No. 8 -- The newsletter of The Freemasons Chamber -- April 2000

A History Of Scottish Freemasonry In India 1838 – 1999 (Part II)

- With a special request to Lodges and Brethren.

(Material covering the first 150 years of Scottish Freemasonry in India, is being in The Freemason. It was compiled by the late Bro Ratan Naoroji Contractor, Rt Wor District Grand Master 1985-1987.

Bro Bomi Shawaksha Mehta, our present Rt Wor District Grand Master, added the material which covers 1978 to 1998. Bro Bomi Mehta has requested that,, in an effort to compile a more comprehensive and upto-date history of Scottish Freemasonry in India, all lodges and Brethren may send us contributions concerning the achievements of their Lodges or Brethren, which would be worth recording, culled from the histories of their Lodges or private records. Short biographies of members who have made outstanding contributions to society and the nation, would be most welcome. Material may be sent to the editor of this newsletter, who will compile and pass it on to the Rt Wor District Master. Acknowledgement will be made in this newsletter and by the District Grand Lodge of India (SC) for all material received.

(Cont. from Issue 7)

Occupation of No. 1 Grants Building commenced from 1st February 1853, and it was designated "The Freemasons’ Hall". A Masonic Convention had been signed by the representatives of the four bodies working in Bombay, regulating the terms on which it was to be used. The Lodge furniture, kit, and other paraphernalia remained the property of Lodge ‘Perseverance', which was to receive a stipulated sum for the hire thereof.

Lodge Rising Star had written a letter enquiring if they could initiate a French gentleman and it was decided by a majority that the interests of the Craft would be best served if "Perseverance" restricted itself to the acceptance of Europeans and Lodge "Rising Star" to that of native candidates.

On 10th April 1855, Bro. LeGeyt resigned his office of Provincial Grand Master as a consequence of proceeding to Calcutta to take up a post under the Supreme Government, and on 9th May 1855, Bro. H. D. Cartwright was duly installed as the Provincial Grand Master.

(To be continued).

W W W

Rosslyn Chapel, The Hiram Key and The Second Messiah:

A personal view.

By W Bro Philip RJ Fowler GJD GLSI , Secretary International Relations Committee GLSI

I have read both books, the Hiram Key and the Second Messiah. I've also been to Rosslyn Chapel, which is quite fascinating with its history and Masonic symbolism. My view of both books is that while the authors have indeed made some fascinating discoveries, their attempts to fit their facts into their pet theories are quite obvious and their ultimate findings open to serious doubt.

In the second book, the attempt to prove that the Turin Shroud was an imprint of the Templar Grandmaster, Jacques De Molay seems way off. There have been various scientific studies that show that the Turin Shroud when viewed under the microscope, contains pollen and other plant matter that is prevalent only in Palestine.

The carbon dating of the Shroud has also been in doubt as the Shroud was almost destroyed by fire centuries ago. The heat that affected it has apparently given false readings. Different authors on the Shroud have used this and other evidence to prove their differing viewpoints of the Shroud and its history.

However, when they write of Rosslyn Chapel, they are on firmer footing. I visited the Chapel a couple of years ago after first meeting in London, W Bro John Ashby, the Deputy Curator and Librarian of the UGLE and also the Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the premier Lodge of Masonic Research. The second book had just been released and Bro Ashby had not read it.

I put forward the main view of the book that the Templars were responsible for introducing Freemasonry to Britain. He was of the view that in his opinion, Freemasonry in England had a different route. He however had an open mind of Scottish Masonic history and the Templar influence.

Bro Ashby also said that the view of the books from the viewpoint of Grand Lodge (the UGLE) was that the books were "bad news". I also wondered why the authors did not first put forward their views to QC Lodge for the benefit of peer review. Bro Ashby had similar sentiments. I therefore can't help agreeing with the W Bro, the Rev Neville Cryer, I think, writing in the Transactions of QCCC, that the motives of the authors were open to question, especially bringing in a religious slant.

I personally feel that their theory that Jesus Christ was a Mason performing a third degree ceremony in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night of his arrest is simply hilarious and without any evidence whatsoever.

It is these flashes of their personal intuition or clairvoyance that casts doubt in the mind of the reader of their theories and dilutes their facts discovered. Rosslyn Chapel however stands on it's own firm foundations. It is simply amazing that so much of Masonic symbolism has been displayed in the Chapel.

In addition, the carvings also display flora and fauna of the New World, America, showing that to the builders of the Chapel, knew of it long before Columbus, and some of them had probably travelled there as well. On the outside of the chapel, waiting one presumes to be admitted inside (!), there is a carving displaying a candidate for Initiation in dress identical to that of a present day candidate.

In addition, there is carved on one of the lintels, a famous passage from the Order of the Red Cross of Babylon, the degree open only to those who are already Companions of the RA Chapter. To find both evidence of the Craft as well as Chapter in the same Chapel proves that the Craft and Chapter degrees are intimately connected and part of the same system.

To my mind, in Scotland the absence of the schism that rocked English Freemasonry has preserved better the ancient rituals and traditions of our order. If one examines the progression of a Candidate through the Craft, Mark and Chapter degrees, the Scottish method is by far the most logical.

In a Mason's search for it's early history, one fact disturbs me. The "standardised" rituals that are coming out of Britain these days leave much to be desired. These seem to be watered down versions of original rituals. I saw a few years ago, a ritual of the Lodge "Tullibardine of the East", a Scottish Lodge in Malaysia which had a unique ritual that only the Lodge Tullibardine in Scotland possessed.

It had an extensive Third Degree ritual with some of the portions of the Funeral Service ceremony for a Freemason in it. According to the Brother who gave it to me, even the then GM of the GL of Scotland was ignorant of it. Another Irish Mason in India, of the 30th degree in the A&AR, told me that when he master of a Bombay Lodge he was told to destroy all the ritual books by the then DGM. When I asked him why, he said that it was perhaps due to the influence of the Church and those unenlightened elements inimical to Freemasonry.

In recent times even the Chapter ritual has been diluted. This I feel is a retrograde step. Freemasons should not allow their heritage to be lost through a fear of criticism from whichever quarter it may come.

In my own modest research, I find that there are fascinating architectural clues from history. One book had a reference to our GM Moses, who was famous according to Apron the Greek writer, for building at Heliopolis "pillars" instead of obelisks. A pair of obelisks was placed at the entrances to Egyptian Temples.

They were so positioned that the Sun at its Meridian over them marked the equinoxes. In fact, the tips of the obelisks were pyramidions, which were gilded and which first received the rays of the morning sun. Mark Masters will immediately note the importance of this fact. So also have the secrets of Geometry been forgotten. In the "Arch and the Rainbow", the author points out that in old rituals, three Masters used to hold staffs in the proportion of a right-angled triangle. The authors of the Hiram Key have gone so far as to point out that the old mysteries were shunned by the "Hannoverian inventors of the English system which bear only vague allegories and obscure ritual."

Another says that there is no alchemical science taught as in the old Scottish Rite Lodges. The emphasis now on worthy charitable works, coupled with "meaningless ceremonies that leave Lodge members bewildered as to the true scientific nature of the order". Hermetic lore of ancient Egyptian schools has it that the process of receiving enlightened consciousness was of express importance, with spiritual regeneration taking place by degrees through the 33 vertebrae of the spinal column until reaching the pituitary gland which invokes the pineal gland. The science of this regeneration being one of the "lost keys" of Freemasonry and it is one of the reasons why Ancient Freemasonry was founded upon 33 degrees. Whatever the true origins of our ancient and fascinating order, in our progress today, the original rituals and traditions of the past must be preserved for us, in order that we gain a better understanding of Freemasonry's system and it's ancient roots.

Editorial Board: Bro Tofique Fatehi, Bro Ahmed Bharucha, Bro Larry Grant.
Published for The Freemasons Chamber by Larry Grant, Post Box 1610, Mumbai 400001, India
Phone 91-22-2151001. E-mail
larry@vsnl.com.
Master Masons are welcome to request free copies. Please send full name, name and number of lodge, and address. Copies also available by e-mail.
FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY


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