Naggar (Himachal Pradesh), July 14, 2012
My cordial greetings to all the participants of the celebrations dedicated to the important anniversary of the International Roerich Memorial Trust. 20 years have passed since, entrusted by Dr Svyatoslav Roerich’s general power attorney, I arrived here and was heart-broken by the estate’s most dilapidated condition. Let me make it clear once and for all -- the Trust was established in 1992 during Dr Roerich's lifetime and it was registered by his widow, Devika Rani, in 1993.
For the peoples of Russia and India as well as for millions of people around the world the Roerich family is a symbol of mutual understanding and humankind's aspiration for harmony and beauty. They have revealed the universality of common human values, and gifted to the world the ideals of its integrity and interdependence. They revealed the road towards saving the world through beauty, first of all, the beauty of relationships.
Look, how beautiful the Roerich estate has become in 20 years! It has transformed into a spiritual, educational and cultural magnet attracting numerous visitors from across the globe. It is not accidental that the places where humanity’s seers and enlighteners used to preach, become the centres of spirituality, worship and pilgrimage. They are permeated with and radiate the accumulated energy of those people's thoughts and deeds. Here, in God-blessed Kullu Valley, one cannot but experience it all over again.
At present, the Roerich Trust plays a remarkable role in the life of the Kullu Valley and entire Himachal Pradesh. It has blossomed into one of the most attractive tourists spots in Northern India annually visited by almost a lakh of Indian and foreign guests, lovers and admires of the Roerichs' creative heritage. For us, it is also most important that this place graphically embodies the spiritual and cultural affinity between the peoples of Russia and India.
It goes without saying that behind every remarkable event stand individuals, enthusiasts, gifted and active leaders. The Kullu Valley will never forget sister Ursula Eichshtaedt, who launched the museum among ruins and desolation.
I would like to express special gratitude to Dr Alena Adamkova who was the IRMT executive director for ten years at a stretch. Her laborious daily work as well as your help, dear Naggarwallahs, have made the estate a “Shaan of Himachal”, as desired by the Trust founders.
Let me yet again confess that the IRMT is my favourite 'baby', the object of my everyday concerns and worries. Russians have invested so much heart and soul, their personal money and efforts into this estate to turn it into a precious abode of culture, arts and knowledge in the laps of the Himalayas. There is no place for grudge, ill-will, gossip and provocations, as some so-called and self-styled “life-trustees” from Shimla try to spread. This sacred place has a truly international value. The Roerichs’ heritage is so significant that it cannot belong solely to Kullu Valley or Himachal Pradesh, not even to India or Russia. Its influence stretches far beyond borders. It is a unique treasure-house of the world's cultural and civilizational value.
The Kullu Valley Roerich Hall estate must be meticulously preserved as a world-level unique museum complex. Russia wants the local authorities and the country’s leadership to realise it fully. We expect constructive cooperation become stronger and the Central Government participate directly in the decision-taking process of the Trust, which is the major joint Russia-India cultural project. It will forever remain such project, and there should not be any doubts about it.
It is gratifying that one of the major aspects of the Trust’s activities is child education. The younger generation is destined to carry on Roerich's baton -- “Towards peace through culture”. Svetoslav Roerich appealed to the organizing committee of the Naggar Trust in 1992, to assign highest priority to providing children with an opportunity to learn about the rich nature and distinctive traditions of this region, to discover cultural and aesthetic values through creative workshops. For nine years the Helena Roerich Arts College has been successfully working in the Estate enabling more than 100 children from the Valley to study painting, wood carving, classical Indian dances, singing and weaving. The IRMT annually hosts master-classes by renowned painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, teachers from Russia and other countries. It is inspiring how joyfully and warmly children respond to these initiatives thus reaffirming the potent creative power of the Roerichs’ ideals of Beauty which unite people irrespective of their language, nationality or faith.
It is particularly heartening that this year we have invited to our celebrations a wonderful Russian dance company “Exiton” from Ulyanovsk. Its young yet well established and famous artists will introduce Russia’s dance traditions to our guests. Hopefully, their performance will provide an insight into the diverse and colourful palette of Russia’s creative and cultural legacy.
Nicholas Roerich, who devoted his life to forging new avenues in the realm of peace and culture, to uniting countries under the Banner of Peace, wrote: “We need to throw wide open the gates of art. Only this way the genuine brotherhood of nations can grow”. From its very beginning the Roerichs’ Memorial in Naggar has been imbued with the ideas of international collaboration and friendship. No bureaucrats, whether former or functioning, can stop this.
We will not allow any hypocritical individuals acting for their selfish personal gains to sow discord, stir up dissension in our joint work or break its sacred foundations. The Russian side strongly stands against any attempts to speculate on temporary difficulties in the activities of the IRMT or to fan scandals around them. We are committed to search for constructive solutions in the spirit of mutual understanding, solidarity and cooperation. Joint research, educational work and active cultural exchanges build the strongest bridges between nations and continents. It is heartening to see that today the creative efforts of the IRMT, gaining support from representatives of Russia and India, Lithuania and Italy, Brazil and Kazakhstan, Estonia, the US and Slovakia and many other countries, are bearing splendid fruits.
We will do our best to guarantee that cooperation between Russia and India within the IRMT should grow and get stronger. Let the Memorial in Naggar flourish, enlighten, bring closer and unite people from various countries, helping to aspire for greater harmony and a better world.
The heritage of the Roerichs’ family is truly universal. Each member of this illustrious family has left a distinctive unique imprint on the global cultural canvas. While entering the third decade, the Trust has to leave behind all disagreements, sometimes artificial and far-fetched, at times intentionally created, and join hands in the noble cause of preserving, multiplying and memorialising the creative and spiritual heritage of the Roerich family. Their greatest gift of all is affection between Russia and India. No person on earth will be allowed to undermine this time-tested friendship sanctified by the magic OM-SHANTI mantra coming down from the holy Himalaya. It was also sanctified by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Nicholas Roerich here, 70 years ago, in 1942, when the Nehrus were the guests of the Roerichs.
Long live Russian-Indian Roerich Memorial!