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Letters of Helena Roerich

Book One

“When the images of great historic figures reach us from remote antiquity they are somehow assimilated in consciousness more easily. Even if they are veiled in myths and legends, they are very convincing. With the passage of the time, everything seems possible. Writers and artists of all ages dedicate their best inspirations to these distant images. Whole generations are inspired by these heroes and heroines. No one envies them, and no one ponders at what cost the achievements were performed. What is preserved is purely the record of glorious human ascent.
     “It is not quite so with images from the recent past, to say nothing of the present time. Take, for instance, the biographical sketches of the great men of late. So much that is unessential, uncharacteristic, is mentioned regarding them! This only proves that the final essence of their lives has not yet been weighed and appreciated. The most doubtful, the least-proven details are invariably included; hence, the conclusions, if not altogether negative, tend to be depreciative.
     “Of course, with passing ages the scales will be balanced. The justice of the people will remove much that obscured the eyes of contemporaries. The judgment of the ages does not necessarily have to demean. Even in the short span of a hundred years we see that a great deal has attained its own balance. The lengthy pages on which the great souls were disparaged have not yet disintegrated. Our grandfathers witnessed how cruel and unjust was the attitude of people toward certain manifestations which, in less than a century, were to become the pride of their country and even the whole world. And we ourselves are now witnesses of the same.
     “Beautiful images are passing before us of men and women who are the true creators of culture. And it would seem desirable to recognize them immediately rather than postpone unnecessarily. Why hide them in the archives and screen them from sight until they grow into a fantasy of the folk imagination?
     “Here we encounter a remarkable contemporary figure, an outstanding Russian woman. Reveling unusual qualities even in childhood, she is seen as a little girl secretly carrying away a heavy volume of Doré’s Bible. Bending from its burdensome weight, hiding it from the grown-ups, she has taken the treasure in order to study the illustrations, and eventually (when she teaches herself to read) to study the Testaments.
     “From her father’s bookcase, at an unusually early age, she also took volumes on philosophy. Amidst the noisy, and it seems distracting, environment she was able to develop a profound contemplation of life, as if she had possessed it long ago. Honesty, justice, a constant search for Truth, and love for creative work – all this actually transformed the whole of life around the strong young spirit. And the whole house, the whole family, became directed by the same benevolent principles. All difficulties and dangers were endured under the same stoic leadership. The accumulated knowledge and striving to perfection brought a victorious solution of problems, and this led the surrounding people toward the luminous path. Ignorance, darkness, malice were always acutely sensed. Wherever it was possible, both physical and spiritual healing was performed. Life became full of true labor. From morning till night everything was performed for the benefit of humanity. The broadest correspondence was carried on; books were written; works of many volumes translated; and all this was done in an amazingly tireless spirit. Even the most difficult circumstances were conquered by true faith which became real straight-knowledge. Surely, wonderful accumulations are necessary for such knowledge! All young people should know of this tireless life as a vital example of austere achievements benevolence, and constructiveness. When the difficulties of this inspirational work are known, it will be particularly helpful toward the realization that the incessant advancement can be made. Often, one thins that everything is hopeless, that good is defenseless against evil, so great are the delusions resulting from human despair. Therefore, real vital examples are indeed most important; and we may rejoice at the encouragement such an example as this provides for all beginners in constructive work.” *
     So speaks the most authentic witness! We, friends and admirers of the work of Elena Ivanovna, ** can receive fiery flashes of her broad and wise contemplation from her letters, for is not her whole life imbued with fire? The Women’s Movement, cosmological researches, the Living Ethics – all these can be found in her letters to friends. Elena Ivanovna opposed to the publication of her letters, but we, her numerous friends, have been exchanging copies of what were for us their most precious indications. Eventually we came to the conclusion that, considering the demand for these letters by an increasing number of friends and co-workers, it was necessary to publish them in book form. We applied to E. I. herself, and at last received her permission. Of course, the first volume consists only of a relatively small number of letters, or rather fragments of letters, which in most cases are just the answers to various questions of co-workers. The names of the co-workers and even their places of residence are not mentioned, as what is important is the subject dealt with. As to the correspondents, they themselves know whom the letters concern and on what occasions they were written.
     Through the gradual publication of these letters, the breadth of thought of this remarkable Russian woman will be revealed. In Russia as well as abroad during her world travels, she always gave herself in service both to her own country and to humanity.
     The Russians have contributed quite a number of remarkable women in various fields of life. One can think of the names of such heroines as Kovalevsky, Blavatsky, Dashkova, Volkonsky, Morozova and many others. From the remote past until now, they have served humanity with their unusual talents and knowledge. The activities of women have been recognized only recently, but already we can see the influence of woman in all spheres: art, literature, philosophy, medicine, education, industry, aviation – in short, wherever the new world is being built. Elena Ivanovna has always been hoping to publish a worthy book, a bibliographical work, dedicated to woman. Moreover, she has never had in view any estrangement from the world; on the contrary, she always thinks of the broadest, closest cooperation, which would forever remove the conventional limitations of ignorance.
     Being privileged to present these thoughts of a wonderful woman thinker, the publishers take great pleasure in giving to all seekers of truth and culture the possibility of becoming acquainted with the profoundly penetrative letters of Elena Ivanovna Roerich.

*  Prof. Nicholas Roerich, Nerushimoye
**  Helena Roerich

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