempts were made to start the work of University at an early date. A magnificent site spreading over 1300 acres of land was acquired for housing the University. A lay-out plan was pre­pared, roads were laid out and the construction of buildings started in 1918.

 

In the meantime, the Viceroy and Governor-Genera! of India in Council by a Notification in the Gazette of India declared under Section 15 of the Banaras Hindu University Act, that on and with effect from the 1st October. 1917, the Central Hindu College of Banaras shall be deemed to be a College maintained by the University.

The Initial Phase

The University thus started functioning from 1st October, 1917 with the Central Hindu College as its first constituent College. In July, 1918 the College of Oriental learning and Theology was opened and in August 1918, the Teachers' Training College. The first University examinations were held in 1918 and the first Convocation on the 19th January, 1919. The Chancellor of the University, Maharaja Sir Krishnaraja Wadiyar of Mysore who had come to preside over and address the Convocation, also performed the opening ceremony of the Engineering College Workshop buildings. An Artisan course was started on 11 February, 1919. Thus the Engineering College was the first to start functioning in the University campus, within a Couple of years it started attracting students from all parts of India,

 

The building of the Arts College, the Physical Laboratory, the Power House, several workshops of the Engineering College, three hostels and some residential quarters were all ready by 1921. The formal opening ceremony of the new buildings was performed on the 13th December, 1921, by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (later His Majesty Edward VIII and subsequently the Duke of Windsor).

 

The University started growing in all directions inspite of financial difficulties, under the Vice-Chancellorship of Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji. Being a University of the people; there were heavy demands not only for increase in enrolment but also for opening new Departments. Courses in Geology, Mining and Metallurgy were started in 1920-21.

 

The Department of Industrial Chemistry was started in July, 1921. The Law College was established in 1923.  As a part of Geology Department under the College of Engineering, course in Mining and Metallurgy were introduced.  In 1923, Mining and Metallurgy was established as a separate Department and in 1944 it was raised to the status of a college. The Department of Ayurveda which existed as a branch of the College of Oriental Learning was established as a separate Institute in 1924-25. A Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (Ayurveda) was constituted in July, 1928. The Women's College came into existence in 1928-29.

 

An Institute of Agricultural Research was established, Thus within a short period of sixteen years, the University established thirty-two departments of instruction and training. It provided accommodation, equipment and Staff for imparting instruction leading to the highest degree in the Arts and Science subjects. In addition, it provided special courses of instruction at the graduate level in many branches of Applied Science and Technology and placed at the service of the country an efficiently trained band of young men who were qualified to promote Indian Industries in a variety of ways.

 

The Institute of Agricultural Research imparted instruction upto the degree of Master of Science in Plant Physiol­ogy and Agricultural Botany. The introduction of these special courses enabled the Indian students to get education of a high standard in these technological subjects in our own country. Till then they had to go abroad for such education.

 

The Developmental Phase

The Banaras Hindu University was also the first Indian University to introduce the study of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. This initiative was taken in 1932 when a new group of subjects for the B.Sc. Examination consisting of (a) Chemistry, (b) Botany with Pharmacognosy and (c) Pharmaceutical Studies was started in 1934 and in 1935 a new 3 Year Course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy was introduced.

 

The Science Departments of the University were under the Central Hindu College from the very beginning. In September 1935, a new College of Science was constituted comprising the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, Geology, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Industrial Chemistry and Ceramics. In 1937, the Department of Glass also came into existence under this College. All the Technological subjects were under the Faculty of Science but it was being felt that a separate Faculty of Technology should be constituted for better organization and research in these subjects. Steps were taken in this direction in 1931 and finally a Faculty of Technology was established in 1936. The year 1939 witnessed the establishment of a separate College of Technology comprising the Departments of industrial Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, Ceramics and Glass Technology.

 

One of the objectives of the University was to promote the building of character in youth by making religion and ethics an integral part of education. Arrangements were made to impart religion instruction in a liberal spirit such as is consistent with the atmosphere of University, by means of classroom lectures, religious kathas and discourses and celebration of religious festivals. Mahamana Malaviyaji also laid great stress on physical culture and sports which are a great aid to building up of character. All possible attempts were made to develop this branch of activity of the students. The University provided extensive playgrounds for cricket, hockey, football, tennis, and for Indian exercises. A gymnasium, the Shivaji Hall, was also constructed.

Banaras Hindu University library had modest beginnings in 1916 at Kamachha. To-day, besides the Central Library, it consists of some fifty libraries of various sizes and many Study Centres in the City. In all it has about a million items comprising books manuscripts, periodical volumes, microfilms etc. It subscribes to about 3000 periodicals. Some special services which are offered are: service to blind students; photocopying and microfilming of books and journals: linguaphone service for languages. This library has some very rare manuscripts and books. Scholars from all over the world come to consult this library.

 

The whole University grew as one family under its head, Kulpati Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji. In the midst of his various other activities-political, social and religious, he continued to steer the University through all difficulties. But the Infirmities of age were telling upon his health and finally in 1936 he decided to retire from the Vice-Chancellorship. The task of finding out a successor was not an easy one. At last Malaviyaji succeeded in securing the services of Professor Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan who agreed to take up the office of the Vice-Chancellor as an honorary one. An outstanding scholar, a great exponent of Indian Philosophy and Professor of International fame, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan had all the qualities required for the Vice-Chancellorship of the Banaras Hindu University. He was already connected with the University as an Honorary University Professor of Philosophy and as a member of its Court. At a special meeting of the Court held on the 17th Sept. 1939, Professor Radhakrishnan was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor and he took charge of the office on the 24th September, 1939. Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji was appointed Rector of the University for life.

 

Professor Radhakrishnan guided the destiny of the University for over eight years and during this period he raised its academic tone, the status and emoluments of its teachers and other officers and helped to maintain and raise the University as an All India Institution. During his Vice-Chancellorship the University celebrated Its Silver Jubilee in January, 1942. A special Silver Jubilee Convocation was held on the 21st January, 1942 and Mahatma Gandhi delivered the address in Hindi. It was perhaps the last occasion when people saw the two great leaders, Mahamana Malaviyaji and Mahatma Gandhi seated together on the dais surrounded by a distinguished galaxy of national leaders including Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru; Public men, educationists and representatives of a number of Universities and learned bodies from all over the world. Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan said: "Here we did not have a bit of stone but whole landscape. If only nature could have life and memory the stone of Banaras would be able to repeat the words of Ved Vyas and the Rishis of Upanishads, the Sermons of the Buddha, the message of the Gita and the saying of the hundreds of saints and teachers who have lived in this neighbourhood"

 

Professor Radhakrishnan left the University in January 1948. India attained freedom by that time and the University was placed in more favourable circumstances. It continued to progress. Many new Colleges and Departments came into existence since 1948. A School of Music and Fine Arts was started in 1949, which became a full-fledged College in 1950. A College of Indology came into existence in 1950 consequent upon a munificent donation received from Maharaja Sri Vibhuti Narayan Singh of Banaras. The Bharat Kala Bhavan became a part of University in 1950. Several development schemes were implemented under the successive Five year Plans and many are still under implementation. There has been all round progress and development in the University.

 

Continuing the Legacy

One of the major developments was the introduction of the M.B.B.S. course in 1960. The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (Ayurveda) was recognized as the Faculty of Medical Sciences for this purpose. The old College of Ayurveda was named as the College of Medical Sciences. The M.B.B.S. course was started in September, 1960. Admission to the A.B.M.S. course was stopped from that year. Soon, however, a Research and Postgraduate Institute in Indian Medicine was also established in the University in April 1968.

 

Beside the constituent Colleges, the following institutions have been admitted to the privileges of the University:

1. Arya Mahila Degree College, Varanasi.

2. Dayanand Maha Vidyalaya, VaranasL

3. Rajghat Besant School, Varanasi.

4. Vasant College for Women, Varanasi.

5. Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Varanasi.

 

The University also maintains the following Schools under the Central Hindu School Board:

 

1 . Central Hindu Boy's School. Varanasi.

2. Central Hindu Girl's School, Varanasi.

3. Ranvir Sanskrit Vidyalaya, VaranasL

 

Consequent upon the amendment of the B.H.U. Act in 1966, the various Colleges of the University except the Women's College were abolished by the University in 1968 and the teaching Departments started functioning under different Faculties. Separate Faculties of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology came into existence in place of one Faculty of Technology. The Departments of Mining and Metallurgy became part of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. The Faculties of Theology and Oriental Learning were merged into one Faculty of Oriental Learning and Theology.

 

A new Faculty of Social Sciences was established in 1971 comprising the Departments of 1. Economics, 2. History, 3. Political Science, 4. Psychology and 5. Sociology.

 

In the year 1971, the Faculties of Engineering and Technology were merged into one and an Institute of Technology was established integrating the following Departments' 1. Mechanical Engineering; 2. E!ectrical Engineering; 3. Civil and Municipal Engineering; 4. Mining Engineering; 5. Metallurgical Engineering; 6. Chemical Engineering and Technol­ogy; 7. Silicate Technology 8. Pharmaceutics.

 

The name of the Department of Silicate Technology was subsequently changed to Ceramic Engineering. A separate department of Electronics Engineering was also established. Interdisciplinary schools of teaching and research in the areas of Materials Science and Technology, Biomedical Engineering and Biochemical Engineering have also been created under the Institute of Technology. The teaching of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics which was being conducted by a School of Basic Sciences has now been reorganized under three different Departments of Applied Physics, Applied Mathematics and Applied Chemistry.

 

Along with the Institute of Technology, was also established an Institute of Medical Sciences in 1971 integrating Departments of the College of Medical Sciences and the Post-Graduate Institute of Indian Medicine. In 1980, the Institute of Agricu1tural Sciences also came into existence.

 

The Banaras Hindu University was able to establish its identify brick by brick and its reputation spread throughout the country and across the continents. Dr. Amar Nath Jha succeeded Dr. Radhakrishnan as Vice-Chancellor in 1948 and he was succeeded in the same year by Pt Govind Malaviya, Son of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviyaji. During a short period of three years Pandit Govind Malaviyaji was instrumental in the establishment of the College of Indology, College of Music and Fine Arts and Bharat Kala Bhawan. After him Acharya Narendra Dev, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer, Dr. V.S Jha, Sri HN Bhagawati, Dr. Triguna Sen, Dr. A.C. Joshi, Dr. K.L Shrimali, Dr. M.L Dhar, Dr. Hari Narain, Prof. Iqbal Narain, Prof. RP. Rastogi, Prof. C.S. Jha, Prof. D.N. Mishra, Dr. Hari Gautam and Prof. Y.C. Simhadri and Prof. P. Ramachandra Rao adorned the office of its Vice-Chancellor. The present Vice Chancellor, Prof. Panjab Singh, a distinguished academician and Agriculturist joined in April 2005. It is not out of place to mention here that during the regime of Dr. KL. Shrimali (1969-77) University witnessed another spurt in its developmental activities. He was instrumental in the establishment of two Institutes, Institute of Technology and institute of Medical Sciences (with 1000 bedded hospital) and restructuring of the Faculties. During this period the strength of students became 22000 from 8000 and sanctioned position of Faculty members 1800 from 700. The infrastructure facilities were added with the motive that University can achieve top position among the Apex Academia of the country. However, the present Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Panjab Singh, being aware of every situation could realize the need of hours and set priorities on his agenda. Presently the University is witnessing a phase of tremendous surge in development activities with upcoming of the Rajiv Gandhi South Campus at Barkachha in Mirzapur district, upgradation of the Institutes of Technology and Medical Sciences to the status of IITs and AIIMS and overall development of the University.