Agni Yoga

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Agni Yoga
Founders Helena Roerich and Nicholas Roerich
Practice emphases
Conscious striving in one's daily life
Related schools
Theosophy (Blavatskian)

Agni Yoga (Russian: Агни Йога) or the Living Ethics (Russian: Живая Этика) is a one of the neo-theosophical religious doctrine[1] transmitted by the Helena and Nicholas Roerichs from 1920. The followers of Agni Yoga believe that the teaching was given to the Roerich family[2] and their associates by Master Morya, the guru of Roerichs and Helena Blavatsky, one of the founders of the modern theosophical movement and the Theosophical Society.[3] Agni Yoga is a path 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.[4]

Birth of the new religion

Hermann Schmiechen.[5] A portrait of Master Morya, 1884

Etymology and concept

Two philosophers greatly influenced the New Age movement: Helena Roerich (left) and Helena Blavatsky
Agni Yoga is a synthesis of all Yogas. In all the ancient Hindu scriptures the approaching Fiery Epoch has been predicted. It is said that Agni—the Fire that is found in varying degrees at the foundation of all Yogas will saturate the atmosphere of our planet tremendously, and all the branches of Yoga will be fused into a fiery synthesis. Verily, Agni Yoga is a fiery baptism

 —Helena Roerich[6]

Agni (Sanskrit: अग्नि) is the Vedic and Living Ethics God of Fire, one marks immortality and the symbol of life. Agni is one of the supreme gods in the Rigveda. In Agni Yoga it is the Creative Fire of the Universe, the root of the "Fire of Space"; and "psychic energy", the powers of the human mind and heart, particularly those manifesting in love, thought, and creativity.[7]

Yoga (Sanskrit: योग; About this sound pronunciation) is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Yoga is a group of spiritual, mental, and physical practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.[8]

Aum or Oṃ (About this sound listen , Devanagari: ) is a sacred sound and a spiritual symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. That signifies the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness or Atman.[9]

Shambhala is a birthplace of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu, who will usher in a New Age — Satya Yuga. Shambhala is ruled over by Maitreya. The Kalacakra Tantra prophesies that when all is lost, Kalki will emerge from Shambhala to vanquish "Dark Forces" and usher in a worldwide Golden Age. Shambhala is also called Shangri-la.[10]

Morya is one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom within modern Theosophical beliefs. He is one of the Mahatmas who inspired the founding of the Theosophy and Agni Yoga.[11]

Helena Roerich (1879 - 1955), known as the Tara Urusvati (The Light of the Morning Star) in Agni Yoga and Rerikhism.[12] She was a teacher and healer as well as the inspired co-author of the Agni Yoga series, the first English books about Agni Yoga and the Roerichs' relationship with their Guru. Nicholas Roerich (1874 -1947) was an internationally acclaimed artist, conservationist, archeologist, humanitarian and peacemaker.[13] N. Roerich called Helena Roerich “She Who Leads” in his creations.[14]

Precursors of Agni Yoga


Theosophy's founder, Helena Blavatsky, insisted that it was not a religion, although did refer to it as the modern transmission of the "once universal religion" that she claimed had existed deep into the human past. Theosophical organisations, regard it as a system that embraces what they see as the "essential truth" underlying religion, philosophy, and science. Theosophical groups allow their members to hold other religious allegiances, resulting in Theosophists who also identify as Christians, Buddhists, or Hindus.[15]

Russian philosophy and Russian Cosmism

Russian philosophy as a separate entity started its development in the 19th century, defined initially by the opposition of Westernizers, advocating Russia's following the Western political and economical models, and Slavophiles, insisting on developing Russia as a unique civilization. The latter group included Nikolai Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontiev, the early founders of eurasianism. The discussion of Russia's place in the world has since become the most characteristic feature of Russian philosophy. In its further development, Russian philosophy was also marked by deep connection to literature and interest in creativity, society, religion, and Russian cosmism.[16] Notable philosophers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Vladimir Solovyev, Vasily Rozanov, Lev Shestov, Leo Tolstoy, Sergei Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, Pitirim Sorokin.

Historical development

Information about Vedanta and Buddhism spread in Western countries in the first decade of the 20th century. In the United States of the 1920s, when the voises in religion were arguing over fundamentalism and modernism as the only available choice, and long before Shangri-La had become a popularly accepted myth, a vanguard movement was promoting the alternative of the wisdom of the Eastern world.[17]

The Agni Yoga Society

Master Building, 1929 view

The Agni Yoga Society was founded in 1920 by Helena and Nicholas Roerich. It is a non-profit educational institution incorporated in 1946 under the laws of the State of New York, and is supported entirely by voluntary contributions and membership dues. The organization was located in the building Master Apartments. 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 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. Though not systematized in an ordinary sense, it is a teaching that helps the 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. Speaking about the role of personality in the spiritual evolution of mankind, Helena Roerich wrote,[4]

The greatest benefit that we can contribute consists in the broadening of consciousness, and the improvement and enrichment of our thinking, which, together with the purification of the heart, strengthens our emanations. And thus, raising our vibrations, we restore the health of all that surrounds us.

Master Institute of United Arts

In 1921, in New York City, Roerich founded the Master Institute of United Arts, in which he planned to realize the educational concepts. He invited as teachers such famous people as George Bellows, Claude Fayette Bragdon, Norman Bel Geddes, Stark Young, Deems Taylor, Robert Edmond Jones, and Lee Simonson.[18]

Himalayan Research Institute named Urusvati

Himalayan Research Institute named Urusvati

Roerich's family moved to India in December 1923. They settled in Darjeeling, a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Lower Himalayan Ranges at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m).[19]

The plethora of materials collected during the Central Asia Expedition became the foundation for the establishment of the Himalayan Research Institute named 'Urusvati' in Darjeeling in 1928. A few months later the institute moved to Naggar in Kulu Valley. The center engaged in scientific exchange with 285 institutes, universities, museums, and libraries around the world. George de Roerich was a world-renowned scientist, orientalist, and guru.[20] His monumental translation of the Blue Annals (Tibetan: དེབ་ཐེར་སྔོན་པོ)[21] , and his 11-volume Tibetan-Russian-English dictionary with Sanskrit parallels were published in 1934.[22]

Prof. George de Roerich, director of the Himalayan Research Institute

One of his main focuses for the center was to bring people to the Institute who practiced and lived the cultures being examined by the center. George Roerich was the director of the Himalayan Research Institute named Urusvati for 10 years.[23]

Svetoslav Roerich postage stamp

Svetoslav Roerich was in charge of the work of the Natural Sciences Department. He carried out unique researches in various fields of the natural sciences. At the basis of his scientific investigations was understanding of nature as one whole that is inalienably connected with the cosmic laws. The scope of his interests: cultural studies, comparative religious studies and philosophy, botany, mineralogy, tibetan pharmacopoeia, chemistry and its alchemical sources.[24]

The work of the Himalayan Research Institute was based on wide international cooperation.[25] Major scientists and cultural workers collaborated with the Institute Urusvati. Such as Soviet academician Nikolai Vavilov, biologist and biophysicist Jagadish Chandra Bose, Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore, the father of Indian journalism Ramananda Chatterjee, Indian philosopher and statesman Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Swedish geographer and explorer Sven Hedin, and many others.[26]

Nicholas Roerich Museum

The Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City was originally located in the Master Apartments at 103rd Street and Riverside Drive (Manhattan), which were built especially for Roerich in 1929. Now the museum is located in a brownstone at 319 West 107th Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Currently, the museum includes between 100 and 200 of Roerich's works as well as a collection of archival materials and still attracts pilgrims from throughout the world. The mission of the Nicholas Roerich Museum is one: to make available to the public the full range of Roerich’s accomplishments. They cover the realms of art, science, spirituality, peacemaking, and more.[27]

The Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York is the largest center of Roerich-related activity outside of Russia.[28]

International Center of the Roerichs

International Center of the Roerichs (The hall of Living Ethics) in 2014

International Center of the Roerichs (Russian: Междунаро́дный це́нтр Ре́рихов) is a non-governmental public association of citizens and public associations incorporated on the basis of their common interests in the cause of study, preservation, and popularization of the Roerich family heritage. The Center is an associated member of the Non-Governmental Organizations Association under the United Nations Department of Public Information.[29]

Museum named after Nicholas Roerich (Russian: Музе́й и́мени Н. К. Ре́риха Междунаро́дного це́нтра Ре́рихов) contents comprises the Roerichs' cultural heritage passed on to the Soviet Roerichs' Foundation (now International Center of the Roerichs) by Svetoslav Roerich in 1990. It carries in itself a new cosmic world view for which new interest grows more each year. The core of the Rerikhism is the philosophy of cosmic reality – the Agni Yoga, which develops the idea of a close relationship between man and Cosmos, contains knowledge which assists in understanding the specific features peculiar to the new evolutionary stage of mankind's development.[30]

The World Organisation of Culture of Health

The World Organisation of Culture of Health (WOCH) — International social movement "To Health via Culture" (Russian: Междунаро́дное обще́ственное Движе́ние «К Здоро́вью че́рез Культу́ру») was founded in the year 1994. Victor Skumin was elected to the post of the President-founder of this organisation. The WOCH operates in accordance with the registered in Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation Charter.[31]

In Agni Yoga much attention is paid to health. So in the book Supermundane (paragraph 525) recorded the words of Mahatma Moria, addressed to Urusvati,[32]

Victor Skumin, President-founder

Urusvati knows that people are responsible for three aspects of health. First, their own health; second, the health of the planet; and finally, the health of the Supermundane World... People must safeguard their own health, not only for themselves but also for those around them. The human organism, though seemingly small, is a powerful repository of energy, and truly dominates its earthly environment.

It is from these positions that WOCH approaches the solution of problems related to health.

The anthem of WOCH (To Health via Culture) consists of four stanzas. The capital letters each of the four stanzas form the word Agni.[33][34] (Anthem "To Health via Culture." on YouTube). Another anthem by Skumin is termed "Urusvati". Helena Roerich, known as the Tara Urusvati in Agni Yoga and Rerikhism. This anthem begins with the phrase, "The fire of the heart ignites Urusvati, she teaches the spirit take-off on the wings of the grace".[34]

In the Russian Orthodox Church the social activities of this international organization qualifies as an ideology of the Agni Yoga and New Age (NA),[35][36]

The ideology of the NA serves outstanding contemporary philosophers: Gregory Bateson, Ken Wilber, Paul Feyerabend. On a grand scale is the creation and support of international organizations, contained in the ideology of the NA. In Russia and in Ukraine, International movement "To Health via Culture", based on the teachings of Agni Yoga, operates and has a great publishing activity.

The book "Aum" 1936 Last page

The Holy Scripture of Agni Yoga

The book "New Era Community" (Russian: ″Община″[37]) which was on board of orbital station "Mir", 1999

Agni Yoga is a Holy Scripture consisting of a series of books with a total volume of about 5000 pages.[38]

  1. "Leaves of Morya's Garden Book One The Call". 1924. Retrieved 11 September 2018. . Transmitted from 1920 to 1923. First published in Paris in 1923.
  2. "Leaves of Morya's Garden Book Two Illumination". 1925. Retrieved 11 September 2018. . Transmitted from May 1923 to June 1925.
  3. "New Era Community". 1926. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  4. "Agni Yoga". 1929. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  5. "Infinity Part I". 1930. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  6. "Infinity Part II". 1930. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  7. "Hierarchy". 1931. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  8. "Heart". 1932. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  9. "Fiery World I". 1933. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  10. "Fiery World II". 1934. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  11. "Fiery World III". 1935. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  12. "Aum". 1936. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  13. "Brotherhood". 1937. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  14. "Supermundane". 1938. Retrieved 13 September 2018. 


Many works of Nicholas Roerich and Svetoslav Roerich, as an artists,[39] are thematically related to Agni Yoga.

See also


  1. ^ "Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age". Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  2. ^ "Roerichs' family". International Centre of the Roerichs. Retrieved 15 September 2018. 
  3. ^ "The Esoteric Studies Guide". Retrieved 10 September 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "About Agni Yoga". Retrieved 8 September 2018. 
  5. ^ Koot Hoomi's portrait // Sasson D. Yearning for the New Age: Laura Holloway-Langford and Late Victorian Spirituality.— Indiana University Press, 2012.— с. 142—144.— ISBN 9780253001771
    «Hermann Schmiechen was a German painter living in London who had joined the Theosophical Society. He agreed to take part in a „psychical experiment“ to see if images could be transferred to his mind from those who had seen the Masters...»
  6. ^ Roerich, Helena (1929–1935). Letters of Helena Roerich. 1. p. 411. Retrieved 9 September 2018. 
  7. ^ Bowker, John (1997). "World Religions". New York: DK Publishing, Inc. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018. 
  8. ^ Georg Feuerstein (23 October 2012). The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice. Hohm Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-935387-39-8. Retrieved 10 September 2018. 
  9. ^ James Lochtefeld (2002), "Om", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 2: N-Z, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931804, page 482
  10. ^ LePage, Victoria (1996). Shambhala: The Fascinating Truth Behind the Myth of Shangri-La. Quest Books. pp. 125–126. ISBN 9780835607506. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  11. ^ Skumin, V. A.; Aunovsky, O. K. (1995). Светоносцы (о семье Рерихов) [The Bringers of the Light (The story of the Roerich family)] (in Russian). Novocheboksarsk: TEROS. ISBN 5-88167-004-3. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2018. 
  12. ^ Skumin, V. A. (1995). Афоризмы Агни Йоги [Sutras of Agni Yoga] (in Russian). Novocheboksarsk: TEROS. ISBN 5-88167-007-8. Archived from the original on 7 January 2018. Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  13. ^ Drayer, Ruth Abrams (2014) [2005]. Nicholas & Helena Roerich: The Spiritual Journey of Two Great Artists & Peacemakers. Quest Books. p. 309. Retrieved 10 September 2018. 
  14. ^ "Helena Ivanovna Roerich (1879 – 1955)". Retrieved 19 September 2018. }}
  15. ^ Blavatsky, Helena (2013). Is Theosophy a Religion?. p. 24. ISBN 1258977710. Retrieved 10 September 2018. 
  16. ^ James T. Andrews, “Red cosmos: K.E. Tsiolkovskii, grandfather of Soviet rocketry”, Issue 18 Centennial of Flight Series, p 114, Texas A&M University Press, 2009, ISBN 1-60344-168-9, ISBN 978-1-60344-168-1
  17. ^ Brian Taves (1985). "Philosophy Into Popular Fiction: Talbot Mundy and The Theosophical Society". Southern California QuarterlyTo. 67 (2): 153–186. doi:10.2307/41171147. Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  18. ^ "Nicholas Roerich Biography America". Nicholas Roerich Museum New York. Retrieved 16 September 2018. 
  19. ^ "Roerich Himalayan Museum Of Folk And Tribal Art". Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  20. ^ Skumin VA (2003). "Удрая – наш Духовный Наставник" [Udraia (George Roerich's spiritual name) is our Guru]. To Health via Culture. 9: 3–12. ISSN 0204-3440. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  21. ^ "Summary of The Blue Annals Chapter 1: Early Indian history, Indian and Tibetan Imperial Lines, and the Early Spread of the Buddhist Teachings in Tibet". Tibetan and Himalayan Library. Retrieved 15 September 2018. 
  22. ^ "The Tibetan-Russian-English dictionary with Sanskrit parallels". The European Library. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  23. ^ "George Roerich /Yuri Nikolayevich Roerich (1902 – 1960)". Retrieved 14 September 2018. 
  24. ^ "Svetoslav Nikolayevich Roerich (1904-1993)". Retrieved 15 September 2018. 
  25. ^ Aunovska, Olga (1985). "Seeds of fraternity". Ukraine. 4: 14–15. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  26. ^ "The Light of the Morning Star". International Centre of the Roerichs. Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  27. ^ Squires, Emily; Len Belzer (2000). Spiritual Places. Cosimo, Inc. p. 86. ISBN 1931044031. Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  28. ^ "Nikolay Roerich". Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  29. ^ "Extract from the Charter of the International public organization "International Center of the Roerichs"". Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  30. ^ "The Nicholas Roerich Museum". Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  31. ^ "Charter of the World Organisation of Culture of Health (Russian: Устав)". Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  32. ^ "Supermundane, 525". Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  33. ^ Skumin, Victor (2002). Молитвы, гимны, притчи Культуры Здоровья [Culture of Health: prayers, hymns, parables] (in Russian). Cheboksary: To Health via Culture. ISBN 5-88167-018-3. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  34. ^ a b Skumin, Victor (2007). Гимны Культуры Здоровья [Gimns of Culture of Health] (in Russian). Cheboksary: To Health via Culture. ISBN 978-5-88167-030-6. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  35. ^ Grantzev, V. I. "Критический анализ идеологии "Нью Эйдж" и оценка её общественной опасности" [A critical analysis of the ideology of the "New Age" and an assessment of its threat to society]. Archived from the original on 19 April 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  36. ^ Grantzev, V. I. "Критический анализ идеологии "Нью Эйдж" и оценка ее общественной опасности. Текст" [A critical analysis of the ideology of the "New Age" and an assessment of its threat to society. Text]. Archived from the original on 5 January 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018. 
  37. ^ "Община". 1926. Retrieved 16 September 2018. 
  38. ^ "What is Agni Yoga?". School for Living Ethics (Agni Yoga). Retrieved 12 September 2018. 
  39. ^ "Images". Retrieved 16 September 2018. 

Further reading

  • Roerich HI (1929–1935). "Letters of Helena Roerich I". Archived from the original on 17 March 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  • Roerich HI (1935–1939). "Letters of Helena Roerich II". Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  • Helena Roerich. "Foundations of Buddhism". Retrieved 17 September 2018. 

External links

  • "Agni Yoga Society". Retrieved 6 September 2018. 
  • "Agni Yoga Society Sweden". Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2018. 
  • "International Roerich Memorial Trust". Retrieved 6 September 2018. 
  • "Nicholas Roerich Museum New York". Retrieved 6 September 2018. 


  • "Agni Yoga Web TV (English Channel)". Retrieved 4 September 2018. 
  • "Agni Yoga: Manu, Hierarchy, Shamballa". Retrieved 4 September 2018. 
  • "Lewis Keizer. Nicholas and Helena Roerich". Retrieved 4 September 2018. 
  • "Roerich. The Call Of Cosmic Evolution". Retrieved 11 September 2018. 

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