Hinduism and Zoroastrianism reveal basic truths
in highest degree working. Part-2.
In recent researches, the editorial board of this newsletter discovered that the highest degree worked by the Supreme Council, 33° , Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America, is based on Hindu and Zoroastrian scriptures. Why and how? We are grateful to Bro Rex Hutchens 32° for the material which follows, from his dissertation "A Bridge to Light", which has been edited considerably due to space restrictions. However, the areas of interest to local Brethren, will be completed over three issues, Nos. 3, 4 and 5. Bro Hutchens is an anthropologist, a famed Scottish Rite researcher, has travelled extensively, and lived in Karachi and Kabul for some years. In recognition of his services to Freemasonry, Bro Hutchens has been decorated with the rank of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour.
The light which emanated from Brahm itself became deified as Agni, the god of light and fire whose name lives on in the English word ‘ignite’. Other natural phenomena underwent a similar process. The dawn became Usha. Mitra, anciently the Morning Star, became associated with the planet Venus; Herodotus calls this deity a female. Later, it became a male associated with the bull. The important point is that originally all three Vedic deities, Agni, Usha and Mitra were connected with the concept of light in some form. Pike believed the Hindu mantra, AUM, to be an anagram composed of the initials of these deities.
The Hindus were not dualist and had no Principle of Evil corresponding to the Persian Ahriman. they nonetheless associated, as Masons do, light with knowledge. Light was existence and thus reality. It is by light that man sees and understands the world around him; thus the Sanskrit root for ‘to see’, vid, became also the root for ‘knowledge’. This is preserved even in English where we have such words as ‘video’ and ‘wit’ both related to the Sanskrit vid. This root also has a secondary meaning of ‘find a husband’ or ‘marry’. The husband was so important in the marriage relationship that the light truly went out of the life of a widow (from wid-wa; literally, in Sanskrit ‘without husband) and we see arising the custom of the wife throwing herself upon her husband’s funeral pyre. By this practice the husband and wife would be joined together into a single light, to ascend together to become a single intellect, shining like a star forever. This practice, for the most part, was ended when the British assumed legal control over India in 1857.
With this foundation from the Zoroastrian and Hindu doctrines, let us now begin our passage through time and space with an explanation of the Chamber of Consistory, the name by which bodies of Inspectors Inquisitor and Masters of the Royal Secret are called, focusing on the many symbols illustrated there.
Ceremony: Purple, red, gold and silver predominate in the colors of the set. The hangings are purple and gold, the altar cover is purple with Sanskrit letters in gold, the letters of the mystic Hindu mantra AUM. Also on the altar is a nine-pointed star formed from three interlaced gold triangles.
In the East is a chair reached by ascending seven steps separated into groups of three and four. These numbers are symbolic of many meanings in this degree:
the sides of a perfect Pythagorean right triangle which form the right angle, being of a proportion of three to four units of measure;
the seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major which became the Amesha Spenta or ‘Bounteous Immortal Ones’ of the Persian creed, four male and three female; these in turn became the seven archangels of the Hebrew theology mentioned in the 28th Degree;
the seven liberal arts and sciences divided into the Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic) and the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy);
the color spectrum which derived from passing a ray of light through prism and results in seven different colors which are grouped into the three lower colors--red, orange and yellow-- and the four higher colors--green, blue, indigo and violet. We see these on the cover illustration of this book representing the division of light (knowledge) into its constituent parts (the individual subject matter of knowledge).
In the West two Lieutenant Commanders sit on chairs covered with crimson cloth and fringed in silver. Two triangular tables each covered with a crimson cloth, upon which is a Sanskrit letter of silver, are placed in front of these Chairs of State. On one is pure water and on the other a censer and vessels with incense and alcohol.
Purple has long been a colour symbolising the regal and noble; gold is a colour associated with the Deity and derives from the color of the sun. Within the Consistory these colors are a statement of celestial and heavenly things and, specifically, of the omnipresent and omnipotent Deity. Red is indicate of the earthly realm, as is silver, which is the color frequently associated with the moon, a reflector of sunlight. In combination these colors are a reminder of a teaching of the 28th Degree: What is above is like what is below.
Around the Altar of Obligation are three large lights. They are placed to indicate the corners of a right angled triangle with a base of three measures, a perpendicular from the base of four measures and a hypotenuse of five measures; it is a representation of the Pythagorean right triangle - a symbol of the beauty in perfection, balance and proportion.
The Lesser Tetractys, a triangular form of ten lights seen in many preceding degrees, is situated between the altar and the West. Its apex also points to the East. This symbol is composed of dots; in this case ten, arranged in rows of one, two, three and four respectively. Within it may be traced the many symbols which have been explained in the preceding degree summaries, some of which have been used to design the jewels of various degrees. Pike’s interest in this symbol derives from its popularity with a wide variety of mystical schools. For the Pythagoreans it was a symbol of virtue. They swore their oaths upon it as we do the Bible and considered it the source of the eternal order of the world.
Thirty-six lights between the East and the altar form the Greater Tetractys of Pythagoras, its apex to the East. This symbol is composed of 36 dots arranged in eight rows of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight dots respectively. Like the Lesser Tetractys, it was revered by the Pythagoreans because of the many symbols which could be created within it by connecting various combinations of dots. In the 32nd degree Pike has given this symbol a Persian significance; that is, each line of dots represents respectively Ahura Mazda and the Amesha Spentas which were His manifestations. We also may see that there are a total of 4 smaller triangles which may be created by connecting all the dots. Twenty-seven have their apex pointing upwards and twenty-one have their apex pointing downward. Both of these numbers are multiples of three and were of special significance to the Pythagoreans.
Pike believed that Pythagoras learned of the Tetractys from the Babylonian Magi and that the Jewish Kabalists learned of it also from them during the 70 years of captivity mentioned in the 15th and 16th degrees but misunderstood its meaning. From its ten dots they created ten emanations of Deity when the Magi had only seven.
(To be continued)
Politically Correct New Year’s Greeting from The Freemasons Chamber:
Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes expressed herein.
Politically Correct New Year’s Greeting from The Freemasons Chamber:Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, drug-free, gender neutral, joyous tradition of the religious persuasion of your choice, keeping in mind the secular status of our nation, for the generally accepted calendar year 2000, but with due respect for the calendars of all other communities, whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to caste, creed, colour, religious, or sexual preferences.
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