Scientific Researches of the Roerichs in India

Scientific Researches

of the Roerichs in India

In 1928 a famous Central-Asian expedition of the Roerichs was finished. It is well-known that this expedition was rather fruitful and in the very conception of the expedition and its results the idea of synthesis was kept. This idea illuminated and spiritualized the activity of the Himalayan Research Institute “Urusvati” that was founded by the Roerichs in India.

All members of the Roerich family possessed the qualities of scientific and artistic synthesis which was revealed in their versatile creative work. Coordination of these qualities allowed them to create a new type of the institute of integrated studies. This very institute opened a new way for a scientific methodology based on the principles of the Teaching of Living Ethics. The activity of “Urusvati” Institute proved N.K. Roerich′s foresight: “In its best findings a science becomes an art. Such an astonishing scientific synthesis is forever imprinted in human mind as something immutably convincing. In such a way science will stop being a set of conditionally selected facts and will solemnly start moving towards acquiring a new thinking guiding the humanity… Science has already been entering such an immense field of research as thought…” [1]

The synthesis of spiritual accumulations, creative abilities and knowledge of the Roerichs as the founders and leading scientists of the Institute was consciously combined with the synthesis of natural opportunities of a unique Himalayan region of Kullu valley chosen for the Institute.

In 1929 N.K. Roerich wrote already: “The whole region of Himalayas is a unique field for scientific researches. There is no other place in the world where such diverse conditions could be found. The highest peaks till 30000 feet, lakes on 15000-16000 feet, deep valleys with geysers and other mineral hot and cold springs as well as unexpected vegetation are surety of new scientific findings of great significance. If there is opportunity to compare scientifically conditions of Himalayan with upland regions of other parts of the world, what hortative analogies and antitheses could be revealed! Himalayan is the place for a true scientist” [2]

It should be noted that all these combinations of opportunities were reinforced by a rich cultural and historical traditions among which there were religious, archeological, philological and ethnographical ones, as well as by features of the Himalayan Kullu valley itself which was fertile in all the aspects. Thanks to this, research activity of the Institute (or “the station” as the Roerichs themselves often called it) became unique. The valley got together the greatest names of humanity – Manu, Buddha, Ardjuna, the heroes of a world famous epos “Mahabharata” Pandavas, a legendary Vyasa himself and fighting for a better future Geser Khan.

Generalizing the uniqueness of features the valley H.I. Roerich wrote: “The center should be developed into a city of knowledge. In this city we wish to create a synthesis of scientific achievements. Therefore, all branches of science should eventually be established there. And, since the source of knowledge lies in the Cosmos, the co-workers of the scientific center should belong to the whole world–that is, should include all nationalities. And, as the Cosmos is indivisible in all its functions, the scientists of the world should be indivisible in their achievements. In other words, they should be united in closest cooperation. The location of the center, in the Himalayas, is selected quite deliberately and purposefully, as innumerable possibilities are open there, and the attention of the scientific world is being directed toward these heights. The discovery of new cosmic rays, which bring to humanity new precious energies, is possible only on the mountain summits because all the finest and most valuable energies are found only in the pure layers of mountain atmosphere. Are not mountains the greatest of magnetic stations? Would it not be appropriate to explore their magnetism and electricity? Would not the study of magnetic currents bring safety into aerostatics? In the sphere of magnetic currents science is still in its infancy, and modern instruments are nothing but toys, while “great discoveries could take place with proper study and research”. The reason we wish so much to begin this research at our center is because the conditions of this locality are particularly favorable” [3].

Conceived as the research institute for integrated studies of a vast region of Asia, “Urusvati” carried in itself the idea of synthesis which primarily, as we have already mentioned, was implemented in the cooperative work of its founders. The Institute structure helped to determine the level of participation of each of the members of the Roerichs’ family in various scientific researches. The management of the Institute was assigned to the eldest son George who was an orientalist having become widely known by that time. He became the director and a leading specialist of the “Urusvati” Institute. Nicolas Roerich, spending a lot of time at the easel and being in charge of many other affairs was an inspirer and spiritual leader. He was involved in archeology, comparative cultural studies and searches for related sources in the arts of different nations. His knowledge of the East, rich organizational experience and legal education came useful for the development of the Institute. Helena Roerich was the President and the Founder of the Institute. She collected and worked at different sources of philosophic thought of the East and kept diaries of her observations. The younger son, Svetoslav, who was an artist, expert in antique art and local pharmacopeias, a good botanist and ornithologist, was in charge of natural sciences.

Versatility of knowledge and occupations of every member of the Roerichs′ family together with mutual cooperation and unrested energy conduced to success and wide recognition of the Institute not only in India itself but also over its borders.

Activity of the Institute was based on developments, achievements of the world science and own accumulations of scientific findings from insufficiently studied regions of Asia.

Nicolas Roerich wrote: “When we founded the institute, the first priority was the permanent mobility of work. From the time of its foundation, expeditions and excursions are conducted each year. There is no need to stop the formed tradition. If all the workers and correspondents are attached to one place, so many unexpected and good opportunities will be frozen… What is needed is that Indians heartily call «ashram». It is a hub. Intellectual food of “ashram” is obtained from different places…” [4]. One of the main principles of the Institute′s was integration of researches and later it was planned to represent all fields of sciences. In essence it was a new type of the scientific institution.

Straightaway the departments of archeology, related sciences and arts, natural and medical sciences as well as the scientific library and museum to keep expedition findings were opened in the Institute. Each department had its specialized subdivisions. Archeological Department also included such sections as general history, history of Asian nations′culture, history of antique art, linguistics and philology.

In 1932 a biochemical laboratory was built. It was planned as a part of “Urusvati” Institute as Kullu had absolutely specific high-altitude conditions for subtle scientific investigations. In well-equipped rooms the following laboratories were placed: physics, general chemistry, pharmacology, organic chemistry. The room for photometry and photographic laboratory, the workshop and library were adjoined thereto. The laboratory building was next to the main building of the Institute at the height of about 1,900 meters above the sea level. The power station was remained to be built but due to the price increase its construction was delayed.
It was the first mountain-top laboratory in the world, studying cosmic factors and electromagnetic fields of the Earth, investigating properties of medicinal plants and means of mineral and animal origin from a perspective of Ayurveda, Tibetan, Chinese and modern medicine. One of the scientific tasks of the laboratory was study of methods of struggle with cancer that became a general disaster in many countries but hardly ever observed in highlands. In the middle of construction works the staff of the Institute carried out investigations of local pharmacopeias, studied and translated ancient texts.

The Institute also planned and partially conducted investigations of magnetic fields, healthy and radioactive waters, minerals, specific energetic properties of space, cosmic rays, meteorite sediments on the snow peaks and etc.

The commenced integrated studies were far ahead of the available level of the science development. Thus, it is not surprising that among the honorable advisers on science, corresponding members and permanent personnel of “Urusvati” there were world-famous scientists and the Nobel Prize-winners Albert Einstein, Robert Millikan, Louis de Broglie, as well as President of American Archeological Institute R. Magoffin, a famous traveler Sven Hedin, Professor of Pasteur Institute in Paris Sergey Metalnikoff, Professor Konstantin Lozinsky, Director of the Botanic Garden in New-York E. D. Merrill, a great Indian scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose and many others.

For example, as a result of study of cosmic radiations in the highlands of Ladakh, conducted on an international level by the Institute under supervision of Arthur Compton in 1932 the latitudinal effect proving an indicative corpuscular nature of primary cosmic-ray beams was opened. These results are of fundamental significance for development of microscopic physics and cosmic physics. The expedition worked in the Himalayas at the height of over 2,000 m.

From 1931 the Institute annually published the scientific magazine (in total three issues were published). Besides that annual reports and brochures were published. A lot of valuable scientific articles and books were written by the Roerichs at that time.

In summer – autumn 1930 Doctor of the Michigan University Walter N. Koelz, chairing at that time the Biological and Botanic Section of the Department of Natural Sciences and Applied Researches of the Institute having crossed Rohtang Pass led the expedition to Lahaul and then worked in high-altitude regions of Kullu. At the end of the year he visited another high-mountain valley of the Rampur Beshahr Region. His last experience of serious field works had been in Byrd-McMillan Arctic Expedition in 1925 and during the National Geographic Expedition to the Greenland helped to detect and collected valuable botanic and zoological collections in these mountain places of the Himalayas.

The studies of the collected medicinal plants were held by the Head of the Institute Department and its Medical Advisor of that time Doctor S.S. Lozina who together with local doctors started making a catalogue of the plants with the hope to work out the detailed corpus of local pharmacological knowledge in the future. At the same time the secretary of “Urusvati” Institute Vladimir Shibaev made extracts from the range of the collected plants and sent them for investigations to corresponding members of the Institute Doctor F. Lukin to Riga and to a biochemist V. Pertsov into Harvard University [5].

In 1931 under supervision of Major J.G. Phelps-Stokes the Anti-cancer and Bio-chemical Committees were established. In the same year scientific expeditions to Kullu and Kangra valleys as well as to Lahaul, region of Rampur Beshahr, Lahore, Ladakh and Zanskar were taken. Extensive ornithological, botanic collections and some kinds of mammals were gathered in Negrota, neighboring with Kullu Kangra valley, on moorland plains of Gurdaspur, around Lahore and in Sirsa on the border with Rajpootana (now Rajasthan). Notably, as it was mentioned in the report of the “Urusvati” Institute for 1931 lowland plants markedly differed from the ones met in the mountains on the north and among them there were a lot of medicinal plants used by great healers. Their study was not less interesting than the study of alpine plants of the Tibetan pharmacopoeia.

The expedition to Western Tibet, lasted from June to October, covered over 1,000 miles generally in high mountain areas of provinces Rupshu, Ladakh and Zanskar. Over 1,000 plant numbers constituting some 10,000 specimens, more than 1,000 bird-skins and a range of mammals were collected. In these regions the vegetation rises over the height of 6,100 meters and at the heights from 4,600 to 5,500 meters the researchers met a lot of effective kinds of well-growing and often fragrant plants such as rose, primula, aster, gentian, periwinkle, saxifrage, ranunculus and other flowers and plants [6].

The gathered biological and botanic collections, including the ones of plants and seeds, were sent to the Nicolas Roerich Museum in New York, to the New York Botanical Garden in, to the American Department of Agriculture, into the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard University, into the Natural History Department of the British Museum, into the Botanical Garden in Paris, into the Natural History Museum in Paris and other centers as well as individual scientists. “Provided, that Doctor Merrill, Head of the New York Botanical Garden as well as Professor Mangin, Director of the Natural History Museum in Paris noted the high importance of the gathered collections which include the whole range of new species, being studied by these outstanding scientists at the moment”, noted Nicolas Roerich the President and Founder of the Institute [7].

In 1931 during the expedition to Lahaul, the North-Western Himalayas, George Roerich and Lama Lobxang Mingyur Dorje gathered a range of valuable Tibetan texts in therapy and pharmacology such as Chzhud-Shi (or rGyud bZhi) and their comments, Vajdurja-Onbo (Baidurya snon-po), descriptions of lives of famous Tibetan healers, several rare sacred books in medicine. All the texts found as well as descriptions were transferred to the “Urusvati” scientific library [8]. In 1932 based on the gathered materials George Roerich made the translation of Nus-pa Rkyang-sel by Lama Tan-dzin phun- tshogs containing the list of Tibetan medicines [9]. Lama Lobxang Mingyur Dorje compiled extensive “Compendium of Medicinal Plants” (a list of Tibetan Materia Medica).

As we have already noted, Svetoslav Roerich was in charge of natural science researches in the Institute. His interest to this area was not a coincidence as he had been interested in ornithology, mineralogy and botany since childhood and in India he seriously set about cultivation of medicinal plants, pharmacopoeia and chemistry. Besides the plants being gathered for study during expeditions it was planned to start growing them at own plantations. For this purpose Nicolas Roerich bought some land at about three kilometers from his estate in Naggar located in Phati Nathan behind the Kutbai estate. Besides that according to the lease agreement signed by the Roerichs in the 1930s with the British Government a hide land was acquired for the term of 99 years high in the mountains in several hours from Naggar on the way to Malana Village on Chandrakhani Pass at the height of about 3,660 meters. It was the place where Svetoslav Roerich started cultivating rare and rather valuable medicinal plants. Plantations of medicinal plants were also located nearby the Institute building on the northern slopes of the mountain towards the Chakki River [10].

In 1932 Svetoslav Roerich participated in the expedition to Lahaul where he gathered a representative collection of minerals which was later displayed in the Museum of the Headquarters [11]

It should be reminded that in conditions of traditions, beliefs, psychological peculiarities and world outlook which the Tibetan and Himalayan nations had formed for centuries obtaining the medicines of vegetative, mineral or animal origin (about 60% of the Tibetan pharmacopoeia consists of medicinal plants) and moreover description of their preparation and effect was rather a difficult task. It was necessary not only to gain a confidence of local doctors and healers but decipher and process a great many of manuscripts often written in “extremely complicated technical language”, provided, as George Roerich noted in a special article devoted to the healers in Tibet, it is necessary to master the rich local folklore “in which the folk wisdom is often mixed with fantastic legends of primitive religious beliefs, penetrated into professional manuals on native medicine” [12].

Of course, such work required deep knowledge of religious and medical specificity, as well as knowledge of not only local languages but also those languages which kept borrowed (generally in Tibet) knowledge from such languages as, for example, Sanskrit, Chinese and Mongolien languages. It was necessary also to familiarize with existing translations and commentary on the main medical writings such as Tibetian translation Chzhud-Shi (a treatise devoted to Tibetan medicine containing sacred knowledge of eight parts of medicine) which was borrowed from an unknown Sanscrit source written approximately in IV A.D. by a famous Tibetan translator Vairochana who according to the chronology suggested by Alexander Csoma de Koros lived at about 755-788. To the point, Csoma de Koros himself was the first person who made the analysis of this significant medical treatise. Russian translation of the Mongolian edition of this work was made by A.M. Pozdneev who later published it in Saint Petersburg in 1908 [13]. S.N. Roerich and G.N. Roerich knew also another translation of this work made by a well-known Tibetan doctor P.A. Badmaev.

Svetoslav and George Roerich always tried to acquire such translations for “Urusvati” library [14] together with the following comments, which were used in the Institute research process [15]. Many of the medical terms were included into a big Tibetan language dictionary composed by George Roerich.

Apart from the guide-books Tibetan lamas and Indian healers used to compile the lists of medicinal products, as well as the books for pharmacological botany. They also had notes of reputed physicians “terma” which could contain secret recipes, astrological calculations, charms and comments, especially guarded from the profane and transferred to the disciples.

Besides seeking for materials and Tibetan medicine studying the Institute collected findings on medical traditions and pharmacopeia of the Kullu and adjacent regions which boasted rare and abundant diversity of flora and fauna, mineral stock, healing springs – also radioactive – specific geomagnetic conditions of highlands, so on. It was especially minded during the search of anti-cancer remedies and treatment methods that cases of cancer – as we already mentioned – were remarkably rare in Kullu, Lahaul, Spiti and Plateau of Tibet, appearingly due to specific combination of above listed local conditions.

The medicines could be obtained from monasteries renowned for medical traditions from travelling merchants as well as delivered from other Asian countries by caravans or procured from local healers. As S. Roerich wrote, the difficulty of producing some of Tibetan medicines was also determined by the fact that they might contain over 36 ingredients some of which must be specifically imported from Tibet [16].

The unique combination of both of the Roerich brothers’ abilities, assistance of the wise lamas and local healers led the process of complex research to a successful progress. It should be noted specifically that unlike large majority of western scholars studying oriental medical traditions, all members of the Roerich family, helping and complementing each other in their work, had their own unique experience and knowledge of supreme yoga practices and their synthesis which was revealed in Agni Yoga. This factor was crucial for the revelation and scientific understanding of the knowledge most guarded in the East, since as S. Roerich reasonably noted in his article “Medical research in the “Urusvati” Institute” “speaking of the local medicine effectiveness we shall remember that the most valuable knowledge is kept by so called yogis or “saint people”. But as this knowledge is expressed in traditional notions it is very hard to verify it. Besides, people who truly keep the secrets would never sell their knowledge and would reveal it in exceptional cases only” [17].

Mid 1930s was the most fruitful period for S.N. Roerich’s research. It is known that in spring of 1934, while his father and brother were in America, S.N. Roerich kept his intensive work at the Institute going, gathered medicinal plants, prepared complex asthma medications; the work on translation of medical texts by lama Lobzang M. Dorje was continued [18].

During several years in Kullu Svetoslav Roerich cultivated, studied and described a medicinal plant named kut (Saussurea Lappa). The root of the named plant having healing effect had been widely known as costus since remote ages and was a universal medicine. It was mentioned in Sanskrit sources, Chinese, Syrian, Arab, Greek, Roman and so on. Traditionally kut roots were used in China where it was generally exported from India. In January 1934 S.N. Roerich already had a plantation of this plant and thought of starting cultivating it in the USA.
In few months the Manchuria expedition organized by N.K. Roerich in which George Roerich also participated. The expedition was funded by the USA Ministry of Agriculture. One of its scientific aims was collecting of drought-resistant and medicinal plants. At this time in India S.N. Roerich and his colleagues were growing and gathering valuable cultivars of medicinal plants, sending the seeds to other countries, preparing medicines, compiling new collections. For instance, in Spiti valley, neighboring Kullu, about 400 paleontological samples were gathered [19]. In addition to that, the estate was giving temporary home to tamed bear cub, a parrot, owl and other predaceous birds.

Despite the scientific interest towards methods used in the chemistry and medicine in the East Svetoslav Roerich who relied on the principle of deep inner unity of knowledge with his particular quality of finding a synthesis of life manifestations kept studying open-mindedly the best achievements of the past in the West in order to match them with oriental thought findings and apply them to the work.

His letters of that period contain a lot of information concerning crops of fruit, outlooks of medicinal plants growth and results of experiments for creating new medical products. S.N. Roerich devoted much of his time to studying ancient medical and alchemical treatises, organized local expeditions to Ladakh and Lahaul to collect plants and study cultural monuments. The items he brought from these trips later formed his collections: ancient bronze sculptures, paleontological and mineralogical finds. In all of these spheres he acted not as an dilettante but as an experienced specialist and an expert. In October 1934 Helena Roerich wrote the following words about him: “There are plants of perfectly amazing properties here, which ought to be studied. Svetik is full of a true wealth of awareness and knowledge of local flora. He gathered a great amount of roots and seeds and all of them were identified by local healers, pundits and lamas as well as present Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine guides. He broadened George’s work a lot. He also already had all the seeds needed for experiment” [20].

During all his following life Svetoslav Roerich studied and practiced his knowledge of a natural scientist and a remarkable specialist in various plants growth. In the middle of 1935 following George Roerich’s request he organized an expedition of the local botanists and ancient medicine researches group in order to study drought-resistant plants in Kullu and adjacent regions.

“Urusvati” Institute used to send plants, seeds, extracts to various regions of the world and exchanged botanical collections of Himalayan and Tibetan medicinal and rear plants familiarizing with them many scientific centers.
It should be especially noted that S. Roerich always tried to make connections with Russian scientists that was a hard thing to do at that period. Never the less, on December 12, 1936, via Riga he sent a letter and a package to Leningrad for N.I. Vavilov, the Director of the Reseach Institute of Plant Industry [21]. Seeds of 12 Himalayan plants were attached to the letter.

N.I. Vavilov replied to S. Roerich on March 8, 1937. “Dear Svetoslav Nikolaevich, I express my great gratitude for sending the seeds of medicinal plants <…> I had read and heard earlier about your expedition to the most remarkable areas of the planet – Himalaya, Tibet; we may only dream about these regions, which are known extremely poorly. About the extent to which we are interested in them you may judge from my brochure I’m sending you – “Botanical and geographical basis of plants selection”. It would be exceptionally interesting to receive with your assistance the seeds of wheat and barley, flax, grain and legumes from these regions. <…> If you happen to publish any research on Himalaya and Tibet we would be very grateful if you send us such” [22].

In response to that on April 19, 1937 S. Roerich promised to select and send additionally the needed crop samples, he also specified that he had earlier sent the seeds of kut and explained the advantages of its growing. Svetoslav Roerich sent three issues of “Urusvati” journals to the academician and answered his questions. Later that year, in July, via Riga he sent to Leningrad three boxes with seeds, wrote Vavilov about the features of agriculture in Kullu, offered to send seeds of late and large corn and various sorts of rice, about hundred of which is grown there. This very beginning of collaboration was broken by N.I. Vavilov’s arrest and the wave of political repressions in USSR.

After he moved from Naggar to Bangalore S. Roerich continued to cultivate medicinal plants and especially those bearing volatile oils. S. Roerich and his wife Devika Rani had a famous 200 hectares plantation of Mexican volatile-oil-bearing linaloe trees (Byrsera delpechiana) at their estate. The valuable essential oil (containing linalyl acetate and linalool) produced by distillation was supplied to famous perfumery companies in France.

As far as George Roerich is concerned, he continued his father’s research activities by going deeper in meta-historical spheres. Using convincing scientific language of historical, ethnographical and linguistic facts he developed the ideas of the Central Asian peoples′ cultural unity. Like his father, he used to correlate the milestones of both transient and eternal historic values, and regarded the cultural and historical evolution as a succession and cohesion of the past, the present and the future forms in their relevant unity. Named milestone method as well as temporal categories in N.K. Roerich’s historical conception, according to L.V. Shaposhikova′s conclusive analysis, had crucial meaning and enabled him to assert the importance of “the long-lasting in human culture development” and indicated a broad outlook as a thinker [23].

Having knowledge of lot of languages and dialects George Roerich wrote a number of philological and historical articles and books during 1930-s, such as “Animal style among the nomad tribes of Northern Tibet” (1930), “Tibetan collection catalogue” (1930), “Trails to Inmost Asia” (1931), Studies in the Kalacakra (1932), Sur les Pistes de l′Asie Centrale (1933), he also prepared a fundamental writing “The History of Central Asia” (1935-39), worked on Tibetan-English dictionary with Sanskrit parallels. He guided the publishing of the Institute periodicals – the annual “Urusvati” and “Tibetica” series. After moving to Kalimpong together with Helena Roerich in 1949 he continued his Buddhism history studies and published his two-volume writing “The Blue Annals” in Calcutta. In 1949-1957 he teaches at Kalimpong University, chairs the Indo-Tibetan seminarium and courses of Chinese and Tibetan languages.

Since early years Helena Roerich showed an extraordinary musical talent. Later she discovered that she could impress her visions and inner images in pencil drawings. She tried not to reveal her abilities to treatment, though in her letters to co-workers and acquaintances she frequently offered advice on health maintenance, many of which differed from known to medicine treatment methods, because in most of the cases she based her vision on individual characteristics and psychosomatic peculiarities of each person and on understanding of the reasons of disease. Helena Roerich’s special gift was spiritual leadership, which was revealed in art of inspiring and guiding her nearest and dearest and her colleagues, giving good advice that opened the ways of self-improvement and growth of consciousness and also helped to participate in evolutionary meaningful work. The main talent of Helena Roerich however was the synthesis of spirituality. Having a profound straight-knowledge she always knew what should be done. The Master said about her “Spiritual synthesis is the rarest gift, it is the very thing that inflames the Light of the world. The Light of the world compares to nothing. The Light burns, but its Ray is sought for” [24].

This rare gift of spiritual accumulations enabled Helena Roerich to direct her consciousness towards the most essential aspects of life, to distinguish between evidence and actuality, to see the dynamics of hidden powers of Being, to feel the beauty of the Universal laws and to connect the worlds in her creative activity. This gift strengthened and developed due to cooperation with the Great Master.

These valuable qualities and features of Helena Roerich′s cosmic creative activity were noticed and recognized only by few people, yet they formed subtle energetic prototypes, laid the foundation of ideas and forms of their manifestation for further development in scientific activities of the “Urusvati” Institute. She inspired her husband, her sons and co-workers for co-creative work with the Masters to conduct the work of great cosmic importance for the future. It was she who in her writings set the program basis of the scientific research for a future epoch showed new directions of researches and sciences that will appear in future. Her own fiery experience became an evidence of unlimited possibilities of cognition and transmutation of quality of matter by spirit.

By its work the Institute laid down the foundations of the synthesis of knowledge. It showed the way of development of achievements of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and bioenergetics.

N.K. Roerich foresaw “the great future of powerful energy” but warned scientists against narrow pragmatic usage of unknown forms of released energies as it can lead to the destruction of nature and pose a threat to mankind. He appealed for a broad scientific cooperation which should realize cultural foundation without prejudices and biases. That is why he and his associates studied “the most ancient teachings of Asia”, finding in them “the facts of exact sciences concealed in symbol”. These are “the magnetic currents”, “cosmic magnet”, “psychic energy” and “the omnipresent element of cosmic Agni”, the interaction of “mental nervous energy with cosmic phenomena of a great scale”.

Founding the Institute, the Roerichs thought of a breakthrough qualitatively new spiritual science of the future. Dominating scientific paradigm has not reached that level yet. The “Urusvati” daring experience outstripped the development of contemporary science for many years. This is one of the psychological reasons of the certain estrangement and miscomprehension of the importance of “Urusvati” activities and its innovatory methodology. Yet during its active work until the beginning of World War II the Institute maintained close relations with hundreds of scientific centers and outstanding individual scientists of USA, Europe and Asia (by holding correspondence, exchanging scholarly literature and collections, etc).

The Roerichs tried to combine ancient knowledge of which Central Asia and, of course, India is so reach with the most progressive modern scientific researches.

Adjacency to the crossroads of great transmigration of peoples, as well as combination of different religions and spiritual teachings achievements, specificity of Indian continuous succession of traditions that hold the unity of the whole tissue of Culture weaved for thousands of years, all this created conditions for revealing holistic interconnected knowledge. This knowledge was not divided into separate types such as rational, intellectual, philosophical, religious or any others.

It should be noted that at that time India has not yet created a science in its western understanding, but at the same time it has not lost the culture of human relation with nature, Cosmos, cognition of the human inner world. Philosophical outlook revealing the essence of similar roots of the human Being sense-forming principle and his evolutionary predestination is still alive in India. In Indian myths, epos, religious and philosophical teachings, supreme yoga systems and other ancient knowledge and views of this great nation that reached us one can find often in a symbolic form common ideas and laws reflecting deep Knowledge of Masters of the East about anthropogenesis, cosmogenesis and theogenesis. In 19-20th centuries the various facets of this knowledge were expressed by Svami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and others.

Our compatriot Helena Blavatskaya whose life and creative activities were closely connected with India contributed greatly to revelation, comparison and generalization of this Knowledge. The Roerichs creative heritage and the Teaching of Living Ethics became a continuation of her work to a considerable degree and opened a new grade in comprehension of cosmic Laws of evolution and in creation a new spiritual science.

Mikhail Nikolayevich Chiriatev

Vice-President of the International League for Protection of Culture, Advisor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences Saint Russia, Petersburg


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17 Там же. С. 126.
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19 Там же. С. 62–64, 66, 68, 70, 74. (Письма Н.К. и Ю.Н. Рерихам от 4.07., 22.07., 4.08., 25.08., 8.09., 6.10.1934 и к Ф. Грант от 11.07.1934).
20 Рерих Е.И. Письма. Т. 2. М.: МЦР, 2000. С. 440. (Письмо к американским сотрудникам 22 октября 1934).
21 Рерих С.Н. Письма. М.: МЦР, 2004. Т. 1. С. 199. (Письмо Н.И. Вавилову 12 декабря 1936).
22 Переписка С.Н. Рериха с Н.И. Вавиловым // Рериховский вестник: публикации — сообщения — исследования, 1990 январь-декабрь. СПб; Извара, 1991. С. 53—54.
23 Шапошникова Л.В. Ученый, мыслитель, художник. М.: МЦР, 2006. С. 88.
24 Листы Сада М. Озарение. Ч. 2, VIII. 3.