Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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S. Roerich in the upper reach of the Kullu valley
S. Roerich in the upper reach
of the Kullu valley

From 1931, living permanently in India, Svetoslav Roerich actively participated in its public and cultural life. He dearly loved that country and it became his second Motherland. In many of his wonderful canvases, Svetoslav Roerich sang the praises of India’s unique beauty, diversity of cultural traditions and subtleness of spiritual achievements. That is why the honor to call Svetoslav Roerich its national pride befalls not only Russia alone, but on India as well.

After 1947, Svetoslav Roerich conducted a lot of work related to the signing of RoerichPact by the Indian Government. “I am happy to note that the attitude of the Indian Government towards the aims we keep in mind is sympathetic, and it approves of Roerich Pact <…> I exactly now wish so strongly that it be this country and at this time an active fighter for the cultural principles contained in this Pact <…>”[4, p.325-326], Svetoslav Roerich wrote to one of the Indian leaders H. Kabiru. Thanks to Svetoslav Roerich’s efforts, in August 1948, India signed this document. During the following years, Svetoslav Roerich actively participated in the work on the preservation and protection from destruction of the ancient Indian cultural monuments; he organized committees, and urged the Governments of Indian States to take concrete steps in this direction.

In July of 1941, after Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Svetoslav Roerich sent a telegram to the USSR Ambassador in London, I. Maisky, about his decision to join the Red Army, but he received a refusal. Nevertheless, during the years of the Second World War, Svetoslav Roerich transferred the funds from paintings’ and exhibitions’ sales to the USSR Red Cross.

S. Roerich. 'Art and Life'. ICR publication, 2004
S. Roerich. “Art and Life”. ICR publication, 2004

Svetoslav Roerich took active part in the work of the Himalayan Research In stitute “Urusvati.” While he was in charge of work of the Natural Department, he carried out unique researches in various fields of the natural sciences. The gift of spiritual synthesis that he possessed contributed to this end. Svetoslav Roerich’s deep philosophic understanding of nature as a whole, inalienably connected with the most important cosmic laws, lays at the basis his natural scientific interests.The scope of his scientific interests is striking: ornithology, botany, mineralogy, Tibetan pharmacopoeia, chemistry and its alchemical sources, astrology, comparative religious studies and philosophy, art studies, cultural studies. Such versatile activities of Svetoslav Roerich as a scientist, testify to his undoubted belonging to the galaxy of major natural scientists.

All Svetoslav Roerich’s artistic and literary creative work, as well as his scientific, pedagogical, and public activities are inseparably connected with the ideas of the Living Ethics. To say that Svetoslav Roerich was just its follower would be oversimplification of his role. He was not only the follower of this philosophic system, but a profound thinker, who could develop its most important provisions and ideas.

Many of Svetoslav Roerich’s philosophical reflections are dedicated to the great role of art in the creation of a more perfected, high-spirited and virtuous man. These thoughts not only were reflected within the pages of his essays and diaries, but also within the entirety of the painter’s creative and artistic work.

"<...> the truth is in Beauty”, one of the Living Ethics books says. Cosmos bases evolution on this formula. Cosmos directs the world to mastering Beauty”[5, 178]. Beauty together with its essence and its role in the evolutionary development of mankind, as well as the energetic processes related to it comprised the bases for Svetoslav Roerich’s philosophic views. He himself, as an artist and thinker, was attracted first of all to the Beauty created by man. “Great creations are storages of enormous energies, which can activate and change millions of spectators, influence numberless generations through the message of beauty emanating from them. <…> Inexpressible aura of glory is irradiated by a great piece of art, Svetoslav Roerich said. – This is emanation of concealed vibrations fixed in the structure of a great creation. Magic of feelings, thoughts, and strong desires of great masters is captured in a piece of art, is irradiated on the spectator, and awakens in him similar emotional response, beside purely energetic and spiritual understanding of what is spoken about. We respond to more perfect combinations and call them beautiful. <…> Such is the extraordinary power of art, its hidden strength, always present and active in a great creation”[6, p.61-64].

Svetoslav Roerich was convinced that Beauty could not be created without a higher ideal. Destruction of this ideal – spiritual or aesthetic – would result in the disfigurement of life and in the loss of its evolutionary pivot.

All his life he remained interested in the problems connected with upbringing of more perfect human being. In this regard the painter took active part in the work of the children’s school in Bangalore (India) established in 1962 and functioning in accordance with the teachings of the Indian philosopher Aurobindo Ghosh. Children were accepted in that school from the age of three. The school’s pedagogical conception was based on specially elaborated methods dealing with.moral and ethical upbringing of children. From a very early age, these children were acquainted with the ideas of major philosophers, including Helena and Nicholas Roerich’s, considerable attention was paid to an artistic education. Annual children’s drawing competitions contributed to this.

Svetoslav Roerich noted: “In our pedagogical work in Bangalore, we are trying to lead the new generation along the paths of ascent from the very beginning, give thoughts, ideas of big philosophers from the very early years. <…> Our education must be such, so that when leaving the school the person could be strong, could resist evil, imperfection”[7, p.89-90]. Starting from 1977, Svetoslav Roerich supported the school financially.

S. Roerich near his painting 'Kanchenjunga. Secret Hour'. Moscow. October 23, 1984.
S. Roerich near his painting
“Kanchenjunga. Secret Hour”.
Moscow. October 23, 1984.

Svetoslav Roerich is well known as the founder and Honorary President of the cultural and educational Center for the Arts “Chitrakala Parishad” that was established in Bangalore in 1972 and became the local university department.

For outstanding achievements in the field of culture, and for his contribution to the cause of peace, Svetoslav Roerich was honored with overnmental awards from various countries, including the highest civil order of India “Padma Bhushan”, the Soviet order “Friendship of Peoples” and the order “Madar Cavalryman” established by the State Council of Bulgaria. Svetoslav Roerich was also a winner of J. Nehru’s International Award; he was holder of the Bulgarian Order of Kirill and Methody as well as of the title of Honorary Doctor of the Velikotyrn University of Bulgaria. The geat painter was also Academician of the Indian Academy of Fine Arts and Honorary Member of the USSR Academy of Arts. However, Svetoslav Roerich considered the award established by the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York to be the most outstanding award in his life, since the diploma linked to it had been signed by Nicholas Roerich himself.

The first exhibition of Svetoslav Roerich’s paintings was opened in his Motherland on May 11th, 1960, at the A. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. A month later, the artist’s paintings would be exhibited for the visitors of the Leningrad Hermitage. Since the 1970es, the exhibitions of his paintings were regularly organized in the cities of the Soviet Union.

In 1989 on Svetoslav Roerich’s initiative, the Soviet Roerich Foundation (from 1991 it was renamed the International Center of the Roerichs)was established in Moscow. Svetoslav Roerich is its Honorary President up to the present day. In March 1990, acting in accordance with his parents’ will, he passed onto the SRF the priceless heritage of his family – paintings, objects of fine and applied arts, archival material, a library, and personal items. All this constituted the basis for the permanent exhibition of non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, the activities of which are based on the principles laid down by Svetoslav Roerich.

Svetoslav Roerich passed away on January 30, 1993.


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