No. 13 -- The newsletter of The Freemasons Chamber -- September 2000
"That a belief in the Supreme Being…." (Part III) 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 third 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.

French Lodges considered themselves to be schools and study classes, not clubs.

French Freemasonry interests herself in social laws because she believes that through them men will realize the simultaneous welfare of the individual, the family and general society. History bears witness to the necessity of so moulding these laws as to overcome the rivalry of selfish interests from whence spring the miseries, the sufferings and hatreds of society. Social problems they, therefore, consider legitimate Masonic problems if Masonry is to fulfil its mission in its broadest sense.

They believe the things that menace the progress of human society should be discussed, so that indirectly they may be drawn to the attention of public opinion, and through that laws will be demanded to remedy them. Under this heading they cite particularly that they aim at legislation to combat misery which is the most active cause of degeneracy, bad morals and crimes; legislation to protect the child gainst moral, intellectual and physical atrophy; legislation to lighten the burden of the woman in the family and in society; legislation to recognize the dignity of labour, to ensure the safety of the labourer, and to help in solving the strifes of labour. They realize fully the vastness of the task they set themselves in intellectual, moral and social development, but Freemasonry, being a permanent institution, has the time for it, and does not therefore allow herself to be deterred because of the size of the task; a step at a time finally succeeds.

They describe their Lodges as being ateliers, in the sense of being study classes or schools. Their membership is recruited by voluntary impulse, as with us, the only condition of membership being that of being free, as we Masonically understand it, and of having good morals.

No dogma, religious, political or social, is imposed on their members. Each member has absolute liberty of thought, which he is led to modify or change along the lines of progression as his own sense may dictate when, by discussion, more extended knowledge and more numerous facts present themselves.

The condition that every free man of good morals, whatever his ideas may be, can introduce into the discussions of the Lodge principles and aspirations of the more diverse kind. opinion in the best possible way. As when one stone is struck upon another a jet of light is produced, so when ideas clash, enlightenment likewise follows.

By virtue of a well-balanced scheme, to the centre of which these incongruous thoughts move from the absolute order maintained in the discussion, they understand themselves and criticise themselves.

They analyse and refine the one, the other, and evolve a common reflected opinion.

The result is every French Freemason goes from Lodge, if not transformed, at least better informed, improved in every way. The truth which the Masonic study has created percolates indirectly into profane society, with manifest results.

French Freemasonry thus offers its initiates a means of re-union where they can inspect their efforts and their researches. She places them in the centre of human researches. "By the framework, by the symbols, by the custom, she makes them develop, without knowing it, the best that is in them, intellectually and orally, besides realizing the fruitful union of heart and spirit." She elevates individuals by inciting them to make themselves strong, desirable and true, just and good. She protects her members at the .same time against excess by maintaining internal discipline.

By conducting these studies the Grand Orient of France keeps before her members, and indirectly before the people generally, the most practical model and the most ideal.

This "elevated school of intellectual and moral nobility" shines not to lose itself in mere abstraction, but studies what would seem to be of practical benefit to humanity. She gives her force, trained by intelligence, to the service of Light and of the Spirit.

With study and research always going on and never interrupted, the Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France cannot therefore become dogma. New thought and reason is ever being evolved. Further investigation is forever upsetting proven theories.

As to their methods of working to these ends, the pamphlet gives some very interesting information. Their annual Convention, composed of delegates from all the Lodges, meets in Paris every year in the month of September. One of the most important functions of this Convention is to fix the questions which ought to be referred, for the consideration of the Lodges during the ensuing year. The programme is discussed, added to and taken from, and finally adopted and sent out to the Lodges. By this method the General Convention condenses the thought of Masonry throughout all the Lodges, and members are kept in touch with all the studies pursued in other Lodges than their own. The Masonic thought of the whole country is systematized and crystallized.

Aside from the Convention programme, each Lodge keeps a teacher to study problems of philosophy, morality, socialism, and history, and bring before the Lodge what he considers worthy of discussion. The Lodges work, therefore, largely on their own initiative, and these new discussions are reported at the next convention, and may perhaps be put on the general programme for the following year.

To us these discussions might seem to lead on to dangerous ground and have bad effects. With reference to this they say: "The discussions which these problems provoke are always conducted courteously and amicably. Tolerance is the first rule of the Masonic Association. It is thus that men belonging to philosophical or political schools, of the most diverse kind, may find harmoniously, without noise and without vain agitations, the solution of the problems which interest the prosperity of the nation and the progress of humanity."

(To be continued)

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

(Continued from The Freemason No. 12, 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 Western India 1961 - 1992

On 14th February 1967, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Bro. Major Sir Ronald Orr Ewing re-installed Bro. Dr. Khambatta as the Rt. Wor. District Grand Master for a second term, assisted by the Grand Secretary, Bro. Dr. Alexander F. Buchan.

During his regime, the Masonic Medical Benefit Scheme came into existence in 1969. This Scheme is open to brethren of all the constitutions, and their families. Thirty years later, this Scheme still functions and provides relief to its members.

On 19th April 1969, Bro. Albert Bernard Turner was installed as the Rt. Wor. District Grand Master by Bro. Edward Ira Brown, Rt. Wor. District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Eastern India (S.C.). With tact and devotion, Bro. Turner guided the District for nine years.

In February 1978, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland, Brother Capt. Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esselmont visited India, and on 17th February 1978 installed Bro. Noshir Muluk Irani as the Rt. Wor. District Grand Master. Bro. Irani brought energetic enthusiasm, administrative ability and business acumen to his office.

In 1978, Bro. Ardeshir P Bhandari relinquished the office of District Grand Secretary after sixteen years. In 1981, after a term of nineteen years as Assistant District Grand Secretary, followed by three years as District Grand Secretary, Bro. Rusi P Pavri, a third generation mason retired.

On 20th December 1980, Bro. Sir James McKay, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason visited the District Grand Lodge, accompanied by Bro. E. Stuart Falconer, Rt. Wor. Grand Secretary.

On 26th February 1983, Bro. Sir James McKay, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason again visited the District Grand Lodge and re-installed Bro. Irani as the District Grand Master for a second term, at a glittering ceremony at the President Hotel.

Bro. Irani passed away on 31st January 1985, without completing his second term. On 26th October 1985, Bro. Ratan Naoroji Contractor was installed as the Rt. Wor. District Grand Master by Bro. Shavak P. Dadachanji, Hon. Depute District Grand Master. On 18th November 1985, Bro. James M. Marcus Humphrey of Dinnet, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason visited the District Grand Lodge at its Annual Installation Convocation, accompanied by Bro. Arthur O. Hazel, Grand Secretary.

Known for his philanthropy, Bro. Contractor was a very popular and well-loved District Grand Master. On his passing away in 1987 before the end of his term, brethren of the District consecrated a Scottish Royal Arch Chapter in his name. Today, it has the largest number of members on its rolls. Bro. Contractor often dug deep into his pocket in the cause of charity. Even today his legacy is carried on by the administrators of his estate, who over the last six years have donated over Rs 1.5 million to the Benevolent Fund of the District Grand Lodge.

Bro. Shavak P. Dadachanji was installed as the District Grand Master in 1987 by Bro. A. E. G. Gilbert, District Grand Master of Bombay (E.C.). During his regime, the Masonic Medical Benefit Scheme was revamped and brought in line with the requirements of the times. Bro. Dadachanji also started the Masonic Education Fund, to benefit the brethren in widening Masonic knowledge.

(To be continued)

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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