Brijen K. Gupta was born in September 1929 at his maternal grandparent's home in Dehradun, India, located 145 miles from New Delhi, in the Doon Valley on the foothills of the Himalayas mountains, nestled between two of India's mightiest rivers, the Granges on the East, and the Yamuna on the west. Dehradun is home to some of India's most renowned educational institutions, which explains why they have one of the highest average literacy rates in the country, close to 90%.
Brijen was the oldest of five siblings, and lived most of his life with his paternal grandparents and parents, who lived together. His mother was a teacher and community leader, father was an engineer and a businessman. Growing up in this extended household, most of the care of the children was given by his grandparents due to his mother's activism in the India Independence Movement. Although, Brijen's mother was imprisonment several times., this did not affect the children as the grandparents stepped in to take care of the children; his grandmother was often called "mother."
There were two things that were ingrained into young Brijen's heart. The first one was to always pursue educational excellence, and the second, to serve the community. From the age of six to seven, Brijen remembered learning to serve others, first in his family as the eldest child, and then in the community. Family gatherings always included the elders instilling stories of the importance of education, giving back to the community, enhancing the reputation of the family and not bringing shame to the family. Little did Brijen know, that these ideals will impact him for the rest of his life, in all the choices he made.
Brijen graduated high school at the age of 14, attended two years of community college, three years of engineering school, then traveled for two years all over India and England. He became interested in the Society of Friends or Quakers while traveling in England. In 1948, he went to Europe to work in the relief camps after the war, and it is here that these experiences shaped his thoughts and attitudes on the role of government in people's lives. He returned to India and started college all over again; received a bachelors in liberal arts in 1953, traveled to the United States, got a masters in International Relations at Yale in 1954, went to Chicago in 1958 and received his PhD in International Relations.
Although his parents were deeply religious, Brijen began to question the role and impact of religion when he approached his mid-20s. Although, in his opinion, he became reasonably secular, he maintained great interest and fascination with religion, at one point, even considered becoming a monk. Eventually, his passion for learning led him to philosophy, and focusing his pursuits in International Relations. These studies gave him a historical global perspective on the human condition.