Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies. It is a world-wide 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. Its members are taught its precepts by series of ritual which follow ancient forms and use stone masons' customs and tools and allegorical guides. It seeks to make good men better and there by make the world a better place in which to live.Freemasonry has been in existence in the present form for nearly 280 years in the world and for over 250 years in India. There are more than 150 Grand Lodges functioning all over the world.
The Grand Lodge of India was consecrated as a Sovereign Grand Lodge with full Masonic jurisdiction over the territories of the Republic of India in November 1961. The primary unit organisation of Freemasonry is a Lodge. We have as of now 320 Lodges and over 200 other Masonic bodies located in different parts of the country with a total membership of about 15,000 Freemasons. Masonic organisations throughout the world are engaged in many philanthropic and charitable projects. In India too the Masonic Fraternity is involved in several charitable projects, all over the country. The General Williams Masonic Polyclinic and a Masonic Public School in Delhi, as also a Masonic Medical care center for children in Coimbatore, the adoption of an entire village located in backward area, for all round development in Health, Sanitation, Education & Housing in Visakhapatnam Distt. & Construction of Sheds for cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh, many Scholarships and Bursaries awarded to deserving students, helping institutions for the handicapped and the aged and holding of periodical Blood donation camps, Eye camps and other Health Camps etc., are examples of some of the socially relevant activities of Masonic organisations all over the country. Freemasonry is best explained through answers to some specific questions as indicated below:-
What is the object of Masonry?
Motto of Freemasonry is Brotherly Love, Relief & Truth.
What Freemasonry is not?
It is not a Religion
However, it emphasizes secularism by teaching respect for and tolerance towards all religions.
It is not a political party or organization.
It reminds them of the filial affection one should always have for the Land of their birth, to remain loyal to the laws of the land which, for the time being, may be the place of their residence, or afford them protection.
It is not a secret society
There is nothing secret or secretive about Freemasonry. Freemasonry does not conceal the time and place of its meeting nor does a member hide 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 & principles. Copies of its Constitutions and Rules can be obtained by interested members of the public from its offices.
It is not a social club
However, it provides the means of socialising among its members, which consists of a cross section of society drawn from all walks of life who meet on an equal · footing. It also involves the families of members on such social occasions.
How does Masonry get its membership?
Freemasonry does not canvass for members. The person must seek for membership of a Masonic Lodge of his own free will and accord. He would however, be provided all information he wishes to know.
Who is eligible to become a Mason?
No atheist can become a Mason. Anyone who is of good moral character and believes in the existence of Almighty God and a belief in the Supreme Being, no matter by what name He is called, or what faith the person professes, is eligible.
What does Freemasonry expect from one who joins it?
He must understand and appreciate its high ideals and objectives and put to actual practice its motto of "Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth".
Patriotism & Loyalty to one's own country and the Fraternity at all times is a bounden duty.
It expects that a Freemason should do unto others, as he would wish others would do unto him.
Charity is the predominant characteristic of a Freemason's heart. He is always expected to "give" to Freemasonry rather than expect to "receive" anything from it for personal benefit.
That he will practice outside the Lodge those duties & virtues that he is taught inside the Lodge.
Indian Order of Freemasons
The Indian Order of Freemasons has, as its head, its Grand Master, who is elected for a term of three years. M.W. Bro. Maj. Gen. Dr. Sir Syed Raza Ali Khan, the Nawab of Rampur, was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India: The present Grand Master who-is 14th on the line since the time the Grand Lodge of India was formed is M.W.Bro.Capt.Dr.Balaram Biswakumar, O.S.M. Some of the prominent Indians who have been Freemasons are Swami Vivekananda, Shri C. Rajagopalachari, Shri Moti Lal Nehru, Shri Fakhuridin Ali Ahmed, as also several serving and retired judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, serving and retired Defence Personnel and Civilian Officers besides many Industrialists, Business men, Business Executives and other Professionals.
Applications for membership
There is no canvassing of membership. Candidates for membership are expected to dome of their own free will and accord. Whatever information is required will be furnished. Applications duly proposed and Second by members are entertained by the Lodges and are scrutinised and balloted in the Lodge. Thereafter, the candidates are initiated into Freemasonry according to ancient custom and receive various degree. Regional and Grand Lodge ranks are conferred on their attaining sufficient proficiency, based on merit and seniority.