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Chinthopanth O.S.M, M.W.Grand Master of India is a renowned Masonic Scholar,
well learned in Sanskrit and Vedas and a brilliant orator. His speeches in the
Masonic Assemblies both in India and elsewhere have always been treats. His
address at the recent Grand Festival at Mumbai is no exception. His parables
have always made considerable impression provoking us to think and contemplate
the Masonic teachings. In this address, the M.W.Brother has impressed that
the horizon of Freemasonry has to be fully comprehended and not certain parts
alone. There is also a beautiful and thought provoking exposition of the inner
conflict between the Dharmic and Adharmic thoughts and actions,
in which the former has to succeed with the aid of Masonic teachings.
Please read on and assimilate the advice of the M.W.Grand Master ]
Address of M.W. Bro.Arun Chinthopanth O.S.M, M.W.Grand
Master, Grand Lodge of India at the Grand Festival held at Mumbai on 27-11-2004
A very warm welcome to all you
to this Grand Festival of the Grand Lodge of India, 2005 at this lovely
auditorium in Mumbai.
At the outset, I must inform you
that this Grand Festival, has begun appropriately with the feeding of the poor.
This was arranged yesterday morning at the premises of the Mahalakshmi Temple,
the Babulnath Temple and the Shrine of Haji Ali. A Grand Festival well begun
I extend a special welcome to
two of our own Past Grand Masters, M.W. Bro.G.R.Divan and M.W.Bro.D.D.Udeshi.
And to you my brethren from all
parts of our Country, once again, a very very warm welcome.
And now a word of thanks to R.W. the Regional Grand Master
of the Regional Grand Lodge of Western India,R.W.Bro.Govindlal Sahu and the
Regional Grand Lodge of Western India for hosting this Grand Festival; to the
team of organizers lead by the Deputy Regional Grand Master, the Assistant
Regional Grand Masters and all those host of brethren who have put in so much
effort the last few months in organizing this Grand Festival in such a fine
And to each one of you my
brethren, a very sincere word of thanks for being here this evening, in spite of
the inconveniences of travel and costs. Thank you my brethren for your presence,
which, apart from everything else, is most inspiring.
I would also like to thank all
the outgoing Active Officers of the Grand Lodge, who, for one year, have so ably
supported me and the Grand Lodge of India with their dedicated involvement. It
looks as if it was only the other day when I had invested them as Active
Officers. Yes, my brethren it is already one year, since I was installed at
Bangalore as the 12th Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India.
And during this one year that
has gone by, I am happy to inform you that the Grand Lodge and for that matter,
the fraternity as a whole, has made considerable strides in many directions.
Foremost amongst this has been
the pattern of growth of the Fraternity. The one year has seen a positive trend
in this direction with almost all Lodges recording initiations. Of course, this
is still a far cry from the desired rate of growth and may I therefore take this
opportunity to appeal to all of you to address yourselves and your Lodges to
this issue and ensure that the momentum that has been established will pick up
further and ensure a sustained and healthy growth of the fraternity.
Towards this end the Entered
Apprentices are being welcomed into the fraternity with a copy of a special
'Hand Book' published for them. Hopefully the data and information about our
fraternity in this book will sustain their interest and will reduce the rate of
In the matter of intra
fraternity communications, the launch of the newsletter GLINDIA has been
received with overwhelming enthusiasm. However, the generosity of the brethren
in making this venture financial viable has, I am sorry to say, been found
wanting. I appeal to all of you my brethren to contribute generously so that
this newsletter, which has made such an impact within such a short time, may be
And the arm of charity has been
very active in giving. All over the country, the fraternity has been active in
projecting its charitable disposition. With the launch and acceptance of
Dhanya Dhan as a National Masonic Programme, the concept of Masonic Charity
has truly taken a new and vibrant form.
Masonic Education now forms part
of the agenda of all Lodge meetings with the Grand Lodge supplying appropriate
papers to the Lodges.
Your Grand Lodge was an active
participant at the World Conference of Grand Masters held at Santiago, Chile
during May this year. Consequent to the decision taken at this Conference, you
will recollect, the Universal Brotherhood Day was celebrated at all Masonic
Centres in our Country with great fervour and enthusiasm.
Under the guidance of the Grand
Lodge, many Lodges have now opened their Temple doors to the public on specified
days so that the misconceptions and myths about Freemasonry may be set to
Brethren, for the first time we
have had an All India Inter Region Ritual Working Competition yesterday. And
this morning, again for the first time, at an All India level, a Workshop was
conducted for the Worshipful Masters, Wardens, Secretaries and Treasurers of all
daughter Lodges. I am happy to inform you that the participation at these
Workshops was quite encouraging and the outcome very fruitful.
In an attempt to encourage Lodge Secretaries, an award for
excellence in Lodge summons has been instituted. Not only has the response for
this contest been overwhelming, but the talent and skill exhibited by our
Secretaries has indeed been thrilling.
The call to the Masonic ladies
to organize themselves into regular groups has taken shape with the "Freemasons
Wives Association" now established at a number of centres with others in the
process of catching on.
The Grand Lodge has also tried to involve brethren at
various centres at different levels in many of the activities of the Grand
Lodge. This has turned the Grand Lodge verily into teams of workers spread all
over the Country with the Grand Lodge remaining only an instrument in conceiving
programmes and in bringing the brethren together. This, my brethren, I think is
a very healthy and desirable development. While it gives brethren opportunities
to get involved in matters of the fraternity in general and the Grand Lodge in
particular, it also brings to fore the commitment and the dedication of brethren
of all ages, at all centres and at all levels without any expectations of gains
I am reminded of story of a man
walking through the forest who saw a fox that had lost its legs and he wondered
as to how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come with its kill in its mouth. The
tiger had his fill and left the rest for the fox. The next day too, the man
observed the same phenomenon. He thought to himself that God had indeed sent the
tiger to feed the fox.
The man began to wonder at God's
greatness and thought, "I too shall lie in a corner trusting the Lord to give me
all I need."
He did this for a month, and was
almost at death's door with starvation when he heard a Voice that said, "O you
who are on the path of error, open your eyes to the Truth! Imitate the tiger not
My brethren, beginning to
imitate the tiger, has been made. We should not be like this man, imitating the
fox, waiting for others to do unto us. We need to imitate the tiger and serve
ourselves, the Grand Lodge and the whole fraternity.
In the midst of all this
activity and fervour a tragedy struck us when R.W.Bro.Somesh Sen Gupta, the
Regional Grand Master of Eastern India was so suddenly called to the Grand Lodge
Above. A true and committed Freemason till the end he, in fact, left us almost
while on Masonic duty.
We pray for his peaceful sojourn
in the Grand Lodge Above.
Consequent to this unfortunate
event my brethren, I must inform you of my decision to appoint R.W.Bro.Girish
Sastry as the next Regional Grand Master of the Regional Grand Lodge of Eastern
It is also almost time for a new
Regional Grand Master to take over the Southern Region and I have appointed
R.W.Bro.G.K.Selvarajan as the next Regional Grand Master of this Region.
My brothers Girish Shastry and
Selvarajan, a great responsibility is sought to be placed upon both your
shoulders, which, without doubt, I may add are broad enough to carry it. I am
quite aware of your leadership qualities as also your popularity with the
brethren and I am sure that you will both not only justify my choice but will
also endear yourselves to your brethren as their Regional Grand Masters. I wish
you both very well in this new "avatar" you will soon be taking.
My brethren, during this one
year I have had the occasion to interact with masons throughout the Country and
such interactions have been a revelation to me particularly on the myriad ways
in which Freemasonry is seen, understood and even practiced.
I find that to some of us
Freemasonry has remained a social club, to some an exercise in spirituality, to
some a charitable or a service agency, to some a theatre, to some a place to
meet old friends and make new ones, to some a secret society and so on. Indeed,
the understanding and practice of Freemasonry appears to depend on individual
and fragmented perceptions.
A dog told a cat - My Master is
"God" "Why so?" asked the cat. The Dog replied, "He cares for me so much - He
feeds me, he takes me for a walk, he bothers about me and looks after me so well
that he is God to me."
The cat replied, "My master also
cares for me very much, he feeds me, he takes me for walks, he looks after all
my needs - so I am God for my Master !"
A matter of perception indeed.
Freemasonry too, it appears, has become a matter of such perception particularly
with the different slogans, mottos and definitions of Freemasonry that we
Sometimes we say Brotherly Love,
Relief and Truth. Sometimes we say Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man;
Sometimes we speak of only morals and values, sometime we emphasise the concept
of our rituals and ceremonials, sometimes of secrecy;
I thought to myself, Is
Freemasonry to be reduced to such a fragmented and individualistic
conceptualisation? Is there no overall essence and a wholeness, to Freemasonry?
Is there no unity of thought ? Is there no encompassing definition that can
project Freemasonry as a Whole?
A fisherman went to sell fish in
a crowded market for the first time. He put a board reading 'Fresh Fish Sold
Here!' Standing back, he read the Board.
He thought to himself, 'Would
any one sell stale fish? Then why to use the word 'fresh'?' So, he erased the
The board now read 'Fish Sold
Here.' Then he wondered 'Have I brought the fish to donate? It is well
understood that I am going to sell it.... So he thought the world 'sold; is
unnecessary.' He erased that word too.
Now the signboard showed 'Fish
Here.' He began to laugh. It was obvious that the fish was here and not
somewhere else! So why the word 'Here'?' And he removed that word also.
Now all that remained on the
signboard was the word 'Fish'. Finally, he saw the signboard and thought,
'anyone who comes to the market can identify by the very smell of fresh fish.
As soon as they see the fish, they would recognise it! There was no doubt about
that. Then why at all the word 'Fish'? So he erased the word 'Fish'! Now the
signboard was bare and empty!
I wondered if Freemasonry was
like this signboard of the fisherman? Made up of disposable fragments?
The answer was an obvious and
emphatatic NO. I realised that, in spite of such fragmented definitions and
perceptions, Freemasonry certainly has a whole, an ethos, an essence and an
underlying unity of thought, word and action. And this could be discovered only
by integrating these fragments and perceptions altogether as part of our lives.
In other words understanding
Freemasonry is not in understanding isolated precepts and practices of its
fragments but in weaving all these fragments into our life and thus making them
an integrated part of our lives. This is evident from two other statements made
in Freemasonry that (1) Freemasonry is a system of morality and (2) that it is a
way of life.
Freemasonry, therefore in its essence, as a whole, is a
way, a life, of values and morals integrated together and becoming a part of us.
It is not morals and values thought of or practiced in isolation or in fragments
but by being integrated into our lives. And such an integrated life goes by the
popular terminology of a Dharmic way of life.
Thus the essence, the ethos, the
whole of Freemasonry is in effect a demonstration of a dharmic way of life.
This widely and liberally used
expression "Dharma" or "Dharmic" does not merely mean "morality" or
"righteous conduct.". It is really an integrated way of living. It is said that
if one does not follow a dharmic way, disastrous consequences will follow. But
if one goes by dharma, then, peace and happiness reign.
A very good tailor was caught
stealing and he was sentenced to two years in jail. The mayor of the town went
to see him because he was the best tailor in the town and the whole town was
suffering from his absence; and the mayor also liked this tailor. When he went
to see him in the jail the tailor was doing some needlework, sewing something.
The mayor asked 'So, I see you are sewing something?' "No Sir", the tailor
replied, 'I am reaping.'
Of the four purusharthas
or aims of life, dharma, artha, kama and moksha, dharma is always
mentioned first, artha second, kama third and moksha last.
It is generally believed that artha and kama prefixed with
dharma is not only acceptable but will also lead to moksha. Artha
and Kama without dharma is certainly taboo.
What has happened in reality is
that we have been moving away from dharma and going towards Artha and
Dharma also has two
dimensions. One is external with the rules and regulations of organised Society.
That is a compulsion imposed from the outside. The second is moral and ethical
awareness within. One is legal and the other is moral or spiritual. The external
dimension of Dharma cannot become effective unless there is its internal
or moral dimension. No external compulsion can go far. Sometimes we are ready
to break rules if nobody is watching or if the punishment is not much. If a
policeman is not around, we are tempted to jump the red light.
We do this kind of a thing so
often, without any regret or compunction.
Mulla Nasaruddin was charged
with stealing a pocket watch. The old man whose watch was stolen was a little
short sighted, his eyes were weak and he could see only with specs. When Mulla
came to the box, the judge inquired of the old man, 'Can you recognise this man,
that this is the man who has taken your watch?' The robbed man said, 'It is
difficult, because my eyes are weak, and without specs I cannot see rightly,
everything is a little blurred. So I cannot say exactly whether it is this man
or not, but my watch is stolen and it could be this man.' In the absence of
other eyewitness or any other evidence, the Judge had to free Mulla. He said, 'Mulla
you can go, now you are now free.' But Mulla looked a little puzzled. The judge
said, "Did you not hear me, 'Now you can go, you are free!' Mulla still looked
puzzled and stayed on. The Judge asked, 'Do you want to ask anything?' 'Yes,
replied Mulla, "Does it mean that I can keep the watch ?”
Now how does one live a dharmic
life? How does one become a dharmic person? It is not by external
training but by an internal fighting, cleansing and winning against internal
The Bhagwad Gita starts with the expressions "Dharmakshetre,
Kurukshetre Samaveta Yuyutsavaha."
Ironically a battlefield is
described as a dharma kshetra.
That is because the first battle
field is within us. A battle field for dharma to battle against adharma.
A constant war is being waged
within everyone of us at all our crucial moments of action- a war with our
negative tendencies and as always the negative forces are larger in number and
This is the array of our inner battlefield the
Dharmakshetra. The lower instincts, the negative tendencies in the form of
Kama, Krodha, Lobha. Moha, Mada and Matsarya are arrayed against the
higher ideals ready to fight.
Kabir calls them our hidden enemies. "Tu lutera jake bithar",
he says, because they have housed themselves within and blended very well. This
war seeks to locate them and destroy them. And to do this, to fight this war, we
need ammunition and weapons.
Freemasonry provides this. The tenets, the slogans, the
mottos of Freemasonry which appear to be fragmented at first, when combined and
used is the ammunition for this war. And when this ammunition, the weapons are
used by making them into an integral and inseparable part of our lives, our
lives become a dharmic way of life.
This in reality is the essence,
the whole, the ethos of Freemasonry.
More often than not we are
missing this whole, this essence of Freemasonry simply because we do not have
the patience to pause and listen. We are engrossed, drowned and overwhelmed in
the fragments that we are in the danger of missing out on the whole.
My brethren, let us pause. Let
us listen to Freemasonry. Let us absorb its whole.
Let me also conclude by telling
you of a temple which was built on an island and had a thousand bells. When the
wind blew or a storm raged, all the bells would peal out in a symphony that
would send the heart of the hearer into raptures.
But over the centuries the island sank into the ocean and
with it, the temple bells. Legend however said that the bells still rang out
ceaselessly and could be heard by anyone who would listen. Inspired by the
legend a young man travelled thousands of miles, determined to hear those
bells. He sat for days on the shore facing the vanished island and listened
with all his might. But all he heard was the sound of the sea. He made every
effort to block it out but to no avail; the sound of the sea seemed to flood the
world. Finally, he decided to give up the attempt. Perhaps he was not destined
to listen to the bells. Perhaps the legend was not true. It was his final day
and he went to the shore to say goodbye to the sea. He lay on the sand, and for
the first time, listened to the sound of the sea. Soon he was so lost in the
sound that he was barely conscious of himself, so deep was the silence the sound
produced. In the depth of that silence, he heard it ! The tinkle of a tiny
bell followed by another, and another and another...... till every one of the
thousand temple bells was pealing out in harmony, and his heart was rapt in
My brethren, the bells of
Freemasonry are constantly ringing. Is it not time we stood to pause and listen?
I wish you all a safe journey
home. May we all be blessed by Freemasonry, by dharma, that we may all be
victorious in this inevitable battle called life.
Let us remember Gandhari's
enigmatic blessing to her errant son Duryodhana
"Yatha Dharma thato vijaya"---
"Where there is dharma there is victory."
Dhanya Dhan is a scheme
conceived and inaugurated by the M.W.Grand Master, when he was the
R.W.Regional Grand Master. Every Freemason every day sets apart a handful or
more of food grains and these are periodically collected and every Lodge
donates such collections form its members to Orphanages, Poor Homes etc