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  Home > Culture > The Pantheon of Russian Culture
It is added on November, 12th 2009


(To the Russian Association of the Roerich Society in Paris)

Much of the news which we receive from Europe is not quite clear, due to distance. Thus, for instance, vague rumors have reached us saying that the tomb of Diaghileff on the Lido is neglected. On the other hand, we have had reports about the foundation of a Diaghileff Museum. Thus, it is after all rather difficult to judge the measures which are being taken to preserve the name of this eminent Russian.

I always think of Diaghileff as of one of the representative figures in the history of Russian Culture. Leaving aside all paradoxes and circumstances arising out of present day conditions, let us bear in mind that we must try indefatigably to throw ever more light on the universal significance of Russian Culture, which in its interpretation of Orient and Occident has created such a perfect and unforgettable whole. In the flashing of Mongolian swords, Old Russia hearkened to the enticing fairytales of the Orient. It was on the shields of the Vikings that the runes of the Romanesque were first carried into Russia, leaving their noble imprint on the walls of Russian castles and cathedrals. Yet, Russia was sustained not only by the East and West; she derived her potential energies from North and South as well. Here we have Byzantine mosaics combined with the style of Amsterdam, all of which contributed the beginning to a synthesis that, above all temporary problems, should show each Russian where the real values lie. Not through destruction, but through constructive creativeness, has Russian Culture brought into the life of the whole earth an element which impelled the attention and esteem of the entire Western World. The outstanding performances of Diaghileff in various lines of artistic endeavor showed the world what we possess.

Even at this very moment a whole galaxy of Russians of renown participates in the cultural work of Europe and the other continents, as servants and interpreters of the Beautiful. We can assert without any exaggeration whatever that it is the Russian group, which so whole-heartedly joined in the cultural work of all countries of the world, that is upholding the cordial threads of spiritual contact between Europe and America.

Russian Art–only a quarter of a century ago still unknown to the world—not only has found complete recognition and a permanent place in the world consciousness, but in many fields there has grown up a friendly cooperation and solidarity with local cultural workers. It is a precious feeling to realize that names like Dostoievsky, Gogol, Tolstoi, Chekhov, Moussorgsky, Serov, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Scriabin have found their affirmation as an integral part of the universal mind. As is fitting, the pride of Russian culture has become a universal pride. And now we have before us a remarkable galaxy of living affirmers of the universal unity, living creators in the name of Beauty. For, is Chaliapin not universal and has not his unforgettably subtle creativeness and artistry become a symbol of truly great achievement? Has not so keen a writer as Merezhkovsky brought into literature a combination of cultural understanding of the past and foresight for the future that is still unparalleled? Without exaggeration, are there many writer-creators, who can touch on problems of universal foresight with so much profoundity and wisdom? And Remizov, Bunin, Grebenstchikoff, do they not appear as the most remarkable interpreters of the Russian essence, so convincing in its typical manifoldness? And with what gentle care we ought to treat such outstanding cultural figures as Alexander Benois, who in their own creations, as well as in their indefatigable pursuits of knowledge, are following the highest paths, the highlights of Culture. We must not forget that the names of those who now constitute some of the brightest pages of the History of the Arts, the names of Somov, Yakovlev, Dobuzhinsky, Bakst, Bilibin, Maliavin, Sudeykin, Grigoriev, Petrov-Vodkin, Borisov-Musatov and the entire brilliant group of such strong and wonderful living creators, active in their most diversified respective fields, will always remain dear and invaluable to the understanding of world culture. The powerful Konenkov is also among the living, so is Steletzky, and their work has found its way into the most diverse circles and countries of the world. Who does not know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, whose names appear on the programs of every important musical event? And what far-reaching assertion of Russian art has been achieved by the great Pavlova, Karsavina, Nijinsky, Mordkin, Bolm and the entire splendid group of the Moscow Art Theatre!

We can go on forever enumerating the names of pro-pounders and interpreters of Russian Art, and yet you will sense immediately that many a splendid name has been left unmentioned. It is in this abundance of wealth that the powerful spirit of the Pantheon of Russian Culture finds its expression. Our list would be incomplete if we were not to mention the mighty pillars of culture erected by those laboring in the field of scientific thought—Pavlov, Mechnikov, Mendeleev, Metalnikov, Lossky, Miliukov, Rostovtzev, Kondakov and all those who, disregarding the hardships and obstacles which present-day conditions seem to put in the way of all cultural endeavor, introduce radiant pages into the cultural refinement of the universal consciousness.

The younger Russian generation, and in fact all growing generations, should know about these builders of a culture, which so buoyantly pursues its goal amidst the confusion which has taken place in the minds of our days. The young people must not only know about these culture builders, but they must be able to derive new strength and inspiration by listening to the voices of indefatigable and great creative forces. We mean the presence of an indubitable element of achievement and heroism, i.e. the thing that should be the guiding principle in the upbuilding of a vast and brilliant future.

Our French Society has for its purpose the encouragement of the forces of the great culture of France. It is but right that our Russian Association should endeavor, to the best of its ability, to commemorate and pay due tribute to its moving purpose by means of various cultural activities, thus impressing the younger generation with the wonderful landmarks of the great path.

Our program of proposed lectures, of which I have previously written, should devote much attention to Russian cultural achievement. It is easier for you who are right there to know where to begin and what cooperation can be established with what is already being done in the name of Culture.

That which holds true for all other occasions, applies here also, namely: the main thing is not to quarrel, not to disunite unnecessarily, not to permit suicidal dissension. The unifying idea of Culture must be sufficient to eliminate all disturbing elements and converge into one brilliant creative channel all the aspirations, deeds and consciousnesses.

I am eagerly looking forward to hearing from you as to what you have decided to do about my project, whether you have decided to give the lectures in the hall of our European Center or in some other place, by consolidating your cultural endeavor. The where and how are utterly immaterial, as long as one more effort, undeferrable and beautiful, has been accomplished in the name of Culture.

I am enclosing another thousand francs to be added to the fund of our activities in the name of Culture.

Urusvati, December 24, 1931.
Fiery Stronghold, The Stratford Company, Boston, 1933