India is responsible for preserving Roerich's heritage

Sunday, 29 April 2012 15:36

The heritage of the Roerich family of Oriental studies experts is closely tied to India. In 1920s they moved to the country that they had for long been so interested in. The family settled in the Kullu Valley in Nagar where Nikolai Roerich produced numerous paintings depicting the Himalayas.

Those paintings made the name of their author immortal. In Kullu his wife Elena Roerich worked on the main creation of her life – “The Living Ethics”. In that book a thousand years worth of Oriental wisdom is described in modern language. Their sons, Yuri and Svyatoslav, did research in archeology, ethnography and botany in the “Urusvati” Himalayan Research Institute that they set up. They were in close contact with European and American scientists. Prior to World War II Roerich’s home in Nagar became a point of attraction for many world famous artists and scientists.

            In the 1990s based on the will of Svyatoslav, the last descendant of the Roerichs who also became an artist as his father, the International Roerich Memorial Trust was set up. Svyatoslav appointed a well known Russian diplomat and India specialist Alexander Kadakin a permanent trustee of the Trust.

Well-known Indian public figures became members of  the Board of Trustees from the Indian side. One of them is Sudheendra Kulkarni, a columnist and a member of Mumbai chapter of the prestigious Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation.

In an interview to the Voice of Russia correspondent Natalie Benyukh he stated that the Roerich family is very respected in India:

 «The Roerich family left a priceless heritage to us. I would call Nikolai Roerich a superhero of artistic and spiritual values. His paintings and literary works disclose the beauty of the world in a completely different way. In his works he develops the idea of Fedor Dostoyevsky that it is the beauty that will save the world. We are lucky that the last 20 years of his life this great artist lived and worked in India, in the Himalayas. We cherish his works. By preserving and making publicly available his works we strengthen the friendship and cooperation between India and Russia. Nikolai Roerich and his family made a great contribution to the development of those ties.

The International Roerich Memorial Trust set up 20 years ago on the premises of the Roerichs' estate in Nagar is also working in that direction. Over the last 10 years the Russian trustee Alena Dr Adamkova has taken numerous effective steps towards the restoration of the Roerich Museum. The process of construction of an arts college named after Elena Roerich has commenced. Throughout the year various concerts of Russian and Indian performers, artists' workshops and exhibitions take place there. The Russian Embassy in New-Delhi and Ambassador Kadakin personally take an active part in the organization of those events. From all over India and Russia as well as many countries of the world the followers of the Roerichs who have similar views on the educational mission of art who support the idea of preserving for posterity the artistic and literary values of various epochs come to the Roerich Museum in Nagar. The Board of Trustees members are very grateful to the Russian side and the Russian trustee for that selfless work».

At the same time, the press talks a lot about the difficult situation in Nagar, that the Russian curator is resigning at the initiative of the Indian side. What is the cause of that?

«I am very upset about that state of things in Nagar, - says Mr. Kulkarni. – The burden of the responsibility for the difficulties that arose lies with the Indian side. It is essential to be more responsible and grateful towards the huge input of the Russian side to the work of the Roerich Trust, that positive contribution of the current Russian curator. The Roerich Trust was set up jointly by the Indian and Russian sides. Russia must take an active part in the work of the International Roerich Memorial Trust. This is our joint task to draw new generations to the priceless artistic, literary and scientific heritage of the Roerich family».

            The largest international organizations support a similar point of view. In April, an exhibition of Nikolai Roerich's paintings opened in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. On April 15 was the 77th anniversary of the Roerich Pact – the Treaty on the protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments. It was signed in the USA in 1935 and serves as important piece of international legislation aimed at protecting the world culture. A new exposition on the life and work of the Roerich family opened in the International Roerich Center in Moscow. Roerich's exhibitions are opened in many Russian cities. They are also opened in Ukraine, Slovak Republic and Holland. These days, the visitors of the Roerich estate in Nagar have a chance to look at the works of a young Russian artist who continues the Roerichs' tradition. The opening of a photography exhibition is also planned. It will be dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and India. Everything is ready for a concert by a children's music band from Moscow. Alena Adamkova has been in charge of preparing dozens, even hundreds of other events that draw tourists and prominent artistic figures to Nagar.

            «I am leaving a piece of my heart and my soul behind in Kullu, in Nagar», said Alena Adamkova in a telephone conversation with a Voice of Russia correspondent. Alena Adamkova is convinced that the bridge of Russian-Indian friendship, of international cultural cooperation to which such a significant contribution was made by the Roerich family members, will inevitably strengthen.

Natalya Benyukh

Apr 28, 2012/  The Voice of Russia

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