The Gandhi Vichar Parishad has its roots in the early fifties, when some close associates of Gandhi decided, shortly after his death, that there was a need for an Institution which would undertake the scientific study and analysis of Gandhian Thought and methods for the benefit of the younger generation. The founding members included such eminent Gandhian scholars as Kaka Saheb Kalelkar, Shri J. C. Kumarappa, Shri K.G. Mashruwala, Shri Shankar Rao Deo, Shri G. Ramachandran, Shri S. N. Agarawal and Shri Satish Chandra Dasgupta.
Kaka Saheb Kalelkar was its first Chairman, and Shri Shankar Rao Deo and Shri Ravindra Varma were Secretaries. The Bajaj family was happy to offer one of its buildings in the premises of Bajawadi at Wardha for Gandhi Vichar Parishad in 1951-52. In 1955, the Gandhi Vichar Parishad was shifted to Delhi. The march of history and the demands of organization caused the Parishad to be merged into the Gandhi Smark Nidhi as the Tatva Prachar Vibhag (Ideology Dissemination Department). It was revived and revitalised in the late Eighties by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. That was the beginning of the new Gandhi Vichar Parishad or Institute of Gandhian Studies at Wardha.
The Institute of Gandhian Studies or Gandhi Vichar Parishad in its present form was established at Wardha on October 7, 1987. Late Shri Ravindra Varma, freedom fighter, Gandhian activist and well known scholar was the founder Chairman of this Institute. The establishment of the Institute was the result of vision and work of Shri Ravindra Varma along with the active interest and full support of Shri Ramkrishna Bajaj, the then Chairman of the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. Initially the Institute started its activities within the Campus of Mahatma Gandhi,s Ashram at Sevagram. In the course of time, it has been moved to its new campus at Gopuri.
During the last two decades, the Institute has succeeded in establishing a high reputation for the variety of the courses of studies it offers, and for uniqueness and excellence. It is now acclaimed as an outstanding institution by the academic community, thinkers, activists, trade unionists, organisations of youth and students, Gandhian workers and traditional organisations engaged in Gandhian work. These years also marked the extension of the activities of the institute from the regional/national level to the International plane. The international programmes and courses organized by the Institute have opened up new vistas and area of activities. They created new expectations and wider acceptance of the credibility and competence of the Institute. Many foreign institutions expect the Institute to run training programmes required for non-violent action and take up pioneering efforts in the field of peace, reconciliation and harmony.