Nicholas Roerich Estate Museum in Izvara
Nicholas Roerich
Estate Museum
in Izvara


Light in the Desert

The next morning you observe the burned steppe from the mountain top. All is black, all has changed. And again the layers of dust shall come and cover the black carpet. But you see smoke on the next mountain. What is it? A Mongol explains to you—there under the ground coal is burning and has burned for many months. Thus calmly speaks the Mongol of the destruction of his own treasures.

Likewise the whirlwind extinguishes the bonfires. After midday a gale begins. The Mongols cry out: “Let us stop, otherwise we will be carried away by the wind.” Sand and stones fly in the air. You are trying to hide behind the boxes of the caravan. In the morning it appears that you stand on the very shore of a lake.

Various are the miracles of the desert.

And other fires, not the bonfires, are glowing in a far distance. They are yellow and red. From these mysterious sparks complicated structures are created. Look, there are cities in red sparks, some are rising as palaces and walls. Is that not a gigantic sacred bull glowing in red sparks? Are there not, in the far distance, several windows sparkling and inviting the travelers? From the darkness near you big black holes are emerging, like an old cemetery some ancient flat stones surround you. Under the hoofs of horses something strong and firm rings out like glass.

The Tsaidam guide says severely: “Walk, all of you. One after the other, without turning from the path. Caution!” But he does not explain the reason for caution and he does not want to go first. And the other Mongolian lama also does not wish to walk in front.

Some danger is lurking near. One hundred and twenty miles we walk steadily without a halt. There is no water for the horses. In the early dawn we see that we are going over a rather thin crust. One could see through the holes in it the black bottomless salt water. These are not the slabs of the cemetery but sharp precipitants of the salt. Maybe they can also become tombstones for those who carelessly fall into the gaping black pit. What metamorphoses took place in these regions? Flaming castles disappeared in the rays of light. But when this peculiar seeming cemetery ended, we saw again around us yellow rosy sands. Then came a story. Once upon a time a big city stood on this site. The inhabitants of the city were prosperous and lived at ease surrounded by great wealth. But even silver gets dark when not used. So the accumulated treasures have not been used in a proper way. And good principles of life were forgotten. But there is justice, even on our earth and all nefarious things are to be destroyed, when the great Patience is exhausted. With cries and screams, in fire, this city suddenly plunged down and the sea filled this gigantic cavern. A great deal of time passed. And again the sea was covered with salt, but this site still remains uninhabited. All places, where some injustice has been manifested, will remain uninhabited.

And the guide asks you with a mysterious look: “Perhaps during the night you have seen some strange lines in the darkness?” One of our fellow travelers whispers: “Is it not a story of Atlantic? Is not Poseidon revealed in this legend?” But the guide continues: “Some of the people of this city, the best ones, have been saved. An unknown shepherd came from the mountains and warned them of the coming disaster. And they went to the caves. If you want, you may go once to these caves. I will show you a stone door which is tightly closed. But we do not know how to unlock it.”

“Probably you also know some directions, where are the sacred frontiers, which you dare never to cross?”

“Yes, only those who are called can enter these boundaries. There are some signs indicating these forbidden regions. But even without visible signs you can feel it, because every one who approaches, will feel a tremor in his whole body. A hunter was sufficiently strong to cross this boundary. He has seen there some miraculous wonderful things, but he was senseless and he tried to speak about the hidden matters, and therefore he became dumb. With sacred matters we must be very careful. Everything revealed before the destined date involves a great calamity.”

In the distance some shiny white peaks are emerging. They are the Himalayas! Not so high they seem to be because we ourselves are on heights. But how white they are! They are not mountains, but realms of snow. That is the Everest—says the guide.

Nobody as yet ever ascended this sacred treasury of snows. Several times “pellings” tried to overpower this mountain. And some of them perished in the effort. And others had many hardships. This mountain is predestined for the Mother of the World. Its summit must be pure, unviolated and virgin. Only She, the Mighty, She can be there. The silence guarding the world.

The bonfires are glowing. Best thoughts are accumulating round the flames. In the far desert thousands of pigeons are living about the sacred massar old tombs. As holy messengers they are flying far around and inviting the travelers under the hospitable roof. Around the bonfires glimmer their white wings. The light in the desert.

Near the stream, over the very precipice, the silhouette of a horse becomes faintly visible in the mist. And something, so it seems, glitters strangely on the saddle. Perhaps this is a horse that has been lost by a caravan. Or maybe this horse has thrown off its rider whilst jumping over an abyss. Or perhaps this is a horse left behind because he was weak and without strength, and he now looks for his master.

So speaks the mind, but the heart remembers other things. The heart remembers how from the great Sham-bhala, from the beautiful mountain heights, at a destined hour, there will descend a lonely horse and on its saddle instead of the rider there will shine forth the jewel of the world: Norbu-rinpoche—Chintamani—the miraculous stone, preordained to save the world.

Has not the time come? Does not the lonely horse bring us the Jewel of the World.


Museum Address: 188414, Izvara Village, Volosovo District, Leningrad Region, Russia.
Phones: +7-813-73-73-273 (group tours); Phone/Fax +7-813-73-73-298 (general)
Museum Director: Cherkasova Olga Anatolievna E-mail: