No. 14 -- The newsletter of The Freemasons Chamber -- October 2000

That a belief in the Supreme Being…." (Part IV)

On September 14th 1877, the Grand Orient of France voted to eliminate from its ancient constitution the following article: "Freemasonry has for its principles the existence of God, the immortality of the soul and the solidarity of mankind." The Masonic world was plunged into horror at this "act of atheism". This was certainly the most radical move in modern Freemasonry. Many grand lodges severed fraternal relations with the Grand Orient. However, there were Masonic scholars and bodies who attempted to understand the reasons behind this drastic amendment. This installment deals with the role which French Lodges saw for themselves. Any Brother wishing a complete set of the three discussions by leading Masons, may request an e-mail copy. Editor.

Among the principal questions examined in the Conventions and in the Lodges for some years back are the following, taken from a list they (Grand Orient of France) give:

Sociological The status of women and children in modern society. The struggle against alcoholism. The struggle against crime, more especially juvenile crime. The means of combating prostitution, vagabondage, and mendicancy.

Legislative The reform and simplification of legal procedure. Reform of the Magistracy. Civil Service administration. Public instruction, the taking it out of the hands of the clergy. Betterings of methods of taxation.

Economic Condition of the working man and how it may be bettered. Co-operation. Cheap dwelling houses.

Agricultural credits. Working men's credits. Means of encouraging the apprentice system. Homes for working women.

Philosophic Study of morality outside of all religious dogma. The finding of a morality, lay and scientific. Study of the various philosophical systems.

What I have just given is but a brief synopsis of what is contained in their pamphlet, "The Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France," which, being an official publication for the purpose of setting forth their aims, aspirations and reasons for being, may be regarded as a fair statement.

What might also be called hereditary objections are hard to overcome, and some of you may now be disposed to think their philosophy and work mere socialism, to be scoffed at and carefully avoided by Masonry. The Sermon on the Mount was equally, if not more, socialistic, yet you do not think of putting it aside on account of that. A great English scholar once said that Christ's Sermon on the Mount may be justly regarded as the charter of Christian Socialism.

Objection may be raised that this kind of thought, working in French Masonic Lodges, would inevitably lead to the Masonic institution in France becoming a mere political organization. Such I do not believe to be the case, and in rebuttal of your thoughts, if they lean that way, I would refer you again to the statement in the letter I have quoted, that their membership is made up of men from all political parties in France. Along the same line I will quote paragraph 15 of their Constitution, which says:

"Lodges have the right of discipline over all their members and over all Masons present at their working.

"They prohibit all debates on the acts of Civil authority, and all Masonic intervention in the struggles of political parties.

"The presiding officer rules the meeting."

The Grand Orient of France has also at various times issued instructions enforcing the above rules. To quote:

"If, as citizens, the members of the Federation are free in their political actions, as Freemasons they must abstain from bringing the name and the flag of Freemasonry into election conflicts and the competition of parties."--Circular 1885.

"All political debates at Masonic meetings are strictly forbidden."--Circular 1885.

If French Masonry has a political influence, and no doubt it has, it is an indirect influence which we in this jurisdiction might do worse than emulate. The latest political influence they are credited with exerting is that which established secular schools in place of monastic schools. A few facts in connection with this will indicate why the French people, non-Masons as well as Masons, demanded this separation. In France in 1897 there were fourteen convictions in the Courts against monastic teachers for "outrages on decency." In 1898 there were thirteen more convictions for similar offences. Severe sentences were imposed in each case by Catholic judges.

Is it any wonder that the monasteries were abolished and secular schools established? Masonry has been blamed in magazine articles for bringing this change about. No official action was taken. Some informers may have been Masons, but not all of them. Who would not inform? I have not been able to find any evidence to substantiate the charge made against Masonry, but if similar conditions existed in this country I should be sorry if the Masonic institution here were not red-blooded enough to exert an influence to right such a wrong. If that would condemn us to being called a political institution, I for one would rejoice in the name.

The Grand Orient of France is not a political organization, nor does it aim to be. It does aim to be an influence in moulding the opinions of its members, so that when they are called upon to act and vote as citizens they may do so with a view to the general good. We might well copy much from their Masonic educational system, to the profit of our Masonic institution, both individually and collectively. Our interest in public questions is largely material. Only where the financial interests are directly affected do we as a people seem to bring ourselves to the point of investigating, criticizing, and demanding the correction of faults in our public government. We overlook altogether the by far greater problems of government--sociological questions, moral reforms, and other phases of public betterment which French Masons make a study of. If there were the possibility of a Boodling Scandal in connection with these other questions they might be more live topics of interest with us. (To be continued)

(In next issue: The great point of cleavage… is French Masonry atheistic in its practices or in its tendencies? By the Grand Master, Manitoba)

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

(Continued from "The Freemason" No. 13, with a request for further information and

items from Brethren, by the Rt Wor District Grand Master, Bro Bomi S Mehta)

District Grand Lodge of Eastern India 1961 - 1992

At an Especial Communication held at Calcutta on 24th July 1962, the District Grand Lodge of Eastern India was consecrated by Bro PG Clark, Rt Wor District Grand Master of The Middle East, (S.C.) and Bro William George Miller was installed as its first Rt Wor District Grand Master. Amongst the visitors present was Bro Sorab M. Khambatta, Rt Wor District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Western India along with a Deputation, and Bro Cyrus F. Minwalla, Rt Wor District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Pakistan (S.C.). Bro Clarence Veitch was appointed District Grand Secretary, an office he held till 1968. The District had 9 Lodges under its jurisdiction, of which 7 were in Calcutta.

At the Communication of the District Grand Lodge held on 30th March 1966, the District Grand Master had several depressing items of news to convey; Lodge St. James in the East, No. 1127, Calcutta had surrendered its Charter in January 1966 due to lack of support. Several senior Brethren had returned to Great Britain leaving several Lodges in difficulties. Also, the District Grand Secretary, Bro C. Veitch was due to leave in less than three months. Bro Ivan Goss took over as the Acting District Grand Secretary from Bro C. Veitch at that meeting, and was formally obligated as the District Grand Secretary at the Annual Installation Communication on 30th November 1966.

At a Special Communication held on 17th February 1967, Bro Edward Ira Brown was installed as the Rt Wor District Grand Master by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Bro Major Sir Ronald Orr Ewing accompanied by the Grand Secretary, Bro Dr. Alexander F. Buchan. This is reported to be the first Masonic visit by a Grand Master Mason to Bengal. During his visit, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Bro Major Sir Ronald Orr Ewing performed the Rededication Ceremony on the occasion of the Centenary of Lodge Endeavour No. 474.

Bro Ivan Goss was Installed in 1970 as the Rt Wor District Grand Master by Bro Edward Ira Brown and Bro Maurice L. Broughton was appointed as the District Grand Secretary. In 1974, Lodge Calcutta Kilwinning No. 1131 and Lodge Doric No. 1295, both in Calcutta, surrendered their Charters, due to lack of support. In the following year, 1975, Lodge Albyn No. 813, Calcutta also surrendered its Charter for the same reason. Now, there were only 5 Lodges in the jurisdiction.

Bro Ivan Goss installed Bro Boris Alexis Yashanoff as the Rt Wor District Grand Master on 5th April 1976. Bro Oliver Leslie James Milligan was appointed as the District Grand Secretary, an office he held till 1980. The Installation Communication was followed by a Ladies Night at The Swiss Club. Bro Boris A. Yashanoff died suddenly in mid-1976, and Bro Tayebbhai Mohomedali Zarif, the Depute District Grand Master took charge of the District. On 29th June 1977, Bro Ivan Goss, Past District Grand Master installed Bro T. M. Zarif as the Rt Wor District Grand Master. Due to ill health, Bro Zarif relinquished office after two years.

On 26th March 1979, Bro Saroj Kumar Mehera was installed as the Rt Wor District Grand Master by Bro Ivan Goss, an office held till he completed his 5-year term in office. This was the third District Grand Master that Bro Ivan Goss had installed within a period of three years. The Installation Communication was followed by a Ladies Night at the residence of Bro Mehera. Due to frequent absences of the District Grand Secretary, Bro Milligan, Bro Hari Singh functioned as the Acting District Grand Secretary.

The Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Bro Sir James McKay accompanied by Lady McKay and the Rt Wor Grand Secretary, Bro E. Stuart Falconer visited Calcutta. A Special Communication of the District Grand Lodge was held on 1st March 1983, which was attended by Bro Noshir Irani, the District Grand Master of Western India. A Ladies Night followed the Communication at the residence of Bro Mehera.

Bro Hari Singh was installed on 17th August 1984 as the Rt Wor District Grand Master by Bro Saroj K. Mehera. Bro Hari Singh continued as the Acting District Grand Secretary till 1989 when Bro Ibrahim T. Zarif, son of the earlier Rt Wor District Grand Master, Bro Tayebbhai M. Zarif, was appointed as the District Grand Secretary. In 1985, Lodge Madras No. 1342, Madras opted to attach itself to the District Grand Lodge of Western India. In 1989, Lodge Heather No. 928, at Munnar in the tea estates in South India followed suit, to attach itself to the District Grand Lodge of Western India. Only three Lodges now remained under the jurisdiction of this District, till it was merged with the District Grand Lodge of Western India in November 1992.

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
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.

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