Naggar, Kullu Valley, May 1, 2011
Shri Prem Sharma-ji,
My colleagues Ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine,
Dear Naggar-wallas and Kullu-wallas
By the good and established tradition we are meeting here again, in this beautiful corner of the God-blessed Himalayas. We meet here to pay tribute to the great friend of India, outstanding Russian artist, scholar, traveler and philosopher maharishi Nikolas Roerich and his entire distinguished family whose spiritual, creative and scientific legacy serves the cause of strengthening ties between Russia and India and is rightfully regarded as a priceless heritage of mankind.
Many of you remember how neglected and dilapidated the Roerich’s estate looked twenty years ago. At that time it was known only to a handful of educated intellectuals occasionally visiting Naggar. Nowadays thanks to the IRMT activities it has blossomed into one of the major attractions in Northern India. Annually it is visited by almost a lakh of Indian and foreign pilgrims seeking beauty, those who appreciate our common cultural and historical roots.
One’s heart is filled with joy, delight and pride at what has already been done. Before our eyes the Hall Estate is transforming into a unique source of knowledge and education. Prominent Indian, Russian and foreign artists perform on the stage of this beautiful “Green” theatre. The IRMT exhibition hall regularly presents to you works of artists not only from Himachal and other Indian regions but from abroad as well. Your children enthusiastically attend the Helena Roerich Art College to learn singing and dancing, drawing and playing various instruments, to master the secrets of folk craftsmen – wood-carvers and weavers.
We could not even dream about it twenty years ago when I was just sharing my personal money with late Sister Ursula for her food. Today’s achievements fall in line with the concept of Svetoslav Roerich which he had in his mind while establishing his Trust and handing me a special power of attorney over the Hall Estate. Now his dreams have come true: the Naggar Estate has turned into a memorial complex which is successfully working to the benefit of your home state and in the interest of the great nations of Russia and India bound by many decades of true and time-tested friendship.
Today we laid the foundation stone of the International Roerich Academy of Arts. Russian and Indian architects jointly developed the scheme. They did their best to harmonize the buildings of the future Academy with the surroundings and the mountain landscape, so that it would be in keeping with everything which is near and dear to your hearts: the houses and mandirs of the picturesque Kullu Valley. Let me remind you that in 2001 none other than India’s former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee vigorously supported the idea of setting up the International Roerich Academy of Arts. My old friend Prof. P.K.Dhumal-ji, esteemed Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, also stands up for its implementation at the earliest. I am convinced that through our joint efforts this project will be successfully realized, and the next year young Kullu-wallas will be studying in the new premises of the Roerichs’ abode of art and culture. It will become another important step in converting this priceless cultural heritage into the genuine “shaan of Himachal”, a world-class cultural, educational and research complex.
It is especially gratifying to know that the Naggar-wallas themselves take an active part in developing the Estate. The Executive Council of the Public Committee of teachers and the parents of the Helena Roerich Art College students will take care of the construction process of the future Academy with further arrangement of its functioning. The Executive Council is headed by the well-known Naggar resident, respected pradhan Kehar Singh-ji. At the IRMT Board of Trustees meeting held on March 25 in Shimla he told us about the Committee’s plans that we will now jointly implement.
The Russian Embassy will render all possible assistance to carry out your ideas. Here we rely on such ardent enthusiasts of the common cause as the IRMT Executive Director/Curator Dr Alena Adamkova – our friend, colleague and an outstanding scholar. We are happy that her hard work in the IRMT has been properly appreciated. By the Presidential decree of February 2011 Dr Alena Adamkova was decorated with the Order of Friendship, the highest Russian award for foreigners. Let us take this occasion to once again personally and on behalf of all those present here, heartily congratulate Dr Alena.
Much work has been done, but a lot is still to be done. We are determined to advance together in spite of all hardships on our way. We do not turn a blind eye on certain shortcomings – they always surface whenever something new is emerging, whenever hard work is underway. We will continue to bend every effort to overcome them while standing strongly against any attempts to fan scandals around the IRMT.
The Roerichs’ great legacy is designed to unite people, to guide them towards creative work. In his book “The Invincible”, released today and sponsored by the Russian Embassy, Nicholas Roerich generously shares his thoughts regarding what should become a guiding beacon for us. Let me quote:
«Culture is true enlightened learning. Culture is a scientific and inspired approach to the solution of mankind’s problems. Culture is beauty in all its creative grandeur. Culture is exact knowledge without prejudices and superstitions. Culture is the affirmation of good in all its efficacy. Culture is a song of peaceful labor, in endless perfectment. Culture is revaluation of values for the sake of the discovery of the true treasures of the people.
Culture is affirmed in the heart of the people and creates striving for construction. Culture accepts all discoveries and improvements of life, because it lives in everything that thinks consciously. Culture defends the historic dignity of the nation.
Each opposition to culture is ignorance. Each obscenity against culture is a sign of a bestial state. Humaneness and service to humanity derive from culture. To carry the banner of culture means to safeguard the finest universal values».
The legacy of the Roerichs and their ideals have nothing in common with those who for the sake of their ambitions weave plots against our common cause and even threaten to “embark on the path of war”. We should resolutely drive away such foul rumour mongers and provocateurs! We are going different ways.
The inspiring, lofty mission, which was the reason behind the establishment and further functioning of the Roerich Trust, implies that only like-minded and open-hearted people should work at its fulfillment.
The founder of the IRMT Svetoslav Roerich often reiterated a simple slogan: “Let us strive for beauty together!” purporting that the all-conquering beauty should rule our common thoughts, endeavors and achievements.
Let us follow this behest!