by Mehmet Sabeheddin
New Dawn Special Issue Vol 7 No 6.
October 18, 2014
is a researcher, writer and global traveler. He is a
longtime contributor to New Dawn magazine.
He can be contacted
c/- of New Dawn Magazine, GPO Box 3126, Melbourne VIC
Back in October 2000, the newly elected President of the Russian
Federation, Vladimir V. Putin, granted a revealing interview
to the editors of India Today and The Russian Journal.
President Putin paid special tribute to
Nicholas Roerich, the Russian
artist, explorer and mystic, stating:
"Roerich's life was an amazing life,
a marvel of creativity and astonishing example of spiritual
closeness that, perhaps doesn't lie on the surface, but is
nevertheless the spiritual closeness that binds all peoples."
In December 2002, President Putin's wife
Lyudmila opened an exhibition of Nicholas Roerich's work at the
National Museum of India in Delhi.
Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) is remembered today as a celebrated
Russian painter and occultist, whose intrepid journeys through
Central Asia captured the attention of the Western public in the
1920s and 1930s.
But Nicholas Roerich was also a master
of 'spiritual geopolitics' who sought to establish a pan-Buddhist,
transnational 'New Country' stretching from Tibet to southern
Siberia, including territory that was governed by,
the Soviet Union
This 'New Country' was conceived by
Roerich as the manifest, earthly expression of the invisible
"the Holy Place, where the earthly
world links with the highest states of consciousness." 1
This Shambhala Project was to establish
the Sacred Union of the East.
The American scholar John McCannon, who is writing a
biography of Roerich, points out that in today's Russia Roerich's
ideas are discussed at the highest echelons:
Roerich's name has appeared with
surprising frequency in civic and academic discussion of
international relations and new directions in foreign policy.
Mainly, he has been cited by
political scientists and strategic thinkers in Russia looking
for models of 'multipolarity' and 'global pluralism' to counter
U.S. hegemony and seemingly triumphalist or confrontational
political theories from the West… 2
Since the earliest days of his first
presidency, Vladimir Putin has worked tirelessly to lay the
foundations of a Eurasian alliance.
Just weeks after paying tribute to
Nicholas Roerich, Putin told an international forum that,
"Russia has always perceived of
itself as a Eurasian country."
Then in 2001, Russia and China, along
with the states of Central Asia, founded the Eurasian political,
economic and military organization known today as the Shanghai
Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India, have
all expressed interest in joining the group.
In the lead up to his election for a third term as Russian
president, Putin set out his grand Eurasian vision in a series of
widely published articles.
Nicholas Roerich was introduced to the Buddhist legend of Shambhala
while working on the first Buddhist temple ever constructed in
Europe, in St. Petersburg the imperial capital of the vast Russian
Empire. The Russian Tsar Nicholas II, although a devout Orthodox
Christian and head of the Russian Church, had a deep interest in
mysticism and Eastern wisdom.
On several occasions the Tsar received
the Buddhist monk Dorzhiev, assuring him that,
"Buddhists in Russia may feel as if
under the wing of a mighty eagle."
Construction of the St Petersburg
Buddhist temple commenced in 1913 to coincide with the 300th
anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.
That same year Lama Dorzhiev, a friend
of Nicholas Roerich and George Gurdjieff, wrote that Russia
was about to fulfill the old Buddhist messianic myth of
Shambhala by founding a great
Buddhist empire in the East.
One hundred years later in 2013, President Putin, himself a native
of St. Petersburg, promised "100-percent support" for Russia's
Buddhists. Speaking during a visit to Russia's
Buryatia republic, Putin said he
was proud that Russia is the only country in Europe where
Buddhism is officially recognized
as a traditional religion.
The Russian President emphasized that,
"Buddhism plays a significant role
in Russia… It has always been that way. It is well known that
the Buddhists helped during both world wars."
Putin described Buddhism as a,
"kind, humanist learning based on
love for others and love for one's country," and said he, the
federal government and regional authorities were "always at [the
Buddhists'] disposal and ready to support them." 3
Like Tsar Nicholas II, President
Vladimir Putin is known to be a devout Russian Orthodox believer
with a strong interest in Eastern wisdom.
A master of both sambo and judo, Putin
has often spoken of how the martial arts - imbued with Asian
philosophy - are intended to train the body and the mind. Though an
Orthodox Christian, he is conscious of the spiritual authenticity of
other traditional religions.
And like Nicholas Roerich, who was born
Orthodox Christian but later became steeped in Buddhism, Vladimir
Putin may well sympathize with the view that the highest forms of
all the world's religions point to the same ultimate reality.
1. See 'From
Synarchy to Shambhala - The Role of Political Occultism and
Social Messianism in the Activities of Nicholas Roerich'
by Markus Osterrieder
the shores of white waters - The Altai and its place in the
spiritual geopolitics of Nicholas Roerich' by John
Promises 100% Support for Buddhists', RIA Novosti, 11