Compiled by R.W.Bro. Bharat V. Epur, O.S.M.
Freemasonry, a world-wide organisation, is based on the principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man. It is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by series of ritual which follow ancient forms and use stone masons’ customs and tools and allegorical guides. It seeks to make good men better and thereby make the world a better place in which to live.
Freemasonry has been in existence in the present form for nearly 300 years in the world and for over 290 years in India. The Grand Lodge of India headquartered at New Delhi is the apex body in India. Under it are four administrative regions, one each for the southern, northern, eastern and western parts of the country. The southern region is headquartered at Chennai. The primary unit organisation of Freemasonry is a Lodge. There are more than 450 Lodges with almost 20,000 members, who are called Freemasons.
Masonic organisations throughout the world are engaged in many philanthropic and charitable projects. In India too the Masonic Fraternity is involved in several charitable projects, all over the country. The Grand Lodge of India and its constituent members have been among the first to offer immediate relief whenever any calamity struck any part of the country, and even beyond. They have followed this up with more permanent charitable projects. Some recent examples of such activities were the relief provided to those affected by floods, cyclones, earthquakes and other natural calamities in Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Southern India, Gujarat, Assam and Nepal. Masons followed this with the re-construction of schools, colleges, hospitals and entire townships in the affected areas. The Masonic Polyclinic Association of Eastern India in Kolkata, the General Williams Masonic Polyclinic in New Delhi, the Masonic Medical Care Centre for children in Coimbatore, the funding, sourcing and erection of solar lighting in over 100 remote villages throughout India, the adoption of entire villages located in backward area, for all round development in Health, Sanitation, Education and Housing in Visakhapatnam District and Construction of Sheds for cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh, many Scholarships and Bursaries awarded to deserving students, helping institutions for the handicapped and the aged and holding of periodical Blood donation camps, Eye camps and other Health Camps etc., are examples of some of the socially relevant activities of Masonic organisations all over this region.
Freemasonry is best explained through answers to some specific questions as indicated below:-
What is the object of Masonry?
The motto of Freemasonry is Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Freemasonry seeks to make good men better. It encourages the practice of the moral virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. It inculcates obedience to God and observance of the Laws of the country. It is committed to extend the hand of fellowship and provide Relief to those in distress.
What Freemasonry is not?
It is not a Religion. However, it emphasises secularism by teaching respect for and tolerance towards all religions.
It is not a political party or organisation. It reminds them of the filial affection one should always have for the Land of their birth, to remain loyal to the laws of the land which, for the time being, may be the place of their residence, or afford them protection.
It is not a secret society. There is nothing secret or secretive about Freemasonry. Freemasonry does not conceal the time and place of its meeting nor does a member hide the fact of his membership. Like many other Societies it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters of concern only for its members. There is no secret about its aims and principles. Copies of its Constitutions and Rules can be obtained by interested members of the public from its offices.
It is not a social club. However, it provides the means of socialising among its members, which consists of a cross section of society drawn from all walks of life who meet on an equal · footing. It also involves the families of members on such social occasions.
How does Masonry get its membership?
Freemasonry does not canvass for members. The person must seek for membership of a Masonic Lodge of his own free will and accord. He would however, be provided all information he wishes to know.
Who is eligible to become a Mason?
No atheist can become a Mason. Anyone who is of good moral character and believes in the existence of Almighty God and a belief in the Supreme Being, no matter by what name He is called, or what faith the person professes, is eligible.
What does Freemasonry expect from one who joins it?
- He must understand and appreciate its high ideals and objectives and put to actual practice its motto of “Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth”.
- Patriotism and Loyalty to one’s own country and the Fraternity at all times is a bounden duty.
- It expects that a Freemason should do unto others, as he would wish others would do unto him.
- Charity is the predominant characteristic of a Freemason’s heart. He is always expected to “give” to Freemasonry rather than expect to “receive” anything from it for personal benefit.
- That he will practice outside the Lodge those duties and virtues that he is taught inside the Lodge.
- Kindness in the home,
- Love for one another,
- Courtesy in society,
- Resistance towards evil,
- Help for the weak,
- Pity and concern for the unfortunate,
- Forgiveness for the penitent,
- Fairness in work,
- Honesty in business,
- And above all, reverence and love for God.
In fact Freemasonry is a Way of Life
Indian Order of Freemasons
The Indian Order of Freemasons has, as its head, its Grand Master, who is elected for a term of three years. The current Grand Master is M.W.Bro. Harcharan Singh Ranauta, O.S.M. a well-known businessman from Chandigarh.
Some of the prominent Indians who have been Freemasons are Swami Vivekananda, Sir C. Rajagopalachari, several Maharajas, Sir Dadabhai Naoroji, as also several serving and retired judges of the Supreme Court and various High Courts, serving and retired Defence Personnel and Civilian Officers besides many Industrialists, Businessmen, Business Executives and other Professionals.
Applications for membership
There is no canvassing of membership. Candidates for membership are expected to come of their own free will and accord. Whatever information is required will be furnished. Applications duly proposed and seconded by members are entertained by the Lodges and are scrutinised and balloted for in the Lodge. Thereafter, the candidates are initiated into Freemasonry according to ancient custom and receive various degrees.
Wednesday, 26th July 2017 Chennai