(1874 - 1947)
Professor Roerich with sacred casket from the painting by
by kind permission of the Roerich Museum,
To go straight to BANNERS OF THE EAST
Series of paintings
Nicholas Roerich (Nikolai Rerikh in Russian) is generally known for his
paintings (of which there are around 7,000) but he was also a philosopher,
archaeologist, educationalist, writer and cultural leader. He was involved in
the building of the first Buddhist Temple in Russia in St Petersburg. He had
also studied far eastern wisdom (primarily via the teachings of Swami
Vivekananda) and the ancient wisdom teachings via the Theosophical
teachings (alongside other adherents of Theosophy such as Mondrian, Kandinsky and, in fact, hundreds of
painters at the start of the twentieth century) brought to the world primarily through his Russian compatriot Madame
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. In fact, Roerich, alongside his wife Helena Roerich, was the
first person to translate Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE into Russian. This is
a major work said to be guided by certain Masters of the White Lodge or
otherwise known as the Trans-Himalayan occult brotherhood. The Theosophical
Society is nonsectarian, nonpolitical and nondogmatic. Its three declared
To form a nucleus of the universal
brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or
To encourage the comparative study of
religion, philosophy and science.
To investigate unexplained laws of nature
and the powers latent in humanity.
For more on the Theosophical Society
visit their site by clicking
The Agni Yoga teachings were from the same spiritual source as the Theosophical
Teachings. In ancient India, Agni is the god of Fire.
Roerich's spiritual philosophy was pan-human and this page is dedicated to the
Series of paintings which Roerich painted in 1924 titled Banners of the East.
These depict several sages, saints and adepts of various spiritual
traditions around the world - however, not as other-worldly soul beyond the
grasp of mere humans but rather involved in earthly activities and mostly
derived from stories or accounts of certain episodes in their spiritual lives.
Roerich painted several Series including: Maitreya, Sancta, His Country,
Sikkim and Ocean to name some of these. Regarding Banners of the
East, in the Buddhist tradition it is stated that the next Buddha, or world teacher,
will be the Buddha Maitreya. Roerich studied the various legends concerning
Maitreya, including the links with Shambhala, and during his two far-eastern
expeditions, spoke with various lamas and others about these legends and the
period of time that they then lived in, which was believed to be on the verge of a New Epoch,
under the dispensation of the Lord Maitreya. Certain writers state that Rigden
Djapo (the Ruler of Shambhala) is another name for the Lord Maitreya. There is a
sequence of Rulers of Shambhala each one leading for a cyclic period of time and
Roerich's research informed him that Rigden Djapo is the name for the current
ruler. It must also be understood that the Lord Maitreya will not come in physical form but, rather will appear within
the spiritual heart of those dedicated to the New Epoch, and Roerich associated
this New Epoch with, amongst other things, the spiritual energy of Unity,
Harmony and Beauty.
Command of Rigden Djapo
from the painting by Professor Nicholas Roerich
by courtesy of the Roerich Museum New York.
In the painting at the top of this page we see Roerich himself wearing some ancient Tibetan robes
holding, in a gesture of beneficent service, a casket covered with the cloth
used in Christian ceremonies. Hence we see simply depicted, the union of Eastern
and Western spiritual traditions whilst, inside the casket is said to be,
amongst other items, a stone from far-off worlds. And so it is that
extra-terrestrial life is also embraced within his spiritual vision. Roerich and those with him saw a UFO
(although this term hadn't been invented then) during his expedition in the East during the 1930s,
which is chronicled in his book Altai Himalaya.
Roerich's art falls broadly into three main
categories: firstly, his Stone Age period, secondly, his Theatre period (he was
the inspiration for Stravinsky's infamous Rite of Spring), and thirdly,
what is termed his Himalayan period.
Hence we focus within the beginnings of his later Himalayan period. We shall
take his cycle of paintings Banners of the East,
which seem to suggest that all of these several spiritual teachers, etc, are as
the several notes upon the One Flute of the Divine Being. As Jesus Christ said
to his disciples: "He who is not against us is with us." Roerich, in
the 1920s, goes on to include women via the Mother of the World. Such a vision
of wholeness seems
almost more poignant during our own time where religious intolerance, courtesy
of religious fanatics of numerous persuasions, has reached unhealthy
proportions. The ancient sages of India knew the various natures of humankind
and devised numerous pathways of spiritual unfoldment via the several paths of
yoga: Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Nada Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Jnana Yoga,
Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga - and so the list goes on with well over 40 different
yogas. All were considered equal in the eyes of the Supreme One, for their sense
of Unity was one of Multi-unity; not a mechanistic vision of conformity to a
manufactured uniformity but, rather, a vision akin to that of a Christmas tree
with a Star of Light at the apex and countless lights all the way down the
several branches of the tree - yet all sharing that One Light. One may even
envision these as several coloured lights upon this self-same Tree, again each
one sharing that One Source of Light and yet manifesting it as a different
colour from out of the spectrum - or, to use our previous simile, a different
note upon the One Flute.
This series of paintings have now been
put to Frank's Tibetan Singing bowl meditation music and is free to view on youtube
(titled Sacred Flute). Click on youtube or visit their site and search for Frank
Perry (or mountainbellmusic) where you will currently find five other audio-visuals featuring the
paintings of Nicholas Roerich synthesised alongside Frank's acoustic meditation
music on ancient ritual instruments from Tibet.
Great if you want to touch base/source
for a few minutes during a busy day.
BANNERS OF THE
Buddha the Conqueror before the spring
of life. 1925.
Moses the Leader upon the summit,
surrounded by the glory of the heavens. 1925
Sergius the Builder, labouring with his
own forces. 1925
Confucius the Just, the traveller in
En-no-Gyoja, friend of the Travellers
Milarepa, the One Who Hearkened - at
sunrise comprehending the voices of the Devas. 1925
rDorje the Daring, who stood facing
Mahakala himself. 1925
Saraha the Beneficient Arrow, never
slackening in its mission of benevolence. 1925
Mohammed upon Mount Hira (the message of
the Archangel Gabriel). 1925
Nagarjuna, Conqueror of the Serpent,
beholding upon the lake the vision of the Ruler of the Nagi. 1925
Oirot the Messenger of the White Burkhan,
the legend of Altai. 1925
Mother of the World. 1924
Signs of Christ. 1924
Lao Tze. 1924
Padma Sambhava. 1924
Chalice of Christ. 1925
The Ancient Serpent. 1924
The Watch upon the Himalayas. 1925
These are presented in the order in
which they are mentioned in Roerich's travel diary Altai Himalaya.
All of the above reproductions are courtesy of the Roerich
Museum, New York.
To visit their site, dedicated entirely to Nicholas Roerich
and with many more reproductions click
© Copyright by Frank Perry 2004. All rights reserved.
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