Wednesday, November 24, 2021



                                  ( Portrait of Devika  Rani drawn by her husband Svetoslav Roerich )
                                       ( Spring in Kulu by Nicholas Roerich )
                                           ( Bhagwan Ramakrishna by Nicholas Roerich )
                                            ( Himalayas by Nicholas Roerich )
                                                ( Self sketch by Nicholas Roerich )
                                                     ( A painting by Nicholas Roerich )
                                                 ( Nicholas Roerich with his sons )
                                                     ( The Roerich family )
                                                 ( A painting by Nicholas Roerich )

    (  Pandit Jawahar Lal  Nehru and Indira Gandhi with Roerich family . On extreme right is Mohammad Yunus )

" Among the monotony of everyday life, only a few can feel the reality of the Cosmos. Only a few know how to defeat the gray dragon of routine. The consciousness of humanity is so rich with the dust of routine things that one has to break through this wall."
( Nicholas Roerich )
Nocholas Roerich was a Russian artist , writer , poet , philosopher, archaeologist, theosophist, and scholar . He was a lover of Himalayas and brought the Himalayan beauty  to his paintings . Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on October 9, 1874, the first-born son of lawyer and notary, Konstantin Roerich and his wife Maria, Nicholas was raised in an upper middle-class  family that had close contacts with the writers, artists, and scientists who often visited the  Roerichs.
His wife , Helena Roerich was an unusually gifted woman, a  pianist, and the  author of many books, including ‘The Foundations of Buddhism’ and a Russian translation of Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine. Their marriage was a lifetime collaboration in many fields  of many  common interests. Her philosophy, comprising a living ethic, was shared by Nicholas and motivated him in his work and his life. At some time in their late years an anniversary approached and he wrote this  in his diary:-
 “Forty years—no less than forty. On such a long voyage, meeting many storms and dangers from without, together we overcame all obstacles. And obstacles turned into possibilities. I dedicated my books to Helena, my wife, friend, traveling companion, inspirer! Each of these concepts was tested in the fire of life. And in Petersburg, Scandinavia, England, America, and in all Asia we worked, we studied, we broadened our consciousness. Together we created, and not without reason is it said that the work should bear two names—a feminine and a masculine.” 
Nicholas and Helena Roerich, brought up in the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition, expanded their horizons by studying both the contemporary Hindu teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda as well as Buddhism and Theosophy. This knowledge provided the foundation for Helena Roerich's  work on Agni Yoga, which emphasized the feminine principle in modern spirituality.
Apart from Himalayas , Eastern religious figures and concepts appear in the paintings, important among these being the images of the Lord Maitreya—the Buddhist Messiah, the Kalki-Avatar of the Puranas, Rigden Jyepo of Mongolia, or the White Burkhan of Altai—all of whom are described in legends that link them with the Ruler of ‘Shambhala’, destined to appear on earth for the final destruction of the wicked, the renovation of creation and the restoration of purity.”(quoted from The Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky).
The Roerichs landed in Bombay in December, 1923, and began a tour of cultural centers and historic sites, meeting Indian scientists, scholars, artists, and writers along the way. Thereafter their four-year expedition (1925-29) began in Sikkim, and the family travelled from there to Kashmir via eastern India and Punjab. British intelligence officers in India felt the mystical family could be spies and suspected their motives. This led to bureaucratic obstacles when it came to obtaining travel permits, as well as the use of covert British intelligence tactics to hinder their travel. 
Nicholas, his wife Helena and their elder son Yuri also known as George, travelled across the Himalayas into Turkestan, and China and onwards to Mongolia and Russia’s Altai region and Siberia before going back to Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, China, Tibet and India.
The Roerichs arrived in Kashmir in the spring of 1925. They were were enamoured by the beauty of the Kashmir valley . Nicholas Roerich wrote this :-
“Everything went through Kashmir. Here are the ancient routes of Asia. And each caravan flashes like a link of combinations of the great body of the East. There are blue peaks of Sonamarg; and the white slopes of Zoji-la. And in the flight of eagles the same tireless spirit; and in the fast horses the same inexorable movement. And the world of Kashmiri roses and shawls is not like the forgotten and hidden world of Kashmiri blades.”

                                            ( Kashmir ..A painting by Nicholas Roerich )
Srinagar was the last major stop for the family . The family toured Kashmir valley extensively . Nicholas Roerich visited Martand and Avantipora and he wrote in detail about the monuments that he saw in ruins . .The family also visited Gulmarg. However , the British Resident engineered an attack on the family at Tangmarg .In this attack, seven members of the Roerich team were injured. The British resident’s Chauffer was seen amongst the attackers. The British Resident in Kashmir suspected that the family was on some spying mission in Central Asia where Russia had been expanding its empire.. Their Exit Permit from Kashmir towards Central Asia was accordingly delayed. About Kashmir’s monuments ,Nocholas Roerich wrote this :-
“Here are both Martand and Avantipur associated with the flourishing of Avantiswami’s activities. There are many ruins of temples of the sixth, seventh, eighth centuries, in which parts of the architecture are striking in their resemblance to the details of Romanesque. Of the Buddhist monuments, almost nothing has survived in Kashmir, although such pillars of old Buddhism as Nagarjuna, Asvagosha, Rakhshita and many others lived here … Here is the throne of Solomon, and on the same summit the temple, the foundation of which was laid by the son of King Ashoka.”
In Srinagar, the family did all their preparations and brought provisions for a difficult and long journey along the mountain paths of the Himalayas and through the deserts of the heart of Asia. From Srinagar , the family moved to Ladakh to a grand reception .
A visionary and idealist, Nicholas Roerich promoted peace and the protection of the world's cultural heritage, the unity of religions, and the notion that the creative people of the world bear the responsibility to save the world. During the nineteen-twenties, he composed a treaty for protection of the historic monuments, museums, scientific, artistic, educational and cultural institutions in time of peace as well as in war. Nowadays the Roerich Pact movement is especially popular in Latin America.
Admired by Gandhi Ji, Einstein, Jawahar Lal Nehru , Franklin D Roosevelt and many leaders of the world , Nicholas Roerich was nominated for the Nobel prize many times .At the end of their major expedition, in 1928, the family settled in the Kullu valley in the Himalayan foothills. The family built a house at a spot that gave them a magnificent view of the valley and the surrounding mountains. 
Nicholas Roerich died in Kullu on December 13, 1947. His body was cremated and its ashes buried on a slope facing the mountains he loved and portrayed in many of his nearly seven thousand paintings.
After Nicholas Roerich died, the family moved to Kalimpong. However, after the death of Helena Roerich, her younger son moved back to Russia while Svetoslav Roerich, the elder son married Devika Rani, the well-known actress of Hindi cinema and owner of Bombay Talkies. 
Called the ‘Indian Greta Garbo’, Devika Rani was the leading lady in many films like Achhut Kanya (1936), Janmabhoomi (1936) and Savitri (1937). The couple remained a presence at the Bangaluru’s cultural scene until they passed away in the early ’90s.
( Avtar Mota )

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