What is culture? Even among well-educated people, only a few could be found who will be able to answer this question. Great artist, outstanding scientist, famous traveler, and remarkable public figure Nicholas Roerich gave the following definition of Culture: “Culture is reverence for Light. Culture is love for man. Culture is fragrance, combination of life and beauty. Culture is synthesis of lofty and subtle achievements. Culture is the weapons of Light. Culture is salvation. Culture is engine. Culture is heart. If we collect all definitions of Culture, we shall find a synthesis of active Benefit, a center of education and creative Beauty”.
Major philosopher of the silver age N. Berdiayev pointed out the main peculiarities of culture. “One of the most ancient cultures – the culture of Egypt, he wrote, started in the temple, and its first creators were priests. Culture is connected with the cult of ancestors, with legends and tradition. It is full of sacred symbols, it contains knowledge and a kind of a different, spiritual reality. Any culture (even material culture) is the culture of spirit; any culture has spiritual basis – it is the product of the spirit creative work on natural elements”.
Both these two extracts in which we find the essence of true culture determined by N. Roerich as “the weapons of Light” and “synthesis of active Benefit”, and by Berdiayev as “knowledge and a kind of a different, spiritual reality”, testify to a different approach to Culture as such, and its relation to a higher state of matter and matter dimension. This relation, passing through the inner world of man, determines real creativity in the space of Culture, creativity which, undoubtedly, has evolutionary character. “Through culture, N. Berdiayev pointed out, the way upward and forward lies, and not backward, to pre-cultural state. This is the way of conversion of culture itself into new being, new life, new heaven, and new earth. Only on this way, barbarian sounds and barbarian gestures which have burst into culture can be submitted to the new cosmic harmony and new cosmic rhythm. Not only art, but human creativity as well, will irrevocably perish and plunge into initial darkness, if it does not become creativity of life, creativity of a new man and his spiritual way”. The evolutionary role of culture was noted by not only Berdiayev, other major philosophers of the Silver Age, outstanding scientists, famous artists of the beginning of the XX century wrote about it as well. This role essence was, first of all, the fact that culture, as N. Berdiayev put it, was spiritual way of a new man, without which improvement of man, expansion of his mentality, and his ascent onto a higher step of Cosmic evolution were not possible. The level of culture of man, nation, country, in the long run, determines their evolutionary fate, determines the process of improvement of their life. The Living Ethics, philosophy of cosmic reality created by Nicholas and Helena Roerichs in collaboration with an anonymous group of Teachers, quite convincingly proves that it is Culture that constitutes one of the most important foundations of the humanity evolution. This idea penetrated all Nicholas Roerich’s creative work, both artistic and philosophic. It was him who tried to bring to at least elementary order the confusion of views existing in the space of Culture. This confusion was far from harmless and often resulted in diminishing Culture as such, what, beyond all doubt, conditioned major crises in the life of whole countries and nations.
Any earthly phenomenon, its essence, its influence on the being of humanity is determined by the interaction of spirit and matter in its space. Both these phenomena cover all manifestations of the humanity life, and beyond them there is nothing more. The two-wing structure of the mankind existence requires deep understanding of this phenomenon, and strict observation of the necessary harmony between the wings of the evolutionary flight of mankind. If culture, conditionally speaking, is the spirit of man’s being, then civilization is its arrangement, or matter of this being. However, strange as it may seem, confusion of these two notions – culture and civilization – is still taking place. One is often substituted by the other. “The notions of Culture and civilization have to be repeated meaningfully, N. Roerich wrote. – Surprisingly, we have to notice that these notions, which seem so precisely determined by their roots, are already subject to reinterpretation and distortion. For example, until now, many people believe it quite possible to substitute the word of Culture for civilization. At that, it is absolutely overlooked that the Latin root Cult itself has a very deep spiritual meaning, while civilization has in its root civil, public structure of life”.
Both these types of activity, which seem so closely interconnected, have different sources of origination and different contents and purposes. Identification of civilization and Culture results in a confusion of the underlying notions, in underestimation of the spiritual factor in the history of mankind. Often happening substitution of one notion by the other provides a possibility to impose on Culture untypical for it functions, and to ascribe to civilization something that is absolutely uncharacteristic of the same. It resulted in myths about “thousand year kingdoms”, “eternally alive teachings”, “proletarian” and “bourgeois” cultures.
To the sphere of Culture, we can refer those manifestations of the human spirit which seem to be pouring out of mysterious depths of man, have natural character and are normal for him. Song and music, artistic creation in all its manifestations, various cults, ethical issues, poetry, and many other thing which seem to have appeared together with man, which grew and developed simultaneously with his consciousness.
Culture, unlike civilization, is a self-organizing system of spirit, creating in accordance with the level and quality of this spirit. In other words, self-organization of spirit is a form of existence of Culture.
Creation of the Hierarchs, representing spiritual Cosmos and participating in the evolution of mankind, shows itself, first of all, in the field of Culture, which, as a self-organizing system of spirit, is the energetic heart of evolution.
This kind of impact on the evolution of mankind can be traced in its history from the most ancient times until today. Cultural heroes of myths and legends, wizards, Teachers, anonymous and historical religious teachers, and, at last, creators of spiritual and ethical teachings – all of them had relations with cosmic Hierarchs, and, in a number of cases, they acted themselves as subjects of Cosmic evolution, that is those who consciously affected this evolution course. Culture “is a deepest foundation of life, connected with highest silver threads with the Hierarchy of Evolution”, Roerich wrote. “Culture rests on Beauty and Knowledge. It grows due to comprehension of blessing of the Hierarchy of Light. That means that to mechanical cognition, the fire of the heart must be added. This will already make the first difference of Culture from civilization”.
“The fire of the heart” is a most important and necessary peculiarity of culture as such. Absence of such energetics in the space of culture results in its destruction and death. Roerich often used the words “heartiness”, “language of the heart”, “understanding of the heart”. It is in culture that, from the most ancient times, the role of the heart was understood and perceived. Roerich’s definition that “culture is the heart” is worth a lot. “The heart should be understood not as a symbol, but as a great laboratory where transmutation of our mentality is taking place, and consequently, of all our essence, Helena Roerich wrote. – <...> Without the heart development and refinement to a subtler state, no advancement , no progress is possible, that is why the great magnet of the heart must be laid in the basis of any construction. Thus, representatives of a new race will be distinguished by refinement of the heart, this key to all achievements”. In the Living Ethics, we find a most precious book dedicated to the evolutionary role of the heart which is also called “The Heart”. We learn from it that the heart is the space where our consciousness is placed and is developing. The heart is a bridge of relationship between the Earth and the Higher worlds. Understanding and thinking of a higher quality than those of the intellect are contained in the heart. This understanding is called wisdom, which cognizes surrounding reality more qualitatively and deeper than the intellect. Taking into account these peculiarities of the heart, the Living Ethics authors set forth the evolutionary task of synthesis of the heart and intellect in subsequent cognition of the surrounding world. Now scientists of various specialties turned their attention to the problems of the heart. In the USA, there is already the Institute of mathematics of the heart, the researches of which have confirmed a lot of what we know from the Living Ethics. The Institute scientists, who applied new approaches to the study of the heart, have discovered that the heart possesses, if it is possible to put it this way, its internal brain and nervous system, and is capable of independent thinking. If a certain balance or harmony is achieved between the heart and the brain, human mentality is expanded, what results in a more accurate and clearer perception of the surrounding reality. It is known that wisdom was familiar to people from very ancient times. The Living Ethics, suggesting a new system of cognition of cosmic thinking, sets forth the issue of wisdom as a more effective method of cognition than cognition through intellect. “Many cases, – the information specialists of the Institute of mathematics of the heart point out, – have illustrated the efficiency of active wisdom of the heart”. It was discovered that this “wisdom of the heart” is directly related to the moral foundations of man. The scientists of the Institute of mathematics of the heart published a number of most interesting articles in such medical magazines as “The American Journal of Cardiology”, “Medicine of Stress”, “Science of Integrity of Physiology and Behavior”.
The Living Ethics says that the new world destined to our planet by the Cosmic evolution is the Epoch of the heart, where the heart will play the leading role in cognition, expansion of mentality, and spiritual improvement. Roerich’s words “Culture is the heart” give us an opportunity to come to the conclusion that it is the heart that is the main engine of culture and its spiritual center. And that is why the starting epoch, the Epoch of the heart, will inevitably be an Epoch of culture. Proceeding from all this, one can say, that culture is not only an evolutionary and historical foundation of the human society, but its heart as well. At the same time, civilization is the intellect of this society. Destroying culture, we injure the heart of the society what can result and often does result in its paralysis. Totalitarianism gives us many examples of heartless societies. And Russia was one of them.
Calling culture a “Beautiful Garden”, Roerich puts Beauty, as energetic law of the harmony of spirit, in the first place in it. “Awareness of Beauty will save the world”, he repeated Dostoyevsky’s words with a little modification. This formula actually contains the whole essence of the Cosmic evolution which moves from chaos to order, from simple to complicated, from an elementary system to Beauty. Beauty, as a category of spirit, refines the matter of life and energetics of man. Contemplation of beauty forms in man philosophic and subtle contemplation of the world. Culture as such does not exist without creation, for creation is that energetic core without which a self-organizing system of spirit cannot advance from simple to complicated, from solid to subtle state. Creation makes an earthly man akin to the God-Creator and thus shows him the evolutionary way in the starry spaces of Cosmos. It is creation as a phenomenon of culture in the broadest sense that secures a possibility of collaboration with the high cosmic Hierarchy. Energetically amplified by the “language of the heart” it gives to man-creator an opportunity to break through into the unknown, into the Infinity. “The language of creation is that universal human language which is understood through the heart. And what can be more luciferous, more mutually understandable than the language of the heart, in comparison with which all sounding dialects are scanty and primitive? Only creation in all its versatility injects a peaceful uniting current into all life structures. And the one who, despite surrounding difficulties, is striving along this way of Light, fulfills an urgent task of the evolution”.
Such high energetic manifestations of the human spirit as heartiness and love make integral part of Culture as such. Without these qualities, Roerich justly argued, there is no cultural man. In Roerich’s rich and multicolored palette of Culture, there is no place for spiritless, stiff “educated bigots”, those who know which fork they should use to eat fish, but have no idea of those higher powers contained in themselves. Culture cannot exist without natural links with the Higher. Its self-organizing system is formed under direct influence of contacts with worlds of a higher state of matter, higher dimensions. As Berdiayev wrote, culture “contains knowledge and a kind of a different spiritual reality”. Energies, which, in the result of most complicated energetic exchange processes taking place in Cosmos, approach the Earth, can fulfill their positive role only having passed the field of Culture, where high spiritual potential necessary for receiving this kind of energies is concentrated. Energies which approached the earth but did not meet in their way softening spiritual-energetic structures capable of lowering their intensity, can acquire destructive character.
Civilization, as it was already mentioned, is arrangement of life, organization of its solid matter. Various types of civilizations appeared and were formed in the history of mankind. Their character was determined by, first of all, the level of interaction with Culture, for civilization appears in the energetic field of Culture. It can only be said that, in many cases, early civilizations were created and developed together with Culture, and actively interacted with it. At the initial stages, civilization was a kind of a frame for the precious stone of Culture, and correspondence of this frame to the stone itself, the degree of their harmony, determined the quality of this or that period in human history, its spirituality and cultural level. Sometimes the frame wore out, fell apart due to various circumstances, and then the stone itself was surrendered to the power of elements, often destructive. Sometimes civilization receded from Culture, or approached it, but never, throughout the last two millenniums, and earlier too, it existed separately from Culture. Complete deviation of civilization from Culture is a specific feature of the XX century, the century standing on the threshold of new evolutionary changes in the life of the planet. Representing, unlike Culture, perishable, transient matter of human life, civilizations came and passed, appeared and were destroyed, while the eternal spirit of Culture, the carrier of which has always been humanity as a whole, stayed, passed its development cycles through many generations, strengthening the spirit and expanding energetic possibilities for their further evolution.
Roerich draws our attention to the fact, that, in the interaction of Culture and civilization, the priority must be given to Culture, what will save civilization from many distortions characteristic of the same. “Let us remember the behest of Light, he wrote, that, first of all, the most important thing for us will be the spirit and creation, then comes the health, and only in the third place – the wealth”.
In energetically integral structure governed by the Great laws of Cosmos, spirit and matter are pulsing, and, striving for the destined to them by the evolution synthesis, are now approaching, and now receding from it. That is why now epochs of heyday of Culture appear – and then civilization becomes cultural, now material civilizations prevail – and then Culture recedes to the background, sometimes incapable at all of influencing civilization.
Bourgeois revolutions, which had pragmatic and materialistic character, stabilized and developed the gap formed in the integral phenomenon “Culture – civilization”. The epoch of Great Alienation of Culture from civilization started. Spirit receded from matter. Matter started to claim for power over spiritual values. Separated from Culture, civilization started forming one-sided materialistic mentality where pure pragmatism prevailed, which destroyed the last remainders of idealism of the XIX century. Man himself, his soul, feelings, his complicated internal life were alienated from society, its new values and new materialistic tasks. Matter, as never before, took hold of dominating positions, aggressively and unscrupulously pushed away spirit, and deprived the human society of the needed by it collective energy. It broke links with the Higher, doubted existence of cosmic collaboration, and appropriated functions of God-Creator, assured of a possibility to create everything with hands and intellect. “In civilization, N. Berdiayev wrote, spiritual energy exhausts, spirit – the source of culture – fades. Then domination over human souls of not natural powers, barbarian powers in the noble sense of this word, but of the magic kingdom of machinery and mechanics substituting itself for the true being starts”.
Machine, technogenic civilization of the XX century, does not need any more philosophy, true art, religion in the real sense of this word. It substitutes for Culture entertainment industry on the bases of which “mass culture” is formed, which is to serve the matter of the society, but by no means its spirit. It indulges low feelings and instincts of the human body, kills its energetics, interferes with the development of harmony of spirit and matter, making more difficult further evolutionary ascent of man.
When we say that the mankind is at a dead end, having flooded the planet with machines, subdued man to these machines, having caused irreparable damage to the nature of the Earth, and, correspondingly, to man himself, we must understand the reason for it. This reason is the discrepancy between Culture and civilization, belittlement of Culture and extolment of material civilization. Once, for a number of concrete reasons, the balance which was holding the planet like two wings, was destroyed. A shift took place and everything went wrong. Not within the tideway of evolution regulated by Great Laws of Cosmos, but along a potholed and dusty road leading to a dead end, threatening with energetic catastrophes.
Distortions in the interaction of culture and civilization which we are observing now determined another negative phenomenon. Probably, for the first time in the history of mankind, at the juncture of the ÕÕ and ÕÕI centuries, the technogenic civilization started to influence culture, diminishing, and often bringing to nothing its role assigned to it by cosmic evolution and the history of humanity. It is the influence of technogenic civilization on art that resulted in neglect of beauty in some of its trends, loss of the sense of beauty, and formation of all kinds of ugly objects. And of course, the most terrible thing is when such creations become a fashion, acquiring wide popularity. Machine forms have entered arts, and music has started to repeat primitive rhythms of working equipment. Now we are observing a new process when the expanded civilization which got hold of human souls, in the full sense of this word, starts to destroy beauty, subtle energetics of creativity, and substitutes for knowledge ignorance based on unrestricted consummation of the modern society.
Each phenomenon, Roerich stated, has its cycles of development, its upsurges and declines. In the ÕÕ century, Culture and civilization reached a crucial point in differentiation, in separation. And only synthesis can bring the system “Culture – civilization” to the state which will correspond to the main trend of Cosmic evolution. In the long run, the purpose of evolution in our solid world is bringing closer spirit and matter, achievement of harmony between them at a certain stage, and finally, their synthesis which will result in creation of spiritual matter and will raise its energetic level. This synthesis, as Roerich asserted, will change the essence of civilization, will make it spiritual, will turn Culture and civilization into an integral phenomenon, acting already at a higher qualitative level than in its initial version. “Beneficial Synthesis, Roerich wrote, will help to introduce into everyday life sanative high notions and will teach to embrace all those multiple things that only yesterday seemed either empty abstractness, or inapplicable clumsiness, or just funny, from the point of view of conventional habits, prejudices, and superstitions”.
Nicholas Roerich was characterized by one remarkable feature. His thought, philosophically profound, was always implemented into action. When he comprehended the evolutionary significance of Culture as the support of evolution, he understood that Culture should be not only developed as a foundation of Cosmic evolution of mankind, but must be protected as well. In the XX century, the situation with Culture was not the best. The First World War, all kinds of military encounters, revolutions, neglect of Culture in the time of peace – all this resulted in devastating processes in space, what, beyond all doubt, slowed down its development, and, at the same time, in a most negative way affected the evolution of mankind as a whole. During military conflicts, temples, libraries, galleries, and other priceless objects of Culture were crashed. Human ignorance destroyed accumulated for many centuries cultural values, burned unique manuscripts, destroyed the thought contained in writings, annihilated pieces of art – storages of precious energetics. In other words, eradicated landmarks of the evolutionary path of mankind, what affected, of course, all spheres of its life. The XX century passed through acutest crisis phenomena, at the basis of which, in one way or another, the crisis of spiritual culture on the planet of Earth lay. The XXI century is witnessing global crises with which the mankind cannot yet cope. Ignorance and low level of mentality undermine foundations of Culture. While knowledge and beauty, often negated and destroyed, belong to the space of Culture and are, according to Helena Roerich’s definition, the “crown of cosmic evolution”.
“We are grieving over the loss of Louvain’s library, Nicholas Roerich wrote with bitterness in 1930, and the irreplaceable beauty of cathedrals of Reims and Ieper. We remember the multitude of private collections treasures which were lost at the time of the world perturbations, but we do not want to inscribe words of hostility. Let us just say – “Destroyed by human misapprehension and restored by human hope”. But still, fatal mistakes in this form or another can be repeated, and new multitudes of monuments to human deeds can be destroyed again”. His premonition came true. The Second World War leveled to the ground most precious monuments of Culture, destroyed a great number of priceless pieces of art, devastated most ancient carriers of spiritual energetics. And N. Roerich turned out to have be right in his premonition, and not only in premonition, but in his global action which he undertook a few years before the beginning of a new world war. It was famous in the whole world Roerich’s Pact, aimed at protection of cultural values in periods of military operations and in the time of peace. Nicholas Roerich believed that the Pact imposed obligations not only on the states that signed it, but on society as a whole. Roerich’s Pact had a broad character and counted to a certain extent on mass movement for protection of Culture. “We shall not be tired to keep saying, he wrote, that, beside state recognition, active participation of public is needed. Cultural values decorate and elevate the whole life in all its manifestations. And that is why active concern for them must be shown by everybody”. Roerich asserted that “a public element should lie at the basis of a common cause”. It is hard to overestimate the importance of this idea. Only society as a whole can do something real for culture, for it is the society, and not the powers that be, that is its carrier, it is the society, and not state officers, that can really organize protection of culture. Culture itself, being a space of free creation, has public and traditional roots. Culture is created by society and for society.
“Beside governmental resolutions, N. Roerich wrote in relation to the Pact, it is the public opinion that is the first protector of national treasures having world significance”.
He paid special attention to this kind of activity among the Russian people possessing rich cultural heritage. “The Russian people, the artist pointed out, as an heir of glorious future, must become a special protector of Culture”. What did the words “a special protector of Culture” mean? It is known that in the thirties, a destructive process under the name of “cultural revolution” was under way in the USSR. At that terrible time, thousands and thousands of monuments of culture were destroyed senselessly and heartlessly by the authorities’ instruction. Roerich made a protest against it.
Destruction of the Jesus the Savior Cathedral in Moscow aroused a most negative reaction in him, which he could not keep to himself. “The powers that be! Say firmly and resolutely that such devastations are inadmissible. <…> The powers that be! Say louder and louder that destruction of cultural treasures is inadmissible and will for ever place the destroyer on a list of shame”. But his Motherland authorities kept silent and did not pay attention to either his appeals, or the International Pact for protection of cultural values which they refused to sign. Helena Roerich, outstanding philosopher and public figure, repeated Nicholas Roerich’s words. She wrote of a new epoch in which Culture would dominate, emphasized the extreme necessity for its protection in those areas where it was not only violated, but also destroyed. “Fight with all your powers, fight for your rights in the name of common benefit, in the name of culture! Half-measures are always destructive. Demand a complete victory. Complete liberation, so that all the means be directed at expansion of culture of the country! “Actions, widest actions are needed now”. The appeal, written by Helena Roerich as long ago as 1931, has not lost its urgency now. The authorities in Russia were changed long ago, and many things changed in it in the recent years. But the significance of Culture is still not well understood, still actions causing damage to Culture are undertaken, still urgent is the problem of protection of Culture. Roerich’s Pact not only remains a burning issue, but acquires even acuter character today, requiring solution both at the level of authorities and at the level of public itself. The Russian authorities do not go into processes taking place in the space of culture and do not try to comprehend them, but just follow spinelessly the formed in it tendencies. In these authorities’ cultural policy, the above mentioned domination of civilization shows itself clearly enough. The Russian authorities, due to their narrow-mindedness and often just ignorance, lack of understanding of the role of culture and its significance for the country general development, set forth as priority trends not culture as such, but civilization issues separated from culture. So, the general policy of our authorities is first of all directed at material and social and economic problems. They are not aware that this policy today’s lack of success is caused by the attitude towards culture, which proceeds from the “leftover principle”. At the same time, public opinion which is now being formed in Russia, does not either always pay due attention to the situation in culture. Historically it so happened that comprehension of the essence of culture and the urgent need for its protection is understood by just a few people. There is no clear understanding that renaissance of Russia is first of all determined by protection and development of culture. The government playing with the so called national idea strikes with its illiteracy, and at times absurdity. All kinds of phenomena are suggested to form this idea, including sports, in particular, football. And none of those who have real power has ever mentioned culture in this connection. A national idea cannot be created in three months, as former President of Russia B. Yeltsin once demanded. It is developed for centuries, and only in this form can serve as a stable uniting factor. What but culture can become such idea? Its powerful spiritual energetics like a magnet brings together the country’s national interests which are forming its future.
“Now our camp is in the middle of a desert, N. Roerich wrote in an expedition diary. – Once, someone, through lack of knowledge, destroyed vast forests, remainders of which we saw. After the forests, the grass was gone. And the water escaped under the ground. Desert! Exactly like this, anything can be destroyed through ignorance and malice. And who will need this desert, material or spiritual. <...> The powers that be, say resolutely! Repeat it again, and keep talking about peace and creation”.
A surprisingly precise image of culture – a forest keeping the space in balance, and providing all the necessary elements for its vital processes. They cut the forest, and everything turned into a fruitless desert. “Cutting” or destruction of culture has the same significance for society. There are creators of culture, and there destroyers of culture. In today’s Russia, the number of the latter is continuously growing. These destroyers include officials of all kinds and positions, who have many destructions on their accounts. They acquire cultural objects for purposes having nothing to do with culture, authorities’ representatives issue permits for liquidation of cultural monuments, the State Parliament (Duma) deputies pass laws against culture without thinking of consequences of their ignorant acts. The Orthodox church hierarchs that campaign against the Roerichs as creators of culture should be mentioned in this sequence as well.
The Banner of Peace became the symbol of Roerich’s Pact. Three little circles in a big one, signifying the unity of the past, present, and future in the space of Eternity and symbolizing the cosmic law of cultural succession. Banners of Peace, the International signs of evolution, are raised all over the world in those places where Culture is protected. The Banner of Peace went around our planet in a cosmic spacecraft, streamed at the North and South poles, took part in many major cultural events.
In 1930, even before the Pact for protection of culture was signed, N. Roerich wrote: “This plan (Pact for protection of culture – L. Sh.) provides for a special flag which will be respected as International neutral territory; this banner must be raised above museums, cathedrals, libraries, universities, and other cultural centers”.
I would like to present some quotations of cosmonauts who raised the Banner of Peace above the planet of Earth, which had direct relation to this Banner of Peace.
A. Balandin: “I think that the more often people come to contact with the Banner of Peace, the more often, before doing, saying something, they will think whether they should really do it. Maybe, our spirituality, and just the good, will be revived through this”.
A. Soloviev: “We are convinced that only on the basis of partnership and collaboration, beautiful future can be built in the ÕÕI century. <...> Culture is the basis for construction of a common home of mankind. For this goal, Russian and International public organizations have started the cosmic project “Banner of Peace”.
Michael Foal, American astronaut: “We have raised the Banner of Peace into Cosmos in order to remind all people of our global responsibility for the fate of the humanity and the planet. <...> Man’s flights into cosmos <...> are the first steps of a new, single cosmic culture, the symbol of which is the Banner of Peace”.
P. Vinogradov: “We have raised the Banner of Peace above the planet so that the space of Culture for ever supersede the space of war and hostility on our planet. We call to construction of new spiritual, scientific, and artistic collaboration of all people and peoples of the Earth”.
When you listen to these speeches or read them, you start to understand very well that those who have been to cosmos better than anyone else understood its essence – construction of a new World, creation of a new Culture. The Living Ethics, which contains a system of cognition of new cosmic mentality, also moves along under the Banner of Peace and its symbols. “Let us purposefully construct, Helena Roerich wrote, a stronghold of culture – the knowledge of the “Living Ethics” and beauty. Knowledge and Beauty are the basis and the crown of cosmic evolution”.
Unfortunately, under contradictory circumstances of our existence, far from many understand the significance of the “crown of cosmic evolution” and do not realize the beginning of the epoch of new cosmic thinking.
“There will be time, Helena Roerich predicted, when the Banner of Peace, the Banner of Culture will cover the whole world”. As known, a lot has been already done for it. And still a lot is to be done. This process is not easy. Not everybody is aware of the Banner of Peace being the symbol of culture and cosmic evolution.
“The history of the Pact, H. Roerich pointed out, is a very instructive book, in which the sides of light and darkness will be very clearly marked, and the peoples will see themselves that all the constructive, all that had a future ahead, supported the Pact ratification and acceptance of the Banner. The Banner of Peace is a great touchstone for the humanity mentality”.
The State Duma of the Federal Assembly of Russia turned out to be incapable of passing the test on this touchstone. The Banner of Peace was hanging in the Duma from 1995, what gave a certain hope that this important state body would not only comprehend the essence of this symbol, but would also pay attention to the necessity to protect culture. For almost 10 years, the Duma deputies contemplated this Banner, listened to lectures on culture and about Roerich’s Pact. All this did not have any noticeable impact on the Duma. In 2004, the Banner of Peace was removed. Such a demand was put forward by the Duma deputy, journalist Kroutov. But it does not matter who put it forward. There are still many such kroutovs on the earth. It is them who embody the dark rows of adversaries of culture, it is them who do not pass the test for a worthy level of morality. Those, who hurried to remove this Banner without even the formal decision of the Duma itself, proved to be irresponsible and ignorant. Those who did not speak against Kroutov who called the Banner of Peace “the Satan’s sign” turned out to be irresponsible too. The deputies incurred shame on themselves, having removed the Banner of Peace. It so coincided that in the autumn of the same year, during celebration of the jubilee of outstanding artist and philosopher Svetoslav Roerich, the Banner of Peace was handed by cosmonaut V. Afanassiev to the Vice-Speaker of the Indian Parliament in Delhi, and it is now held in the Parliament of India. It is India, where our compatriots Roerichs worked and created for many years, that passed the test for culture, unlike the State Parliament of Russia. During celebrations dedicated to S. Roerich’s jubilee, two people representing the International Center of the Roerichs – the ICR President Y. Vorontsov and L. Shaposhnikova – were received by Prime-Minister of India Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Natvar Singh. Both of them, when speaking of the Roerichs, called them a bridge between the culture of India and Russia. Is such deep penetration into the essence of the Roerichs’ cultural activities characteristic of our high officials? I am afraid not. The attitude towards the Banner of Peace in our Duma revealed another circumstance. The Duma and its deputies do not take much interest in what is happening beyond its walls, do not pay attention to what is said and written beyond its space. If it were not so, then hardly the Banner of Peace – the symbol of the world culture – would have be driven out of the Duma. And it was only the Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Culture Yelena Drapeko who forwarded a letter to the State Duma Speaker B. Gryzlov with a protest against the bureaucratic arbitrariness. Touching upon the history of Roerich’s Pact and the Banner of Peace, Yelena Drapeko wrote: “The Banner of Peace significance is the fact that, by way of protection of human creations, respect for spiritual values by which the whole mankind lives is laid into the consciousness of masses and the growing generation. <...> I believe it fit to note that, despite A. Kroutov’s personal opinion specified in his speech dedicated to the Banner of Peace, the significance of the latter is not at all diminished in the eyes of the world public. The Committee for Culture <...> receives many appeals from public organizations and citizens, insulted by the words of the said deputy and the fact that the Banner of Peace, on the pretext of repair or change of exposition, was removed from the session room lobby on the eve of the Pact of Peace 70th anniversary.
On February 20, 2005, in the Moscow House of Journalists, a public conference on the subject “Culture Against Terrorism” was held, which discussed the situation with the Banner of Peace, and adopted an appeal to the State Duma drawing its attention to the necessity to continue keeping this symbol of humaneness, morality, and protection of cultural values in the Russian Parliament building. The Banner of Peace presence in the Duma will undoubtedly create the necessary ground and atmosphere for the development and strengthening of the great idea of cultural values protection, so obviously necessary for physical and spiritual health of mankind.
More than half a year has passed after that shameful anti-cultural act in the State Duma of Russia, but nothing has changed. The Banner of Peace is still not there. There is no way thinking that the letter did not reach Gryzlov. One can rather think of another thing – of the Parliament speaker’s alienation from the issues of culture, complete deafness in this respect, and lack of understanding of the role of culture in our society. This is probably the worst thing. And as long as the powers that be with gryzlov level of mentality allow kroutovs and kourayevs to implement in life their anti-cultural ideas, we shall not be able to assert and protect the heart of our being – Culture.
“Be able to respond with dignity to all ignoramuses and destroyers of Culture! The Banner of Peace and Culture must be understood now as a greatest symbol”, H. Roerich wrote.
On April 15, 1935, when Roerich’s Pact for protection of Culture was signed by the heads of a number of states, N. Roerich once again reminded everybody of the significance and the evolutionary essence of the Banner of Peace, the symbol of this Pact. “Let the Banner of Peace stream above centers of Light, above shrines and citadels of the beautiful. Let it stream above all deserts, above lonely secret abodes of Beauty, so that deserts burst into blossom from this sacred grain. The Banner is raised. It will not be lowered in the spirit and the heart. With the light fire of the heart the Banner of Culture will blossom. So mote it be!”
“So mote it be”, we shall repeat after our great compatriot who brought to our Planet so needed by us knowledge of Culture and Cosmic evolution. And let the Banner of Peace – the symbol of Culture and new cosmic mentality – lead us forward, to the new World of high spirituality, expanded consciousness, and flourishing Culture.