Helena Ivanovna Roerich — The truly great is always seen from a distance. Much of what was created by this outstanding woman in the first half of the 20 th century entered the cultural and spiritual life of Russia comparatively recently, and aroused deep and sincere interest from many of our compatriots, who were trying to find answers to urgent questions concerning existence. Helena Ivanovna Roerich was born on 12 February in Saint Petersburg, in the family of the architect-academician Ivan Shaposhnikov and his wife Ekatherina Vasilevna, whose maiden name had been Golenischeva-Kutuzova and who was the grand-niece of the great Field-Marshall Kutuzov. Through her maternal line, Helena was a distant relative of the outstanding Russian composer M.
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In the early 20th century, she created, in cooperation with the Teachers of the East, a philosophic teaching of Living Ethics " Agni Yoga ". Along with her husband, she took part in expeditions of hard-to-reach and little-investigated regions of Central Asia.
She translated two volumes of the Secret Doctrine of H. Roerich was born in the family of Ivan Ivanovich Shaposhnikov, a well-known Saint-Petersburg architect. Ekaterina Vassilievna Shaposhnikova, Roerich's mother, belonged to an ancient Golenischev-Kutuzov family, which originated from Novgorod at the end of the 13th century. Significant members of this family included field marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Golenischev-Kutuzov , well-known poet of the end of 19th century; Arsenii Arkadievich Golenischev-Kutuzov , composer; and Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky.
Roerich grew up and was educated in rich cultural traditions of her family. From childhood she was inquisitive, and independent. She showed talents in a number of areas, playing piano, and by the age of seven reading and writing in three languages. In , Roerich graduated from Mariinsky Gymnasium in Saint-Petersburg with a "gold medal", a special award for excellence in the studies.
Though the education she received there was of a great quality, Roerich often studied additionally on her own. She learned painting, knew Russian and European literature well, studied the history of religion and philosophy, and took great interest in the works of the Indian philosophers Ramakrishna , Vivekananda , and Tagore.
After finishing her education at gymnasium, Roerich entered the Saint-Petersburg musical private school. The director of this school was I. Borovka, a senior of metropolitan conservatoire, and professor of piano playing. He was a noted figure in Petersburg's musical culture of the time, and personally mentored Roerich. After graduating, which was aimed mainly towards revealing the most gifted candidates who should receive higher music education, Roerich intended to continue her education in the Saint-Petersburg conservatoire.
But her relatives banned her from entering the conservatoire, worried that she would be interested by the revolutionary ideas found in the student environment. Thus, Roerich continued her education at home, where she perfected her grasp of foreign languages, and read many things. Roerich and her mother often spent the summer at Bologoe in the Novgorod region, with her aunt E.
Putyatina, at the estate of her husband, Prince P. In , at Bologoe, she met the painter and archeologist Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich. They fell in love, and in spite of her relatives' opposition, in , she and Nicholas were married in Saint-Petersburg. In , at the place in Bologoe where they first met, a memorial named "Monument of love" was established. It contains a quotation from N.
Putyatin's estate. Roerich wrote about their marriage in his declining years: "We passed amicably any obstacles. And the obstacles turned into possibilities. I devoted my books: "To Helena, my wife, friend, partner and inspirer". He called her "She who leads"  in his books, and asserted that on many his canvases, two signatures should be written: his own, and Roerich's. Nicholas and Roerich had two children.
In August , their eldest son George was born. Later, he became a world-renowned scientist and orientalist. Their younger son, Svetoslav, was born in October He became a painter. Roerich supported all of her husband's initiatives, and went deeply into all his fields of study. In —, they traveled together through forty old Russian cities to find sources of national history and culture. During these travels, Roerich had taken expert photographs of churches, architecture monuments, paintings, and ornaments.
She also mastered the art of restoration and, together with Nicholas Konstantinovich, recovered some the masterpieces of great artists such as Rubens, Breugel, Vandyke, and van Orley, that had been hidden by latest paint layers. She also displayed her artistic intuition by collecting works of art and antiquities. Roerichs collected a beautiful family collection, composed of more than works, which they later had transferred to the Hermitage Museum.
Roerich also knew archeology well. Together with her husband, she often left for excavations in the regions of Novgorod's and Tver's, and took part in the work. Roerich and their sons thought highly of Roerich, and considered her a spiritual leader and keeper of family's foundations. In , Finland declared its independence and closed the Russian border. In , the family moved to England, and made their home in London. Here, in , Roerich, in collaboration with a group of anonymous thinkers and philosophers of the East, which in accordance with Indian's spiritual tradition were named "The Great Teachers" Mahatmas , began to work for the Living Ethics Teaching Agni Yoga.
In , N. Roerich received an invitation to tour the United States with an exhibition of his paintings. Thus, Roerich's family moved to New York City. Here, the cultural activity was organized under N. Roerich's leadership in partnership with Roerich.
On December , Roerich, along with her family, moved to India. This country had always been of great interest to the Roerichs. Adoration of India and its spiritual culture was not unusual among some Russian intellectuals of the time, feeling that their moral searches coincided with Indian spiritual tradition. From to , Roerich took part in a Central-Asian expedition organized by N.
Roerich , that traveled through hard-to-reach and little-investigated regions of India, China, Russia Altai , Mongolia and Tibet. During the expedition, research in topics such as history, archeology, ethnography, history of philosophy, arts and religions, and geography was conducted.
Previously unknown mountain peaks and passes were mapped, rare manuscripts were found, and rich linguistic materials were collected. Special attention was paid to the problem of historical unity of cultures of various peoples. Roerich shared all hardships of the travel with the others: hard passages, robber's attacks, and obstacles created by English officials that nearly have resulted in death of the expedition.
Roerich's expedition stayed in Gulmarg, Roerich began to translate an extensive selection from "Mahatma's Letters" from English to Russian, which she published in London in She also wrote a book named "Chalice of the East", which was published that year under the pen name "Iskander Khanum". Roerich's manuscript "Foundations of Buddhism" was published in , at Urga now Ulan-Bator , where her expedition was staying at the time. In this book, the fundamental philosophical notions of Buddha's Teaching were interpreted.
The book also spoke about the moral basis of this Teaching and helped sparkng interest in Buddhism in the west. In , one of the Living Ethics books "Community" was published in the same place in Mongolia. It was planned as institute for complex study of Asian regions which exerted influence on the development of world culture. Among the tasks of the "Urusvati" was the complex study of human, its psychic and physiological features.
Roerich became an Honorary President-Founder of the institute and actively took part in organization of its work. Roerich had dreamed that sometime a city of knowledge would rise in Kullu valley, which would become an international scientific centre.
Later "Urusvati" became a large international institute that united well-known scientists from many countries. Bose, R. Tagore, A. Einstein, R. Millikan, L. Magoffin, S. Gedin, S. Metalnikov, N. Vavilov et al. In Kullu, Roerich continued her work on Living Ethics, the main work of her life. This work contains apocryphal legends and parables from the lives of great devotees and teachers of mankind: Buddha, Christ, Apollonius of Tiana, Akbar the Great, St.
Sergius of Radonezh. Roerich devoted a special essay "The Banner of St. Sergius of Radonezh" to an image of the Savior and Defender of Russian land. In this essay she joined knowledge of history and theology with deep and reverent love to the hermit. Sergius of Radonezh", published under the pen name N.
Yarovskaya in In the first half of the s, Roerich translated from English to Russian two volumes of H. Blavatsky's fundamental work Secret Doctrine. A special place in Roerich's creativity belongs to her epistolary heritage. She corresponded with more than persons. The letters geography involves several continents. Among Roerich's correspondents were friends, followers, cultural workers, political figures.
In her letters, Roerich has answered numerous questions, explained the most complex philosophical and scientific problems, foundations of the Living Ethics.
She wrote about great Laws of Cosmos, meaning of human life, importance of culture for human evolution, Great Teachers. In , a two-volume edition of Letters of Helena Roerich was published in Riga.
A complete set of Roerich's letters is published by the International Centre of the Roerichs, where her epistolary heritage is kept. It was transferred to ICR by S.
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Charitable Foundation named after Helena Roerich. She Who Inspires. Living Ethics. Aims and tasks. Governing Body. Account Details.
In the early 20th century, she created, in cooperation with the Teachers of the East, a philosophic teaching of Living Ethics " Agni Yoga ". Along with her husband, she took part in expeditions of hard-to-reach and little-investigated regions of Central Asia. She translated two volumes of the Secret Doctrine of H. Roerich was born in the family of Ivan Ivanovich Shaposhnikov, a well-known Saint-Petersburg architect.
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Helena Ivanovna Roerich (1879 – 1955)