Born in October 1874 in St. Petersburg, Russia, his original name was Nikolay Konstantinovich Ryorikh. Once a scenic designer for Sergey Paviovich Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, he became an archaeologist, landscape painter and popular mystic. Roerich immigrated to the US in 1920, where he became a reputed painter, seer, guru and peacenik. His more than seven thousand paintings have now their places in different museums and galleries around the globe. As a talented writer he wrote for many eminent Indian journals like Modern Review, Prabuddha Bharata etc. During his time, Roerich was universally revered as the greatest living Apostle of culture, and became the first President of the World of Art. In 1929 Roerich proposed to have a pact among the countries of the world for preservation of all art and science treasures. The legal form for the pact was eventually drawn, and was accepted by the League of Nations in 1930. Later this pact, known as ‘Roerich Pact’, was accepted by various countries. ‘When I think of Nicholas Roerich’, Jawaharlal Nehru once said, ‘I am astounded at the scope and abundance of his activities and creative genius.’ During the last twenty years of his life, Roerich had his residence in India at the stunning Kulu Valley of the Himachal Pradesh. He had a wonderful book of paintings The Himalayas.
We are in the deserts of Mongolia. It was hot and dusty yesterday. From faraway thunder was approaching. Some of our friends became tired from climbing up the stony holy hills of Shiret Obo. While already returning to the camp, we noticed in the distance a huge elm-tree—‘karagatch’, lonely towering amidst the surrounding endless desert. The size of the tree, its somewhat familiar outlines, attracted us into its shadow.
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Thoughts turned to the radiant giant of India—Sri Ramakrishna. Around this glorious name there are so many respectful definitions. Sri, Bhagavan, Paramahamsa—all best offerings through which the people wish to express their esteem and reverence. The consciousness of a nation knows how to bestow names of honour. And after all, above all most venerable titles, there remains over the whole world the one great name— Ramakrishna. The personal name has already changed into a great all-national, universal concept.
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Light is especially precious during the hours of darkness. May the Light be eternally preserved! In his parables about the Good, Ramakrishna never belittled anyone. And not only in the Teaching, in parables, but in his own deeds he never tolerated bemeaning. Let us remember his reverent attitude towards all religions. Such broad understanding will move even a stony heart. In his broad outlook, the Blessed Bhagavan of course possessed a real straight-knowledge. His power of healing he in turn gave out freely. He never hid anything useful. He exhausted his strength in innumerable blessed givings. And even his illness of course was due to such constant self-sacrificing outpouring of his spiritual energy for the healing of others. And in these generous gifts Ramakrishna manifested his greatness.
In all parts of the world the name of Ramakrishna is venerated. Also is revered Swami Vivekananda, who symbolizes true discipleship. The names of Ramakrishna,
Vivekananda and the glorious host of their followers remain on the most remarkable pages of the history of the spiritual culture of India. The astounding depth of thought, which is characteristic of India, the beautiful manifestation of guru and chela—remind the whole world of basic ideals. Ages pass, whole civilizations change, but the guru and the chela remain in the same wise relationship, which was since antiquity established in India.
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Not only the everlasting value of the Teaching of Good affirmed by Ramakrishna, but precisely the necessity of these words especially for our time is unquestionable. When spirituality, as such, is being so often refuted through wrongly interpreted formulae, then the radiant constructive affirmation as a beacon becomes especially precious.44