Welcome Address by H.E. Mr Alexander M. Kadakin, Ambassador of Russia to India, at the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Roerich Pact in the Roerichs estate in Naggar, Kullu valley on October 9, 2010
Your Excellency esteemed Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, my dear friend Professor Prem Kumar Dhumal-ji,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends and my compatriots!
I am happy to welcome you at today’s function, held in one of the sacred Himalayas' most beautiful spots.
We are grateful, indeed, to the Honorable Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and all state and local authorities for their all-out support extended to IRMT. Roerich’s legacy does not recognize any political sympathies or antipathies, parties or trade unions -- it unites entire mankind. And even former Chief Minister (now Cabinet Minister), my friend Shri Virbhadra Singh and the present Chief Minister Prof. P.K.Dhumal, who have done so much for the progress of IRMT, are not an exception in this regard.
Celebrations similar to the ones we are witnessing today have given birth to a good tradition launched and upheld in the Roerichs' estate in Naggar thanks to the efforts of the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT). Today’s festivity, however, is very special and meaningful. 75 years ago one of the most far-sighted humanistic projects was started by Nicholas Roerich – this great Russian artist, philosopher, scientist, traveler, who made India his second home and who is fondly remembered and honoured as maharishi in this God-blessed and pristine Himalayan Kullu valley.
Three quarters of a century ago a unique international document on protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historic monuments known as the Roerich Pact was signed. Along with it Mankind received a symbol of protection of its cultural and historical heritage – the famous Banner of Peace. This very banner is proudly fluttering together with the national flags of India and Russia near Roerich’s house, and under its canopy we have gathered again here.
The idea of uniting the efforts of the world community in protecting cultural treasures had overwhelmed Nicholas Roerich long before it received real form and content, afterwards bringing together like-minded people in various parts of the world. It is deeply symbolic that the Roerich Pact was signed at a time when its author lived and worked on the Indian soil, on the laps of these majestic mountains which he depicted so splendidly in his paintings and which used to be for him an inexhaustible source of inspiration in all his endeavors. It would be appropriate to recollect in this regard Nicholas Roerich’s words from his book “The Heart of Asia”:
“… All the great symbols, all heroes, seem to be brought close to the Himalayas as if to the highest altar, where the human spirit comes closest to divinity. Are the shining stars not nearer when you are in the Himalayas? Are not the treasurers of the earth evident in the Himalayas?...” (Nicholas Roerich. The Heart of Asia. p.13).
Probably here, in the legendary Valley of the Gods, in the heart of the world’s greatest mountain range, the crucial rôle and magical power of Beauty and Harmony as major instruments for creating cultural heritage indispensable for development of human civilization, revealed itself to Nicholas Roerich.
“Where there is culture, there is also peace. There is also heroism, as well as correct solution of the most difficult social problems. Culture is an accumulation of the highest Bliss, of the highest Beauty, of the highest Knowledge”, wrote Nicholas Roerich.
This truth has found its reflection in thousands of Nicholas Roerich’s paintings which became priceless heritage vividly illustrating the greatness of his genius. Some of them are exhibited just a few steps away from here in the Roerich Gallery, in his house where he lived with his illustrious family for many years. His canvases depict sacred peaks, boulders with mantras and magic signs inscribed on them, monasteries and temples. Looking at them, one clearly apprehends the primordial material and spiritual environment which was always indispensible, both in olden times and now, for the life of inhabitants of this strikingly beautiful and blessed Indian land.
Through his masterpieces Nicholas Roerich sent us an appeal to preserve our priceless cultural and natural heritage and cherish it for the sake of present and coming generations. Observing today the jubilee of the Roerich Pact we should remember one of the its major precepts equally relevant for all of us, coming from various countries and nations, speaking different languages, practising different religions. In the absence of proper care about our common cultural heritage, as this document prophesies, we will inevitably destine ourselves to doom and extinction just like the mighty deodars in sacred forests would surely die if their roots are cut.
The works of Nicholas Roerich, permeated by immortal ideas of great teachers and sages of India and the Orient at large, teach us to cherish and replenish the world depositary of culture. It is heartening to see that the great deed initiated by Nicholas' son Svyatoslav Roerich almost 20 years ago, today brings a rich harvest. The museum complex and the Roerich art gallery have been included in the list of the most attractive places of interest of Kullu Valley and the whole of Himachal Pradesh. Thousands of Indians and foreign guests visit this memorial estate. Moreover, it helps greatly to promote tourism and provides employment to Naggar's residents as well as other citizens of the state.
Contrary to the pessimistic voices coming from outside I would like to remind you of some other notable achievements of IRMT. Look at this wonderful theatre where musicians, singers, dancers and other masters of arts perform regularly. Recall the numerous exhibitions introducing bright and distinctive creative works of young artists to the people of Himachal and other visitors of the museum complex. And last, but not least, I would like to pay tributes to the activities of the Helena Roerich Art College. Presently more than 120 children including those from not so rich village families, study in it and learn to perceive and create Beauty. I would also like to emphasize the substantial contribution made by the General Manager & Curator of the Trust, Dr Alena Adamkova in converting the Roerichs' Estate into a real cultural centre of international fame. Such selfless activity deserves highest appraisal and all round support. Following step by step along this path we will participate in translating Roerich’s dreams into reality, the cause for which all the talented members of his family were aspiring.
There is one more important message incorporated in the Pact by its author. Nicholas Roerich was convinced that apart from protecting material objects of culture it is equally essential to protect and highly value the Human Being as the supreme embodiment of spiritual knowledge. One should strive to overcome hostility and conflicts, distrust and suspicion, tragic disintegration and estrangement which, alas, often overshadow and poison our life, sometimes even inside the Trust itself. Any constructive work and achievement of desired results are possible only through mutual understanding and consent. One can create Beauty only with a pure heart and lofty, noble thoughts. One can realize these truths particularly clearly in this holy place where Nicholas Roerich was creating his works and where his terrestrial life came to an end. Let us remember the words of this outstanding Russian revered as maharishi in India:
“When we proclaim Love, Beauty, Action we know verily, that we pronounce the formula of the international language and this formula must enter everyday life. The sign of Beauty will open all sacred gates, beneath the sign of Beauty we walk joyfully, with Beauty we conquer, through Beauty we pray, in Beauty we are united”.
Naggar, Kullu Valley, October 9, 2010