FAQ ON INDIAN FREEMASONRY
by V.Rajendran OSM, P.Dy.G.M
Q). When did Freemasonry come to India?
A). The honor of receiving Freemasonry in India goes to Calcutta. In 1730 officers of the East Indian Company held their meetings in Fort William, Calcutta. The number given to the Lodge was 72.
Q). What was the first Lodge in Madras?
A). No. 222 EC, in 1752, and it does not appear to have received a name.
Q). What was the first Lodge in Bombay?
A). Bombay Lodge No. 234 EC in 1758.
Q). What was the first Lodge in Punjab?
A). Lodge No. 489 EC, in 1786.
Q). What effect did the existence of two competing Grand Lodges in England [Ancients and Moderns] have on Freemasonry in India?
A). In as much as numerous Lodges had been constituted in India by the Moderns while others had come into existence Ancient auspices, quite naturally much of the Ritualistic differences established themselves into the respective Lodges. This situation was complicated somewhat by the fact that there were also Lodges in India of Irish & Scottish origins.
However, it was in India, where both the warring groups joined together in harmony long before the formation of the Union of England. In 1785, the Atholl Lodge at Madras surrounded its powers and accepted the United Prov. Grand Lodge. The old Atholl Lodge was recorded as lodge of Perfect Unanimity [later numbered as No. 150]. Madras had thus stolen a march of 27 years over the United Grand Lodge of England, which was formed in 1813.
Q). Who was the first Indian Mason?
A). Omdat-ul-Omrah, the Nawab of Carnatic. The second Indian Mason was M. Bandeh Ali Khan, initiated in Marine Lodge, Calcutta in 1812.
Q). Who was the first Hindu to be admitted into Freemasonry?
A). Bro. Ranganath Sastry in Lodge Perfect Unanimity No. 233, Madras in 1857.
Q). The earliest Sikh to be made a mason?
A). Bro. Duleep Singh in Lodge Star in the East in 1861.
Q). Which Province had segregation preventing Indians from being admitted into Freemasonry?
A). In Bengal, where the bye-law No. 55 of the PGL (EC) prevented Indians from being admitted into Freemasonry. Ultimately the first Hindu to be admitted in Bengal was Bro. P C Dutt in 1872, that too after very many "black - balling" and nine years of persistent appeals.
Q). What were the foreign Constitutions whose Lodges functioned in India?
A). Dutch Constitution - Lodge Solomon was founded on April 7, 1758 at Tandelga near Chinsurah in Bengal by the commander of the merchant fleet of the Netherlands East India Company, Bro. Jacob Larwood Van Chevichaven.
French Constitution - Lodge Sincere Amite, Pondicherry was chartered in 1787. There were quite a few Naval Lodges. Though Naval Lodges were not recognized by the Grand Lodge of France, the members of the Naval Lodge in due course found their way to get affiliated to and remain under the protection of a stationary Lodge.
Scottish Constitution - Into the sub-continent the first Lodge under the Scottish Constitution was consecrated in 1801 in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). One Lodge Hope No. 334 SC, Karachi was charted in 1767; in 1770 it was shifted to New Castle and in 1782 to New York. The date of its arrival in India cannot at present be stated. Lodge Hope was charted by the PGM of Western India on April 25, 1842.
Danish Constitution - Introduced in Tranquebar (near Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu) in 1805. The Danish colony at Tranquebar was fairly numerously populated by Danes. Due to the efforts of one Bro. Ewald a warrant was granted for a Lodge at Tranquebar in 1807 by the National Grand Lodge of Denmark. The name of the Lodge was "De L’amour Fraternelle" (to Brotherly Love).
Irish Constitution - The Light of the North No. 357 at Kurnaul [now Karnal] in 1835. This Lodge survived for three years only. The next was Lodge Duke of Abercon No. 382 IC, in Calcutta in 1905.
Q). Name some of the prominent Indians who were Freemasons.
A). Swamy Vivekananda (initiated in 1884 under the name of Bro. Narendra Nath Dutt in Lodge Anchor & Hope, Calcutta). Motilal Nehru - Lodge Harmony, Kanpur (Father of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and grand father of Indhira Gandhi), C. Rajagopalachary (Governor General of India), Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer (Divan of Travancore), Dr. P V Cheriy (Governor of Maharashtra), and Fakruddin Ali Ahmed (President of India).
Q). Which is the oldest building used as a Masonic Temple in India?
A). The Goshamahal Baradari, Hyderabad, built in 1682 by Sultan Abul Hassan Tanasha.
Q). When was the Grand Lodge of India formed?
A). November 24, 1961 in New Delhi.
Q). Name the parent Grand Lodges of Grand Lodge of India.
A). The Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland.
Q). Who were the principal officers at the consecration of the GLI?
A). Dy. GM of Grand Lodge of England, RW Bro Earl of Cadogon, Grand Master of Grand Lodge of Scotland, MW Bro. Archibald, and Dy. GM of Grand Lodge of Ireland, RW Bro George S Gamble.
Q). Who was the founder Grand Master of GLI?
A). MW Bro. H H Major General Syed Raza Ali Khan, Nawab of Rampur.
Q). How many Lodges opted to become the Founder Lodges of the G.L. of India?
A). 145 Lodges with a total membership of 7466 opted to become the founder Lodges of the Grand Lodge of India.