Nicholas Roerich and Agni Yoga Agni Yogrepresents a system of practices introduced by Roerich and his family members, which consists of a form of Raja yoga. Agni is the Sanskrit term that designates the subtle fire, which is found at different levels of our being, and which, once awakened at the mental and spiritual level, can very quickly lead the being to states of enlightenment. Agni yoga works with the power of thought – that energy that sustains and nourishes all forms of energy, the most powerful in the universe. The World of Fire, sometimes also called the Highest World, is the pure realm of spirit, beyond the astral worlds.
The energy of fire is accumulated in being through its striving for perfection in work and devotion. This accumulation of fire leads to the high spheres of the spirit. Contact with those worlds allows the activation of certain nerve centers that open and amplify spiritual perceptions. The practice of Agni Yoga does not presuppose the existence of any asana, mantras, meditations, and is not taught by any master or teacher. It is relatively difficult to practice, and can be approached mainly by Russian temperaments, because it is not something simple and concrete.
Agni Yoga requires a great devotion and power of intention, which the Russian spirits expect to be characteristic of any authentic spiritual path. It is said that the texts of the Agni Yoga discipline are like a bead of pearls: if one examines each pearl, he can come to penetrate the meaning of the entire string. Ultimate liberation is attained through the practice of the individual endeavor to produce an essential transmutation at the level of consciousness. The daily life is approached as a sui-generis experimental field of self-observation and constant elevation of the being.
Agni Yoga is especially focused on the concepts of Love, Beauty and Action. Love is regarded as the most significant motivating power in the Universe, and this idea of Love also includes the realization of Beauty for altruistic purposes. The human being learns to apply the “concept of beauty” in everyday life, looking for sources of inspiration in universal beauty. Then, action occurs as a result of activities in accordance with our perception of Beauty. This is everywhere, as Agni Yoga argues.
If we fail to perceive it, this failure is due to our inability to the moment, and not to its absence! Through the practice of Agni Yoga, the human being learns to see and feel what are those character traits that need to be transformed into an evolutionary sense. Thus, emotional experiences and thoughts can lead to an upward development of the physical world, by putting ourselves, people, in the service of our fellowmen.
As in the case of most of Roerich’s creations, Agni Yoga is an application of the teachings received by him from the Spiritual Hierarchy. Roerich and his wife saw this as a modern approach to spirituality, a way to apply Truth and Beauty to Action.
The symbol of Peace, proposed by Roerich, constitutes a universal sign of the consciousness of the reality of the trinity, an idea of the protection of the whole world from violence and hostility. Roerich hoped that this symbol could be adopted by an international body engaged in the fight for peace, such as the Red Cross. Thus, it would have been the emblem of campaigning for protection and peace throughout the world. In this broader context, the symbol proposed by him would also have served to protect the international cultural heritage from the destructive actions of some people in times of peace and war.
The Roerich family has always fostered the belief that art and cultural endeavors can bridge the gap over any political fault line. A Western painter can learn Chinese art, and this transcultural relationship can clog up any rupture or difference in beliefs or socio-political systems. If human beings focus their attention and efforts on refinement, beauty and art, the schemes of thought and the cultural ones will be respected, by default. Beauty and elevated knowledge create by themselves a universal language that can unite all the nations of the world. And the peace established on the basis of international cooperation and a deep mutual understanding is absolutely necessary for the survival of the human race.