Friday, 06 November 2009 14:54
Category: The Roerichs' Heritage
Honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am extremely happy to see you all here who have gathered today at the International Roerich Memorial Trust in Naggar to pay homage and respect to the Roerichs - great Russian family who had made India their second home and whose legacy is our common cultural heritage.
Today we celebrate the 132nd Birth Anniversary of Prof. Nicholas Roerich -eminent Russian artist, philosopher, scientist, traveller, great humanist and Nobel Prize nominee.
Dear friends, there is no need to persuade anyone that it is our duty to keep alive the memory of the unique Russian family both in India and Russia for the sake of future generations. They will remain forever the spiritual and cultural bridge connecting both countries. Professor Nicholas Roerich believed that India and Russia were like two parts of a future realm of light and happiness:
"The heart of India longs for the boundless Russia. The great Indian magnet attracts Russian hearts…It is heartening to see the vitality in the Indo-Russian ties…The Beauty is imbibed in this Indo-Russian magnet." - he wrote.
Living in this country the Roerichs merged with the Indian people's soul whom they came to love dearly, much of their creative force and talent was devoted to the spiritual coming together of Russia and India. I am confident that this "eternal magnet" of spiritual and cultural kinship will grow stronger day by day and will never cease to attract and tie together our two nations.
It is needless to say that Nicholas Roerich was a great humanist, who lived an extraordinary, spectacular life, rich in experience and achievements. It could be described as a progression of ceaseless work and struggle to give mankind new vistas in the appreciation of beauty and perfection. He was an outstanding writer who published more than thirty volumes of works besides innumerable articles, poems and essays. Prof. Roerich was an archaeologist, historian, philosopher and explorer. His travels took him around the world. Wherever he went he carried his message of Beauty and Unity.
Nicholas Roerich was an outstanding artist, who created more than 7000 paintings, murals, designs for mosaics and the stage. His paintings which can be seen in the leading museums of the world immediately convey the seal of his personality of a master painter, a poet and universal peace activist.
One of Nicholas Roerich's great contributions to our cultural life was no doubt his International Pact for the preservation and protection of cultural treasures in times of war or civil strife. He believed that "culture belongs to no one man, group, nation or era. It is the mutual property of mankind and the heritage of generations. It is the constructive creation of human endeavor. It transcends all obstacles, prejudices and intolerance. It is the highest perception of beauty and knowledge. Without culture there is no truth, no unity, no peace." Hence its protection is fundamental to the very survival of Humankind.
The Roerich Pact was first agreed to by twenty-one nations of the Americas and signed as a treaty more than 70 years ago on April 15, 1935. Albert Einstein, Romain Roland, Bernard Shaw, Thomas Mann, Hubert Wells, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore and many other personalities worldwide backed up the Pact. It was later signed by many other countries, and today this treaty is international law.
The Roerich Pact, as we may say this "Red Cross of Culture", has not lost its significance today, when we witness many cases of destruction of the sites of Humankind's cultural heritage, among them, to name just a few, are Bamian Buddhas in Afghanistan and historical and cultural sites in Iraq.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the Roerichs' heritage is not a past history. The emotional appeal of Prof. Nicholas Roerich can serve as a guiding beacon for Humanity in its striving for a better, safer and more beautiful world in pursuit of happiness and attainment of harmony.
As he said: "Where there is Peace, there is Culture; Where there is Culture, there is Peace."
For over a decade the Russian-Indian International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT) has been functioning extremely successfully here in Naggar. Much has been done there for the restoration and development of the Roerich Museum and Art Gallery,
which attracts over a lakh visitors annually. The Helena Roerich Art College has started functioning under the auspices of the IRMT.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of Himachal Pradesh and all our Indian friends for their devotion and persistent efforts in safeguarding the legacy of the unique Russian family of the Roerichs in India.