On the day of Krishna Janmasthami in the year 1913 the town witnessed a large religious congregation in Panbazar. Women blew conch shells as hundreds of citizens offer prayers to the Almighty. The Sanatan Dharma Sabha, or the Harisabha as it came to be popularly known, had opened its doors to the faithful. 

The Sabha, that included a temple, an Assam-type natmancha and another building for religious discourses,  was built in a record six months’ time on a plot of land donated by Rajanikanta Chowdhury of Sarbhog. Later, two adjacent plots were to be added to its premises. The Harisabha Trust was formally created with two persons each from the Assamese and Bengali communities and one from the Marwari community -- Rai Saheb Bhuban Ram Das, Rai Saheb  Chidananda Chowdhury, Rai Bahadur Kalicharan Sen, Kunja Behari Banerjee and Moti Chand Oswal. Kalicharan Sen was appointed the Sabha’s first secretary, and he rendered yeoman service in giving concrete shape to the institution. 

Over the years leading citizens and philanthropists of Assam associated with the Harisabha and helped shape it into a representative of all those who believed in the sanatan dharma. They include beside the Sabha’s trustees, figures like Padmanath Bhattachacharjee, Tirthanath Phukan, Kaliram Barman, Nani Gopal Dutta, Kamini Bagchi, Harmohan Das, Kamala Kanta Das, Jogesh Chandra Sengupta, Ramesh Chandra Sengupta, Girish Bose, Tarini Mazumdar, Jay Chandra Chowdhury, Prasanna Narayan Chowdhury, Padmaram Bharali, Samudra Pathak, Murali Chowdhury, Atul Chandra Banerjee, Tripura Kamal Pandit, Ramani Mohan Sarma, Sishu Ram Sakia, Sasiram Sarmah, Haricharan Das, Ashutosh Sengupta, Prafulla Deka, Ajay Dutta, Yadav Das, Monoranjan Banerjee, Hiteshwar Sarma, Asish Sengupta, Ranjit Malo, Gopendra Narayan Chowdhury and others.

 Initially only six pujas -- Jagadhatri, Annapurna, Rathayatra, Dol, Janmastami and Ras – were performed by the Harisabha Trust. Later, Saradwati Puja, Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Lakshmi Puja were also introduced, although these were performed under the direction of the Balak Samiti and the Assam Jatiya Utsav Samiti that had been formed by wellwishers and members of Harisabha. 

The Harisabha ha always played a very important role in the socio-culture life of Guwahati. At the initiative of Prof Lakshmi Narayan Chatterjee, Kumari Vidyalaya, the first girl’s school in town, was started in its premises. The Balya Ashram, where young boys were taught the ethical values of the Vedanta, Upanishads and other lessons from Indian history, was also held every Sunday afternoon in the Harisabha. During the 1940s many of the Sabha’s members played active roles in the national movement. 

During the swadeshi and swaraj phases young boys and girls were trained in the art of handling the sword and stick for self-defence inside the Harisabha. And, according to police records (Home-Political files and other police reports of the 1930s and 1940s) it was Khudu Mahanta, a disciple of legendary swadeshi activist Pulin das of Dhaka, who imparted the training. Octogenarian Umesh Sengupta who participated in the Harisabha camps remembers how the police on several occasions warned then against “anti-British activities”, but never once dared to raid the Sabha premises. 

Several Congress party meetings were also held at the Harisabha before being banned by the government. According to records the Harisabha management committee and the Assam Jatiya Utsav Samiti which was established in the Sabha premises often donated money for flood relief, for establishment of the TB Hospital and on occasions to the Assam Sahitya Sabha. 

The Durga Puja inside Harisabha was once upon a time one of grandeur and splendour in which jatras of Calcutta and bhaonas of Assam were regularly performed. Artistes like Hemanta Mukherjee, Bhupen Hazarika, Pankaj Mullick and Kanai Krishna Dey graced the Sabha stage on many occasions. Until the 1960s regular religious discourses were also organized in which both satradhikars and sankaracharyas delivered lectures. 

In 1996 a new temple was constructed, adding more distinction to its façade. Into its 92nd year, the Harisabha remains yet the city’s enduring symbol of unity.