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Run by the Indian Section, the Theosophical Society, the college, Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya, truly exemplifies the vision of that great global personality of the twentieth century, Dr. Annie Besant, regarding education. Dr. Annie Besant occupies an eminent position among luminaries like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekanand, Mahatama Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya and others who contributed much to the making of modem India. A champion of human values and devoted to the cause of suffering, colonized, exploited people, she was appalled by the conditions of Indians groaning under the yoke of foreign rule.

She realized that in order to re-awaken them as well as to restore their lost self-respect, it was essential that an education based on the moral and spiritual truth discovered by the Indian seers and also at the same time including the study of modern science and technology, should be imparted. She wanted a "National education" or an education that would be religious, intellectual, moral and physical. With this objective in mind, she started a chain of Besant schools and colleges focusing on spreading an education based on moral and spiritual values. Realising that India could not progress unless the women Were also educated, she gave special attention to the education of girls.

Dr. Besant settled in Banaras in 1896 and opened the Central Hindu College in 1898. The education imparted in the school sought to provide insights into ancient ideals, along with the best modern education. The stress was laid on character-building, social reform, broad-mindedness and national service. She also envisaged the establishment of a University at Varanasi under the name of "University of India", and in 1907, she submitted a memorandum for the grant of a Royal Charter for the establishment of the University. At the same time, Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya also came up with his vision of establishing a Hindu University at Varanasi, which would impart education on lines very similar to that of Dr. Besant and approached the Government with his proposal. The Government laid down certain conditions for the approval of the proposal, one of them being – “A strong financially sound and efficient college with an adequate European staff should be the basis of the scheme.” By this time, the Central Hindu College had reached a level of maturity and had secured affiliation to Allahabad University. But when Mahamana approached Dr. Besant with the request to make Central Hindu College the nucleus of his University she unhesitatingly agreed to it and magnanimously handed over the entire Central Hindu College, assets, buildings, equipment and staff to Mahamana to develop the Hindu University in his own way. The Central Hindu College was a most worthy nucleus for starting a University because it spearheaded national regeneration and produced young Indians of sterling character, intellectual probity and the will to right action, dedicated to the service of the nation. Thus, Dr. Annie Besant is rightly perceived to be the co-founder of Banaras Hindu University.

In 1904, Dr. Besant opened the Kanya Vidyalaya whose motto was “Religion makes education sublime.” She believed that true religion is a binding force for a society into a nationhood for it stands for service with love.

She worked for women’s education, their social status and their dignified freedom. She knew that unless women were awakened, India could not be awakened and her past glory could not be restored. She declared:

“Let us turn to the education of girls, the future wives and mothers… those on whom (depends) the welfare of the family, and therefore largely the welfare of the nation.”

When, in 1954, the Kanya Vidyalaya, established by Dr. Annie Besant, shifted to new premises situated at Rajghat, Varanasi, (now known as Vasanta College for Women, Rajghat) Dr. Rohit Mehta, a renowned philosopher and then General Secretary of the Indian Chapter of the Theosophical Society, deemed it imperative that a new college should be established within the same premises whose every nook and corner was infused with the spirit of Dr. Annie Besant. Within six weeks, a college having classes from VI to B.A. was founded and inaugurated on July 10, 1954 by Dr, Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University and close aide of Dr. Besant.

Like Dr. Annie Besant, Dr. Rohit Mehta, founder of the college, firmly believed that education was not merely the passing on of some specific information or knowledge but was instrumental in developing the entire personality of a being and preparing one for the journey of Life. He started the “Varanasi Project” under which an effort was made to study the city of Varanasi from the historical, geographical, religious, cultural and economic perspectives. He stressed on the need of extra-curricular activities like sports, dance, music, theater, painting, flower-decoration, art exhibitions etc., and emphasized that students should be taken on educational excursions so as to broaden the horizon of their knowledge. He believed that education was fundamentally a process of discovery of life itself.

He believed that a spirit of inquiry must be inculcated in students and the function of a teacher is to see that the flame of inquiry is never smothered and the sense of wonder is never dulled.

According to Dr. Mehta, the aims and objectives of the college were to safeguard the perpetual ideals and social values of the Indian tradition as well as to re-organize the existing educational system: “Our endeavour in the Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya was to link up education with culture… While seeing that highest standards at the academic end are maintained, we felt that the girls should imbibe the finest cultural traditions of the land… Our educational effort was to synthesize full freedom with a total sense of responsibility.”

The college was fortunate to have Smt. Leela Sharma as its first Principal. She actively participated in the freedom struggle and had a deep sense of discipline.

It was divided into two distinctive units in 1977, the Inter Section and Degree Section. Smt. Nagalakshmi Singh became the first Principal of the Inter Section of the College.

Smt. Leela Sharma remained Principal for a period of twenty-three years. She was succeeded by distinguished scholars and administrators viz. Dr. Uma Modwell, Dr. Pushpalata Pratap, Smt. Renu Kaul, Smt. Sundhari Siddharth, Smt. Vimla Khera, Ms. Indira Gupta, Dr. Jyotsna Srivastava, Dr. Veena Vyas, Dr. Kusum Mishra, Dr. Sudha Srivastava, and Dr. Rachna Srivastava.

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