The 19th century was characterized by remarkable intellectual activities in India that brought radical transformation in social and religious ideas. Time was ripe for religious reform movements resembling those that took place in other parts of the world under the name Millenarian. Rammohan Roy was the steward of this new awakening. In 1814 he founded the Atmiya Sabha that was in 1828 made more broad-based and renamed Brahmo Sabha. Two years later the Sabha was transformed into the Brahmo Samaj, and the rest is of course history.

    In Assam the ideas and messages of the Samaj spread through a group of Assamese gentlemen who had gone to the neighboring province of Bengal for higher studies. A group of officials who came to Assam from Sylhet and Bengal on government appointment also carried the Samaj’s message to this far eastern corner of India.

Juggoram Khargharia Phukan (1805-38) was the first Assamese to be attracted to the Brahmo faith. In 1825 he went to Calcutta, learnt English and imbued with a spirit of liberalism, wrote letters in Samachar Darpan opposing the practice of Sati. Gunabhiram Barua, Padmahash Goswami, Kamalakanta Bhattacharya and Lakshminath Bezboruah were the other distinguished Assamese gentlemen of yesteryears who converted to the faith. Padmahash and Gunabhiram’s initiation to the Brahmo Samaj created ripples in Assamese society. Gunabhiram Barua married a Brahmin widow, Bishnupriya Devi, in Dhubri in 1869. Padmahash publicity burnt his sacred thread in the presence of his guru, parents and kinsmen.

Records reveal that the earliest Brahmo Samaj temples in Assam were establish at Dhubri, Goalpara, Guwahati, Nagaon and Tezpur between 1868 and 1870. A prayed hall for the Brahmos was established at Guwahati where some gentlemen assembled. But that later closed down due to “migration of government officers”.

 The Brahmo Public Opinion reported on April 11, 1878: “We are sorry to hear that the transfer of the seat of government of the province of Assam to Shillong has among its other effects, led to the closing of Brahmo Mandir at Gowhaty for purposes of public worship. With the migration of the government officers, the Brahmo officers have also migrated and their place of worship lies deserted.”

In the beginning of the 20th century, Brahmo followers in Guwahati took the initiative to start a Brahmo prayer hall. A plot of land was acquired from the government in 1901 where a temple was constructed that very year. It was an Assam-type structure with brick elevation in the front and located at Lakhtokia.

It was named Brahmo Mandir and the first board of trustees, formed in 1916, had Sarat Chandra Das, Heramba Ch Maitra, Dr Prankrishna Acharya, Gurudas Chakravarty, Raj Mohan Das, Sibnath Dutta, Prasanna Chandra Dasgupta and Abhaya Charan Sen as members.

Some important Brahmos who were closely associated with the GuwahatiBrahmo Samaj included Hemanta Kumar Lahiri, Prabodh Kr Lahiri, Satish Chandra Roy, Jnanadabhiram Barooah, Braja Gopal Halder, Prabhat Das, Subimal Das, Amalendu Sen, Ajay Sen, Indira Miri, Arun Barua, Rajendra Sarkar, Girija Das, Omeo Kumar Das and others. Interestingly, Omeo Kumar Das was at one time denied admission into the College . College hostel because he was a Brahmo. It was only at Manick Chandra Baruah intervention that Das was admitted.

Maghotasava, Bhadratsava and annual get-togethers for children were some of the important occasions of the Samaj for many years after its inception. Banalata Halder’s lilting songs added to the festive atmosphere. Over the years, the seat of acharya (who led community prayers) has been adorned by Ramdayal Das, Kamal Lochan Das, Satish Chandra Roy, Suresh Ch Mukherjee, Mahesh Chakravarty, Probodh Lahiri, Basana Ranjan Halder, Puspalata Das and Indria Miri. Since the 1940s the Samaj also ran a children’s school that was looked after by Banalata Halder and Minati Halder.


On November 1, 1919 the Samaj premises was graced by Rabindranath Tagore who delivered a talk on Sivanath Sashtri, the great Brahmo leader. However, in the meeting attended by eminent citizens Tagore was introduced to the audience as ‘Sir’ Rabindranath Tagore, although the poet had then already surrendered his knighthood. Later, in course of his speech Tagore remarked that he was pained at the introduction since he had given up the title as a mark of protest against the Jallianwalabagh massacre.

Many years later, eminent Brahmos like Satyajit Ray and Aparna Sen were also to deliver lectures at this hall. In the late 1990s, at the initiative of Basana Ranjan Halder and Krishnendu Chanda, the old building of the Samaj, situated near the Panbazar overbridge, was dismantled and a new multistoried structure constructed in its place. The Samaj now continues to stand as a symbol of universal brotherhood and service above self.