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Nicholas Roerich, Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh


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Nicholas Roerich, (October 9, 1874 - December 13, 1947) also known as Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh (misspelled surname) (Russian: Николай Константинович Рёрих), was a Russian painter and spiritual teacher. He was the father of Tibetologist George Roerich (a.k.a. Yuri Roerich) and artist Svetoslav Roerich. Nicholas and his wife Helena Roerich were co-founders of the theosophical Agni Yoga Society.

 

Agni Yoga, also called the "Teaching of Living Ethics" or (in Russian) the Живая этика (Zhivaya etika). Agni is a Hindu and Vedic deity. The word agni is Sanskrit for "fire" (noun), cognate with Latin ignis (the root of English ignite), Russian ogon (fire), pronounced agon, and ogni, pronounced agni (fires). Agni has three forms: fire, lightning and the sun.

 

Agni is one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire, the messenger of the gods, the acceptor of sacrifice. Agni is in everyone's hearth; he is the vital spark of life, and so a part of him is in all living things; he is the fire which consumes food in peoples' stomachs, as well as the fire which consumes the offerings to the gods. He is the fire of the sun, in the lightening bolt, and in the smoke column which holds up the heavens. The stars are sparks from his flame. He was so important to the ancient Indians that 200 hymns in the Rig Veda are addressed to him, and eight of its ten books begin with praises dedicated to him.

 

Yoga is a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. It has been defined as referring to "technologies or disciplines of asceticism and meditation which are thought to lead to spiritual experience and profound understanding or insight into the nature of existence." Asceticism (Greek:askēsis) describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures (especially sexual activity and consumption of alcohol) often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Meditation is a discipline in which the mind is focused on an object of thought or awareness. It usually involves turning attention to a single point of reference.

 

The aims of the Society are embodied in the philosophy that gives it its name—Agni Yoga—as contained in the books of the Agni Yoga Series published by the Society. In them is found a synthesis of ancient Eastern beliefs and modern Western thought and a bridge between the spiritual and the scientific. Unlike previous yogas, Agni Yoga is a path not of physical disciplines, meditation, or asceticism—but of practice in daily life. It is the yoga of fiery energy, of consciousness, of responsible, directed thought. It teaches that the evolution of the planetary consciousness is a pressing necessity and that, through individual striving, it is an attainable aspiration for mankind. It affirms the existence of the Hierarchy of Light and the center of the Heart as the link with the Hierarchy and with the far-off worlds. Though not systematized in an ordinary sense, Agni Yoga is a Teaching that helps the discerning student to discover moral and spiritual guide-posts by which to learn to govern his or her life and thus contribute to the Common Good. For this reason Agni Yoga has been called a "living ethic

 

Born in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg, Russia to the family of a well-to-do notary public, he lived around the world until his death in Punjab, India. Trained as an artist and a lawyer, his interests lay in literature, philosophy, archaeology and especially art.

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