Hyderabad : Freemasonry is not known to many in this part of the country. Some even perceive it to be a secretive society. There is a nothing secret about Freemasonry. Just as you have Password and User ID to your email account, so are few keywords in Freemasonry says the newly elected Most Worshipful the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Rajeev Khandelwal of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of India(GLI). Until some time back it was believed that Freemasons have a secret that they carefully conceal. But it is no longer considered like that now says, he.
We want to lose this mysterious persona we have and want to reach out to as many people as possible. To dispel this very notion of secrecy we have been organizing Open Sessions to explain the purpose and significance of the Institution of Freemasonry. Further emphasizing the transparency of the organization, he continues, “Our constitution, teachings, rituals, and activities are available for all to read. Books can be found in our offices and public libraries. There are so many online resources”, he informed.
We don’t just reveal what we do inside our ‘temple’ (the hall where they meet is called as Temple) for historical reasons. There’s nothing clandestine except our signs, tokens, and words Khandelwal stated.
The newly elected, youngest Grand Master of Grand Lodge of India(GLI) for the year 2018-2021 was here in the city on a two-day maiden visit to the city after he elected to the highest office of Freemasonry in India. He was here in the city in connection with the presentation of Long Term Service Jewel(LTS) to a member— Vishwanathan Ganeshan, who completed 25years of service in the Freemasonry, as well as unveil his portrait and participate in few charity projects taken up by Local Lodges(primary units, clubs of Freemasonry)
Nearly 500 Freemasons and their family members graced the portrait unveiling function. Portrait function which takes place once in three years immediately after new Grand Master takes
Immediately after taking over the reins, this Nagpur based Chartered Accountant by profession, Rajeev Khandelwal, who is one among 73 highly decorated prominent Freemasons to receive the highest honor—“Order of Service to Freemasonry” in the past six decades in the history of the organization” chosen to visit Hyderabad. When asked the same, he said, “Hyderabad is one of the most vibrant Masonic centers in the country. Hyderabad is like a home coming to me. I have been coming to this place as we have twinned with local lodge Model Lodge”, informed Khandelwal.
Masonry is spread in India across 200 towns and cities
Khandelwal is the head of the Grand Lodge of India, which was consecrated as a Sovereign Grand Lodge with full Masonic Jurisdiction over the territories of Republic of India in November 1961. As of now, there are 440 Masonic Lodges and over 200 other Masonic bodies located in different parts of the country under the Grand Lodge of India with a total membership of about 22,000 Freemasons.
Interacting with the media at Freemasons Hall at Goshamahal Baradari, Rajeev Khandelwal said Freemasonry has been in existence in the present form for nearly 280 years in the world and for over 250 years in India.
Responding to another question he informed that Freemasonry is always at the forefront of embracing technology.
When asked to comment how he would like to make the organization more relevant to the present generation, since most of its members are old people, Rajeev said, things are changing. We have a good mix of old and new members. We need both. We don’t solicit members. But, we are able to get more and more youth and millennials joining us.
People have their own reasons why they enjoy Freemasonry, Khandelwal says. Many come for the brotherhood other for self-improvement. Freemasonry is an ocean. You can learn many things –brotherhood, charity, education, values, discipline, character building, knowledge etc. In one word, it offers a journey of personal discovery. Its preachings appeal to all generations, he said and added that more and more millennial are becoming Masons.
Freemasonry came to India in 1730 with officers of the East Indian Company holding their meetings in Fort William, Calcutta. Since then the organization flourished in India, patronized by British Nobles and Indian elite class.
It is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. It is a worldwide organization based on the principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man. It is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. There are more than 150 Grand Lodges functioning all over the world, he said.
When asked to explain what is Freemasonry? he said it is a way of life. It is a character building society. We make good men better. Replying why Freemasonry is not seen as much as Lions, Rotary and Round Table, he said, we don’t publicize much about us. But, we are a very active body. Locally in Hyderabad, we have 19 branches which are called Lodges.
Though there is no comparison, the Masonic Fraternity is involved in several charitable projects. The General Williams Masonic Polyclinic and a Masonic Public School in Delhi, as also a Masonic Medical care center for children in Coimbatore; Construction of Sheds for cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh.
Under “Jyothirgamaya Project” 110 remote and inaccessible villages in the country were provided Solar Lights etc., are examples of some of the socially relevant activities of Masonic organizations all over the country. And this project is highly talked about the project in the country. Most remote villages electrified under this project.
Some of the well-known people in the city are our members. Locally notable Freemasons include P. Ashok GajapathiRaju, Sir Terrence Keys – the British Resident, Raja Venkata Ram Reddy, Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jang, and Nawab Ali Yavar Jang Bahadur, who became Governors of Gujarat and Maharashtra, BakshiRaghunathPershad, Syed Mohd. Bilgrami, NawabShamsher Jung Bahadur, Meher Ali Fazil, Nawab Bashir Yar Yung, Raja RajwantBahadur, Syed Hali Ali.
Nationally some of the well-known Freemasons include Swami Vivekananda, DadabhoyNowroji Tata, W.C. Bannerjee, PanditMotilal Nehru, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Sir DorabjiJamshedji Tata, Dr. C. Rajagopalachari, Sir Sultan Mohammad Shah, Aga Khan, Maharaja Ganga Singh, and others, Rajeev Khandelwal informed.
It is based on three great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Every Freemason shows tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behaves with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures. Members are taught to practice charity, and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals. Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives, Rajeev added.
It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Its members are from different faiths but meet on an equal level and never discuss religion and politics.
Freemasonry is a worldwide organization based on the principle of the ‘Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man’. It is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values.
The Grand Lodge of India (GLI) is the main governing body of Freemasonry within India, it was officially constituted on Friday the 24th November 1961.
Its primary unit of organization is a ‘Lodge.’ A number of independent Lodges of a region are under the governance of a ‘Grand Lodge.’ The Grand Lodge of India is based at New Delhi
The Society of Masons is distinguished into three classes or degrees: The Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. The Entered Apprentice knows but little more of Masonry than the use of signs and tokens, and certain steps and words by which Masons can recognize each other without being discovered by a non-Mason.
The Fellow Craft is not much better instructed in Masonry, than the Entered Apprentice. It is only in the Master Mason’s Lodge, that whatever knowledge remains of the ways of Masonry is preserved and concealed.
Its meeting place is called “Temple”, where all major religions are represented. Group of members are called a Lodge. It summons (not invites) its members for its meeting. No atheist or agnostic is admitted into movement. Only men can become members (women are not allowed to become Masons in India). Masonic fraternity address each other as ‘brothers’. When brothers meet, the means of identifying each other as true brethren is very secret.
It is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by series of rituals that follow ancient forms and use stonemason’s customs and tools and allegorical guides. It seeks to make good men better and thereby make the world a better place in which to live.
The motto of Freemasonry is Brotherly Love, Relief & Truth. It is not a Religion. It is not a political party or organization. There is nothing secret or secretive about Freemasonry. Freemasonry does not conceal the time and place of its meeting nor does a member hid the fact of his membership. Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters of concern only for its members. There is no secret about its aims and principles. Copies of its Constitutions and Rules can be obtained, by interested members of the public from its offices. “Does, in a corporate set up, a non-Board of Director allowed into a Board Meeting”? In masonry too, no guest or non-mason allowed to enter its temple. It doesn’t canvas for members. It never seeks publicity nor makes hue and cry about its contributions to the society.
Charity is the predominant characteristic of a Freemason’s heart. Its member includes princes and common men, sages and servants, one and all. Member is always expected to ‘give’ to Freemasonry rather than expect to ‘receive’ anything from it for personal benefit. Freemasonry teaches its members kindness in the home, love for one another, courtesy in society, resistance towards evil, help for the weak, empathy and concern for the unfortunate, forgiveness for the penitent, fairness in work and honesty in business and above all, reverence and love for God. Freemasonry is the science by which morality is taught through visible symbols and instructive traditions associated with the erection of King Solomon’s Temple some 3,000 years ago. Freemasonry is known as a worthy organization and membership carries with it a great amount of prestige.