Nicholas Roerich on Culture, the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace
All dream of peace, of lasting peace, but it will not come through the international police, it will not be established through prohibitions and threats. Peace can be laid in the human heart, but it can only be filled with trust through Culture. Peace through Culture is our constant motto. Events have proven how necessary the shield of Culture is for humanity. If someone imagines that a ‘civilised’ person cannot go wild – he or she is mistaken, the civilised savage is the most disgusting spectacle.
S.N. Roerich Portrait of Professor N.K.Roerich
with sculpture of Guga Chokhan. 1937
L.V.Shaposhnikova “Relevance of the Roerich Pact in the Contemporary World”
What is culture? Even among well-educated people there are only a few who can give an answer to this question. Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich, a great artist, a great scientist, a famous traveller, and a outstanding public figure, defined Culture in this way: “Culture is the reverence for Light. Culture is love for a man. Culture is fragrance, a combination of life and beauty. Culture is the synthesis of sublime and refined achievements. Culture is the weapon of Light. Culture is salvation. Culture is the engine. Culture is the heart. If we gather all the definitions of Culture, we find a synthesis of the effective Good, the hearth of enlightenment and creative Beauty”.
Nicholas Berdyaev, the greatest philosopher of the Silver Age, noted the main features of culture. “The most ancient of cultures – the culture of Egypt,” he wrote, “began in the temple, and its first creators were the priests. The culture is linked to the cult of the ancestors, to tradition and tradition. It is full of sacred symbolism, it provides knowledge and semblances of another, spiritual reality. All culture (even material culture) is a culture of the spirit; all culture has a spiritual basis – it is the product of the creative work of the spirit over the natural elements.”
Both these fragments in which we find the essence of true culture, defined by Nicholas Roerich as “weapons of Light” and “synthesis of the effective Good”, and by Berdyaev as “knowledge and likenesses of other, spiritual reality,” indicate a different approach to Culture as such and its connection to a higher state of matter and its dimension. This link via the inner world of man determines the true creativity in the space of Culture, the creativity that is undoubtedly evolutionary in nature. (Continue…)
Source: L.V. Shaposhnikova, “Relevance of the Roerich’s Pact to the Contemporary World” Published in: Kultura i vremya. – 2005. – № 4 (18). – p. 40-51.
Marga Kutsarova. “Implementation of Nicholas Roerich’s idea “Peace through Culture” – inevitable way to develop mankind”.
Presentation at the International Scientific-Public Conference “Russia and the Roerichs’ Legacy” (ICR, October 8-11, 2014).
The famous humanist of the 15th-16th centuries Erasmus of Rotterdam has a work “The Complaint of Peace”, where the Peace, in accordance with the ancient vision, is presented in the image of a woman. Peace cannot find a place on Earth, wherever she goes, everywhere there is discord. Her hope that at least in one Christian city people live in peace and harmony, is in vain. In desperation, Peace tries to find refuge in the heart of at least one person. When this attempt fails too, she sighs, “The same man is at war with himself. Reason is at war with the passions; … Duty calls along one path, inclination along another.” <…> In the light of the above, we can better understand the words of the great Russian thinker, scientist, artist and peacemaker Nicholas Roerich: “A destroyer, a liar, a pervert cannot be a bearer of peace. After all, peace is justice, dignity, nobility, awareness, tolerance, creativity, and all that is not included in the concept of ignorance”. <…> Roerich’s formula “Peace through Culture” is of paramount importance, for it implicitly gives both the cause of wars of all levels – ignorance, and the source of its overcoming – Culture. The key to Peace lies precisely in the space of Culture, but not in the field of civilization. (Continue…) Source: ICR website
A.V.Stetsenko. “The Roerich Pact – The Path to Peace through Culture”.
Lecture at the VI International Conference “The Roerich Pact: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. The 115th Anniversary of the Roerich Expedition “Along the Old” (July 6-7, 2018. Riga, Latvia)
As we know, the history of human civilisations has largely been kept alive by wars, which have solved almost every problem except the basic one: how to keep the peace. After all, it is only in building peace that wellbeing is possible. But the consciousness of the majority of people, who saw the main meaning of life in satisfying ever-increasing material needs, led to an increasing separation of the material from the spiritual, of civilization from culture, and their confrontation. In the twentieth century this division and confrontation led to two world wars, which brought the world and all of humanity to the brink of disaster.
The twentieth century was the most devastating in human history. According to Wikipedia, there have been 214 armed conflicts and wars, including two world wars, over the past 100 years on planet Earth.
According to the Institute for International Conflict Research in Heidelberg, there have been 1,125 wars and armed conflicts in the last 5 years of the 21st century (2013-2017). That is 5.3 times more than in the entire twentieth century!
If 34 wars and armed conflicts took place in the world during the last 10 years of the 20th century, then 1,125 took place during the last 5 years of the 21st century. Thus, the number of wars and armed conflicts has increased 33 times!
Such a huge increase in wars and armed conflicts shows clearly that neither political nor economic mechanisms can guarantee lasting peace. Moreover, they are often the very reason for the outbreak of armed conflicts and wars. Thus, the establishment of peace in the world is the most important task. It is not to say that mankind has not tried to establish lasting peace. But this task has been taken in the wrong direction. (Continue…) Source: ICR website
Films about the Roerich Pact
Relevance of the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace (2014)
The Roerich Pact. Peace through Culture (2015)
The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity. Destruction of the Roerich Museum in Moscow (2017)