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India

George Pomfret was in 1728 appointed by the Grand Lodge of England to be Provincial Grand Master of East India (not to be confused with the East Indies) but nothing farther is known of him. The following year Captain Ralph Farwinter succeeded him, and in 1730 constituted Lodge No 72 in Bengal. (In 1731 he sent a gift of money and liquor to the Grand Lodge at London; he did not receive a reply until two years afterwards. India suffered as much as did the Provincial Grand Lodges in America from the silences, always long and often absolute, of the Grand Secretary in London; the Grand Secretary- ship appears for many years to have been a paralytic arm of the Mother Grand Lodge except in the immediate circles of London.) The first Lodge on the Coast of Coromandel was established at Madras in 1752. In the Presidency of Bombay, Lodge No. 234 was constituted at Bombay in 1758, and Lodge No. 569 at Surat in 1798; a Provincial Grand Master was appointed in 1763. Ceylon received no Lodge until 1761, when a military Lodge was brought there by a regiment with a Charter from the Ancient Grand Lodge. It will thus be seen that the planting of the Craft in India coincided with the period of its establishment in America, and by English merchants, soldiers, and sailors first, followed by Irish and Scottish. The Lodges were of the same pattern, used the same Constitutions and Rituals, were composed of men of the same type; and as with Indians here so with Hindus there, it was not until long afterwards and then in small numbers only that they began to be admitted into membership. Of Freemasonry itself, there was in India no trace before the white man arrived. Some Theosophists, Rosicrucians, and other occultists have argued that Freemasonry originated in India, but they produce no facts and their reasoning is weak--as when one of them argues that the thread worn by a Brahmin around his neck is the origin of the Cable Tow! In no other land in the world were the social, political, and religious customs less likely to produce Freemasonry, or anything similar to it in principles and teachings. The whole people were cut asunder by a caste system which made impossible any universality or meeting on the level or fraternalism; the 500 or so native states were (and still are) under personal despotisms which have always forbidden free associations; the religious cleavages are as abysmic as the caste cleavages; and nothing is farther from the truth than the notion that because the religion called Hinduism finds room in it for a million gods it would therefore find room in it for a million religions; its gods are Hindu gods, and it has never yet found room in itself for Mohammedanism, Judaism, Buddhism (it drove Buddhism out of India), Lamaism, Parsceism, or Christianity though it has been surrounded by these and many other religions for centuries. Indians are much given to the use of symbols, rites, ceremonies, and once had a large gild system; but the same has been true of every other people. Nothing in Indian philosophies, which are neither so numerous nor so profound as Americans have been led to believe (most of them are unbelievably crude) coincides at any point with the philosophy of Freemasonry- None of the many origins of Freemasonry had their first roots in India.

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