Helena Roerich

Helena Ivanovna Roerich (born Shaposhnikova ) ( Russian : Елена Ивановна Рерих ; February 12, 1879 – October 5, 1955) was a Russian theosophist , [2] writer, and public figure. In the early 20th century, she created, in cooperation with the Teachers of the East, a philosophical teaching of Living Ethics (” Agni Yoga “). [3] She was an organizer and participant of cultural activity in the US, led by Nicholas Roerich . Along with her husband, she took part in expeditions of hard-to-reach and little-investigated regions of Central Asia. She was an Honorary President-Founder of the Institute of Himalayan Studies “Urusvati” in India and co-author of the idea of ​​the International Treaty for Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments ( Roerich’s Pact ). She translated two volumes of the Secret Doctrine of HP Blavatsky , and aussi selected Mahatma’s Letters ( Cup of the East ), from English to Russian.


Early life

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 marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Golenischev-Kutuzov , well-known poet of the end of 19th century; Arsenii Arkadievich Golenischev-Kutuzov , compose; and Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky . [4]

Roerich grew up and was educated in the rich cultural traditions of her family. Since childhood she was inquisitive, and independent. She showed talent in a number of areas, playing piano, and by the age of seven reading and writing in three languages. [4] / From the very young age, she started reading artistic , historical , spiritual and philosophical books.

In 1895, Roerich graduated from Mariinsky Gymnasium in St. Petersburg with a “gold medal”, a special award for excellence in the studies. Roerich often studied additionally on her own. She learned painting, learned Russian and European literature well, studied the history of religion and philosophy, and took in the Indian philosophers Ramakrishna , Vivekananda , and Tagore. [5]

After finishing her education at gymnasium, Roerich entered the Saint-Petersburg musical private school. The director of this school was IA Borovka, a senior of metropolitan conservatory, 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 at revealing the most important candidates who should receive higher music education, Roerich intended to continue her education in the St. PetersburgConservatory. But her relative is banned from the conservatory, worried that she would be interested in 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.

Marriage and family

Roerich and her mother at the Bolognese in the Novgorod region, with her aunt EV Putyatina, at the estate of her husband, Prince PA Putyatin. In 1899, at Bologoe, she met the painter and archeologist Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich. In 1901, she and Nicholas were married in St. Petersburg.

In 2001, at the place in Bologoe where they first put, a memorial named “Monument of love” was established. It contains a quote from N. Roerich’s essay “The University”: “I put Lada, my partner in life and inspire, at Bologoe, at Prince PA Putyatin’s estate.Joy!”. [6] This was a strong alliance of two loving people united by deep mutual feelings and common views. [7] N. 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”. [8] ] Many of Roerich’s paintings Were a result of Their common creativity. He called Expired her “She who leads” [9]in his books, and asserted that on many his canvases, two signatures should be written: his own, and Roerich’s. “We created together, and not without reason, it was said that the works must have two names, women’s and men’s.” [8]

Nicholas and Roerich had two children. In August 1902, their eldest was his George was born. Later, he became a world-renowned scientist and orientalist. Their younger son, Svetoslav, was born in October 1904. He became a painter .

Roerich supported all of her husband’s initiatives, and went deeply into his fields of study. In 1903-1904, they traveled together through forty-one years 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 of the masterpieces of great artists such as Rubens, Breugel, Vandyke, and van Orley, which 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 300 works, which they later transferred to the Hermitage Museum. Roerich also knew archeology well. Together with her husband,[10]

N. Roerich and their very thought of Roerich, and considered a spiritual leader and keeper of family foundations. [11] In 1916, because of a serious lung disease, following the doctor’s insistence, the Roerich family moved to Finland (Serdobol), to the seashore of Lake Ladoga . In 1918, Finland declared its independence and closed the Russian border. In 1919, the family moved to England, and made their home in London.

Here, in 1920, Roerich, in collaboration with a group of anonymous thinkers and philosophers of the East, which was called “The Great Teachers” (Mahatmas), began to work for Living EthicsTeaching (Agni Yoga) ).


In 1920, NK 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. The culmination of this foundation is the Nicholas Roerich Museum, the United Arts Institute, the International Painter’s Association “Cor Ardens” (Flaming Hearts), and the International Art Center “Corona Mundi” ( “Crown of the World”).

On December 1923, 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 is related to Indian spiritual tradition. [12]

From 1924 to 1928, Roerich took part in a Central-Asian expedition organized by NK Roerich , who traveled through hard-to-reach and little-investigated regions of India, China, Russia ( Altai ), Mongolia and Tibet . During the expedition, archeology, ethnography, history of philosophy, art and religion, 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. [13]The expedition was carried out in very difficult conditions. Roerich shared all the hardships of the travel with the others: hard passages, robber’s attacks, and obstacles created by English officials that nearly caused death in the expedition. [14] In April 1925. When N. Roerich’s Expedition Stayed in Gulmarg, Roerich, Mahatma’s Letters from English to Russian, which she published in London in 1923. She also wrote a book named “Chalice of the East “, which was published under the name” Iskander Khanum “. [15]

Roerich’s manuscript “Foundations of Buddhism” was published in 1926, at Urga (now Ulan-Bator), where her expedition was staying at the time. In this book, the fundamental philosophical notions of Buddha’s Teaching have been interpreted. The book also spoke on the moral basis of this teaching and helped spark off interest in Buddhism in the west.

In 1927, one of the Living Ethics books (“Community”) was published in the same place in Mongolia. After finishing of Central-Asian expedition, Roerichs remained in India, in Kullu valley Himachal Pradesh . There, in 1928, they had found an Institute of Himalayan Studies “Urusvati” (this means “Light of Morning Star” in Sanskrit). It has been planned as an 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. [16]Being a subtle art connoisseur and deep philosopher, she knew the scientific problems of the institute, and often directed the researches as experienced scientist. [17] The main task of Roerich’s activity was in the study of ancient philosophical thought of the East. [18]

Roerich had dreamed that sometime a city of knowledge would rise in Kullu valley, which would become an international scientific center. Later “Urusvati” became a broad international institute that united well-known scientists from many countries. J. Bose, R. Tagore, A. Einstein, R. Millikan, L. de Broglie, R. Magoffin, S. Gedin, SI Metalnikov, NI Vavilov et al. had collaborated with it. [19]

In Kullu, Roerich continues to work on Living Ethics, the main work of her life. In 1929, her work “Cryptograms of the East” was published in Josephine Saint-Hilaire. 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 the history of history and theology. [7] Issued in the book “Banner of St. Sergius of Radonezh”, published under the name N. Yarovskaya in 1934.

Later life

In the first half of the 1930s, translated from English to Russian two volumes of HP Blavatsky ‘s fundamental work Secret Doctrine .

A special place in Roerich’s creativity belongs to her epistolary heritage. She is more than 140 persons. The letters geography involves several continents. Among Roerich’s correspondents were friends, followers, cultural workers, political figures. In her letters, Roerich has answered many questions, explained the most complex philosophical and scientific problems, foundations of Living Ethics. She wrote about great Laws of Cosmos, meaning of human life, importance of culture for human evolution, Great Teachers. [11]

In 1940, 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 Center of the Roerichs, where her epistolary heritage is kept. It was transferred to ICR by SN Roerich in 1990.

During NK Roerich ‘s Manchurian Expedition, Roerich’ s Correspondent with International Organizations and Co – ordinated Activity for the Roerich ‘s Pact (International agreement for protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historical monuments). As a result of this work, the Roerich’s Pact was signed on April 15, 1935 by heads of 22 countries. [11]

In January 1948, after her husband ‘s death, Roerich, with her elder moved her to Delhi and then to Khandala (Bombay’ s suburb), where they had waited for steamship from Russia with their visas. But Russia denied their visas. They made their home in Kalimpong, but she just went to Roerich. But many applications remained without response.


Roerich died October 5, 1955. “Helena Roerich, the wife of Nicholas Roerich, thinker and writer, old friend of India”. [20]


A minor planet named after Roerichs

On October 15, 1969 a minor planet of Solar System was discovered by astronomers of Crimean Astrophysical Observatory Nikolai Stepanovich and Lyudmila Ivanovna Chernykh . This planet was named in honor of Roerichs family. It was numbered 4426. [21]


On July 6, 1978 group of alpinists has risen on the mountain peak and has gone through a pass between the peaks “Roerich” and Belukha. This pass and nameless peak has been named “Urusvati” in honor of Roerich. [22]

On October 9, 1999, during the anniversary of Roerich’s birthday and 120th anniversary of Roerich’s Demise, a monument was established near the entrance of Museum named after N. Roerich . This monument is sculptural portrayal of Nicholas Konstantonovich and Helena Roerichs. [23]

In 1999, the International Center of the Roerichs instituted a jubilee medal “Helena Roerich” dedicated to the 120th anniversary of HI Roerich .. [24]

In April 2003, the college of art named after Roerich began to work in the building of Institute “Urusvati” (India). [25]

In 2005, the museum of Helena Roerich has been opened in two-storeyed mansion known as “Crookety House” in Kalimpong. Here Roerich worked during last years of life. Opening of the museum was timed to the 50th anniversary of her death. [26]

A public library named after Roerich was founded at Altaic village Ust-Koksa. In 2007, library holdings include near 75 million publications. More than 1600 persons have used its service. From 2003, the library is a member of the Russian Library Association and a member of the international library association IFLA. [27]

A charitable foundation named after Roerich was created in 2001 in Moscow to finance the programs dedicated to Roerich’s heritage and development of cultural actions. The foundation furthers an activity in the field of education, science, culture, art, enlightenment. One of the directions of the foundation’s activity is the discovery of young talents in various fields of art and help them to protect and develop their creative abilities. [28] An International Award named after the Roerich was instituted by the Charitable Foundation named after the author of the Scientific Research Trust Connected to the Scientific and Philosophical Roerich’s heritage. [29]

N. Roerich’s paintings dedicated to Roerich

  • Holder of the world (see picture)
  • She who leads (see image)
  • From beyond (see image)
  • Agni Yoga (see image)


  • Leaves of Morya’s Garden I
  • Leaves of Morya’s Garden II
  • New Era Community
  • Agni Yoga
  • Infinity I
  • Infinity II
  • Hierarchy
  • Heart
  • Fiery World I
  • Fiery World II
  • Fiery World III
  • At M
  • Brotherhood
  • Supermundane I
  • Supermundane II
  • Supermundane III
  • Supermundane IV
  • Letters of Helena Roerich, Vol. I-IX
  • On Eastern Crossroads
  • Foundations of Buddhism

See also

  • Agni Yoga
  • Living Ethics
  • Nicholas Roerich
  • Svetoslav Roerich
  • George de Roerich
  • 4426 Roerich – minor planet
  • Rerikhism
  • Yuli Mikhailovich Vorontsov – President of the International Center of the Roerichs (Moscow)


  1. Jump up^ Crimean branch of the International Center of the Archived RoerichsMay 25, 2013, at theWayback Machine.
  2. Jump up^ Roerich (born Shaposhnikova) / Helena Ivanovna /New philosophical encyclopedia. – Moscow, “Misl” Publishing, 2000. – V. 1-4. (in Russian)
    • Roerich Helena Ivanovna / “Big encyclopaedia” (in Russian)
    • Roerichs family: Nicholas Konstantonovich (1874-1947), Helena Ivanovna (1879-1955) permanent dead link ] / “Modern philosophical dictionary” / Compiler Gritsanov AA – Scientific edition. – Minsk, “VMSkakun” publishing, 1999. – 896 P. (in Russian)
    • Roerich Helena Ivanovna / “Big biographic encyclopedia” (in Russian)
    • Roerich Helena Ivanovna / Russian philosophy: Dictionary / Edited by M. Maslin. – Moscow, “TERRA-Knizhnii klub, Respublika” publishing, 1999. – 656 P. (in Russian)
  3. Jump up^ Roerich (born Shaposhnikova) / Helena Ivanovna / New philosophical encyclopedia. – Moscow, “Misl” publishing, 2000. – V. 1-4.
    • Living Ethics / Russian philosophy: Dictionary / Edited by M. Maslin. – Moscow, “TERRA-Knizhnii klub, Respublika” publishing, 1999. – 656 P.
    • Living Ethics / “Russian philosophy. Short encyclopaedia “- Moscow,” Nauka “publishing, 1995. – 624 P. (in Russian)
    • Roerich Helena Ivanovna / Philosophical Short Dictionary / Edited by AP Alexeev. – Second edition, revised and supplemented. – Moscow, TK Velby, Prospekt publishing. – 2004. (in Russian)
    • Roerich Helena Ivanovna / Big biographic encyclopedia. (in Russian)
    • From Resolution of International public and scientific conference “Cosmic ideology is a new thinking of the 21st century”
  4. ^ Jump up to:b S. Kluchnikov. Proclaimer of the fire epoch. Story and study about Helena Ivanovna Roerich. Novosibirsk, Siberia department of “Detskaya literature” publishing, 1991. – P.10.
  5. Jump up^ Skumin , VA; Aunovsky, OK (1995).Светоносцы (о семье Рерихов)The Bringers of the Light ] (in Russian). ISBN  5-88167-004-3 . Retrieved May 13, 2015 .
  6. Jump up^ Ivanov MA Roerich and Tver Region. Tver: GERS publishing. – 2007. P.33.
  7. ^ Jump up to:b H.I. Roerich’s biography at the website of Charitable Foundation named after-HI Roerich.
  8. ^ Jump up to:b N. K. Roerich. Diary leaves. Volume 2. – Moscow, ICR, 2000. – p.448.
  9. Jump up^ LV Shaposhnikova. Wisdom of ages (“Mudrost vekov”, in Russian). – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, 2000. – P.448.
  10. Jump up^ S. Kluchnikov. Proclaimer of the fire epoch. Story and study about Helena Ivanovna Roerich. Novosibirsk, Siberia department of “Detskaya literature” publishing, 1991. – P.25.
  11. ^ Jump up to:c H.I. Roerich’s biography at the International Center-Museum website named after NK Roerich.
  12. Jump up^ 14 LV Shaposhnikova. Wisdom of ages (“Mudrost vekov”, in Russian). – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, 2000. – P.139.
  13. Jump up^ Named after NK Roerich. Museum guide. – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, Master Bank, 2006. – P.262.
  14. Jump up^ LV Shaposhnikova. Wisdom of ages (“Mudrost vekov”, in Russian). – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, 2000. – P.139.
  15. Jump up^ 18 Chalice of the East. Mahatmas Letters. Third edition. – Riga-Moscow-Minsk, “Ligatma-Moga-N” publishing, 1995.
  16. Jump up^ Named after NK Roerich. Museum guide. – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, Master Bank, 2006. – P.281.
  17. Jump up^ HI Roerich commemoration rally at the Museum Center named after-NK Roerich.
  18. Jump up^ Named after NK Roerich. Museum guide. – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, Master Bank, 2006. – P.283.
  19. Jump up^ Named after NK Roerich. Museum guide. – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, Master Bank, 2006. – P.285.
  20. Jump up^ Named after NK Roerich. Museum guide. – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, Master Bank, 2006. – P.318,320.
  21. Jump up^ Minor planet “Roerich”/ “Lets protect the names and heritage of the Roerichs” (in Russian) V.3. Documents, publications, essays. – Moscow, International Center of the Roerichs, 2005.- 1094 p -Astronomic data of the minor planet “Roerich”onNASAwebsite.
  22. Jump up^ Larichev VE, Matochkin Ye.P. Roerich and Siberia. – Novosibirsk, 1993. – P.183.
  23. Jump up^ NK and HI Roerichs / Website of ICR
  24. Jump up^ From Resolution of International public and scientific conference “Jubilee Roerich’s readings” / Website of ICR.
  25. Jump up^ International Roerich Memorial Trust, India
  26. Jump up^ A Museum of Helena Roerich has opened in India / Website “Podrobnosti”
  27. Jump up^ Public library named after Roerich HI, Altai Republic, Ust-Koksa.
  28. Jump up^ Charitable foundation after HI Roerich
  29. Jump up^ International award named after HI Roerich

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