Book Review: The Lost Symbol

During my BTech fourth year, when I met my good friend Ravi Kiran in Vijayawada during a placement drive, he told me about the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Though I heard about the book umpteen number of times, I was never interested. I decided to read it after Ravi insisted. I did. The moment I finished reading the book, I was off to a net cafe to search about the Divine Proportion, the secrets about Holy Grail, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo and all other historical details the book mentioned. My experience with Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress and The Deception Point was the same.

The Lost Symbol is another marvelous read. Like the other four Dan Brown’s brilliant books, this book too goes into a great detail about a lot of things. Be it the Washington Capitol Dome, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Washington Memorial or the National Cathedral. Starting with the Apotheosis of George Washington, Dan Brown sticks to his home ground and builds the plot quite well. Into a few pages and the enthusiasm to keep the pages rolling builds, exponentially.
If Da Vinci Code was about Priori of Scion, Angels & Demons about Illuminati, then this book is about Freemasons. The story of Freemasonry is a fascinating one. Freemasonry started in late 16th to early 17th century, however its origins have also been traced to much older date. Freemasonry is not a religion. In fact, Freemasons themselves are from various religions. It proclaims no religion as the one to be followed, however proclaims that there is a Great Architect of the Creation. It doesnt also play down any religion. Co-existence with respect, love and honor is something that Freemasonry insists. Their website says Initiation into Freemasonry teaches this. There exist however a lot of conspiracy theories against the Freemasons. Being an old European Fraternal Organization, most of its rituals bare Christian look. Youtube has a user by name Freemasonmovies who hosts a channel by the name Mr.Mason. This channel has detailed videos on lot of things about Freemasonry.
Going into the details of the book, Robert Langdon goes on with his adventures this time in the heart of USA – Washington D.C. There are various conspiracy theories about hidden treasure in Washington carefully put in place by the architects of Washington, who themselves were Freemasons. Robert Langdon has to save his good friend and mentor Peter Solomon and his sister Katherine Solomon from a lunatic who reads the old scriptures, infiltrates the Washington Freemason community into its thirty third degree, the highest degree bestowed upon a Freemason to find out the place where the treasure is hidden in Washington. The infiltrator calls himself Mal’Akh after the demon or demonic Sacrifice Moloch. The treasure that Mal’Akh seeks is supposed to bring him power beyond his wildest dreams, to lift him out of his mortal skull, to make him God. The story revolves around how Robert Langdon solves the mysteries upon the command of Mal’Akh who holds his dear friend Peter and Peter’s sister Katherine’s lives at stake.
I wont reveal any more of the plot. Dan Brown continues his rocking series of adventures with Robert Langdon as the historian detective. This is a must read if you are interested to learn about Washington’s detail and history of Freemasonry. Through the book, Dan Brown makes the characters talk a lot about God, religion etc. He makes some mention about Hinduism and Hindu Gods too. However, he seems to have missed the whole point about Advaitha which proclaims the one-ness of Atman (Self) and Paramatman (God).
One of the scientists at CERN, Dr. Fritzo Capra, in his epic “Tao of Physics” arrives at some very interesting conclusions on similarity between Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Being a book on Mysticism and Freemasonry, I expected Robert Langdon to show some detail in to Eastern Mysticism too. However, there seems to be no reference in a big way. Katherine Solomon is a researcher in Noetic Sciences in the book and she proves practically that thoughts can influence matter. Dan Brown makes a point or two about Yogis and out of body experiences but this feature is a recurring theme in most of the puranas and stories from different epics of Vedic lineage. At these and some other points where Dan Brown refers to plurality of God, Apotheosis, re-birth and meditation, I expected some references to Hindu Puranas and scriptures where some brilliant philosophies and practices have been prescribed. However, Dan Brown doesnt refer to any of these. Excepting these, the whole book remains a brilliant insight into Freemasonry and the links between builders of Washington and mysticism.
To end with, out of the book, just one quote, which celebrates mankind’s scientific, technological and engineering advancement just like its philosophical and theological advancement:
Langdon pictured the old sepia photographs of stonemasons on scafolding, more than five hundred feet in the air, laying each block by hand, one by one.

We are builders, he thought. We are creators.

Since the beginning of time, man had sensed there was something special about himself…something more. He had longed for powers he did not possess. He had dreamed of flying, of healing, and of transforming his world in every way imaginable.

And he had done just that.
PS : This book opened a new door into Free Masonry to me. I have learnt about Freemasonry a lot in these three or four days of reading this book. Though I find that Free Masonry is similar to just another leaf out of the Great Sanatana Dharma, I find it a little surprising that Free Masonry comes from the European continent. I guess the Egyptian, Greek, Zoroastrian and Jewish principles of tolerance and plurality of God have been passed along through Free Masons. India itself has a big group of Free Masons who even host a web-site here. For the inquisitive and the interested, this site should be of good help. In Bangaluru itself, I observed their presence at least twice. On one occasion, they conducted a seminar/conference for LGBTs. The second time was when I read an inscription on a stone bench in Bangaluru Central Railway Station platform. The stone inscription said that the bench was built by Bangalore Free Mason community. I never knew that many famous Indians were Freemasons. I knew through my good friend Pavan Kumar that Jawaharlal Nehru was initiated but then I never went into the details of his Freemason connection. It comes as a great surprise that Swami Vivekananda himself was also initiated into Freemasonry. Do go through the website. It gives a great detail into Freemasonry in general and Freemasonry in India, in particular. The need for Freemasons in India is very less given that the great Hindu thought still alive, though it is dying fast! However, like any other belief system, Freemasonry would also find its safe nest in this cradle of civilizations I guess!
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2 comments

  1. The new novel “The Lion and the Covenant” is also about Freemasonry, and has many references to India too. Rather than being overt they seem to be hinting at a profound hidden link between the two, and at secrets going back perhaps to ancient Egypt. At one point (on p225) a character even pointedly asks (after describing some Masonic links to India) “I wonder if there were some kinds of Freemasons in Bombay even before the British?” When it is mentioned that Indian masons long ago built the palace castles for the Emperors of Ethiopia who claimed to hold the Ark of the Covenant, these secrets begin to reveal themselves.

  2. @wisebook, As I understand you are B.Victor Preston the writer of The Lion and the Covenant. I got this info from another blog where you had put up this comment http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2009/09/i-probably-dont-even-need-to-review-dan.html#c2318859976949975415

    Yes, I find the links of freemasonry to India very interesting. Since Freemasonry preaches tolorance and brotherhood which are inherent to Hinduism too, I think it evokes a general interest in me to learn more. Thanks for informing me about your book also. Will find the book, read it and probably write my views on it soon.

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