Ravi ki duniya

Ravi ki duniya

Friday, June 22, 2012


          If you travel 187 K.M. North West of Delhi, you reach Bandikui, a dusty town with magnificent buildings, churches, bungalows of Raj era.  Bandikui was essentially a British township built by the early British Railway men.

            One wonders what possibly necessitated British to choose, of all the places, Bandikui as their District headquarters of Railways in this part of India.  Perhaps it is the salubrious Climate and smoother terrain of Bandikui which largely influenced the decision culminating into a settlement of not less than thousand Britishers Anglo Indians & Indian families.

            It was during the reign of Queen Victoria that the Railways in India was getting deep rooted when Sir John Lawrence (1864 – 69) was Viceroy of India, Survey - an essential pre-requisite for laying Railway track was undertaken of Delhi                                                                   - Jaipur – Ajmer and Agra.  Jaipur- Ajmer Section.

            His Highness Maharaja of Alwar, one of the first few students of Mayo College, Ajmer liberally donated the land for spreading Railway network linking his State with the Railway network.  In 1865, land donation agreement was reached between Maharao Alwar and with Maharaja Jaipur in 1868.

            To begin with, it was known as Rajputan - Delhi Railway, turned into Rajputana State Railway, converted into Rajputana-Malva Railway.  Later in 1907, it was merged with BB&CI Railway Co. (Bombay Baroda & Central India).  The then Government of India took over its management with effect from 01.01.42 and the suffix (Company) was dropped.

            As a result of further rationalization and regrouping it came to be known as today’s Western Railway from 5th November 1951.

            Initially the plans were proposed to construct Broad Gauge -   (2.67 meter wide) something which India had to resort to much later under it’s   much publicized /unique Uni gauge scheme as late as in 1990s.

            Construction was undertaken in the superintendence of Col. F.S. STANTON, the Supdt. Engineer.

            It was in the reign of Lord Northbrook, the Viceroy that the Delhi – Bandikui line was opened in December 1874.

            Bandikui has had the singular distinction witnessing and passing through its territory the royal saloons of Prince of Wales, later Kind Edward VII 1874-1875, King George V, in 1911, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII 1921-22 and the Queen Elizabeth in 1961 on her way to tiger shoot at Bharatpur.

            Though the early surveyors were in favor of Rajgarh, a nearby town close to Alwar to be an appropriate junction station, but the circuitous terrain made more complicated by imposing hill compelled completed to choose Bandikui, a comparatively smoother approach place.

            The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane, Kalyan and with the Thal and Bhore Ghats inclines first occurred to Mr. George Clark, the Chief Engineer of the Bombay Government during a visit to Bhandup in 1843.  A meeting of prominent citizens was later held at Bombay on 13th July 1844, it was presided by Sir Erskine Perry, the Chief Justice.

            At the same time, though the efforts of John Chapman and M/s. White and Barnett Solicitors, Whitehall Place, London, a fresh company was formed in England called, the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Co. and its first prospectus was issued on 15th July, 1844.  According to a manuscript record left by Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Baronet, one of the first Indian Directors of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Co. George Stephenson, the great British Locomotive inventor 1781-1848 was among the first Directors of the Company.  His son, Robert Stephenson 1803-59 was appointed Consulting Engineer.  Later an influential Committee was formed in Bombay to work in conjunction with the London Committee to give effect to the Scheme.  The Great Indian Peninsular Railway Co. was thereafter incorporated in England by an Act of Ist August 1849 and the contract between the Court of Directors and the Railway Company requesting the Company to raise a capital of   Pounds 500,000 were made on 17th August 1849.  On 14th November 1849, Mr. J.J. Berkeley was appointed Chief Resident Engineer.  He arrived in India in February 1850 and devoted full twelve months to survey the line.  Mumbai still has a residential colony (Berkeley place) named after him, where once his office was.

            From then onwards events moved at a fast pace.  On 31st October 1850, the ceremony of turning the 1st sod for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway from Bombay to Kalyan was performed by the Hon’ble Mr. J.P. WILLOUGHBY, Chief Justice of Bombay at a place near SION, in the presence of a large number of notable citizens.  This was the first ceremony ever performed in India of laying a Railway line, or for that matter, in any country in the middle and far East.  In 1851, a contract was entered into with M/s./ FARIELL and FOWLER, an English firm for the construction of the Railway line to Thana.  The firm employed as many as 10,000 workers on construction work.

            On 18th February 1852, the first locomotive was witnessed shunting near Byculla flats in Bombay.  The engine made its start from a coppice, and then known as Phips O’ art’ and the scene of its daily shunting became a perfect fair for large crowds of men, women and children.  The locomotive was later named Falkland after Lord Falkland 1848-53, the then Governor of Bombay.  On 18th November 1852, the Company’s Directors with some of their friends traveled in the first railway train from Bombay to Thana, covering the distance of 21 miles in 45 minutes.  They took their breakfast in the Kurla tunnel, the first railway tunnel to be built in India near Thana.

            The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853, when 14 Railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder at 3.30 pm amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns.  The Governor’s band was present but not His Excellency, the Governor according to the Bombay Times.

            The Governor Lord Falkland and the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Fredrick Fitz Clarence, with their respective attendants accompanied by the Bishop, the Reverend John Harding, left for the hills the evening  previous in disregard of the memorable occasion.

            The day was observed as a public holiday by all Government offices and Banks etc.

            The party reached Thana at about 04.45 pm where refreshments were served in tents and Major Swanson wished success to the new Company and its Chief Engineer Mr. Berkeley.  The guests returned to Bombay at 7 pm.  Next day on 17th April 1853, Sir Jamsatjee Jeejeebhoy, second Baronet reserved the whole train and traveled from Bombay to Thana and back along with the members of his family.

            The first Indian Railway rolled on its tracks just 28 years after the World’s first train had made its initial successful run.  This was in England.  The first train consisting of 38 carriages laden with passengers and goods ran between Stockton and Darlington in 1825.  The railway line was actually commenced in 1821 by the famous inventor of the Steam locomotive, George Stephenson, but it took four years to complete the construction.

            In France, railways started in 1829, in Germany in 1835, in Holland and Italy in 1839 and in Spain in 1848.  The construction of the first railway from St. Peters burg now Leningrad to the suburbs of Pavlovask was completed by a private company in 1837.  The first railway in the United States was opened on a section of 15 miles of the Baltimore – Ohio line in May 1830.  Initially, it was operated by horses and later locomotives were employed.

            Like any other inventions in the early stages, the Railways had to overcome a great deal of prejudices opposition and popular criticism.  It was difficult to convince common people that a journey by rail was safer than by stage coach.  There is this story of a German doctor, who declared that it would be impossible for people to watch the train pass along without going mad and unless hoardings were erected the cow’s milk would turn sour.

            It was not till 13th June 1842, seventeen years after the opening of the first railway line in England that Queen Victoria, advised by her Ministers, deemed it ‘safe’ to take a journey from London to SLOUGH.  Even at this time the hazardous adventure of Her Majesty was looked upon with apprehension and critical disapproval by some of her ‘loyal subjects’.  The ATLAS while complimenting the Queen for her courage, apprehended that

            ‘A long Regency in this country would be so fearful and tremendous an evil that we cannot but desire, in common with many others that these Royal excursions should be, if possible, either wholly abandoned or only occasionally resorted to.  Concluding, it said ‘There is danger by the railway; and therefore, the Queen should be occasionally exposed to it’.

            Louis Phillip of France as late as 1848 was practically forbidden to ‘endanger’ his life on the Railway.  LE COMMERCE tells the story:

            ‘When the King was intending to go with the royal family to his chateau at Bizy be proposed to be conveyed by a special train on the railways as far as Rouen and orders were given to this effect.  But the council of Ministers on being acquainted with His Majesty’s project held a sitting and came to the resolution that this mode of traveling by railway was not sufficiently secure to admit of its being used by the King and consequently His Majesty went to Bizy by post-horses’.

            In England as late as 1835, John Bull denounced the railways as a menace.

            ‘If they succeed’ wrote the paper, ‘they will give an unnatural impetus to society, destroy all the relations which exist between man and man, overthrow all mercantile regulations,  overturn the metropolitan markets, drain the provinces of all their resources, and create at the peril of life, all sorts of confusion and distress.  If they fail, nothing will be left but the hideous memorials of public folly.

            It further remarked: ‘Does anybody mean to say that decent people ... would consent to be hurried along through the air upon a rail road, from which, had a small school boy left a marble, or wicked one a stone, they would be pitched off their perilous track into the valley beneath... being at the mercy of a tin pipe or copper boiler, or the accidental dropping of a pebble on the line of way?....  We denounce the mania as destructive of the country in a thousand particulars..., the whole face of the Kingdom is to be tattooed with these odious deformities – huge mounds are to intersect our beautiful valleys; the noise and stench of locomotive steam engines are to disturb the quietude of the peasant the farmer and the gentleman; and the roaring of the bullocks, the bleating of sheep and the grunting of pigs to keep up one continual uproar of these most dangerous and disfiguring abominations’.

            If this was the reaction outside India, it is not surprising that people in India in the early stages have also opposed the introduction of railways as a ‘hazardous and dangerous venture’ or at best a ‘premature and expensive undertaking’.  There were many among British in England and in India who felt that even if the railways could be started it would be difficult for them to get any passengers.  Doubt was expressed, ‘whether people would be attracted from the bullock cart to the rail and whether religious mendicants  , fakirs, agricultural laborers and other more or less destitute folk who did not “possess an anna” could be persuaded to pay a train fare rather than prefer to meander without any sense of time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


 Among the best and also one of the VERY early ones to be built is the Victoria Terminus in Bombay, at Boribunder.  It derives its name from Queen Victoria because the station building was formally opened on Jubilee Day in 1887.  Before 1852 when its first pier was constructed, Boribunder in Bombay was just a landing place for country boats.  The first station at Boribunder was a ‘miserable wooden structure’; most of the upper class passengers boarded trains from Byculla which had a pretentious platform and an attractively built shed.  Originally VT was intended to accommodate only the offices and the main station.  Since 1887, additional buildings at adjoining sites have been erected.  The annexed building was used as a hospital during 1914-18 World War and is now used for offices.  The new station building was opened in 1929 to deal with the main line traffic.  The additions were so designed as to harmonial with the architectural magnificence of the 1887 building and to create an impressive composite effect.  The old and the new stations together comprise one of the largest and busiest terminals anywhere in the World.

            The site on which VT is located is of great historical importance being associated with the very origin of Bombay as a city.  Recent researches into old records show that Bombay derived its name originally from the Goddess Mumba Devi, or Maha Amba.  The earliest temple dedicated to her is believed to have stood at the very place where VT was erected in 1887.  The original shrine was demolished by Mubarak Shah better known as Qutab-ud-Din and was re-erected on 1317.  It was again demolished in 1760 by the Portuguese.  The tank adjoining the shrine continued to be preserved till 1805.   A public gibbet or gallows was constructed by the Portuguese at the site of the tank, from whence the site and the tank derive the name Gibbet Pond.
            Designed by the famous architect, F.W. Stevens in 1887 VT is gothic-Saracenic in style with a series of well proportioned and delicately ornamented arches, giving it the look of a grand cathedral.  This effect is further heightened by a central dome set off by a number of smaller domes and conical towers reminiscent of Westminster Abbey. The lancet windows in the dome and towers are of ornate stained glass and like the rest of the building are made out of solid cut stone masonry, superimposed by delicate artistic work, designed in plaster.  The apex of the dome is crowned by a colossal figure in stone symbolizing ‘progress’.  This figure is 16 feet 6 inches in height.  On the principal gables are displayed sculptural panels representing ‘Engineering Agriculture, Commerce, Science and trade.  The arches and windows are Venetian by style and overlook a 1500 feet façade. The double columns which support the arches of the verandahs and the colonnades are of marble.  Italian granite has been freely used for interior decoration.  The old station was eight platforms while the new Main Line stations which is separated from the old station by a wide road consists of 18 passenger platforms and one platform for parcel traffic.  Both stations have waiting halls, Station  Master Office, booking offices and book stalls.  In addition, the new station building contains a reservation and enquiry office, retiring rooms, restaurants and cloak and check rooms.  Part of the buildings are also occupied by the administrative offices of Central Railway.


            ‘The problems affecting railway labour in India’, wrote the Royal Commission on Labour in 1931 ‘are as varied as they are numerous’.  There are several factors peculiar to each Railway which have an important bearing on the conditions of labour pertaining to that particular line.  Among these are the lengths of the railway the territories through which it passes, the climate, ethnological and other features peculiar to these territories, and industrial progress made by the people living therein the scope such progress affords for the satisfactory recruitment of railway labour and the other avenues of employment open to labour.

            It cannot be said of the Railway companies that the wages offered by them will substantially higher than those available to workers in other trade and industries or that the condition of work very much better.  During the first 50 years according to Labour Commission, it was more or less a case of bargaining for the most favourable terms on both sides.  The only notable amenity during this period was the institution in 1880 of a P.F.

            It was not till World War -I that the railways began to give serious thought to the general welfare of low paid employees.  During the war  there was a substantial increase in wages and allowances became necessary and even cheap grain shops were opened to mitigate the effects of rising prices and the mounting index of living.  After World War-I the labour situation became acute.   Prices continued to rise.  There was general demand not only for making permanent the increases which had been sanctioned under duress of emergency, but also for further substantial enhancement of wages and salaries.  The impact of war had also made labour conscious of its rights.  For the first time railway workers started Unions and began to assert themselves collectively for a better deal.

            Before World War – I strikes were rare and unusual and were mostly confined to particular localities or to a small number of workers.  During the years immediately following World War - I, labour Unions began to grow and multiply and became powerful instruments for collective bargaining.  In 1924, the All India Railway man’s Federation had on its affiliated list more than a dozen railway Unions comprising a membership of over 2,00,000.  During this period strikes became common, indicating a general state of distress and dissatisfaction on the part of the railway workers.

            Progressive improvements in the conditions of labour and the amenities granted to them were made.  Hours of work were fixed by statute and payment, O.T. was made compulsory.  The right of workers to form Trade Unions and to resort to collective bargaining was recognized.  Membership of P.F. was extended to more categories of workers.  The benefits of sick leave were made available to inferior staff.  Conditions in workshops underwent considerable improvement.  A large number of Co-operative Societies were started to encourage thrift among labourers.  More funds were made available for improving housing conditions and the general standard of life in workers’ colonies.

            Since 1947, conditions of railway workers have further improved.  The Govt. of India then appointed an Adjudicator, Justice Rajadhyaksha and the Central Pay Commission presided over by Justice Varadachari, the former to consider the hours of work, periodic rest, etc., of railway workers and the latter to go into the whole question of emoluments of Government employees.

            Prior to appointment of the Pay Commission, there were hundreds of scales of pay for employees on Indian Railways.  The scales of pay for identical or similar jobs also varied widely in various parts of the country.  The commission standardized the scales, and reduced the number to less than 30, rating each according to qualifications, degree of skill required and nature and value of work.  It recommended a compensatory and house rent allowance at specified stations.  As a result of increases in wages and salaries recommended by the Pay Commission and later the Joint Advisory Committee for Railways the Railway pay bill for employees registered a steep rise 1946 - 51 without much increase in number of employees.  Hours of work for staff classed as continuous workers were reduced from 60 to 54 and for intermittent workers from 84 to 75 per week and OT allowance increased FROM 1 ¼ times to 1 ½ times the normal rate of pay.  An important change in respect of superior staff during this period, however, has been overall Indianisation of the upper cadres of service.

SUPERIOR STAFF:  The manner in which the superior staff was divided in terms of European and Indian personnel in earlier years is appropriately summed up in the following words of the Acworth Committee (1920-21).

            “At the date of the last report they were employed on the railways of India about 7, 10,000 persons.  Of these, roughly 7, 00,000 were Indians and only 7000 Europeans a proportion of just one percent.  But the 7000 were like a thin film of oil on the top of a glass of water, resting upon but hardly mixing with the 7, 00,000 below.  None of the highest posts are occupied by Indians, very few even of the higher.  The position of a Distt. Engineer, Distt. Traffic Supdtt or of an Asstt. Auditor is, with one or two exceptions, the highest which Indians have hitherto attained.  The detailed figure show that on the principal railway of the country out of 1749 posts classed as superior, 182 or rather more than ten percent are filled by Indians.  Of the 182 Indians, 158 occupy posts and Asstt Distt Officer in the various Departments.  24 have reached the higher grade of Distt. Officer.  That they have not been advanced to higher posts, that even in the subordinate posts of the official staff there are not more of them, has been a standing subject of complaint before us”.

             As a result of the recommendations of the Acworth Committee and in response to strong public opinion expressed in the legislature, greater training facilities were progressively made available to Indians and an increasingly greater number of Indians were admitted to higher posts.  An Indian was taken as Member of the Railway Board and more were admitted in later years.  A few Indians rose to positions of Dy. Commercial Managers, Commercial Managers, Dy. Agents and Agents.  A few others rose to higher posts in the technical and engineering departments.  Even then, up to the time of India’s independence most of the higher posts remained a European preserve.  The Europeans, besides enjoyed salaries, gratuities allowances, bonuses, leave facilities, home leave allowances and several other amenities which according to British opinion were just adequate to attract suitable candidates from Britain but according to Indian politicians represented a heavy drain on the resources of Indian Railways.

RACIAL PREFRENCES:  In the lower services also certain amount of preference was shown for Europeans and Anglo-Indians.  They were paid better salaries and were allowed better amenities and privileges than Indians for the same work.  Europeans and Anglo Indians lived in segregated colonies in railway towns.  They were provided with superior type of quarters.  Special arrangements were made for the education of their children.  Separate institution and clubs were reserved for their entertainment and relaxation and even separate provision was made for medical service.  All these distinctions disappared after 1946.  Merit alone determined a person’s fitness for a particular job.  As and when Europeans retired, suitable Indians were found to fill their places.  While this has involved no change in basic salaries in the upper cadres, considerable economies have resulted from the discontinuance of special allowance and discriminatory facilities which had to be provided to European employees.

NEW ZONES:   The first of the zones was formed on 14th August, 1951 by the re-grouping of the railway system in South India and the inauguration at Madras of the Southern Railway.  Proceeding clockwise on the map of India, the re-grouping of the next two zones resulting in formation of the Central & Western Railways was completed on 5th November, 1951.  Central Railway was formed by the amalgamation of the G.I.P, the Nizam’s State, the Scindia and the Dholpur Railway.  Western Railway was Constituted by merging into the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB &CI), the Saurashtra, the Rajasthan and Jaipur Railways.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012



 Freemasonry in India was established as far back as 1728, when the Grand Lodge of England authorized George Pomfret  Esq. “to open  a new Lodge in Bengal” Since then, Freemasonry has flourished.  In 1836, Bro. Dr. James Burnes was appointed the first Provincial Grand master of Western India and its dependencies by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.  The first two Lodges warranted by Chevalier Burnes were Lodge Rising Star of Western India No.413 (now 342) Bombay Lodge St. Andrw’s in the East No.414 (now 343) Poona, both of which were warranted on 6th Nov 1844.
          The late Bro. Noshir M. Irani during his term as District Grand Master of Western India (Scottish Constitution) (1979-1985) started a Masonic bulletin which was very well received.  With his sudden demise the bulletin came to an abrupt end.  During his term as Distt. Grand Master of Western India (1988-1991) the late Bro. S.P. Dadachanji also initiated a Masonic Education program encouraging lectures on Masonic matters.  His demise was a serious set back to the program.
          With the first issue of ‘The Indian Mason’, the District was once again embarking on a program of spreading Masonic knowledge under the editorship of Bro. Larry Grant.  This revival will attempt to fill a long felt need of every Mason from an Entered Apprentice to a past ‘Z’.
          The First Indian Freemason was Rt. Wor. Bro. Manockjee Cursetjee, he was born 14th March, 1808 and  died on 6th Dec 1887 P.M. 342 Scottish Constitution (1857-1859)
          A Great deal can be said about the ‘Trust in God and Be Not Daunted” spirit of a worth and worshipful Indian brother who, more than 125 years ago, displayed courage, zeal to have the portals of the sacred, citadel of Freemasonry thrown open to Indians.  In his name and to perpetuate his memory Lodge “Manakjee Coursetjee” under the Grand Lodge of India is consecrated this day, 3rd June, 1968 in Bombay after a lapse of 125 years.

          In 1841, Rt. Worshipful Bro. Dr. James Burners, K.H. the then Provincial Grand Master of Western India (Scottish Constitution) and Bro. P.W. Le Geyt, the then Dep. Prov. Grand Master of West India (Scottish Constitution) agreed to the suggestion of Manockjee Cusetjee Esq. that he should join Freemasonry.  Manockjee Cursetjee made an application to Lodge ‘Perseverance’ No.546 then under the English Constitution, but his application was objected to solely because he happened to be an Indian.  He left for England when the Duke of Sussex, an uncle of Queen Victoria was Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.   

          The Duke was favorably inclined for the admission of Indian Gentleman into Freemasonry and Manockjee Cursetjee was to be initiated under the auspices of the Duke.  Unfortunately the GM was on the continent when Manockjee was in England.  Subsequently, the ardent candidate went to Paris where he was initiated in Lodge “A La Gloire de l” Univers’ by his esteemed friend - Duc Decazesthe, Most venerable of the French Sottish Rite (1830 – 1860).

          On his return to Bombay Bro. Manockjee’s name was once more proposed this time as a Joining member of Lodge Perseverance No.338 now under   (SC) application was rejected on 3rd May, 1843.  On 19th Nov 1843 about 27 brethren, some of whom belonged to Lodge Perseverance petitioned the sympathetic broadminded and level headed provincial Grand Master of Western India.

          Rt. Wor. Dr. James Burnes, K.H that the signatories might be constituted by dispensation into a lodge and he as Provincial Grand Master should give it a name and himself be installed as its First Master.

          Consequently, Lodge “Rising Star of Western India” No.342 SC was duly constituted in the Town Hall in Bombay on 15th Dec 1843 and Indians were allowed to be benefitted by Masonic Light.  On 1st anniversary of the Lodge its native members held a private meeting and resolved to strike a medal in honor of the R.W. Provincial Grand Master Bro. Dr. James Burkes, K.H. to be presented to him at the 1st anniversary meeting on 16th Dec 1844.  Bro. Manckjee Cursetjee became the 1st Secretary of Lodge ‘Rising Star of Western India’ No.342 SC and was its Master in the years 1857 to 1859 Wor. Bro. Fraser Bupuji Musa PDSGW (EC) set the ball rolling to establish a lodge bearing the revered name of Manockjee Cursetjee in memory of the Brother who may rightly be called “FATHER OF INDIAN FREEMASONRY IN WESTERN INDIA”

          In his civil life Manockjee was the 1st Indian to be appointed in 1838 as Asstt. Collector of Customs.  In 1845 he was appointed Hon. Commissioner in the Court of Requests and in 1846 he became the Commissioner of that Court.  He was practicing pleader.  In 1850 he passed the examination of ‘Munsif’.  In 1860 on the abolition of the ‘Court of Requests’, the Gov. Presented to him a sum of Rs.6000/-.  In 1853 he became temporary judge in the court of Small Causes.  In 1873 he retired on pension.  In 1856 and 1863 he was the Sheriff of Bombay – the 1st Indian to be appointed to that office.  In 1863 he established the Alexandra Girl’s English Institution in Bombay.  This institution is still flourishing in the city.  In 1835 he was admitted as the first Indian member of Royal Asiatic Society of England and in 1840 he was admitted as a member of that society in Bombay.  In 1845 his father Cursetjee Manockjee left a legacy of Rs.30, 000 to his youngest son Manockjee Cursetjee.  He presented a bronze statue of his father to Bombay Municpality in 1867.  This statue of ‘Khada Parsee” stands at the foot of the Byculla Bridge.

          Brethren from Bombay, Poona, Nasik, Devlali, Amritsar, Katni, Jabalpur, Indore, Mhow, Jamshedpur, Secundrabad, Calcutta, Madras, Belgaum, Vidyanagar, Kanpur, Navsari, Aden, Bahrain and East Africa submitted a petition to Most worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India, Most Worshipful Brother Bhogilal Chimanlal Shah, J.P., that the signatories might be constituted into a Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.  On 28th March 1968 AD warrant was issued and The Lodge ‘Manockjee Cursetjee’ is registered in the Books of The Grand Lodge of India under No.185.

ABIFF: Generally interpreted as a title of respect for veneration, from the Hebrew   “Abi” meaning “my father”.
SPRIG OF ACACIA:  In the scriptures the Acacia is known as Shitta or in the plural Shittium.  It was the wood employed in making the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Shrewbread and the rest of the furniture of the Holy Place The wood is heavier than water and great value attaches to it from the reason that it is not attacked by the white ant or any other insect.  In Freemasonry the Acacia may be said to be emblematic of the immortality of the soul, from the fact of its being evergreen.
MASONIC ADOPTION:  It was an ancient custom among many French Lodges when a Mason’s wife was about to give birth to a child the hospitaller, if a physician or if not, a Brother of that profession visited the house and offered his services if required.  Later if the child was a boy the Lodge was convened to proceed with the ceremony of Adoption, the wardens being appointed as godfathers.  The ceremony enjoined the members of the Lodge to watch over the welfare of the child.
ALL SEEING EYE: The all Seeing Eye symbolizes God as the Guardian and Protector of his children.
ANNO LUCIS: Like the Jewish calendar, Freemasonry measure its years from the creation William Preston was written “from the commencement of the world we may trace the foundation of masonry. According to common man the Christian era began roughly 4000 years after the creation, therefore, the Masonic years is obtained by adding 4000 to the year of the Christian era and freemasons, instead of using ‘Anno Domini’ use Anno Lucis or “in the year of light”.
APPLAUSE IN LODGE: Masonic applause is to be deprecated.  If indulged in at all it should take the form of a single clap given in unison at the command of the Director of Ceremonies.
ORIGIN OF APRON: Apron of the speculative Mason is descended from that of his Operative predecessor.  The apron of ancient operative Masons consisted of skins of considerable size roughly stripped from the carcass of an animal.  With the passing of time the skins were trimmed into shape and reduced in size and later the ornamentations were added.

ARTS & SCIENCES: As named in the Masonic Lectures they are Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.
CABLE TOW: The length of a Master Mason cable tow or the distance within which attendance at his Lodge is said to be obligatory is generally stated to be 3 miles.  In some of the old charges, it varied from five to fifty miles.

          The use of symbols greatly helps us to understand the Limitless Bounty of the infinite Almighty of God.

A circle represents God, whose centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.  Eternity or immortality is presented by the Egyptians as a serpent eating its own


          Tail.  According to the Chinese, the circle was bounded North and South by two serpents and was emblematical of the universe protected and supported equally by the power and wisdom of the creator.

                   Wearing of the finger ring the bracelet the anklet and the necklace was originally regarded a means of protection from evil.


A circle acquires even more importance when it includes a central point.  In the centre is the blazing star, an emblem of divine protection, the radiations from which in direct lines verge to energy part of the circle and end in it. 


          The point, the Supreme Being Infinite yet Unknowable, the All-Pervading, yet Unknown and the circle, the circuit of the Sun or as Eternity.  As every point of the circumference of a centre is equally near and equally distant from its circle, so every creature is equally near and equally distant from God who looks after us and loves us equally.  The centre is inexhaustible and will remain the same even though millions of circle or circles to eternity are drawn from the same central point.