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

Shambhala

Joy of Creation


As yet I have never been in South America. But in spirit I feel this physically unseen friendship and mutual understanding. From where does it come? Well, some have asked me if the root of our family comes from Spain, because a branch of our family is in Barcelona. Perhaps such pan-human feeling of advancing, searching and construction is deep in every human heart. Perhaps the sacred sense of adventures, in search of the great solutions, came into my being from the first years of consciousness, when as hunters, we traveled for days and days through the immense forests of Russia, certainly not with the idea of killing but with the comradeship of nature as our guiding star.

When we studied old structures of India, China and Tibet, our first comparison was with the remnants of the Mayan culture. And in my old article, “Joy of Art,” I could not finish this conception with anything other than with some reference to the ancient Mayas. In this way, that which was most ancient and most beautiful came to mind.

Just now I look upon a ring from Asia, with an inscription of the coming Age of Maitreya. And I cannot forget how one lady, who has studied the remains of Yucatan, recognized the same inscription there, with the meaning of the Union of Fire. Now comes the solution in this formula: Our spiritual, unseen friendship and devotion—does it not come from the all-pervading element of fiery space? In these all-pervading beneficial flames our hearts are enlightened and through them we recognize our friends, sincerity and co-workers.

Is it not the Union of Fire which now illumines the builders of Pan-America? And Asia when she speaks of the Blessed Shambhala, about Agni Yoga, about the Teaching of Flame, knows that the holy spirit of flame can unite the human hearts in a resplendent evolution.

In March, 1914, I exhibited a series of paintings in which was previsioned the coming war; now I have been happy to bring for the Americas the visions of Asia— the Agni Yoga, the Teaching of Flame, the same conception outlined by the wisdom of the old Yucatan wise men, the Union of Fire.

Again some of the Great Truth comes to us and this Truth expresses the gathering of all the bearers of fire of the heart, to enlighten the world with peaceful and beautiful labor. The abstract conception of love can again be transmuted into benevolent action, because without constructive action love is dead. But in the New Era nothing is dead, everything lives, uplifted by enlightened labor and enthusiasm. When I hear beautiful songs of Spain and South America, they reveal for me the great East.

Where is East and West? After Asia you come to Greece and you feel the wisdom of the East; you reach Italy and the same wise romance penetrates you; Corsica, Spain—in all these places is something still of the Great East. And the banners of Ferdinand and Isabella are close to Moresque ornaments. You reach New Mexico and in the spaces of this beautiful country again sounds for you the anthem of the East; and you know that in Mexico, in Yucatan, in all castles of South America, the same note of great romance, of great vision, of great wisdom, shall be everywhere.

I do not diminish either west, nor south, nor north, nor east—because in practise these divisions are non-existent. And the entire world is divided only in our consciousness. But when, with this consciousness, the fire of space penetrates, then is created the Union of Fire, and the Fire of Enthusiasm is unconquerable.

With this holy banner, we can reach most beautiful lands and we can awaken ancient cultures for new achievements and for new splendors.

On one of the most ancient Druidic images of far-off Mongolia I have seen in the hands of a stony giant a flaming chalice. These beginners of the great migrations remembered also about the holy spirit of flame. And certainly this inextinguishable torch could bring them through all expanses of Asia, Europe and across all oceans. In the antiquities of Yucatan is inscribed the ancient commandment about fire. In the name of this unifying, great wise symbol, I greet you, my unseen friends of South America.

What a joy it is to see again the towers of New York! How often in the deserts of Asia and especially in Tibet we remembered the skyscrapers, the Indian Pueblos and the ancient cities of Italy and Spain! The many-storied Tibetan buildings evoke images of skyscrapers. The labyrinthian clay walls of the usual Asiatic home recall the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona. The monasteries, proudly clinging to the summits, resemble the old eagles’ nests of Italy. When I saw once more, the towers of New York, I recalled the joyous exclamations which the photographs of these strongholds of human achievement evoked in Asia.

Never did we hear more enthusiastic admiration at the sight of postcards and photographs of New York than in the towns and nomad camps of Central Asia. The dwellers of clay-houses and yurtas tore these souvenirs out of each other’s hands and exclaimed: “This is the land of Shambhala!”

What more can a son of Asia say than this, his most sacred conception, in which are united all his hopes and aspirations? In prayers, Asia awaits Shambhala—this new era of mankind; and therefore each comparison with Shambhala is indeed the highest praise.

The inhabitants of Asia added: “America is the chichab over all countries!” And chichab means protector.

How many reproductions of the towers of New York have remained in the desert! And they are kept in the sacred corners, where the most revered objects are collected.

In the remote yurtas of Asia’s deserts, President Hoover is the giant Savior of starving peoples. Ford is considered as a symbol of motive power. The Mongols consider American Indians their lost relatives. All our latest discoveries are regarded by the East as signs of the era of Shambhala. Milliken’s cosmic ray, Einstein’s relativity, Teremin’s music from the ether, are regarded in Asia as signs of the evolution of human consciousness, confirmed by Vedic and Buddhist traditions and the teachings of Shambhala. According to these ancient teachings, the forties of our century are regarded as the era of cosmic energies and expanded consciousness.

These touching memories rose before me, when I again saw the towers of New York. And among the old friends I noticed so many new strongholds, which rose during the last five years. Such unarrestable creation gives real joy. When thirty years ago I arranged the first exhibition of paintings of artists of the United States in Russia, I expressed the firm opinion that Art in this great country would expand widely as all its vigorous activities.

Eight years ago, summarizing the position of art in America, I wrote an article “Collectors,” observing what colossal conquest of cultural principles had been achieved by America. In 1923, leaving for my long Central-Asiatic expedition, I could hear of the growth and art-movements in America, only from casual newspapers and clippings from magazines, or from letters, which rarely reached us. Of course it could be felt that the cultural-artistic and scientific work grew each year and that new co-workers and admirers entered. But returning to America and now stepping again into its cultural life, one must express sincere astonishment!

In the history of human achievement, America is an unique example of prodigious progress. Not bound by conventionalities and old forms, without prejudice, America built its life with the powerful hands of toil. Naturally, the question of material existence and life had first to be settled. Then attention was turned toward problems of technical necessity and social life.

Having built the foundation of civilization, America began to aspire toward the firm establishment of cultural principles. Knowledge and Beauty became imperative requirements in the life of the young country. In most unexpected ways, meriting great admiration, grew the conquest of Art and Science. The quality of production advances still higher, and this is always a sign of the growth of national creative genius. The wide industrial growth reaches the poesy of creation.

Business life becomes enriched with the true friends of the human spirit-books and creations of art. All the steps of culture lead, as they should, beyond national limitations. And another sign of true culture is the fact that what is gamed is not kept for personal use alone. The treasures of achievement are open to society as a whole.



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: isvara_museum@mail.ru