2001 – International Public and Scientific Conference
”In Defense of the Roerichs’ Name and Heritage” (October 7–10)
International Scientific and Public Conference “In Defense of the Roreichs’ Name and Heritage” took place in the N. Roerich Center-Museum in Moscow from October 7 to 10, 2001. The conference organizers were the International Center of the Roerichs, the H. Roerich Charity Foundation, supported by the Russian Cultural Foundation, the Russian Academy of Arts, the International Association of World Foundations, the International League for Protection of Culture, the Central Council of the All-Russian Society for Protection of Monuments of History and Culture, the K. Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, the Russian Federation of Cosmonautics, the Association of Cosmonautics Museums, the Master-Bank.
370 representatives from regions of Russia, guests from the CIS countries, and from Baltic Republics, Bulgaria, India, Italy, Lebanon, and Finland took part in the conference work. The conference participants included 9 Academicians and Corresponding Members of Russian Academies, 34 Doctors and Candidates of Science.
During the conference, three exhibitions were presented in the N. Roerich Museum halls: new acquisitions of N. Roerich’s paintings, reproductions of N. Roerich and S. Roerich’s paintings which belonged to the ICR and are illegally held by the RF Ministry of culture, and exhibition of posters “In Defense of the Roreichs’ Name and Heritage”. Two-volume edition “Let Us Protect the Roreichs’ Name and Heritage” was published by the conference which comprises materials from archives, publications in press, essays and scientific articles. In the framework of the conference, round table meeting “Let Us Protect the Roreichs’ Name and Heritage” was held, an extended session of the Roerich Organizations International Council took place.
The conference noted that a number of mass media acquired a tendency for belittlement and slander of the life and creative work of outstanding scientists and workers of culture who made the best pages of history and the glory of Russia – L. Tolstoy, F. Dostoyevsky, V. Vernadsky, K. Tsiolkovsky, and others.
The necessity for holding a conference aimed at protection of the Roerichs’ name and heritage is caused by the fact that the Roerichs have been subject to unprecedented attacks and libel in the recent years as well. All this happens in spite of the world recognition and high appreciation of their activities not only by cultural and scientific circles, but by this state leaders tool. During his visit to India in October 2000, President of Russia V. Putin said of N. Roerich’s creative work the following: “This is an amazing life, this is amazing creative work, this is an amazing example of spiritual proximity, maybe, not that obvious on the face of it, but nevertheless real spiritual proximity of our peoples”.
Extracts from reports
the N. Roerich Museum General Director,
the ICR First Vice-President, RANS Academician
In Defense of the Roerichs’ Name and Heritage
<...> We have been patient for a long time and have not turned to this subject believing that everything will be settled on its own, and we had grounds for that. All kinds of attacks on the Roerichs, unhealthy fabrications about them, and finally, downright slander, were so inconsistent with what this great family has done for Russia and its culture that it seemed that the country would rise, at least its best representatives, to protect those who all their lives worked and created for its sake. But this did not happen. And if just 7-8 years ago we could answer spitters and slanderers through mass media, now a lot has changed for the worse. <…>
But I want to draw your special attention to the fact that scornful and sometimes negative attitude towards culture as such is one of the present situation main reasons. Absence of a necessary for protection of culture public opinion and corresponding organizations resulted in unprecedented rampancy of the darkest powers, publicly undermining our cultural and spiritual foundations. It is them that have flooded pages of central newspapers and magazines, occupied TV programs. The true culture is leaving mass media which are gradually turning into the megaphone of mass culture so to say and downright ignorance. <…>
Among the Russian culture representatives, the Roerichs turned out to be among those who have been subject to the greatest number of attacks. It is on them that the streams of various and shameless slander were poured. And what is behind all of this?
I will only speak of the general reasons of the present situation.
1. Nicholas and Helena Roerichs were truly great, each in one’s sphere. We all know that no Great person has avoided either envy, or negation, or false fabrications. The crowd does not like when somebody’s head rises high above it.
2. Special rejection is awaiting those who carry new knowledge to the mankind, the knowledge which expands its mentality, destroys formed stereotypes, and cleans for the man the way up to the heights of his evolution. In the XX century, it was the Roerichs that stood at the head of that Spiritual Revolution which carried to the world a new cosmic world perception coming to substitute for the sociological world outlook of the XIX century. The Living Ethics philosophic system which embodied new thinking was most closely related to the creative work of Helena Roerich as a philosopher and Nicholas Roerich as a scientist, artist, and public figure.
3. Manifestation of Great persons in our solid world destroys the balance of interacting powers. The old tries to keep this balance using all available to it means and methods. A Great person cannot exist in isolation from the rest of the world. In their turn, the obsolete forces of this world are trying to “oust” this person from the real earthly life, protecting the spheres of their influence, no matter in what space they would exist: in culture, politics, spiritual movement, in structures of power, or in the social and economic sphere. Any act of a Great person acquires a somewhat different, absolutely not corresponding to the reality interpretation. For example, if such a man as Roerich organizes an expedition passing through a few countries, then, of course, he is a “spy of several intelligence services, including the Soviet one”. If he attempts to establish in Manchuria business cooperatives, it can only mean that he is “covering with this an idea of organization of a new state”, etc., etc.
4. A Great person is like a mirror which clearly, in his true colors, reflects the one who speaks and writes about that Great person – with his level of mentality, his understandings, his vulgar speculations, and petty passions. By this “mirror”, one can unmistakably draw conclusions on the one writing about the Great – on his human qualities, intellect, and mentality. <…>
Only one thing is known – the state has not even once spoken in defense of Roerich, not even once brought all kinds of slanderers to civil responsibility. Moreover, administrative, mostly regional bodies support with their authority anti-Roerich speculations, especially those that come out of the walls of the Moscow Patriarchy. For this reason, the Russian Academy of Sciences refused to participate in the ICR International conference “New Epoch – New Man”. This is just one example, but we could mention many other attitudes of this kind at the state level. <...>
Full Member of the K. Tsiolkovsky Academy of Cosmonautics,
Scientific and Cultural Center SETI
The Living Ethics – Science of Future
<...> One of the trends of the campaign against the Living Ethics is declaring it a religious teaching. It cannot be considered a harmless mistake, for it is referring the Living Ethics to religion what gives “grounds” to such theologians as A. Kurayev to launch unprecedented attacks against this Teaching and its founders.
For those who attentively studied the Roerichs’ philosophic heritage, it is absolutely clear that the Living Ethics cannot be referred to the sphere of religion, for it is a synthetic scientific and philosophic teaching. It equally comprises science, and philosophy, and religion, and ethics, and aesthetics, and other spheres. <…>
The Living Ethics can be defined as a teaching of the Universe as a whole: of its origin and evolution; of its organization and laws; of the role of Powers of Reason (Cosmic Intellect) in the evolution of the Universe; of the place of man in the Universe, of his close relationship with Cosmos; of the evolution of man and human society; of the moral foundations of Being and ways for spiritual improvement as the evolution necessary requirement.
The above problems are considered and settled in their own ways both by science, philosophy, and religion. The Living Ethics pays its due to that significance which religion had in the human society history, however, it leaves the main role at the present stage to science.
<…> The circumstance that the Living Ethics considers issues which have been traditionally referred to the religious sphere does not provide grounds for its identification with religion. The difference between science and religion, between philosophy and religion is not determined by the range of problems, but by the methods which are used when tackling problems under study. The Living Ethics uses the scientific method. Neither belief in the supernatural (everything is natural, there are only things that have been cognized and not yet cognized), nor rituality, nor cult acts are inherent in it. Religious teachings characteristic feature is the blind following the dogmas, while the Living Ethics proclaims spiritual freedom, freedom of creation, and recognizes the only authority – the authority of Knowledge. It calls people to study, to cognize the surrounding world and themselves, to expand one’s horizons, one’s mentality, to overcome ignorance. At that, fundamental significance is attached to cognition through experience. N. Roerich put a special emphasis on this. <...>
Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, the ICR Responsible Secretary
“You Will Oppose, and We Shall Build”
<…> the Living Ethics ideas conquer the hearts and minds of more and more people, and the N. Roerich Center-Museum can be rightfully called today a cultural center of International significance. The Rosrichs’ heritage great importance, their spiritual deed are recognized in the whole world. But this outstanding family’s heritage plays a special role in the spiritual evolution of Russia. That is why their name and heritage should be defended from slander first of all in Russia. <...> And this should be done using effective means, actively attacking the slanderers. <…>
At his time, N. Roerich, trying to defend the highest achievements of the human spirit, created a Pact in defense of cultural values. Now his name, ideas, and deeds need protection. And protection is also needed by the N. Roerich Center-Museum which implements in life those high evolutionary ideas and is subject to unprecedented attacks not only on the part of opponents of new world understanding establishment, but also on the part of those who, exploiting Roerich symbols and categories of the Living Ethics, act “in the name of themselves”. <…>
I would like to specially emphasize that the question of protection of the Roerichs’ name and heritage is in fact an issue of protection of Culture as such. Today, the problem of creation and protection of culture is especially acute, as, feeling the need for it, many people do not so far realize the necessity of culture as the basis of life. <…>
The Roerich family creative heritage is one of the highest manifestations of the world culture. So, the due perception and comprehension of this heritage is impossible without mastering the mankind’s cultural achievements. Beside this, the cause of the Roerich heritage defense requires from one moral purity as well. Only to a carrier of moral purity, the deep layers of spiritual teachings open. But if someone is not sufficiently developed in the moral respect and has no moral orientations, then all he learns coming into contact with the Roerich heritage, he will perceive through the prism of his ego which can distort beyond recognition the true essence of the received by him knowledge. <…>
Candidate of Technical Sciences,
the Chief Astronomic Observatory
of the National Academy of Sciences
The Roerichs’ Name and Heritage: About Popularization Without Belittlement and Profanation
For the last year, as we could see, a stream of attacks against the Roerichs and their ideas has considerably increased. We see among the used methods and means acute slanderous passes against the Roerichs, the Living Ethics, the ICR, and the Roerich movement (A. Kurayev, O. Shishkin, A. Senkevitch); all kinds of falsifications masked under scientific researches or semi-fiction (V. Rossov, I. Minutko). Anti-popularization of the name and heritage by some authors who are not capable of penetration into the high essence of the philosophic and world outlook system making the basis of the Roerichs’ life and creative work, and do not possess the key of Beauty to reflect this essence (L. Dmitrieva), contributes to their discrediting as well. Now, to all types of mass media and PR means, the Internet is added, in the space of which a wide campaign has been launched against the Roerichs, their heritage, against the N. Roerich International Center-Museum, and against the Roerich movement.
All this happens under the cultural public silent connivance. A few reasons for such silence can be mentioned. Firstly, this is partially due to the state of the modern public mentality as a whole, for which issues of culture in its true understanding do not have priority. Secondly, there is quite strong influence of that psychological brainwashing by the mass media about which presented at the conference reports speak quite in detail. Thirdly, the activities of those groups and organizations which, calling themselves Roerich organizations and using given by the Roerichs symbols, exploit the Living Ethics theses proceeding from political, commercial, ambitious, and other low moral considerations, activities, inconsistent with the Roerich movement cultural and educational orientation, contribute to discrediting ideas proclaimed by the Roerichs and belittlement of their names. <...>
the N. Roerich Museum General Director Deputy
Nicholas Roerich’s Central Asian Expedition. Facts and Speculations
<...> It so happened that falsification and forgery became the slanderers’ favorite method, and one of the main pretexts for attacks on Roerich was the Central Asian Expedition.
The first slanderous words against the expedition and its leader sounded in the Harbin press in 1934. Then, 60 years after, in 1994, sad as it may be, in the great artist’s motherland.
Literally everything that was related to the Central Asian Expedition was subject to distortion: its purposes and tasks, the expedition country of origin, and sources of its financing. The expedition participants were not forgotten either. Pseudo-researchers had to rewrite the life history of many of them, adjusting it to their plans. We had to hear many tales about events which allegedly took place during the expedition. Falsifiers gave a special place to fabrications about the expedition participants’ contacts with the Soviet Russia intelligence bodies. Well aware of the fact that it will not be possible to prove the Roerichs’ participation in the State Political Department activities, the slanderous campaign organizers undertake an unprecedented in the research practice step – using false documents, they introduce into the number of expedition participants an SPD agent. <…>
Roerich’s Name on Press Pages. Aspect of Defense
<...> I would like to once again draw your attention to the two interpenetrating tendencies in the launched anti-Roerich campaign. The first one is to turn the Roerichs themselves and their followers and admirers into Satanists in the mass perception, to demonize not only the Living Ethics, but also the whole artistic and literary heritage of the initiator of many cultural projects of international scale. The grounds for that was provided by the famous Definition of the Russian Orthodox Church Bishops’ Council “About Pseudo-Christian Sects, Neo-Paganism and Occultism” (December 1994). The acquiring power Church efficiently brings back to life the seemingly forgotten fables of the Roerichs’ belonging to the so called mason circles.
The logical result of the public opinion long preparation was appearance of articles and books, in particular those by Andrey Kurayev, where both Roerich himself and his followers are directly called Satanists. <…>
The second actively used method of attacks is the attempts to relate the name of philosopher, scientist, artist Roerich to doubtful political intrigues. Those attempts originated in the same Harbin newspapers of the 1930s and in the studies of the “famous emigrant researcher of masonry activities Vassily Ivanov”, as his today’s followers name this person. <…>
Already formed on the basis of a few yellow sensational books and provoked by them multiple articles perceptional stereotype of the Roerichs as mystics, occultists, and political adventurers, and of the Living Ethics teachings – as a phenomenon, opposed to Christianity and “traditional spirituality”, interferes with the work of serious researchers, creating conditions for prejudiced consideration of these subjects. It has already become a serious obstacle in the way of serious many-faceted studies of the Living Ethics and the Roerichs’ creative heritage. <...>
Candidate of Art Criticism
N. Roerich’s Works for the Russian Orthodox Church
Pages of artistic creation related to decoration of Russian Orthodox churches remain probably the most unknown in the brilliant heritage of the Russian cultural Renaissance of the beginning of the XX century. While it is this sphere of fine art that arouses today a special interest on the part of the society in connection with enormous scale of modern church construction in Russia. And if monumental frescos by V. Vasnetsov and M. Vruvel painted for Kiev cathedrals, and by M. Nesterov’s works for Moscow and Saint-Petersburg are more or less known, N. Roerich’s contribution into the church art remains very little studied. It is explained first of all by the fact that part of his creations has not reached these days, and the other part – like in Perm, Parkhomovka, and Potchayev – is too far from the center of Russia and popular travel itineraries. At the same time, we cannot help noting that all that has been done by Roerich in the sphere of Christian art is presently obviously slurred over on the part of the Russian Orthodox Church, though it could be rightly proud of the great artist’s creations, especially taking into account the fact that he discussed most of his ideas with its clergy. <…>
Ioann Kronshtadsky himself blessed Roerich for study of art and painting, for big labor for Russia. “Great sensation of prayer, confession of faith” which entered, as Nicholas Roerich wrote, together with the Great Clairvoyant, was later embodied in the artist’s religious pieces.
For eight years, from 1906 to 1913, Roerich worked on decoration of six Orthodox temples. For the church “At powder plants” near Shlisselburg, the Pokrov church in Parkhomovka, the Trinity Cathedral of the Pochayev Lavra, and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Talashkino, he created mosaics sketches, for the Church of Our Lady of Kazan in Perm – the iconostasis, and for the Saint Anastasia Chapel in Pskov and in the church of Talashkino – fresco sketches. This list only does not exhaust Roerich’s contribution into the religious art of Russia, his numerous easel paintings can be referred here as well, but it is the works for the Russian Orthodox Church that are the most significant and the least famous. <...>