http://www.frankperry.co.uk/Roerich%20Art.htm Roerich's spiritual philosophy was pan-human and this page is dedicated to the Series of paintings which Roerich painted in 1924 titled Banners of the East. These depict several sages, saints and adepts of various spiritual traditions around the world - however, not as other-worldly soul beyond the grasp of mere humans but rather involved in earthly activities and mostly derived from stories or accounts of certain episodes in their spiritual lives. Roerich painted several Series including: Maitreya, Sancta, His Country, Sikkim and Ocean to name some of these. Regarding Banners of the East, in the Buddhist tradition it is stated that the next Buddha, or world teacher, will be the Buddha Maitreya.
Roerich studied the various legends concerning Maitreya, including the links with Shambhala, and during his two far-eastern expeditions, spoke with various lamas and others about these legends and the period of time that they then lived in, which was believed to be on the verge of a New Epoch, under the dispensation of the Lord Maitreya. Certain writers state that Rigden Djapo (the Ruler of Shambhala) is another name for the Lord Maitreya. There is a sequence of Rulers of Shambhala each one leading for a cyclic period of time and Roerich's research informed him that Rigden Djapo is the name for the current ruler. It must also be understood that the Lord Maitreya will not come in physical form but, rather will appear within the spiritual heart of those dedicated to the New Epoch, and Roerich associated this New Epoch with, amongst other things, the spiritual energy of Unity, Harmony and Beauty
Hence we focus within the beginnings of his later Himalayan period. We shall take his cycle of paintings Banners of the East , which seem to suggest that all of these several spiritual teachers, etc, are as the several notes upon the One Flute of the Divine Being. As Jesus Christ said to his disciples: "He who is not against us is with us." Roerich, in the 1920s, goes on to include women via the Mother of the World. Such a vision of wholeness seems almost more poignant during our own time where religious intolerance, courtesy of religious fanatics of numerous persuasions, has reached unhealthy proportions. The ancient sages of India knew the various natures of humankind and devised numerous pathways of spiritual unfoldment via the several paths of yoga: Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Nada Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga - and so the list goes on with well over 40 different yogas.
All were considered equal in the eyes of the Supreme One, for their sense of Unity was one of Multi-unity; not a mechanistic vision of conformity to a manufactured uniformity but, rather, a vision akin to that of a Christmas tree with a Star of Light at the apex and countless lights all the way down the several branches of the tree - yet all sharing that One Light. One may even envision these as several coloured lights upon this self-same Tree, again each one sharing that One Source of Light and yet manifesting it as a different colour from out of the spectrum - or, to use our previous simile, a different note upon the One Flute.
Professor Roerich with sacred casket from the painting by Svetoslav Roerich
In the painting in the previous page we see Roerich himself wearing some ancient Tibetan robes holding, in a gesture of beneficent service, a casket covered with the cloth used in Christian ceremonies. Hence we see simply depicted, the union of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions whilst, inside the casket is said to be, amongst other items, a stone from far-off worlds. And so it is that extra-terrestrial life is also embraced within his spiritual vision. Roerich and those with him saw a UFO (although this term hadn't been invented then) during his expedition in the East during the 1930s, which is chronicled in his book Altai Himalaya .