Nicholas Roerich [Николай Константинович Рёрих] (9 October 1874 – 13 December 1947), also known as Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh, was a Russian archeologist, painter, poet, mystic, spiritual teacher and social activist. He and his wife Helena Roerich were co-founders of the Agni Yoga Society, and began the Pax Cultura initiative, which resulted in an international treaty known as the Roerich Pact.
- The evolution of the New Era rests on the cornerstone of Knowledge and Beauty.
- Realm of Light Book II (1931) Epigraph
- I am not astonished that we receive so many enthusiastic responses to our Peace Banner. The past is filled with deplorable, sad and irreparable destructions. We see that not only in times of war but also during other errors, creations of human genius are destroyed. At the same time the elite of humanity understand that no evolution is possible without the cumulations of Culture. We understand how indescribably difficult are the ways of Culture. Hence the more carefully must we guard the paths which lead to it. It is our duty to create for the young generation traditions of Culture; where there is Culture, there is Peace; there is achievement; there is the right solution for the difficult social problems. Culture is the accumulation of highest Bliss, highest Beauty, highest Knowledge.
- Realm of Light Book II (1931); "Banner of Peace" Address (1931), p. 108
- I was asked to collect information where the symbols of our Banner of Peace could be found. It turned out that the symbol of the Holy Trinity has been scattered all over the world. This has been explained in various ways. Some say it means the past, present and future, bound by the ring of eternity. Others find it more palatable to explain it as religion, knowledge and art in the ring of Culture. Obviously there were various explanations already in the ancient times, but the symbol, the sign itself had become fixed all over the world. … You can find it on the ancient icon in Bar depicting St.Nicholas. The same is on the centuries-old image of St.Sergius. It is on the image of Holy Trinity. It is on the coat of arms of Samarkand. It is on ancient Ethiopian and Coptic antiquities. It is on Mongolian rocks. It is on Tibetan rings. The steed of happiness on the Himalayan Mountains passes bears the same flaming sign. It is on all the brooches of Lahuli, Ladakhi and Himalayan Mountains. It is on Buddhist banners. Going back to the Neolithic depths we can find the same sign in the ornaments decorating their pottery. … And that is why the symbol was chose for all uniting Banner as the symbol that has passed through centuries, more exactly — millennia. The symbol was not a mere decorating ornament all over, it bore a very special meaning. Collecting all its images together, we might prove that it is the most extensively spread and ancient one among all the symbols of mankind. No one can claim that it belongs but to one religion or is based on the only one folk-lore. It would be very beneficial to glance at the evolution of human consciousness in its variegated forms.
- Notes on the Banner of Peace (24 May 1939)
- Where all the treasures of mankind must be saved, there one should find such a symbol that can open the inmost recesses of all hearts. The symbol of the Banner of Peace has been spread so surprisingly far and wide that people are quite sincerely asking whether it is original or an invention of later times. We have witnessed honest wonderment after having proved its ancient origins and spread. At present mankind is beginning to think with horror like troglodytes again, hoping to safeguard their property in underground depositories and caves. But the Banner of Peace just announces the principle. It argues that mankind has to find a way to agree, that its achievements are global and belong to all the nations. The Banner says: noli me tangere — do not touch — do not dare to disturb, to offend the Universal Treasure with a touch of destruction.
- Notes on the Banner of Peace (24 May 1939)
Book I : The Call (1924)
- Into the New World my first message.
You who gave the Ashram,
And you who gave two lives,
Builders and warriors, strengthen the steps.
Reader, if you have not grasped — read again,
after a while.
The predestined is not accidental,
The leaves fall in their time.
And winter is but the harbinger of spring.
All is revealed; all is attainable.
I will cover you with My shield, if you but tend to your labors.
I have spoken.
- I am — your Bliss
I am — your Smile
I am — your Joy
I am — your Rest
I am — your Strength
I am — your Valor
I am — your Wisdom
- By holiness in life, guard the precious Gem of Gems.
Aum Tat Sat Aum!
I am thou, thou art I — parts of the Divine Self.
My Warriors! Life thunders — be watchful.
Danger! The soul hearkens to its warning!
The world is in turmoil — strive for salvation.
I invoke blessings unto you.
Salvation will be yours!
Life nourishes the soul.
Strive for the life glorified,
and for the realization of purity.
Put aside all prejudices — think freely.
Be not downcast but full of hope.
Flee not from life, but walk the path of salvation.
- You and We — here together in spirit.
One Temple for all — for all, One God.
Manifold worlds dwell in the Abode of the Almighty,
And the Holy Spirit soars throughout.
The Renovation of the World will come —
the prophecies will be fulfilled.
People will arise and build a New Temple.
Book II : Illumination (1925)
- They will ask: "Who gave you the Teaching?"
Answer: "The Mahatma of the East."
They will ask: "Where does He live?"
Answer: "The abode of the Teacher not only cannot be made known but cannot even be uttered. Your question shows how far you are from the understanding of the Teaching. Even humanly you must realize how wrong your question is."
They will ask: "When can I be useful?"
Answer: "From this hour unto eternity."
"When should I prepare myself for labor?"
"Lose not an hour!"
"And when will the call come?"
"Even sleep vigilantly."
"How shall I work until this hour?"
"Enhancing the quality of labor."
- One must manifest discipline of spirit; without it one cannot become free. To the slave discipline of spirit will be a prison; to the liberated one it will be a wondrous healing garden. So long as the discipline of spirit is as fetters the doors are closed, for in fetters one cannot ascend the steps.
One may understand the discipline of spirit as wings.
- He who has envisioned evolution will approach it carefully, joyously brushing away the dust on the path. Most important, there will be no fear in him. And rejecting the unnecessary he will acquire simplicity. It is easy to understand that the realization of evolution is always beautiful.
Again they will ask: "Why at the beginning of the path is so much that is pleasant accorded and so much forgiven?" It is because in the beginning all fires are full blown and the called one walks as a torch. It is up to him to choose the quality of his fire. He who comprehends the discipline of spirit will understand the direction of the fire and will approach the cooperation for the General Good. The end of the path can be illumined by athousand fires of the General Good. These thousand fires will light the rainbow of the aura. Therefore, the discipline of spirit is wings!
- Cease speaking of enemies when an achievement can kindle a great light. Solitude will transmit the message better than the murmurs of crowds.
- Ch. VII
New Era Community (1926)
- Wayfarer, friend, let us travel together. Night is near, wild beasts are about, and our campfire may go out. But if we agree to share the night watch, we can conserve our forces.
Tomorrow our path will be long and we may become exhausted. Let us walk together. We shall have joy and festivity. I shall sing for you the song your mother, wife and sister sang. You will relate for me your father's story about a hero and his achievements. Let our path be one.
Be careful not to step upon a scorpion, and warn me about any vipers. Remember, we must arrive at a certain mountain village.
Traveler, be my friend.
- We are dissipating superstition, ignorance and fear. We are forging courage, will and knowledge.
Every striving toward enlightenment is welcome. Every prejudice, caused by ignorance, is exposed.
Thou who dost toil, are not alive in thy consciousness the roots of cooperation and community?
If this flame has already illumined thy brain, adopt the signs of the Teaching of Our mountains.
Thou who dost labor, do not become wearied puzzling over certain expressions. Every line is the highest measure of simplicity.
Greeting to workers and seekers!
- Family, clan, country, union of nations — each unit strives toward peace, toward betterment of life. Each unit of cooperation and communal life needs perfecting. No one can fix the limits of evolution. By this line of reasoning a worker becomes a creator. Let us not be frightened by the problems of creativeness. Let us find for science unencumbered paths. Thus, thought about perfectionment will be a sign of joy.
- § 1
- The essence of striving to the far-off worlds is contained in the assimilation of a consciousness of our life in them. The possibility of life on them becomes for our consciousness, as it were, a channel of approach. Indeed, this consciousness must be dug through as a channel. People are able to swim, yet a considerable portion of them do not swim. Such an obvious fact as the far-off worlds completely fails to attract humanity. It is time to cast this seed into the human brain.
- § 44
- The Great Helpers of humanity do not abandon the Earth so long as sufferings go unhealed. Wholehearted fellowship can easily heal the wounds of a friend — but it is necessary to develop the art of thinking in the name of Good. And this is not easy amid the day's hustle and bustle. But the examples of the Great Helpers of humanity can encourage and infuse new forces.
- § 272
- Humanity must suffer very much before it comes to an understanding of the advantage of unity. Most destructive forces have been directed for the purpose of obscuring the embryos of unification. Each unifying agent is subject to personal danger. Each peace-maker is disparaged. Each worker is ridiculed. Each builder is called madman. Thus the servants of dissolution try to drive from the face of the Earth the Banner of Enlightenment. Work is impossible amid enmities. Construction is inconceivable amid explosions of hatred. Fellowship is battling with man-hatred.
Let us keep in memory these old Covenants.
- § 273
- When calculations become complex and Infinity is obscured, then will be remembered anew the simplest principle: from heart to heart — such is the law of fraternity, community, fellowship.
- § 275
Agni Yoga (1929)
- They will ask, "Can the time of Maitreya create a New Era?" Answer, "If the Crusades brought a new age, then truly the Era of Maitreya is a thousandfold more significant." In such consciousness should one proceed.
- § 1
- Now, at the dawn of the age of Maitreya, there is needed a Yoga comprising the essence of the whole of life, all-embracing, evading nought. One remembers the example of those unignitable youths in the biblical legend who valiantly sacrificed themselves to the fiery furnace and thereby acquired power. You may call this the Yoga of Life. But the most precise name will be Agni Yoga. It is precisely the element of fire that gives its name to this Yoga of self-sacrifice.
- § 158
- No name will provoke so many attacks as that of Maitreya, for it is bound up with the future. Nothing provokes so much fear and irritation in people as thinking about the future.
- § 336
- Understand once again that the time of changes of continents is approaching. Maitreya is coming, in the vanguard of science, addressing its new frontiers. All the problems of science and of the evolution of all that exists are of concern to the Teacher.
- § 344
The Invincible (1936)
- Science, if it is to be redintegrated should primarily not be limited, and thus be fearless. Any conditional limitation will be an evidence of mediocrity, and thus will become an unconquerable obstacle on the path of achievement. Ch. 1 Fearlessness
- I recall a conversation with a scientist who so insistently wanted to be the defender of modern science that he even attempted to diminish the significance of all ancient accumulations. Whereas, precisely, each young representative of modern science must first be open to everything useful and more so to all that bears the testimony of ages. All negation is contrary to creativeness. In his enlightened, constantly progressive movement, a true creator, first of all, is not negative. A creator has no time for condemnation and negation. The process of creativeness proceeds in an unrestrained progression. Therefore it is painful to see how a man, because of certain prejudices and superstitions, entangles himself with phantoms. In order that no one might suspect a scientist of being old-fashioned, in his fear he is ready to inflict anathema and oblivion upon the most instructive accumulations of the experiences of antiquity. Ch. 1 Fearlessness
- In the history of mankind, epidemics of madness present a particularly curious page. In addition to many other kinds of contagions, epidemics of madness frequently appeared upon various continents. Whole countries suffered from the intrusion of malicious ideas into various domains of life. Naturally, these epidemics broke out especially frequently in the spheres of religion, superstition, and within the bounds of official suspiciousness. Ch. 19 Epidemics
- If we now glance back over the pages of all the religious martyrdoms, bringing sinister recollections of the Inquisition and various mass-madnesses, a not exaggerated picture of a true epidemic will emerge quite clearly. Just as any epidemic, this malady of madness flared up suddenly, seemingly from a small beginning, and grew with extraordinary speed into most violent forms. We are reminded of the various persecutions of “witches,” which are even hard to believe. In the recent writings of Dr. Lévi-Valency several curious details are related which remind one again of the possibility of an epidemic of madness. Ch. 19 Epidemics
- Here, we encounter a remarkable contemporary figure, an outstanding Russian woman. Revealing unusual qualities even in childhood, she is seen as a little girl secretly carrying away a heavy volume of Dore’s Bible. Bending from its burdensome weight, hiding it from the grown-ups, she has taken the treasure in order to study the illustrations, and eventually (when she teaches herself to read) to study the Testaments. From her father’s bookcase, at an unusually early age, she also took volumes on philosophy. Amidst the noisy, and it seems distracting, environment she was able to develop a profound contemplation of life, as if she had possessed it long ago.
Honesty, justice, a constant search for Truth, and love for creative work — all this actually transformed the whole of life around the strong young spirit. And the whole house, the whole family, became directed by the same benevolent principles. All difficulties and dangers were endured under the same stoic leadership. The accumulated knowledge and striving to perfection brought a victorious solution of problems, and this led the surrounding people toward the luminous path. Ignorance, darkness, malice were always acutely sensed. Wherever it was possible, both physical and spiritual healing was performed. Life became full of true labor. Ch. 53 The Great Images
- From morning till night everything was performed for the benefit of humanity. The broadest correspondence was carried on; books were written; works of many volumes translated; and all this was done in an amazingly tireless spirit. Even the most difficult circumstances were conquered by true faith which became real straight-knowledge. Surely, wonderful accumulations are necessary for such knowledge! All young people should know of this tireless life as a vital example of austere achievements, benevolence, and constructiveness. When the difficulties of this inspirational work are known, it will be particularly helpful toward the realization that incessant advancement can be made. Often, one thinks that everything is hopeless, that good is defenseless against evil, so great are the delusions resulting from human despair. Therefore, real vital examples are indeed most important; and we may rejoice at the encouragement such an example as this provides for all beginners in constructive work. Ch. 53 The Great Images
Quotes about Roerich
- Rays were blazing through the atmosphere of the earth, the horizon became bright orange, gradually passing into all the colors of the rainbow: from light blue to dark blue, to violet and then to black. What an indescribable gamut of colors! Just like the paintings of the artist Nicholas Roerich.
- Yuri Gagarin, on the view of earth from space, in a statement of April 1961, as quoted in Warrior of Light : The Life of Nicholas Roerich : Artist, Himalayan explorer and visionary (2002) by Colleen Messina, p. 46
- He started a kind of pact between nations for the preservation of these cultural and artistic monuments. Many nations agreed to it. I do not know exactly what the value of their agreement was because we agree to many things which we forget in times of war and trouble. We have seen recently in the late war the destruction of so many great monuments of culture in spite of all the previous agreement to protect them. Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is a tragedy for destruction to overtake these great cultural monuments of the past.
- Jawaharlal Nehru, Nicholas Roerich Memorial Exhibition (December 1947), as quoted in Nicholas Roerich by his Contemporaries (1964)
- I have keenly followed your most remarkable achievements in the realm of Arts and also your great humanitarian work for the welfare of nations of which your Peace Pact idea with a special Banner for the protection of cultural treasure is a singularly effective symbol.
- Nicholas Roerich Museum (New York)
- Nicholas Roerich Museum (Russia)
- International Roerich Memorial Trust (India)
- Agni Yoga Society
- Estonian Roerich Society
- Roerich-movement in Internet (in Russian)
- Reviving the Roerich Banner of Peace: Peace Through Culture!
- Burning of Darkness (Read at the meeting of young idealists, New York, 1931)