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The first university of Uttar Pradesh in free India was established in Gorakhpur, the Tapasthali (place of veneration) of Mahayogi Gurushree Gorakhnath. It is a well-known fact that this city was named Gorakhpur after the name of Mahayogi Gorakhnath. Hence the university was named and got established as Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur at first. Today, this university is distinguished by the name of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University, named after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, the pioneer of Integral Humanism.

By the time India got independence, the backdrop of the establishment of India-centric higher education institutions in eastern Uttar Pradesh had been set. Establishment of Kashi Hindu University by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya ji in 1916 AD was an important effort to develop higher education system in line with the Indian culture and Indian society, parallel to the British education. Similarly, the foundation of an education system in accordance with the Indian culture and tradition was laid by the then Gorakshpeethadheeshwar Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj in 1932 AD as Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad.

By the time our country achieved independence from the British rule, educational institutions ranging from primary school to higher education were already set up in Gorakhpur by Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad. Maharana Pratap College and Maharana Pratap Women's College had been established under Maharana Pratap Education Council and these colleges were being run in consonance with the vision and mission of higher education of Mahant Digvijaynath Maharaj ji. It is an astonishing fact that Maharana Pratap Women's College was the only first women's college in eastern Uttar Pradesh in free India.

Gorakshpeethadhishwar (head priest of Gorakshnath Math) Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj along with Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya in Eastern Uttar Pradesh were designing the Indian education system in conformity to the Indian culture and laying the foundation of educational institutions during the British rule  itself. Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj, who had established two colleges in Gorakhpur, had dreamed of setting up a university. Almost all the eminent and great people of Gorakhpur city were his close associates. Bhaiji Hanuman Prasad Poddar, Sardar Surendra Singh Majithia, Shri Babban Mishra, Shri Madhusudan Das, Dr. Singhasan Singh, Dr. H.P. Shahi (all the officials and members of Gorakhpur University Establishment-Committee) etc. were also the members of Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad. Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj started making sincere efforts to realize the dream of establishing the university as soon as the country got independence. Along with the president of Maharana Pratap Education Council, Dr. Sir Surendra Singh Majithia and Member Bhai Hanuman Prasad Poddar, he submitted the proposal to  the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Pt Govind Ballabh Pant and Education Minister Dr. Sampurnanand to establish a university in Gorakhpur which was accepted in principle. Thereafter, Dr. Sampurnanand, Minister of Education of Uttar Pradesh came to Gorakhpur and reached Shri Gorakhnath Temple. Mr. Surti Narayan Mani Tripathi, the then District Magistrate, was also present on this occasion. While interacting with Mahant ji, Dr. Sampurnanand said that the state government is ready to open the university here if you manage the funds required for the establishment of the university. The Chief Minister Shri Govind Ballabh Pant agreed to set up a university in Gorakhpur on providing Rs 25 lakh or property (land-building). Now Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj had to pass through the colossal task of raising twenty five lakh rupees for the establishment of the university. He donated two of his colleges (Maharana Pratap College and Maharana Pratap Women's College) for the establishment of the university, playing his role of Karma Sannyasi. Undoutedly  if Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj had not merged the two colleges of Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad along with all its assets, the idea and the dream of ​​establishing a university in Gorakhpur would not have materialized. Needless to say that Mahant Digvijaynathji Maharaj of Shri Gorakshpeeth made Gorakhpur a major educational center in eastern Uttar Pradesh and became the principal architect of the establishment of Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur.

As soon as the path to the Gorakhpur University was paved, a University Establishment Committee was formed out of the prominent citizens of the city. The then Collector Mr. Surti Narayan Mani Tripathi was made the chairman of the committee. Mahant Digvijaynath (Minister- Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad), Sardar Surendra Singh Majithia (President- Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad) became the vice-presidents. Member of Maharana Pratap Education Council, Mr. Madhusudan Das was made the Prime Minister of this committee. Bhaiji Hanuman Prasad Poddar, Dr. Hariprasad Shahi, Mr. Babban Mishra, Thakur Singhasan Singh, Mr. Laxmishankar Verma, Mr. Purushottam Das Rais (all members of Maharana Pratap Shiksha Parishad) became members of the University Foundation Committee. Mr Harihar Prasad and Dr C.J. Chako were made the ministers of the committee. Mr. Keshav Prasad Srivastava, Mr Jagdamba Prasad, Mr Sukhdev Prasad, Mr Prasiddh Narayan Mishra, Mr Parmeshwari Dayal, Dr Kedarnath Lahiri, Mr Mahadev Prasad, Rai Rajeshwari Prasad, Mr Kamalakant Nayak, Mr Vashistha Narayan, Khan Muhammad Jaki, Mr Kailashchandra Bajpai were also nominated as the members of the committee.

 With the completion of all the formalities of university establishment, the then Chief Minister Shri Govind Ballabh Pant laid the foundation stone of Gorakhpur University on 01 May 1950 and Gorakhpur University has the distinction of being the first university in Uttar Pradesh established in independent India. The Gorakhpur University Act was passed by the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in May 1956 and became effective from August 1956. By 1957, 'Pant Block' and 'Nath Chandravat' hostel buildings were ready to be in use. On 11 April 1957, Shri B. C. N. Jha became the first Vice Chancellor of this university. On 01 September 1957,Post Graduate classes started in six subjects. The studies of 22 subjects of Bachelor of Arts and Science started in July 1958. Thus, this university established in Gorakhpur city (north to Varanasi and east to Lucknow) became a prestigious center of higher education for the youth of the vast region of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. The first batch came out in 1959 AD from Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur.The first batch of students in science subjects passed out in 1960 AD. In 1997, after the amendment of the University Act, the university was renamed after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, the pioneer of Integral Humanism, and came to be known as the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur.