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Article # 230
Inaugural Address

Author: M.W.Bro.Justice Devinder Gupta    Posted on: Friday, February 16, 2007
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My dear Brethren

[ The first speech by the M.W.Grand Masters immediately after their installation is known as Inaugural Address. M.W.Bro.Justice Devinder Gupta, the M.W.Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India delivered the Inaugural Address, containing his Vision of Freemasonry. Therein, he has discussed the urgent and immediate actions needed to further the strengthening and the spread of Freemasonry. His valuable advice in that regard, if fully implemented will take Freemasonry to still greater heights and glory. We are very thankful to him for graciously permitting us to post his addresses in this website. Please read on . . . .]

My dear Brethren

I extend a very warm welcome to all of you to the Capital of the Country and to this Grand Festival of the Grand Lodge of India, 2006.

The view from this position in this lovely Convention Hall of Ashoka Hotel is surely a once in a lifetime experience. I sincerely thank all of you and appreciate the sacrifice made by you by sparing your precious time to share with me these joyous moments. Also my sincere thanks and appreciation to our beloved Installing Grand Master,

M.W. Bro Arun Chintopanth, recipient of  the Order of  Service to Masonry, for his efforts and commitment to ensure this Grand Installation would be the wonderful spectacle it now is.

I extend a special welcome to our Past Grand Masters, M.W. Bro.G.R.Divan, M.W.Bro Hari Pershad Mathur and M.W.Bro.D.D.Udeshi.

I extend warm welcome and sincerely thanks to M.W Bro. Lindsay DESCOMBES, Most Worshipful, the Grand Master of Grand Lodge of Mauritius, R.W.Bro. Goordeo Sodhou, Grand Secretary of Grand Lodge of Mauritius, R.W. Bro. Bomi S. Mehta, R.W, the District Grand Master, District Grand Lodge of India, Scottish Constitution, representing the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, R.W. Bro. Alan Englefield, Grand Chancellor Designate of United Grand Lodge of England, R.W Bro.Thomas Wach, our Grand Representative near to Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland and R.W Bro.Surjit Singh, Recipient of Distinguished Services Awards in Bronze and Silver, Hony. Junior Grand Warden American-Canadian Grand Lodge Representing the United Grand Lodges of Germany and our Grand Representative near to United Grand Lodge of Germany for their gracious presence and sparing their valuable time and undertaking long journeys.

And now a word of thanks and of appreciation to R.W. the Regional Grand Master of the Regional Grand Lodge of Northern India, R.W.Bro. Vinod Kumar Bhutani and the Regional Grand Lodge of Northern India for hosting this Grand Festival; to the organising team, the Deputy Regional Grand Master, the Assistant Regional Grand Masters and all those host of brethren, who have put in so much effort during the last few months in organizing this Grand Festival in such a grand manner. I also extend my thanks to the office staff of the Grand Lodge, Regional Grand Lodge of N.I., and the Masonic Fraternity of Delhi, for their sincere efforts in making the Grand Festival a success.

And again to each one of you my dear 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 in large numbers, which, apart from everything else, is most inspiring.

As has been said by Shakespeare, ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, while some others have greatness thrust on them!’ I am afraid, I belong to the last category! Our rituals also say that while some must of necessity rule and teach, others must of course learn, submit and obey, but humility in each has to be an essential qualification. It is in that spirit of humility, that I am standing before you, as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of India.

Brethren, I am fully cognizant of the responsibilities of the office of Grand Master, having had the privilege and opportunity of  knowing the Grand Masters present to-day and observing the contribution these Brethren have made to our Craft. I am grateful for the experience, I gained in serving in various capacities under the stewardship of the two predecessors M.W. Bro. Arun Chintopanth O.S.M. and M.W. Bro D.D.Udeshi O.S.M. and on the Board of General Purposes. My immediate predecessor M.W. Bro. Arun Chintopanth O.S.M is a multifaceted personality. Being the youngest recipient of Order of Service to Masonry and the youngest of the M.W. Grand Masters in India, he is also an erudite 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 parables particularly surrounding Mulla Nasiruddin have always made considerable impression provoking to think and contemplate the Masonic teachings. It has been a delight to listen to his speeches. He is a widely travelled Grand Master to every nook and corner of the Country visiting Lodges. During his dynamic stewardship, Freemasonry in India has taken a quantum leap. I hope and expect full support and guidance from him. Every Grand Master brings to the office his own distinctive style of personality and direction, and for my part also, be assured I shall not deviate from the conviction that "success depends on unity of action".

I am well aware that my illustrious predecessors have contributed immensely to the growth and stability of the organization over the last 45 years and have continued to assist each Grand Master of the day. I too look forward to their wise counsel. It will be my endeavour to take forward their efforts and do my bit for further development of Masonry in India. Needless for me to add that I look forward to the help and full support of not only every Freemason in India, but of the four Regional Grand Masters and those holding Active and Past Ranks in the Grand Lodge and of course my Deputy and Assistant Grand Masters, as well as the support and encouragement of my predecessors, four of whom are present here today.

I also find that I have the dubious distinction of assuming office as the 13th Grand Master, in terms of the actual number of my predecessors, but taking into account that a few of them had served for more than one tenure of three years, under the then existing provisions of our Constitution, I hope I will not in any way be affected by that number!

Brethren, we are said to be in an era of Economic Liberalization. I would like to add that the time has now come for us to move towards an era of Masonic Liberalization as well. This is not my view alone, but is the view held world-wide by majority of the Masonic Scholars. By Masonic Liberalization I do not imply any violation of the Ancient Land Marks of the Craft, which are entrusted to our care, that insist among other things of maintaining the secrets of our mysteries or prohibiting the infringement of our rites or a deviation from our established usages and customs, regarding which, all of us have taken a solemn oath. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot place the light of Freemasonry on high ground for all to see especially those young men, who seek, what we have to offer. We have been underground for too long and are about to be consumed by the toxic “after damp” of apathy and indifference, unless we follow the lamp of learning. We need to walk in the sunlight and remove the cloak of unnecessary secrecy and show the world, that to be a Mason is a matter of personal pride. Any man who wants to improve himself may find the opportunity within the hallowed halls of Freemasonry.

There is room here for all men not just for the elite and the wealthy but for all men, who care to improve themselves and the society in which we live, move and have our being. We only need to remember that each one we initiate will be involved in the useful study of a subject, that will excite him and in which he can excel. There will be no passengers on board. We will develop a new paradigm in Freemasonry and no longer make everyone conform to the same mould. Variety is the spice of life and it is understood that anything less will lead to staleness, disinterest and withdrawal from the lodge, which will not be tolerated unless for good and ample reason.

Let me further explain what I mean by Masonic Liberalization. In a sense the process has already started. We do not any longer hold the view that Freemasonry is a Secret Society. It no doubt has secrets, which are of interest only to Freemasons, in terms of their being able to recognize each other. There is nothing intrinsically secret about the organization itself. The signs and passwords etc. are no different from what has become common in modern day world of Internet and Credit Cards. By liberalization, I therefore mean that we should be able to spread the message and teachings of Freemasonry, more freely and widely among the public, not necessarily with a view to canvas membership, which we know is prohibited, but with a view to make Freemasonry, more popularly known amongst the people. We should be able to make a dent on Society, by our behaviour as Freemasons and by our Charitable Projects. In a sense no doubt more men in Freemasonry can spread Freemasonry, but I firmly believe that the message and philosophy of Freemasonry can be spread only by the adage of more Freemasonry in men. This requires efforts by the seniors amongst us. Unfortunately there is a tendency I find, of some of the Freemasons loosing their interest after they become Past Masters and some even much before that. We have to identify the causes for this and take remedial action.

The Lodge is the basic unit of our structure. Action has obviously, therefore, to start at that level. If  younger Masons in a Lodge are loosing interest, I am afraid the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the elder Masons of that Lodge. I would, therefore, like an assurance from each Lodge that they will make every effort to reduce their dropouts.

An idea that occurs to me in this connection is to select annually in every Lodge, a team to say of three or more sincere senior Masons to visit the Member, who shows signs of disinterest in terms of not attending the Lodge, regularly or not paying the dues etc. in the same manner as they constitute a committee for visiting sick brethren. In a sense perhaps they are sick brethren, because they may be feeling sick about Freemasonry and their Lodge for some reason or the other! It should be the duty of this group to identify such potential dropouts and report to the Worshipful Master and the Brethren of the Lodge, the result of their efforts. May be Lodges can find other effective ways as well. Masonic Quizzes, Seminars,Workshops and involvement of the families of Brethren in Lodge activities on a regular basis, particularly on occasions of festivities, which are already some of the activities, which are helping the retention of interest of the brethren in some of the Lodges, could be adopted by other Lodges.

The next important point I would like to share with you is about Charity and Charitable Projects. No doubt large projects like G.W.Masonic Polyclinic or Masonic Public School or Hospitals or Old Age homes have their value. These require collective efforts and comparatively large and continuous investments. I have no doubt that they will continue to flourish wherever they are functioning, due to the dedicated efforts of Brethren who are involved therein. No doubt individual Lodges and Brethren also contribute generously for these causes.

What I have in mind however is smaller Charities and Charitable projects, to be taken up by the Lodges at local level and by individual brethren, on a regular basis. To-day it will be difficult for me to elaborate on this at length, but I am sure that if all our Lodges seriously consider the concept, a significant dent can be made on Society about the beneficial influence of Freemasonry.

I now come to my next important point, which is about the need for involvement of youth in Freemasonry. I believe that a study was made in New Zealand of the average age of their Freemasons. It revealed that over the years it has been increasing. I don’t think we have to undertake any such study because we do have a fairly good mix of the young and the not so young and the old. Nevertheless the future of Freemasonry is in the hands of the younger generation.

I, therefore, urge all Lodges to concentrate on this aspect in the coming years. No doubt the younger generation is under all sorts of social and economic pressure. There is all the more reason for them to join Freemasonry to find comradeship and comfort in Freemasonry. I look forward to special efforts and leadership amongst the Regional Grand Masters in this regard to carry the message to each lodge in their jurisdiction.

Linked with the above is my last point regarding increasing our Membership. On this I would like to call upon every Freemason in the country to adopt the slogan- “Each one Bring one”. Surely each one of us had at one time or the other been asked by laymen about Freemasonry. I believe that each one of them is a potential Freemason, if only we had taken care to catch his interest by explaining what Freemasonry is and what it stands for. Just try to remember what made you take the first step and see why the same cannot be tried again with those who you feel may like to become a Freemason if properly informed about it. I am quite clear in my mind that this will not amount to canvassing because it will be he who has asked you about it and not you are talking about it to him. Even initially 10 to 20 percent of Freemasons adopt this slogan, I have no doubt our numbers will grow and then we will not only have more men in Freemasonry but also more Freemasonry in more men!

I would like to conclude my remarks by what I consider would be my Vision about Freemasonry in India.

  • Bring about Masonic Liberalization in the country
  • Check Dropouts by vigorous steps at the Lodge Level
  • Instill more Freemasonry in Men, by spreading the message and philosophy of Freemasonry as widely as possible
  • Adopt “ Each One Bring One” as a slogan and start practicing it so that we not only have more men in Freemasonry, but also ensure that more men will have more Freemasonry in them
  • Last but not the least, constantly endeavours to make Freemasonry more vibrant and dynamic in the country.

In this manner Freemasonry in India will be recognized as a relevant and respected Fraternity, committed to attracting and retaining all men of high quality, who strive for self improvement and the opportunity to make a positive difference in their community.

Brethren it is time for us to act. Remember that life always gives us exactly what we need for our next lesson in our evolutionary process. “Forget about today, build for tomorrow."

Brethren I thank all you for a patient hearing. I wish all of you and your families a very happy, prosperous New Year. May the G.A.O.T.U grant you health, wealth and happiness. I pray for your safe and smooth journey back home.

 

Please peruse Article No.229 for a write up about the author. Posted with the gracious permission of M.W.Grand Master,Grand Lodge of India.


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