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[The Address of
M.W.Grand Master at the Annual Installation Meeting of the Regional Grand
Lodge of Northern India at New
Delhi on 10th February 2007 assumes special importance and the occasion was also
of special significance. R.W.Bro. S.K. Krishnan P.Dy.G.M was installed as the
R.W.Regional Grand Master of the Regional Grand Lodge of
Northern India, whose appointment was proclaimed immediately after the
Installation of M.W.Grand Master.
It is the first installation of a Regional Grand Master performed by our
M.W.Grand Master, following his assumption of that high office. There could not
have been a better choice, as R.W.Bro.Krishnan is a very learned Masonic
Scholar, with mature administrative skill and ability. He is the former Grand
Secretary. A detailed write up about him will be posted shortly. In his address,
M.W. Grand Master has dealt with very important aspects of Freemasonry.
Considerable stress has been laid on Masonic Education at Lodge Level. The
entire address should be read, assimilated and acted upon. Certain significant
passages have been highlighted in bold fonts. Please read on . . . ]
Within the span of last three
weeks, this is the third of the series of Regional Meetings I am attending, the
first being at Mangalore on 27th and 28th January of the RGL of Southern India,
the second of the Western Region at Pune on 3rd and 4th February. The fourth and
the last one is to follow at Kolkatta later this month. This third meeting is
however special and different. Different I say because this is the first
occasion that I have had the privilege of installing a Regional Grand Master.
Special it is because it has given me the added pleasure of installing a
stalwart and a veteran Freemason in the person of R.W. Bro. S. Krishnan as the
Regional Grand Master of Northern India. I need not dilate on his excellent
qualities of head and heart, as he is well known not only in this Region but
also in the other Regions as well. The description of his Masonic career under
the heading “Know your Regional Grand Master” in the Brochure brought out on
the occasion of his installation, indeed makes an impressive reading. As I have
known R.W.Bro Krishnan he possesses the core traits or personal qualities of an
effective leadership: Integrity, Competence, Courage, To Gain the Trust of
followers and having a clear Vision.
In his address he has indicated certain diffidence on account of his
age. However, I am sure that with his vast experience and Masonic knowledge; he
will have no difficulty in managing the affairs of the Region capably and with
confidence. I also welcome his approach as mentioned in his address, of
entrusting more responsibilities to his Deputy and Assistant Regional Grand
Masters, so that they may get a wider exposure and be able to develop leadership
qualities. In fact I would commend this practice to the other Regional Grand
Masters as well and at the same time request the Lodges to pay the Deputy and
the Assistant Regional Grand Masters, the same respect and privileges as they
would to the Regional Grand Masters.
We have heard the gist of the stewardship report of the outgoing
Regional Grand Master R. W. Bro. V. K. Bhutani. I have also gone through
minutely the detailed report of various programmes, activities and projects
undertaken. I congratulate him and the team of officers who assisted him
during his tenure as the R.G.M. for their achievements. It is indeed very
satisfying to learn that all the major Charitable Projects of the Region have
progressed very well. The projects today are such institutions for the service
to the Society on which each Freemason in India should be proud of. I look
forward to the continued success and further progress of R. W. Bro. V. K.
Bhutani and team of his officers in the coming years.
Brethren, I would now like to touch upon two aspects today one of
which to my mind is very important viz Masonic Education and the other is
somewhat delicate and controversial subject Viz. Masonic Ranks and Honours.
Masonic education is a subject, which too often is overlooked. The lack
of educational work in the average lodge is the principal reason for the lack of
interest and the consequent poor attendance in Masonry.
We, as a Fraternity, have reached the point, where far too few of our
members have even the faintest idea of why they are Freemasons, let alone, have
any real knowledge about our history and heritage.
To those of you who are "ritual purists" please do not mind
about my saying, that we have come to depend on the ritual as the basis for
Masonic knowledge. The ritual does not make Masons. It only makes members! A
candidate is left of his own at the end of the 3rd Degree, who having heard a
lot of words and really not knowing what they mean. Until the Degrees are
explained to the candidate he has no idea of what he has gone through.
Let me stress that I also love the ritual as the “Ritual Purists”
do. The ritual has an important role to play in the life of the person who is
becoming a Mason. In my opinion, it is far easier to memorize and recite the
ritual than it is to study the history and meaning of Freemasonry. So, we tend
to be far more comfortable in working the Degrees, than in working with the
candidate to teach him what our beautiful craft is all about.
Has this always been so? The answer, of course, is no. But we have
drifted far away from true knowledge within our Fraternity.
The membership of Freemasons can really be divided into three groups.
The greatest percentage of our membership comprise of inactive masons, a smaller
group is the body with a somewhat active membership and the tiniest group the
smallest body of Masons, who are the most active.
It is with the large, inactive base that our attention should be
directed. The drop outs in this group are roughly the same in number as the new
members being brought in, so one offsets the other.
To-day I will not deal with the causes as to why we are losing our members
and of the remedial measures to be taken to prevent it. One main reason appears
to be the lack of interest of our present members? We are losing that group and
we are not replacing them. Unless and until we can find a way to
communicate intelligently with them and show them a reason why being a Freemason
is important they will continue to drift away. It is inevitable! We can do
something about lack of interest and my Brothers that is the challenge facing
It is no secret that we have umpteen numbers of books on Masonry and for
the most part the one thing they have in common is that they are unread. We
have to find a way of developing material that will be used in the Masonic
community. Realistically we have to get right down to the Lodge Level and
insist that every Lodge must offer a course in Masonic education.
If they don't have the resources within the Lodge to provide that
education, then, it must be done either by another Lodge or by a Group of Lodges
in the same town or at the Regional level. We can no longer turn out members,
who do not know anything about our Fraternity. The price we are paying for that
mistake is clearly evident today! There is very slow progress in membership.
There has to be commitment, on the part of knowledgeable Masons within each
Lodge, the Assistant Regional Grand Masters and the Lodge - In - Charge, who
will actively accept the responsibility to see, that all Masons are imparted
adequate Masonic knowledge. Members have to be encouraged to read more about
masonry. One of the responsibilities of these knowledgeable brethren is to see
that each brother, who comes in their contact is asked at least to subscribe to
the official magazine of the Grand Lodge – “Square and Compasses”, the
next issue of which is expected to be in your hand during this month. There are
other masonic magazines published in India containing very useful masonic
knowledge viz. The Ashler; the Landmarks; Madras Masonic Journal etc.
Certainly the Regional Grand Lodges can be of tremendous help in
developing a program common to all Lodges within their respective jurisdictions,
a program that would be at least enough to whet the appetite of the recipient,
so that he would want to do more on his own, but one that would teach him basic
Masonic information! The Grand Lodge Library is being improved further by adding
new and latest books on variety of subjects, which can be made use of. There are
number of websites providing tremendous knowledge on all aspects of freemasonry.
I now come to the other point. I am well aware that often both
conferment and non conferment of Masonic Ranks and honours creates
controversies, both at the Regional as well as the Grand Lodge level. Brethren,
as we are made well aware early in our Masonic career, the nature of our
Constitution is such that, as some must of necessity Rule and teach, others must
of course, learn submit and obey. At the same time we are told that humility in
each is an essential qualification, which unfortunately is observed more in its
breach than on its spirit!
All organizations must necessarily have a hierarchical organizational
structure with well-defined duties and responsibilities for them to function
smoothly. Freemasonry is no exception to this rule, whether at the Lodge, the
Regional or Grand Lodge level. Masonic Ranks and honours are therefore an
integral part of the Masonic structure. Talking of the Rank or Offices at the Regional and Grand Lodge levels,
there are 44 active ranks or offices. Some of them are decorative while others
have important functions assigned to them for which obviously careful choice has
to be made in selecting suitable Past Masters having shown potential for
successful performance of such offices. However, in order to ensure a larger
participation and to fulfill the aspirations of other competent Brethren,
Freemasonry has devised a system of conferring Past Ranks corresponding to all
At this point I would like to digress a bit and take you by surprise by
asking, how that many of you, especially stationed in Delhi are aware, or have
ever noticed a beautiful inscription engraved in gold letters at the huge
archway entrance of the North Block of the Central Secretariat building from the
Rashtrapati Bhawan side, which reads:
“LIBERTY WILL NOT DESCEND
TO PEOPLE. THEY MUST RISE TO DESERVE IT”
This observation was made by Queen Victoria, some time in the 1930’s,
when, New Delhi was being built. Lutyens, little realizing the prophetic nature
of the remark, had it engraved and we as the people of India did rise to deserve
it! The point I however wish to make here is to draw an analogy with the
inscription that ranks and honours too will not descend on a brother; he must
rise above the rest to deserve to earn it!
It is well known that in all organizations there are always only a
handful of people who are at the forefront of the affairs, more so in
organizations like ours, which require voluntary dedicated service. It is not
for everybody to give time and energy to the extent required. Capable people do
not often have the time and those who have time are not always capable. I do
agree that we don’t have a perfect system of locating and utilizing the best
talents. But all of you will agree that it is difficult to hide merit for too
long and by and large we do manage to put together a good workable team, which
does change from time to time. The trouble however is that some feel aggrieved,
not necessarily because they have been left out, but because somebody else has
managed undeservedly to get ahead! Let us therefore learn to minimize
such expectations and avoid frustrations and disappointment.
Brethren let us not as Freemasons feel that we have achieved something
great by our Masonic Ranks. All of us are well aware that outside Freemasonry
these ranks are not at all significant. No Policeman on the street is going to
salute me just because I am a Grand Master. In fact, if truth be told, if I
happen to mention that I am a Grand Master to any of my former colleagues on the
bench, some of them may even remark “Oh! I didn’t know that you were good at
Chess as well!
All of us as
Freemasons are well aware of its great principles and its value as an ancient
honourable institution. Let us keep up its traditions and make the spreading
of its message our main mission in life. Let us not allow petty matters hinder
our progress in acquiring masonic knowledge and spreading it. When we close the
Lodge we affirm that we meet on the level, act on the plumb and part on the
square. Let us always abide by these excellent principles. The minutes of the
Lodge meetings always end by saying that the Lodge was closed in Peace, Love and
Harmony. Let us all endeavour to always make it so.