О насVOSTOK Magazine - это первое независимое медиа об обществе, культуре, истории и политике стран Ближнего и Дальнего Востока. Мы пишем обо всем, что кажется нам важным и интересным.
A Russian artist who found his own way to enlightenment.
Nicolas Roerich (1874-1947) was a Russian artist, writer, philosopher and traveler. A big impact on his life and creations was made by his passion for the East.
In the first years of the XX century Roerich and his wife Helena aimed for intellectual development. The couple conducted spiritualistic séances that made them able to talk to so-called Mahatmas ("great spirits") – Teachers who are able to tell a person some secret knowledge, give an answer to any question. In Indian delivery Mahatma is a man who while alive escaped sansara circle, who found something that others couldn't.
According to the theosophy the ideas of which were in Roerich's favors, Great Teachers inhabited a mythical country named Shambhala which is situated somewhere in Tibet mountains. The mentions of it can be found in ancient Indian and Buddhism wordings: Mahabharata and Kalachakra. According to a legend, after Muslim had invaded Middle Asia in IX century, Shambhala became invisible for human eyes, and you can enter there only after you have cleared up and gained a pure heart. Nicolas Roerich managed to found a similar legend in Russian tradition – there's a country full of freedom called Belovodye ("place full of white water") somewhere in Altai mountains.
In 1923-1928 Roerichs went to Middleasian expedition in order to solve some art problems and also to collect ethnographical and linguistic material in regions of Asia that weren't really studied. Nevertheless, there's an opinion that they went to Himalayas and Altai to seek mythical Shambhala.
N. Roerich. Going to Shambhala. 1933
Middleasian expedition marked one of the most productive period of Roerich's life. He conducted archaeological diggings and ethnographical research, found rare manuscripts, collected linguistic material, folklore, descriptions of local traditions, wrote such books as "Heart of Asia" and "Altai – Himalayas", created about 500 paintings, began a series of canvases "Himalayas", created "Maitreya", "Sikkim Road", "His country", "The teachers of East" etc. There were so many materials collected by the expedition that Roerich had to create "Urusvati" institute in the West Himalayas to systematize and adapt them.
During the Middleasian expedition Roerichs not only did science and arts, but also continued following the intellectual path. And exactly then Nicolas and Helena's teaching fully established and got a name of Agni Yoga, or Living Ethics. The basics of this teaching is a theosophic theory about the limitness of the universe that is represented in cyclic destructions and resurrections of material forms. On the world levels this leads to the creation and fall of civilizations, on the individual levels – to the soul's reincarnation. According to Living Ethics, Agni (spiritual fire) is a root for everything.
Living Ethics includes three main teachings. "Hierarchy and Shambhala teaching" talks about "Hierarchy of Light" – a spiritual basis of world that enables betterment and evolution. "Human and Karma teaching" implies a belief in reincarnation and considers a human as a product of reincarnation of different personalities for millions of years. "Ethics teaching" pays attention to individual self-development aimed for reaching "Higher worlds". Thus the main aim of Agni Yoga is stimulating the human evolution to reach higher forms of cosmic existence.
Roerich's teaching has found a lot of followers that left behind a so-called "Roerich movement". Nicolas himself was thought of as an enlightener and was even called "Western Dalai Lama". In this way his passion for the East opened him a whole new world.