FREEMASON IN INDIA
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies.
It is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use of stonemason’s customs and tools as allegorical guides.
The essential qualifications for admission into and continuing membership is belief in the Supreme Being. Membership is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfil this essential qualification and are of good report. A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to his God (by whatsoever name He is known) through his faith and religious practice, and Freemasonry expects its members to continue to follow their won faith. It does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.
Freemasonry is non-political and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is forbidden.
Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the Laws of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with duties as citizens, but strengthen them in fulfilling their public and private responsibilities.
Freemasonry is not a secret society, since all members are free to acknowledge their membership. Its constitutions and rules are available to the public. Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters for its members. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with its traditional modes of recognition; its ceremonies are private. There is no secret about its aims and principles. For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Freemasonry seeks to make good men better. Freemasonry is based on a firm belief in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Immortality of the Soul. The tenets of Freemasonry are ethical principles such as are acceptable to all good men.
Freemasonry came to India with the advent of the British. Records mention that one “George Pomfret to whom a ‘deputation’ was granted to open a Lodge in Bengal, on December 27, 1728, first introduced Masonry into English Settlements in India”. The name of the first lodge established is mentioned as Lodge East India Arms in Bengal constituted in 1730. Then onwards many lodges were consecrated and established in British India. (An assembly of Freemasons five, seven or more, when gathered according to certain prescribed ritual, is called a LODGE). Many Military Lodges belonging exclusively to Bengal sprung into existence in the year 1772. Membership was restricted to Foreigners only (non-Indian) and continued to be so until the end of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th Century many Indians of position and eminence gained admission into the Order – Rajas and Maharajas. I.C.S. Personnel, Jurists, Doctors, Statesman and personalities like Sri Prosonno Kumar Dutta (said to be the first Hindu to be admitted into the Order.), Sri Narendra Nath Dutta (later His Holiness Swami Vivekananda), Sri Moti Lal Nehru, Sri C. Rajagopalachari, and so on. Freemasonry in Britain was controlled by three Grand Lodges – The United Grand Lodge of England, The Grand Lodge of Scotland and The Grand Lodge of Ireland (generally referred to as English Constitution, Scottish Constitution and Irish Constitution respectively). The Lodges in India owed allegiance to one or other of these Grand Lodges. Records show that the majority of the lodges in India were on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England (English Constitution).