The Roerich Pact in India
India with its incredible cultural heritage and spiritual subtlety was among the first countries to respond to Nicholas Roerich’s appeal for the necessity to protect cultural properties. As far back as the 1920s and 1930s the Committee of the Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace was founded in India concurrently with France, Belgium and the USA. The outstanding figures of India including Jagadish Bose, S.Radhakrishnan, C.V.Raman, Dr. James Cousins and many others ardently supported Nicholas Roerich’s ideas. The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote to Nicholas Roerich: «I have keenly followed your most remarkable achievements in the realm of Arts and also your great humanitarian work for the welfare of the nations, of which your Peace Pact idea with a special Banner for protection of cultural treasures is a singularly effective symbol. - <…> I feel sure that it will have far-reaching effects on the cultural harmony of nations».
Such organizations as the Historical Scientific and Research Institute (Andhra), Allahabad Municipal Museum, Bharat Kala Bhawan in Banaras, the Maha Bodhi Society, Indian Women Association, and almost entire mass media expressed their commitment to the Pact.
The Hindu Historical Congress in Allahabad unanimously accepted the resolution of joining the Roerich Pact. The oldest Indian literary society Nagari Pracharini Sabha in Banaras highly appreciated and supported the Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace at the meeting on November 6, 1938. The Banner of Peace was unfurled in Karachi on November 17, 1938.
The Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace movement developed with renewed vigour after the terrible and unprecedented destruction of World War II. In these years the Roerichs did much for the promotion of the Pact in their beloved India. They were preparing documents, applying to the legal bodies, made publications in press and established relations with eminent Indian leaders. On April 18, 1946 the Sixth All-India Cultural Unity Conference convened in Calcutta. The resolution noted that the conference “fully appreciates the sincere efforts of Professor Nicholas Roerich” and strongly supports the Roerich Pact.
In 1948 India released from colonial dependence under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru decided to approve the Roerich Pact. India raised the Banner of Peace.
Swami Jagadisvarananda, the eminent Indian religious leader wrote in his message to the Banner of Peace Convention: “Nicholas Roerich, the academician, founder and driver of a unique humanitarian movement, is the soul of the world Art and Сulture. – Dr. Cousins correctly recognized him as “spiritually of the Himalayas”, because he is actually the prophet of new humanity and messenger of the new world culture. Roerich is our chief, who started new significant chapter in the history of mankind by setting up a movement for the Pact and Banner of Peace.”
"Let us Save the Living Tissue of Culture"
Millennia-old Indian culture has a special significance for our planet. It stands on the eternal values that bind together the past, present and future. Ancient temples, unique manuscripts with the sacred texts of the Vedas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the religious dances, sculpture and painting have absorbed all the ancient spiritual knowledge and carefully carried it through the ages. They talk about the origin of the universe and the cycles of its development, the cosmic processes, and moral and ethical laws. They are a valuable source of knowledge, not only for Indians but for all mankind. They contain the beneficial energy of the human spirit, connecting us with the world of Beauty and the Supreme Truth. "In art,” wrote Rabindranath Tagore, “our inner essence sends its response to the Supreme Creator who reveals himself to us through the world of endless beauty, which is above the colorless world of facts."
Traveling throughout India, Nicholas Roerich studied its culture and history from the days of ancient civilization to the great historical epochs. He captured on his canvases ancient temples and monasteries, ancient sculpture and mural paintings. They inspired mankind in the past and will continue to inspire and guide it to even greater achievements in the future – but only if humanity is be able to preserve them for the future.
Currently numerous cultural heritage monuments of India having worldwide significance are under the protection of UNESCO. Nevertheless, the problem of protecting monuments is becoming increasingly relevant. Cultural properties continue to be destroyed, and not only by time, but also by human indifference and ignorance. However, Roerich claimed that there would be no future without the past. Destroying the past, its cultural and historical monuments, abolishing the power of beauty, we are destroying our future. Moreover, the fewer are the true works of art and architecture, the weaker is the space of culture, and the more the damage to the energy needed for our evolution.
The Roerich Pact is an important evolutionary initiative aimed at preserving the priceless cultural treasures of our planet. It reminds people that above conflicts and fires there are universal and international values that need to be protected. It calls for constant, consistent and courageous protection of Culture. The Roerich Pact works for our future.