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Article # 192
Oration at the Dedication of the Masonic Temple in Kumbakonam

Author: V.W.Bro.Abraham Markos G.Chaplain    Posted on: Monday, February 27, 2006
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Oration at the dedication of the Masonic Temple at Kumbakonam

delivered by V.W.Bro.Abraham Markos, Grand Chaplain on 21st January 2006.  

M.W. The Grand Master, R.W. The Regional Grand Master, R.W.Brethren, V.W.Brethren, W.Brethren, and Brethren all.

 As the Grand Chaplain, I have been called upon to deliver an oration on the nature and purpose of our Institution and I am indeed privileged and honoured to be given this opportunity to share my thoughts with you, on this solemn and important occasion.

This day is a great and historic landmark in the annals of Freemasonry in general and of the Masonic community in this hamlet town of Kumbakonam in particular. We witness this morning the culmination of a great and glorious undertaking, the result of unbounded enthusiasm, strenuous effort and generous contributions on the part of the brethren around here under the able and inspiring leadership of R.W.Bro.Dr.Balram Biswakumar, P.Dy.G.M and our Immediate Past Regional Grand Master and the Founder Master of Lodge Mahamaham No.341 on the roll of the Grand Lodge of India. The entire fraternity in general and the Brethren of Kumbakonam and Chennai in particular are extremely grateful to you R.W.Bro.Biswakumar for your generous donation of the land and a substantial portion of the building fund also. Let this wonderful Temple be an enduring monument to the noble precepts and sublime principles of Freemasonry and a perpetual reminder to generations of Masons, who will enter its portals in the years to come, of the Masonic fervour and generosity of the present generation of Masons of this town, who have gifted them such a beautiful Temple.

The place where Masonic Lodges meet is usually called the Temple. What does the word represent, what does it mean to us. We say “temple” to denote a sacred place where our belief in the great Father of the human race gives to us, his offsprings, the sense of his presence. A holy place where the creator and the created meet, he as Master and as we say, the Great Architect and we as servants, in all humility honouring his name and imploring his grace to perform his will.

Scripture informs us that when King Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I have heard your prayer, and I have consecrated this house which you have built. As for you, if you will walk before me with integrity of heart and uprightness, keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father. But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and go and worship other Gods, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them and the house which I have consecrated for my name will become a heap of ruins.”

Solomon was a great King and for us Masons he was the greatest of the Three Illustrious Masters, who could do no wrong. But it is written in the scriptures, that Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, that the Lord was angry and said to him “Since you have not kept my covenants and my statutes, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant”, and that Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard of King Nebuchadnezzar, came to Jerusalem with an army and burned the house of the Lord. The moral of the story is that as Masons we should not swerve from our duties or violate our vows, but on the contrary we should keep that straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our pursuit in the Volumes of Sacred Law. 

Scripture also informs us that the Temple building was composed of three spaces, the Porch or Vestibule, the Middle Chamber or Holy Place which was the large central section and the Sanctum Sanctorum or Most Holy Place. It needs to be remembered that the whole of the Temple building apart from the porch way was reserved for the exclusive use of the priesthood of Israel. No access was permitted to the general public into the main interior. Symbolically therefore, we Masons represent that priesthood, we are the chosen lot, the few handpicked by the Almighty Architect to lead a life of piety and righteousness and to stand as an example, as a role model, to the outside world who are not Freemasons.

What is the aim of Masonry, for what do we exist as an organization? The answer is that our aim, in common with all social institutions, is to preserve, to develop and to transmit to posterity the civilization wrought by our fathers and passed on to us.

What is the place of Masonry in a rational scheme of human activity? The answer is that it is an organization of human effort to realize our faith in preserving and promoting civilization through universality. What other human organizations do along lines of caste or creed or within political or territorial limits, we seek to achieve by universality.

 Has Masonry achieved its end? The answer to this I leave to you to seek and find from within yourselves. But one thing is certain, we insist on the solidarity of the principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man and the transmission of a tradition of universality. While the ideal of the 18th century was knowledge, that of the 19th century was morality and that of the 20th century was advancement, the ideal of Masonry has all along been universality – universal brotherhood or masonry universal – but have we really achieved it. Let us therefore rededicate ourselves in this 21st century to ensure that we achieve our objective in the fullest measure.

Masonry has flourished in this town since this Lodge was consecrated exactly two years ago. The Brethren here were able to literally practice the Masonic art of building in their own locality in so short a time, which surely must be a record of sorts. This period quite obviously has also been one of steady growth and independence which sees its culmination today. No longer are you brethren dependent upon the sufferance of others, but rather you have in quick time after much thought, anxiety and self-sacrifice, accomplished the task of providing yourselves a place which in the years to come will be your Masonic home in a very real sense.   

“Home”, that is the operative word, a place which radiates charm and happiness. “Home” centers around a head, in this case Masonry, which in turn finds its mainspring in God. “Home” inspires loyalty among the members of a family, in this case the Masonic family, may that same spirit inspire the minds of the brethren. “Home” is where one has the right of entry and one readily accepts the responsibility which service to the family entails. “Home” is one of earth’s greatest treasures, which in time of danger a man will protect with his life. He will permit nothing to enter, which will shatter its serenity, but will welcome all to whom it may bring joy and gladness. May such sentiments rule your hearts. May you enjoy every satisfaction and delight which friendship can give within these sacred walls. In a short time from now, this Temple will be your dedicated Masonic home. May the recollection of this dedication be so indelibly imprinted in your minds and hearts that nothing unworthy of our ideals may ever find a place here.

It might be worthwhile to review the significance of this ceremony of dedication. M.W.G.M in worthy Masonic language has stated the reason for this function. The Chairman of the Building Committee has submitted the plans for approval of M.W.G.M, from where the ceremony proceeds with most of the symbolism of the consecration of a Lodge. After M.W.G.M dedicates the Temple, it is followed by the Chaplain dispensing incense. This seems to be the climax of a very impressive ceremony. What is its significance? Whatever our private views may be, incense has scriptural authority. In ancient times there was the Altar of Incense. Incense is symbolical of prayer and through its offering God has been known to speak to the hearts of men.

This ceremony also symbolizes something in the evolution of man’s growth. Obviously, operative Masons originally held their assemblies in the open and as their activities turned to the erection of stately and superb edifices, their deliberations also took place in temples worthy of ceremonies, which occurred when masonry became symbolical or speculative. It is necessary to emphasise the basic fact that Masonry in its symbolical meaning carries with it the idea of building, of erecting a superstructure perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder. But that building and superstructure have nothing really to do with stone or mortar. It symbolizes the building of our own character.

Masonry stands or falls by the example of each individual brother. In a small community such as yours a greater personal responsibility exists than in a city or larger town where people can spend their lives, if they so wish, in a sense of isolation. Here, your lives are almost like open books, little can be hidden and any departure from the path of rectitude may result in untold harm to the good name of the Craft.  May the “Spirit of Masonry” planted and nourished within these walls, be taken into every aspect of human endeavour, until the whole character is affected by it. May it be so appealing to the best instincts of your neighbours, that they too may yearn to share in your happiness. Today, you commence to enjoy the fruits of your labour and the presence here of such a galaxy of eminent Masons, I am sure has made you and your brethren very happy and contented.

Amidst our rejoicing today, may we always strive to remember the words of the Psalmist, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it, labour in vain”, and resolve to dedicate ourselves anew to the observance of the principles and tenets of the Craft. The thought of ‘building’ brings to my mind an old poem often repeated, but never tiresome. It goes like this:-  

An old mason going on a lone highway

Came at the evening, cold and grey

To a chasm vast and deep and wide

Which at first seemed a great divide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim

The sullen stream had not fear for him

But he turned when safe on the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.

‘Old man’, said a fellow pilgrim near

‘You are wasting your strength when building here.

Your journey will end with the ending day

You never again will pass this way.

You have crossed the chasm deep and wide

Why build you this bridge at even tide’.

The builder lifted his old grey head,

‘Good friend, on the path I have come’, he said

‘There followeth after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way

This chasm which has been a nought to me

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be

He too must cross in the twilight dim

Good friend, I have built this Bridge for him”.

And so then today, with the good hand of the great Master Builder upon us, we will continue to build our temples and our lodges, to fashion, to shape, to mould and to build our own lives and characters, and we will build not only for ourselves, but also for all those who shall come hereafter, like that fair-haired youth in the ancient poem. Let us go forward from this Temple today with renewed courage and with rekindled hope and love, to nobly strive for the honour of Freemasonry and the happiness of mankind.   - Thank you.

 

The learned author is a senior brother of about 30 years standing. He is a very eminent Lawyer and the senior partner of the Law Firm Joseph and Markos of Kottayam. He is at present the Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of India. A very learned but unassuming freemason, radiates happiness and enlightenment at any Masonic gathering. We are very thankful to him for permitting us to post his Oration in this website.


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