A Brief History of the Order of the Secret Monitor in India
by Wy.Bro. Bharat V Epur
The Damon and Pythias Conclave No.14, Madras was the first in the Order of the Secret Monitor to be started in India in 1889. The Conclave owes its origin solely to the exertions of the enthusiastic Bro Rev. C. H. Maiden. This pioneering Conclave was instrumental and helpful in starting several new Conclaves so that a District Grand Conclave was formed in 1926 with R.Wy.Bro. Sir Archibald Y. G. Campbell being appointed District Grand Supreme Ruler. This District Grand Conclave of Southern India has grown from these humble though promising beginnings to become the largest District under the Grand Conclave -largest in terms of number of Conclaves (33) and largest in terms of Secret Monitors (>1,600).
The next District Grand Conclave of Western India is the next largest District with 18 Conclaves with Cama Conclave No.23 being the oldest. This Conclave was consecrated by Bro. D. P. Cama of Horatio Shirley Conclave while on a visit to his brother, Kursetji K. Cama, whom he inducted in to the Order, and then installed and commissioned as Supreme Ruler of the new conclave, all on the same day!
The District Grand Conclave of Northern India with 17 Conclaves is the third-largest District. The oldest Conclave in this District is Sundaram Conclave No. 110. The District Grand Conclave of Eastern India comprising 11 Conclaves is the smallest District with the Empress of India Conclave No. 16 being the most ancient Conclave there. It is recorded that HH the Maharaja of CoochBehar joined this Conclave.
Here I must mention the curious case of Conclave No.3. This number was reserved for "Star in the East", a Conclave to be formed at Penang in the Malay Peninsula, which was constituted on September 14,1887 with Bro. Felix Gottlieb, District Grand Master for Penang, as first Supreme Ruler. He died on 13th November 1893 and the Conclave's warrant was cancelled in 1910.
This number was subsequently taken over by "Summus Conclave" with a warrant dated 22nd September 1919, yet retaining the seniority and privileges of the former. Bro. Charles Edward Keyser was its first Supreme Ruler. The membership of Summus Conclave is restricted to Grand Officers of the Order, the Craft, Mark and other Orders, and by invitation only. The Grand Supreme Ruler is its perpetual Supreme Ruler and the Conclave elects each year a Deputy Supreme Ruler to preside. In 1889, permission was granted to Conclave No.3 in its title the words "Primus In India"!
The Order became extremely popular among the Brethren across Constitutions. Although it was the Brethren from the English Constitution who were among the first to join, Scottish and Irish Brethren soon joined them. After the Constitution and Consecration of the Grand Lodge of India, Brethren from the 'new-kid-on-the-block" flocked in large numbers so much so that they became almost 30% of the total population of Secret Monitors world-wide.
After more than 125 vibrant years of existence under the benign control of the 'mother' Grand Conclave, the four District Grand Supreme Rulers of the four Districts petitioned the Grand Supreme Ruler to Constitute and Consecrate a sovereign Grand Conclave in India, which was favourably received. Saturday, 14th December 2013 was the D-Day and Chennai was Ground Zero for this momentous occasion. May the Almighty Friend of all Friends prosper this effort and bless the new institution!