Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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2002 – International Scientific and Public Conference
dedicated to G. Roerich’s 100th anniversary. (October 7–10)

The conference organizers were the International Center of the Roerichs, the H. Roerich Charity Foundation, supported by the Russian Academy of Sciences Historical and Philological Department, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the Russian Cultural Foundation, the International Association of World Foundations, the International League for Protection of Culture, the K. Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, the Russian Federation of Cosmonautics, The UN Information Center in Moscow, the UNESCO Moscow Bureau, the Master-Bank.

About 350 representatives from various regions of Russia, the CIS countries, and from Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Holland, India, Spain, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mongolia, Poland, the USA, Ukraine, Finland, Czechia, Estonia took part in the conference work. They included 12 Academicians and Corresponding Members of national Academies of Sciences and specialized academies, more than 30 scientists with a degree of a Doctor or Candidate of Science.

The conference was greeted personally by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India in Russia, Mr. Krishnan Raghunath, who highly assessed in his speech the significance of George Roerich’s and the whole Roerich family’s activities not only for India and Russia, but for the whole world as well, and told about the support which the Government of India provides in the cause of the Roerich family’s heritage preservation.

President of the International Association of World Foundations A. Karpov, RANS President O. Kuznetsov, Director of Art Complex Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad (India) Nanjunda Rao also addressed greetings to the conference participants.

The conference received greetings from Russian and foreign state and public organizations. The jubilee International Scientific and Public Conference “G. Roerich’s 100th anniversary” showed a high scientific level of reports and speeches and brought together a representative group of scientists specializing in the fields of Indology, Buddhology, Mongolian Studies, Tibetology, Turkology, Chinese Studies, History, Ethnology, Archeology, Philology, Geography, Art Criticism, Culturology, Philosophy, Psychology. They included G. Roerich’s direct students.


Extracts from reports

L. Shaposhnikova
the First Vice-President of the International Center of the Roerichs,
the N. Roerich Museum General Director,
RANS and TRAC Academician
(Moscow)

<...> We are opening today jubilee celebrations dedicated to the one hundredth anniversary of one of the greatest Orientalists of the world, traveler, thinker – George Roerich.

It so happened the our first conference took place in 1992, and, naturally, it was held under the sign of G. Roerich’s ninetieth anniversary. These two important landmarks give rise to the thought that we should have a look at the way that has been passed for this period by the International Center of the Roerichs. In 1992, we celebrated this memorable date in the Lenin Museum on the Lenin Hills, because we had no premises of our own. Here, in place of the building where you are sitting now, there were ruins that were not even fit for regular work, without speaking of holding conferences. We could prepare for our first conference the only publication – G. Roerich’s book “Beast Style of Nomads of North Tibet”, because archive materials had not yet been processed; our publications department was just starting its work. Now, as you see, the situation is changed: a museum is opened in the restored building; we are holding this meeting in our own premises where we could invite many people – much more than for the first conference. We have released seven publications by this jubilee, including two volume book “G. Roerich. Letters”, the materials of which are published for the first time. <…>

He was a courageous man. And though George Roerich became an Orientalist, he had all chance to become an artist, as you could see yourselves by his paintings and sketches exhibited here. But not so many people know that he also had a vocation for military science. <…>

George Roerich could come here in 1957, when certain changes took place in the country which we call “Khruschev’s Thaw”. He was invited by N. Khruschev whom George Roerich had met at the exhibition of his father in Delhi. He came here, got Soviet citizenship, and started working in the Institute of Oriental Studies, taking position at the head of a very complex sector of philosophy and history of religion of India. In that short period that was given to him before his departure in 1960, he managed to do unbelievably much. He revived traditions of the national Buddhology and Tibetology, succeeded to restart “The Buddhic’s Library”, introduced into the program the Vedic language teaching for the first time in this country, etc. And all this was despite the fact that the atmosphere in which he worked was very depressive. We have long been speaking that such science as genetics was crushed down here. But until now, there are not many people who know that in terms of destruction and elimination of real specialists, the first place belonged to Orientalism. The thing is that considerable part of specialists in the culture of the East was either arrested or shot. And by the time of George Roerich’s arrival, it was already not Oriental Studies, but rather political science. They mainly considered the recent history of this or that country, but culture as such or specialization in culture did not exist. And George Roerich created this school, a circle of students formed around him, and they continued his work. But all this cost him unimaginable efforts. Because there was a collision of real, fundamental Orientalism, based on comprehensive knowledge, with those who dealt with their narrow problems and so could not accept George Roerich. They called him a “bourgeois scientist”. The attitude towards him in the party Central Committee International Department was also negative, they supported this myth of the so called bourgeois scientist and in many ways interfered with his work. <…>

Opening today’s conference, I hope that it will be a success and will be held at a due level. For the man whose memory we honor today deserved a lot, and in the course of time, the tribute to memory will only grow.


G. Bongard-Levin
RAS Academician
(Moscow)

He Passed Through My Whole Life…

<...> You all know, of course, that George Roerich always wanted to come back to his Motherland for which he was ready to fight in the front lines in the years of the Great Patriotic War. Not once he made attempts to return to Russia, but he could do it only in 1957, in the period of “Khruschev’s Thaw”. In the Institute of Oriental Studies, where he headed of a sector, George Roerich, being far from a young man, conducted really titanic work on restoration of Tibetological, Mongolian, Sanskrit, and Uighur researches in Russia. In less than three years he managed to do incredibly much, with an approach of complete self-abandonment to all he undertook, while it was exceptionally difficult for him to work under the new Russian conditions. He could not come to understand that type of party and bureaucratic relations that reigned both in the Institute and in other organizations. <…>

At least once a year, I try to come to the dear to my heart apartment of George Roerich which still contains manuscripts, books, paintings, and the spirit of his. But the atmosphere reigning there now makes a very depressive impression. And our common and my personal debt to George Roerich is to make at last his apartment where paintings by his father and brother are hanging, where his books are kept, property of Russia, an open for everybody memorial museum-apartment.


А. Fedotov
Doctor of History, Professor of the Sofia University
”Saint Kliment Ohridsky”
(Bulgaria)

Pre-Buddhist Tibet in G. Roerich’s Study “Beast Style of Nomads of Tibet”

<...> G. Roerich has numerous researches in the field of Indology, Tibetology, and Mongolian Studies. He equally brilliantly studied ethnography, religion, history, literature, and languages of the East, at that, most of his scientific developments were innovative in their character. Their depth, scientific authenticity, and strict logic explain their phenomenal urgency until today. In many ways, Roerich was a pioneer, and this statement refers to the greatest extent to his studies on Tibetology.

Expeditions to little studied regions of Tibet, communication with representatives of various Tibetan tribes, and, of course, George Roerich’s collection of precious materials which made basis for many written by him afterwards scientific studies, contributed to his thorough study of Tibetan history, ethnography, literature, languages, dialects, and religions, in particular, Buddhism. G. Roerich summarized results of the Trans-Himalayan expedition undertaken together with his father in his book “Trails to Inmost Asia” which was first published in English in America in 1931. Special attention was paid in this book to North and North-East Tibet – absolutely unstudied or little studied areas of the Tibetan Plateau. One year before, in Prague, monograph “Beast Style of Nomads of Tibet” had been published, in which the scientist compared and analyzed numerous monuments of the regional material culture, and on this basis, described and characterized the ancient culture of nomads of North and North-East Tibet. G. Roerich was one of the first, if not the first, who noted this culture proximity to the cultural world of peoples of Inmost, or Central Asia. Moreover, those G. Roerich’s studies gave an impetus to a whole trend in the modern Orientalism, in particular – global study of the Central Asia vast spaces ancient past, comparison of monuments of material and spiritual culture of populating them multiple tribes and peoples, and, at last, scientific comparison of this mega-culture with cultural characteristics of ancient Iranian peoples. <...>


Tsering Dorje
Buddhologist,
(Lahoul-Spiti, India)

Dr. George Roerich’s Studies of Tibetan Dialects of Lahoul and the Ritual of Breaking the Stone

<...> Dr. George Roerich’s studies related to ancient songs (in the Tibetan dialect of Lahoul) can be considered pioneer. Gathering during social and religious acts, the Lahoul people used to sing those songs praising their gods, mountain spirits, natural elements, having special significance animals, ancestors and population of their country. Those songs were considered very important and blessed. The custom of these songs performance which was formed in Lahoul tribes in ancient times, can be compared to performance of church anthems. Dr. George Roerich with a lot of interest studied the social and cultural and religious life of the population of Lahoul and Spiti (presently belonging to the state of Himachal Pradesh). Beside other multiple types of activities during his stay in Lahoul, George Roerich witnessed and described a spectacular religious act – the ritual of Breaking the Stone performed by a group of wandering lamas, known as buchens from the valley of Pin in Spiti. This is a popular religious performance of Tibetan origin. It is believed that this ritual performers have reached siddha, or have acquired supernatural abilities, and they are treated with special reverence. <…>


А. Gnatiuk-Daniltchouk
Doctor of Philology,
Professor of the Oriental Languages Department under the RF Foreign Ministry
(Moscow)

Some Notes on G. Roerich’s Indological Studies

<…> And now let me pass directly to the subject of my short speech. It is based on the article “Indology in Russia” which George Roerich published in 1945 in an Indian scientific magazine. In that short article, he managed to reflect the whole history of cultural and any other relations of Russia with India, starting from as early as the period preceding to the famous travel of Tver merchant Afanassy Nikitin (XV century). And what is the most important, he put the right accents. Many people, including me, believed at that time, and, probably, still believe, that George Roerich’s scientific interests were mainly focused on the area of the Tibetan language, Tibetology, and Buddhism, but, as it proved to be, his knowledge was equally extensive and profound in the sphere of Indology as well.

In my opinion, it has not only preserved its significance, but makes a foundation for the true history of our Indology development. <…>

In his article, G. Roerich points out that the Russian-Indian relations have existed from time immemorial, but “The early period of the Indian-Russian cultural relations is still concealed with an impenetrable curtain. Our information is extremely scanty, and, on some periods, there is no information at all”. (before the XVII century – А.G.)


Shashibala
Doctor of Philosophy, National Museum Institute,
International Academy of Indian Culture
(India)

Nicholas and George Roerichs’ Study of Shambala and Kalachakra as Symbol of the Indian-Russian Friendship

<...> Kalachakra belongs to Anuttara Yoga Tantra, the highest of the four Tantric systems. It is closely interrelated with the image of the kingdom of Shambala, from where the Kalachakra system was brought to India in the second half of the X century. Beside a few studies included in the Tibetan canon Kajur and collection of comments Tanjur, the comments and shortened versions of Kalachakra Mula Tantra are ascribed to the twenty five kings of Sjambala. <...>

Many religious texts have been lost, but, luckily, a considerable number of them is until now spread in Tibet. None of them have been translated. George Roerich believed that those texts are waiting for a scientist who would be able to undertake the task of penetration into the sanctum sanctorum of Northern Buddhism. <…>

According to Dr. George Roerich, this extensive literature has primary significance for the study of the Central Asian Buddhism. For proper understanding of Buddhism, knowledge of the Indian astronomical and astrological tantric terminology is essential. So, there were Faculties in monasteries where astronomy, astrology, and Sanskrit were studied.

George Roerich penetrated into this system nuances, into its abstractions and symbols. He attempted to compare this teaching with other ancient systems. It is considered that the teachings that were included in the body of Kalachakra Tantra texts contain the deepest wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism. <...>


Е. Matochkin
Candidate of Art Criticism, Professor of the International Slavic Academy
(Novosibirsk)

George Roerich and the Heritage of Altai

George Roerich is a major scientist-Orientalist, whose studies relate to both Asian countries and Russia, as its territory behind the Ural Ridge is also the East, and Mountain Altai is already Central Asia. It is this motherland of nomads with its rich history and culture that was especially close to George Roerich as a researcher. And so we can absolutely justifiably consider him not only a Mongolian Scholar or Tibetologist, but also specialist in Altai, especially taking into account the fact that the Roerichs’ Central Asian expedition itinerary passed across Siberia and Altai. <...>

Study of Pazyryk range of problems has lately reached a new level of artifacts interpretation due to integration with natural and exact sciences. In the framework of the International program “Pazyryk”, specialists of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the RANS Siberian Department have studied for five years a number of “frozen” mounds with burials of Pazyryk society middle layer representatives and common members. <...>

George Roerich’s discovery in Tibet of bronze objects made in accordance with canons of “beast” ornamentation, moved the border of the “beast style” area far to the South-East. The expedition managed to find many objects with images of “fantastic animals” passing into pure ornament. All this findings persuasively testify to ancient links of nomad Tibet with the great nomad art of Central Asia”. <...>

All this shows that pagan beliefs and mentality of the native peoples of Siberia with their extremely ancient and rich culture should be considered with due respect and attention. This is what George Roerich warned about in his time, shrewdly noting that folk art is being revived in present days, sometimes in the form of prophecies, legends, or instructions. “One should not underestimate the significance of this awaked force concealed in the nomads’ yurts…”. <...>


А. Skiba
Post-Graduate Student of Archeology of the NAS of Ukraine,
(Kiev)

Great Resettlement of Peoples in the Light of G. Roerich’s Scientific Researches
(Cultural and Historical Aspect)

<...> The subject of major ethnic and historical migrations occupies the central place in scientific studies of G. Roerich, outstanding Orientalist, one of the founders of Nomadistics. G. Roerich dedicated to the range of problems of Great Resettlement of Peoples such studies as “Beast Style of North Tibet Nomad Tribes”, “Tokhar Problem”, “Memory of Tokhars in Tibet”, “Mongolia. The Conquerors’ Way”, still unpublished “History of Middle Asia”, etc. One of G. Roerich’s earliest studies – “Heyday of Orientalism” – can be justly called conceptual. A lot of factual material is contained in the expedition diary “Along the Paths of Central Asia”. <…> The “beast style” as a phenomenon of art goes far beyond a single chronological period. Beside the epoch of the first millennium B.C., we see its wide spread at the beginning of early Middle Ages both among nomad and settled peoples in the vast space from Central Asia to Scandinavia. <…> The “beast style” wide spread, its relationship with rich cultural expressions of various epochs allow to consider it as a synthetic revelation of culture.