I made a little pelgrimage to the Tataguni Estate to pay my respect to the inspirering lives of the Roerich family, a Russian aristocratic family, that left behind a legacy of elevating and mystical artwork, archaeological discoveries, pax cultura and books on spiritual development. They greatly emphasized that art and beauty elevates our thinking and therefore contributes to a greater humanity.
“In Bombay I was once asked what was the difference between East and West, and I answered: ‘the best roses of East and West have the same fragrance.’ So while we are speaking about opposition and differences, essentially we are One.”- Nicholas Roerich in his letter “The Beautiful”
Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) was born into a upper middle-class family St. Petersburg, Russia. His father had a law firm and to please him, Nicholas enrolled into the law faculty in St. Petersburg University and simultaneously studied art in the Imperial Academy of Arts, to pursue his own passion. He married the talented piano-player and writer Helena Shaposhnikova (1879-1955) and they welcomed two sons together: Tibetologist George Roerich (1902-1960) and artist Svetoslav (1904-1993).
They believed we can only grow as humanity by placing high ideals before us, because then we are drawn to them, consciously or subconsciously, and we move beyond the ordinary and little needs of the day, into a greater thinking, creation and morality.
Plato said: “Only in contemplation of beauty is human life worth living.”
They dedicated their life to this philosophy, living out what they believed. Nicholas painted over 7000 exceptional paintings, depicting Himalayan landscapes, yogi’s and other mystical figures from East and West. Helena wrote a list of books, ranging from ‘the foundations of Buddhism’ to ‘Agni Yoga’, Teaching of Fire, that is intended to be a path of practice in daily life.
His art is displayed in two musea:
Nicholas Roerich Museum in Manhattan, New York
and other, Nicholas Roerich Museum in Moscow, this is the international centre of the Roerichs.
“By studying and absorbing the best of any branch of achievement in every country and nation, we accumulate the necessary material of impressions, which will eventually re-emerge de novo transmuted by our own particular individuality into a new and greater expression.” Svetoslav Roerich in his book Creative Thought.
By studying the greatest examples of our time, those strong individuals that pushed us forward by giant steps, we collect the right thoughts to create forth on that. We are moved to give something from us to the next generations.
It’s quite logical when you deepen his thought- we become what we constantly think. What you focus on, you unify with. Focus on that what inspires, what uplifts, what helps you moved forward.
I believe the true purpose of art is meant to inspire you, touch something within you and lift you up. Art is beauty and beauty can heal us.
I am a lover of beauty; from the pink blossom on trees, to elevated poetry, to vibrant colours in clothing, to inspiring artwork, to the perfected movements in dance, to goodness of heart, to raw authenticity. Basically: all that inspires and elevates. I possess a sensitivity for this and it’s my soulfood.
This is why I was overjoyed when I saw I would be flying to Bangelore. On the outskirts of it stands Tataguni Estate, the residence where Svetoslav Roerich and his wife, Devika Rani, a beautiful Indian actress lived over 40 years.
I spent my day with Majunath, a very friendly and patient driver, instagram-photo-maker, bodyguard and city guide. We were singing songs in the car together. As a lover of Bollywood, I actually memorized the Hindi lyrics from songs and we sang together, even here unifying in art, culture and plain joy. It was quite funny since my pronunciation of Hindi isn’t the best.
I came here to pay my respect and place flowers on their tombs and in a way, strengthen my bond with the Roerich family because their message resonates with me.
The first sight that welcomes you is a round park with gigantic trees and elegant lianas draping down, serving as a home to playing monkeys that approach curiously to see if you carry any food. On the ground there are a multitude of leaves in bright colours of magenta, green, orange and yellow, as if it’s decorated for a wedding ceremony.
The entrance to the main residence and studio remain closed, only peeking through the dust-covered windows allows you to see the remains of their former life here.
I am verily surprised that it has not been transformed into a respectable museum, honouring the life and work of the great artist and his connection to India. Even his marriage to a beautiful Indian actress unifies two deep cultures and connects the world together. Even in love they found their unification, just as their message about art was about unification.
As the son of the famous and world-renowned artist, it is not peculiar that he has followed his prominent father in his mindset that art and beauty are unifying forces and of vital importance for the flourishing of civilization.
He served as the president of the Nicholas Roerich museum in Moscow, helped to found pax cultura -“the Roerich-pact” an agreement to preserve cultural, religious and scientific institutions and monuments against the demolishment that came with the second world war. He also financially supported a school in Bangalore, India where children were taught about the great Masters of life. Imagine doing all of that in one life.
I hope we will always remember the great work they did on behalf of humanity and evolution. Their mission was difficult and challenging. I pay my respect.
“Never tire, then, in the work that is your dharma, your duty to be the wholeness of yourself. Never be frustrated that you are misunderstood. Embrace then, the work that is yours, work to perfect your art, your science, your calling.” – Nicholas Roerich, in Pearls of Wisdom
Thank you for travelling with me, hope to see you soon again!