On July 18, 1894 Charles Lyall, the Chief Commissioner of Assam, noted in his file that “time had come for a sustained and systematic endeavour to arrest the process of destruction of such historical manuscripts as still survive in the province.” His views were endorsed by Edward Gait, Census Commissioner of India who was at that time compiling material for research on Assam. In fact Gait faced such difficulties in his work that he was compelled to submit a report of the progress of historical research in the province that was published in 1897.
Bhuyan gave heart and soul for development of this unique government department. When DHAS had no building to call its own, Bhuyan took care of the problem by turning his college office room into the DHAS workplace after college hours.
Due to administrative reasons and better security of the collected manuscripts, a portion of the DHAS office was shifted to the commissioner’s office complex on February 1, 1933. That summer official work was carried on from the commissioner’s complex as “Bhuyan’s new house was not fitted with a fan”.
In the very first decade of its established about 35 books and bulletins and collected thousands of rare manuscripts, a number of copper plates, inscriptions and coins. Till the 1960s there was considerable demand for DHAS publications in Oriental Studies circles in Europe. “We announce with gratification that our department counts among its friends and encouragers distinguished Oriental scholars of India, Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, America and China,” Bhuyan had once said at an official function.
Gradually need grew for a permanent building for the department. As the government was unable to make budgetary provisions for the building for many years at a stretch, Bhuyan approached Raja Hariharprasad Narayan Singha, the raja of Amawan and Tikari, and a generous zamindar from Bihar who came to Guwahati in 1933 for funds. The Raja promised a donation, but later expressed regret due to personal constraints.
Then Rai Bahadur Radhakanta Handique came forward and donated Rs 10,000 to government to construct a building to be named after his wife Narayani Handique, “a lady of extraordinary ability”. The government allotted a plot of land adjacent to the Cotton College in consideration of the fact that when in due course of time the college would be elevated to the status of a university, the department could act as a resource base for historic research.