The Rayat Shikshan Sanstha entered the field of higher education in the year 1947 when its first college, Chhatrapati Shivaji College, Satara, was established. On 15th August 1953, Karmaveer Anna publicly announced his intention to start a new college at Karad in the following year. Anna had observed that there were colleges at district head-quarters like Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur. But the poor people in the rural area could not send their children to these colleges. The college education was ‘too expensive’ for them. Therefore, Anna decided to take higher education to the huts of the poor. As a first step in this direction, he made up his mind to start a college at a Tehsil place. As per the announcement made earlier, an application was sent to the University of Poona seeking its permission to start the college. The Local Inquiry Commission of the Poona University visited the college premises and granted the affiliation. The University of Poona asked Anna to pay a deposit amount of Rs. 50,000/- before opening the college. Anna had no money with him, but he didn’t lose heart. He approached two of his acquaintances in Pune, Mr.Baburao Sanas the Ex-Mayor of Poona and Mr.Shankarrao Ursal, the then Mayor of Poona. The problem was discussed and resolved. They went to Mahatma Phule (Vegetable) Market and held a meeting of the stall-keepers, vegetable vendors, workers and labourers.
Bhaurao Patil told the public that he wished to start a college for poor people at Karad, a remote town; 160 kilometres from Pune and needed a huge amount of Rs.50,000/-. He appealed the public to help him in this noble cause. The poor vegetable-sellers, workers and labourers donated their day’s earnings to Bhaurao and he got more amount than was needed.
Bhaurao Patil opened the college by the confluence of the Krishna and Koyana rivers in June 1954. Shri. Bando Gopala Kadam alias Mukadam Tatya, a half-naked fakir regarded Gadage Baba as his Guru. He promised to donate a sum of Rs.1 lakh (by collecting it from public) to the college on the condition that the college would be named after Gadage Maharaj . Anna introduced Shri. Mukadam to the University Commission and told the members about the feelings in the heart of the disciple for his guru. The commission was greatly impressed and the college was named after Gadage Maharaj, an illiterate but worldly-wise saint, clad in tattered clothes, a social reformer who fought against blind beliefs, undesirable customs and traditions, obsolete social conventions and drunkenness in society; a prophet who upheld the dignity of labour, justice and truth in all walks of life. The college was formally inaugurated at the auspicious hands of Hon’ble Dr.Dhananjayrao Gadgil sometime in September 1954 and was affiliated to the University of Poona.
At present, it is affiliated to Shivaji University, Kolhapur and is recognised by the UGC under section 2 F of the UGC Act. The college campus is spread over 17 acres’ area at Vidyanagar, Karad. The college had formerly been headed by three former Vice-Chancellors : Prin. Barrister P.G.Patil, (the author of the The Bountiful Banyan, a biography of Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil and the translator of Mahatma Phule’s book Slavery, a renowned scholar who subsequently become a Member of MPSC), Prin. R. K. Kanbarkar (a famous English Grammarian) and Dr.V.K.Ghate. The former chairperson of Maharashtra Public Service Commission, Prin. Mrs. Sumatibai Patil and the eminent educationist Prin.A.B.Magdum and many other academicians including Prin.Dr.S.R.Suryawanshi, Prin.M.M.Swami, Prin.P.A.Panwal Prin.E.G.Nikam, Prin. A. E. Barge, Prin. Lipare & Prin.Dr.S.D.Jadhav steered the college through the sun and showers. At present, Prin.Dr.M. M. Rajmane has been shouldering the responsibility as the Head of the Institution. When the college was opened, there were only 55 students on its roll. Today, there are about 12500 students enrolled in different classes.
The college made a humble beginning with Arts faculty alone. Mr.R.K.Kanbarkar was the founder principal of this college. The college Auditorium was inaugurated at the auspicious hands of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then president of AICC in 1959. M.A.(Entire English) degree course was started in 1964. The faculty of Commerce was added in 1957-58 and the faculty of Science in 1966-67. The metal bust of Karmaveer Bhaurao was erected in the college campus and was ceremoniously unveiled by Mr.Balasaheb Desai, the then Revenue Minister of Maharashtra.