Untouchability in the Craft
Freemasonry Vs. ancient Brahmin culture
by Ujjwal Dey
Fraternal greetings from the rebel base inside Ujjwal Dey’s head. What’s this you notice? Similarities being drawn between Craft and ancient culture? Well, allow me to take you through this aspect of Freemasonry in India sequentially and logically.
To understand the analogy you have to first accept the social culture prevalent in ancient India and that which still exists in majority regions of modern India. In ancient times, a select few people knew the Holy Sanskrit language. So they were sole beneficiaries who could communicate to God in God’s language. The Vedic books and scholarly manuscripts were written in Sanskrit. Therefore only a select few benefited from its knowledge. And knowledge is power. Many people deemed lower class or unworthy were not allowed to step foot inside the temple premises. They were considered as unclean or even lesser humans in the eyes of the Brahmin priesthood classes.
Actually Manu’s Laws to divide society in a class system was to benefit from the diverse skills and innate talents of man. Everyone good in their own particular profession or task. So it was promoted as a natural division of labour on the basis of innate skills and current Karma. This meaning got lost in the power struggle to keep certain families in power, in command over the masses.
In Freemasonry, you will often notice some exceptionally talented brethren performing the craft rituals inside the temple. Then there are others who don’t contribute anything but nitpicking and complaints.
Perfection in the ritual workings is certainly desirable. But is it the whole purpose of the meetings, of the fraternity?
Freemasonry is a complex combination of various desirable aspects of human nature. It is not 100% charity. It is not 100% moral teaching. It is not 100% ritual working. It is not 100% fellowship and banquet. It is not 100% paperwork and book-keeping. It is not 100% bureaucracy. It is not 100% costume-drama. It is not 100% showmanship.
You get my point? There has to be a measured mix of various aspects which then form a complete successful Masonic meeting.
So to those veteran codgers who believe Freemasonry has lost its standards – I say brother, you have lost your brotherly love and affection towards the fellow members. If you can’t respect and be a motivational inspiration to a poorly performing Master Mason during a ritual working, then by interrupting the ceremony with your constant criticism you are not really helping the temple’s ritual workings. What it shows is your lack of fraternal feelings for a fellow Master Mason. Sure, you are a beacon of light when it comes to performing the various rituals. But are you a brother to anyone inside that Lodge of yours. Does anyone in your Lodge have fraternal brotherly feelings for you?
Such veteran codgers are the symbolic Brahmins of modern Indian Freemasonry. Because they can parrot a few paragraphs and square off at the center of the Lodge like an ex-army havildaar, they believe they are the best Master Masons of their Lodge.
There has to be a balance in your Masonic life. Extremity of perfection in one part of Masonry while ignoring the very Soul of fraternity is unacceptable. Sure, it would be great if every Lodge member parrots the paragraphs perfectly and impersonates the top-ranking army officials. Yet it would be a heartless and soulless Lodge if there were no fraternal feelings among its members.
So younger brethren, keep learning and improving in your ritual workings – but don’t be misled into believing that perfect execution of a ritual makes you a Mason better than the one who gets all the cheers of the evening.
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Copyright Ujjwal Dey 2012