”ECHO” IN THE HIMALAYA
Out trip to India in November of 2004 took place due to organizational and financial support of Saint-Petersburg Branch of International Roerich Centre! Due only to consideration and friendly every-day concern of its chairman, Mikhail Nikolaevich Chiryatiev! We are very grateful to him and are very glad to see such person gifted with such humanness representing International Roerich Centre in Saint-Petersburg! THANK YOU, Mikhail Nikolaevich!
Three Exhibitions have been held. The first one took place in Nehru Bal Samiti, the children organization, starting on the 12th and up to the 17th of November. Starting on November, 19 of 2004 and up to October, 15 of 2005 the second exhibition entitled “The Innermost assonance” had been held in the Urusvati Institute premises of Roerich Estate in the Kullu Valley in Himalaya.
On November, 22 another part the works we’d carried to India (total amount of 43 items) were exhibited on a par with Indian Children works (7 pieces), under the title of “Verve” (in free translation from Hindi it may mean “The Creative Energy”) in the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New-Delhi. There we were lucky to meet wonderful people, and we are very thankful to S.V. Cherkas, the head of a department in the New-Delhi Russian Centre, to Marina, designer of exhibitions, and to Anamika – the only Hindi-Russian interpreter we met, for their help, cordiality, and high appreciation of our children’s creativity.
Once I wrote to my friend: “It’s so interesting to remark the way things happen and take their form and how the events are weaved consequently in the passing time”. Yet in my youth I’ve read a book by Roman Rolland, “The Universal Gospel of Ramakrishna”. And since that time the image of this divine Teacher has become close and dear to me. And just imagine my joy when, thanks to Mikhail Nikolayevich Chiryatiev, we have visited the Ramakrishna Mission in New-Delhi and had the honour of meeting with Svami Gokulananda, the Head of the Mission. Everything went off perfect. We took pictures to hold this remarkable day in remembrance.
And it was particularly wonderful and unexpected that such busy and respected person found the time and came to the ceremony our exhibition opening, attentively watched every piece and welcomed the exhibition with his dear words.
Everything was interesting for us. Of course what we saw was just tiny part of this unknown world, but the desire is still strong to tell about though evanescent impressions which we had plenty during out journey. Don’t be hypercritical with regard to the photos. Our technical equipment was rather poor, all pictures were shot on the double by means of two simplest cameras. And video is not digital, so using separate shots from it is no good.
The temples are everywhere, in the most unexpected densely built up and crowded areas and on spacious squares.
What happens inside is enigmatic and usual in the same time – people are praying, which is always profoundly personal and mysterious. Our bustling invasion was always awkward, and only the prayer to the Untold Universal God changed and improved the sensation.
And the symbols which divide peoples in Europe here are the good neighbours – swastika and David’s star. It can be said perhaps that India has absorbed everything somehow and melt it down in her own way, or otherwise that its antiquity is the source of all cultures and symbols, diverged, appropriated and distorted to the degree of being unrecognizable, who knows.
Colossal statue of glorious Hanuman, which we have no time to approach closer. Here and there the sudden look of sacred cows having rest or dragging for their own business, they probably know where. They made us to evoke in memory a tremendous story by Andrei Platonov, “The Cow”. Such Indian attitude to animals may surprise, but it is beautiful - and that’s the sense of a Culture. In Delhi streets palm squirrels looking very much like chipmunks were jumping around, the flocks of little green parrots were flying from one place to another incessantly, and once standing on the roof of Russian Centre we noticed a big eagle taking a rest in the distance. We also encountered Rikki-Tikki-Tavi – a mongoose, so swift that it appeared completely impossible to take a picture of him. Though we have been warned about customs and habits of local monkeys – their love to such tricks as sudden pilfering of caps and scarves, whatever they can reach, from dolt tourists, we were treated rather well and favourably by them and offered them bananas. On the whole, they say, life is great, but the greatest is the quantity of people. Crowds. The population of Delhi comes to 20 millions…
So - little markets,bazaars and shops everywhere, and street auctions of various clothes can be seen on every corner, and constant suggestion TO BUY something are heard while strolling the downtown streets (they call streets marges there). Of course, humans remain humans, they are different, different faces, eyes, voices and moods, but general mildness was what we felt constantly among those crowds and everywhere. Here in Russia the general feeling in subway, in tram, or in the streets is usually gloomy tension of the kind, or some aggressiveness. Surprisingly, there was no such feeling in India! In spite of close quarters in the downtown with its glib trade, dense traffic of trishaws, motor-rickshaws (tuc-tucs), motorcycles, motor scooters, automobiles, bicycles, cows plodding on their way, stray dogs and masses of passers-by, and rumbling, crash, din, clanging and general noise all this mess produce, it is somehow arranged, and very peacefully, without clash, hysterics, crush and swearing. A surprising phenomenon! Such intensive traffic and high speed on the roads as we have seen there in India, in combination with the so-called “lack of order”, would cause terrible accidents in Russia or in Europe. In India nevertheless the drivers are adroitly seeping out from the complex crossroads crowded with their ever-moving fellow-drivers with their diverse vehicles and we never noticed any crash or car accident. To say a few more words of it, the order as well as the roads in USA, for example, obviously cannot be compared to ours; still we have seen two serious crashes while driving to New-York from Philadelphia. Why, it may probably be the question of mere luck that we have seen no car crash while being in India. Another problem in Delhi – smog, the rate of air pollution is very high, sometimes it is even hard to breath and see through this dense mist (especially in the city’s outskirts). The problems are apparent, and the most striking one – so much poor people around, beggars, adults as well as children. Trishaws’ lot is not worth envying too – their lives are said to be rather short. Alike Russian cities, Indian capital is lacking street WC too, and Indians (men first of all) solve this problem right in the streets. There is a comic Russian song about advantages of being cat or dog – this is the same case. But may be this variant is better than doing it in casual staircases. Much simpler, naturally, and candidly, in public.
We were lucky to catch the Diwali fest (the celebration of Light and Fire). People there concern it the same way as we concern the New Year celebration. The whole city and all multi-stored buildings were illuminated, many windows, doorways, entrances to the shops and restaurants were decorated with garlands of yellowy-orange flowers. And of course the fireworks which are the main part of the festival. As early as four days before the festival in the evenings we were regularly hearing the sounds of shots, explosions, some crack, but were calmed down – there is nothing military – jolly citizens are entertaining themselves with petards and other pyrotechnic devices in anticipation of the holiday. But what was happening in the right day of the fest, from five p.m. on the Friday till three a.m. of the Saturday, we could never expected to see and to feel. Fantastically bright, dazzling fireworks. In every street, every yard, balcony, roof, over the whole city. While driving to visit the Indian family (who invited us for the holiday party, though traditionally Diwali is a family fest) we were constantly to stop and wait on the road for the next fire fountain to give out. When at last we reached our hosts, then after very nice unhurried consecration-communication before charming home altar strewed with flower petals, and some sweet refreshments, we were really entertained by the feast of light and fire on the roof of this wonderful cottage. The roof set perhaps may be called an elevated patio lit with candles and multicoloured light bulbs garlands. There were even little green grass lawn there, and stone paths, and lots of pots with flowers, and small hillock of motley boulders with water running from its slopes, and spacious stone ground for more than hour occupied with continuous light torrents of various Bengal lights, rockets, horizontal and vertical torrents of fire. It is hard to count the amount of boxes with pyrotechnics opened by our hosts this evening to the gladness of more than 20 guests and family members. Not poor people have a wonderful holiday. And what were poor doing this glorious evening we never learnt or saw. But all this pleasure apparently cost citizens more than a milliard rupees. Alas for us, humans, we are so busy constructing temples and pleading for the help and charity for ourselves, but what do we do for others, what’s our aid for them? And how many children are still abiding in the sterility, either luxurious or poor. Wonderful is that help is given to all of us for the time being. Of course, the divine order – wise karma – distributes everything by the proper places, but finally it is what we are creating by each moment of our lives. And the rupees gifted by us will introduce little change in our children’s or our own lives. If only we had enough strength not to be indifferent too often during each of our days on the earth.
|A winter is coming to Delhi.||SHIVA (dancing in an aflame) Nataradzh.
The photo by Peter Krylov.
|Big Olya in the observatories of the XVIIc.|
Finally, the long-awaited exhibition trip to the sacred Kullu valley took place, to the Himalayan valley of three hundred and sixty Gods. Of course, Memorial Museum - the Roerich family Estate- was the most desirable goal of our Indian voyage. In spite of all difficulties – 15 hours-long bus travel, sleepless night - our expectations were more than justified. One feels so well and light there, it is so calm and quiet; the sounds are melting in gigantic deep transparent space, there are ancient temples and white pyramides of mountain M, there the sounds of tam-tam beating the rhythm of passing time are heard from far away in the valley, there is Orion glittering with especial bright intensity. This land is an ancient and very long-inhabited area. Buddha has been passing these parts and taught here, this is where the events of the most ancient grandiose Indian epos “Mahabharata” took place; here is the place of birth of “Bhagavad-Gita”. Here… the mystery is heard… and the measured semi-rustic contemporary life continues.
At last we are in the Roerich’s Estate. Whatever the cause was – the fatigue after sleepless night or some other – but at once I was deafened by this long-awaited stillness. The reality was like a dream. The miscellaneous thoughts came to a standstill, and pure perception maintained. I didn’t hurry to go into the office, the house, to meet with people; these first minute impressions were to be imprinted in my heart and my memory. I saw the tree by the Roerich's house - wonderful tree, bathed in shining light, full of living energy. Powerful, high trunk going upwards into branches and having achieved the top swooping down into numerous branches-roots, twisting in spirals, intertwining and diverging and descending into the earth. And this tree near the house suddenly became the symbol of life and creative activity of Roerichs' family for me. There occurred the same aspiration for the heights and light of knowledge and again - coming back with gifts containing the roots of being, to the fuss of this world and serving it. Here the Russian family lived, here their dreams became realized in an every-day toil, this was the place where the great Russian artist Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich and his son Svyatoslav were creating their paintings. This was the place of great experience of the spiritual cosmonaut Elena Ivanovna Roerich named mother of Agni Yoga and Urusvati, who brought the Living Ethics to this world - the doctrine for all the times maintaining the holy antiquity as well as discovering the grandiose way for the mankind towards great cosmic universal UNITY. Here their remarkable elder son Yuri also worked. Here they earned love and respect of the greatest people of India. And now the children’s works exhibition from their native land and native city – Saint-Petersburg - will be opened.
We were introduced to Alena Adamkova, the curatorÌ of International Roerich Memorial Trust, who successfully carries the hard administrative burden (sharing it with just few assistants, as we saw for ourselves) of keeping the memorial in proper state and developing it. What fancied me the most, it was yet started raising up of international art college premises there in the Kullu. We were settled in the Apple House which has been reconstructed to produce a little inn for Roerich Estate guests. Our exhibition was to be hanged in the Urusvati Institute. When we have climbed 100 meters to the Institute building (now it is accommodated for museum and exhibition halls) I thought that few people would be willing to come here, so difficult the ascent seemed to me. But when we saw the throngs of people resolutely climbing up a hill and calling up with interest to look upon us hanging the pictures all doubts vanished. To our great regret, we had no possibility to present on the opening ceremony in the Kullu, because we had to return to Delhi and open the above-told exhibition. But everything went off well, the exhibition in the Kullu was successfully opened on November, 21. We may say great thanks to Alena, Nastya nad Sheru.
|The city of Naggar. A view from the Roerihs' estate.||The tree beside the building of Roerihs'.||A view from the Roerihs' estate. Almost Chyurlyonis.|
|The citizens of the S. Petersburg and Alena Adamkova.||Guga Chokhan, the keeper of the Kullu valley.||The institute URUSVATI - now museum.|
|The landscape.||The travellers. A very strong contrast.||The winter is comming. The persimmon has ripened.|
This temple was supplied with the grate preventing stepping inside and its interiors were not lit and very dark, so we took this picture using the flash by guesswork, and were able to look at this “Sanctuary happiness” only after developing the film here in Saint-Petersburg.
|The temple to the first man Manu in the town of Manali.||Tired.||A deserved rest. |
(Left to right) M.N. Chryatiev, Olya Korchagina, Peter Krylov.
Great-great thanks to kind Peter Krylov who took the trouble of being our guide in Delhi and then in the Himalaya. If not for him, we saw and knew much less of India.