No. 1 -- The newsletter of The Freemasons Chamber -- September 1999

Where are our Grand Inspectors?

The calibre of members we are recruiting today is not of a kind that will build a strong foundation for the future.

As an Indian Brother has argued in his Lodge's magazine: "We now live in a country where it is difficult even for major corporations, paying huge salaries, to find the right people. Executives, who are dedicated, well educated and above all, beyond being corrupted. Therefore, what hope is there for Lodges to find suitable candidates, when we have little to offer, but demand much in return?"

The difficulty in finding suitable new members is compounded by Brethren, eager to see the Lodge grows, recommending friends who are totally unsuited for a life of Masonic fulfillment. In time, these Brethren become eligible for office. Earlier rather than later, due to the Catch-22 situation. Which, in our opinion, is where the major problem arises in Lodges. There is almost nothing required of a Brother to bestow office on him; not even an acquaintance with ritual. And once he is on the "ladder", the Eastern Chair becomes a matter of time, not talent nor a love of Freemasonry. As a result, the Lodges accumulate Masters and senior officers who are not interested in the progress of Freemasonry.

This honour, so easily gained, loses its value in the sense that the Master sees no need to prove himself a leader and provider of knowledge to his Brethren. In any case, he himself has not acquired any knowledge in his rise to the Chair of King Solomon.

The infection of promoting Brethren automatically, appears to arise from an embarrassment Brethren suffer from, about facing reality. Sometimes, the Master feels he would be seen in a bad light if he interfered with what the "seniors" love to call "the traditions of the Lodge" and "the dangers of upsetting certain Brethren, which could lead even resignations."

Surely, resignations based purely on pique should be welcome to any right thinking Lodge?

Dalhousie to be honoured

The bi-annual communication of the District Grand Lodge of Bombay and Northern India, E.C., will meet at Dalhousie on October 23rd 1999, a day after the installation meeting of Lodge Light of the North on October 22nd. For details call the District Grand Secretary at 022 2072889 or the secretary of the EC lodge near you.

A solution:

"Group conscience."

A guideline whereby the senior Brethren of the Lodge, which could be the Permanent Committee members minus the Wardens and Deacons, are told by the Master at the first communication of the year after the Installation Meeting, that it is their responsibility to watch over the performances of office bearers and Master Masons during the year, and recommend the list of officers for the coming year.

Constitutionally, the Brethren of the Lodge have the right to elect their own officers each year, but a well reasoned recommendation emanating from a committee of Past Masters, would not be taken amiss. After all, all the Brethren have watched the various officers of the Lodge performing their duties during the year. And also have a good idea of the level of absenteeism. They themselves are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each one. All that the committee would be doing is articulating sentiments, which each one individually feels reluctant to put forward.

Regarding the working of Lodges, there have been two trends in recent years:

First: Many senior Brethren , well versed in ritual, working and rubric have lost interest, because the new generations of officers, elected on an "automatic promotion" system, see no reason to learn their lines or listen to advice.

Second: With "automatic promotions", Lodges are saddled with weak Masters who, being deficient themselves, cannot call for greater accountability from others.

Which begs the need for very active, well-informed and dedicated District and Provincial Grand Inspectors, who are adept themselves, and are willing to actually spare time imparting their knowledge to Lodges on a regular basis, and supervising the implementation.

Paraphrased from "The History of Freemasonry"

By Robert Freke Gould

INDIA

First recorded event.

Bengal 1728. Deputation granted by Grand Lodge of England to George Pomfret Esq, "to open a new Lodge in Bengal." Nothing further known of him.

First lodge.

In following year, Capt Ralph Farwinter appointed "Provincial Grand Master of India". Established a lodge in 1730. In the Engraved Lists it is distinguished by the arms of the East India Company. Described as "No. 72, Bengal, in the East Indies".

Succeeding PGMs.

Next PGM's were James Dawson and Zech. Gee, who held the office in 1740. Followed by Hon Roger Drake, appointed April 10, 1755. Drake was Governor of Calcutta at the time of attack by Surajah Dowlah in 1756.

Minutes of Grand Lodge record that William Mackett, GM of Calcutta, was present at a Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in 1760.

At request of Lodges in the East Indies, Culling Smith, was appointed PGM in 1762. At this time, it was the custom in Bengal to elect the Provincial Grand Master annually, by a majority of those present, "from amongst those who had passed through the different offices of the Provincial Grand Lodge, and had served as Deputy Provincial Grand Master." As soon as the result was notified to Grand Lodge, it was confirmed by the Grand Master, without it being thought an infringement of his prerogative.

Samuel Middleton, in accordance with this practice, was elected PGM in about 1767.

After a second lodge at Calcutta to accommodate the overflow from the first one, there were new Lodges warranted to "Chandernagore, ye chief French Settlement", Calcutta, Patna, Dacca, Burdwan, Moorshedabad, and also at some of the military stations with army brigades. The Provincial Grand Lodge seems to have worked in perfect harmony with a similar one under Holland. "The Grand Lodge of Solomon at Chinsura". Officers and members of the two exchanged visits and walked together in processions.

Middleton died 1775.

In 1776, Charles Stafford elected in his place. Grand Lodge of Bengal assembled for "last time January 25, 1781." Freemasonry in India very nearly swept away by war in Carnatic. Every lodge extinguished, except "Industry and Perseverance", where the members "nobly determined the light should not go out."

(Next issue: Which of the original lodges still live on in India?)

To quote from the Virginia Mentor's Manual: "The term Blue Lodge is quite commonly used to refer to Craft Masonry, but the correct name is the Symbolic Lodge. Where, when, or why the name originated is not known. Blue is generally regarded as the color of truth and fidelity, whence the expression 'true blue'. Blue is the colour used to characterise friendship, one of the jewels of a Mason. Blue has been used to trim and ornament Masonic aprons, collars, and clothing; thus these symbolic and practical uses of that colour may account for the name. Fraternally, Jeb Raitt.

Many Brethren in India are already members of "Virtual Internet Lodge No. 1" of the Global Fraternal Network. It is the web site where Master Masons of the world communicate. If you wish to join and have internet access, please send a message to Larry Grant, the representative for India, at larry@vsnl.com.

The Master at home.

A Brother, who had recently been installed as Master of his lodge, was duly attending the installation meetings of sister lodges. Which annoyed his wife, who said, "All those masters have to do is click their fingers, and you would be there wouldn't you? I wish I was a Master!" After due thought, the Brother said, "So do I dear. We get a new one every year."

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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