How to Cite
Rybak, K. Y., & Izbachkov, Y. S. (2019). The Image of Natalia Rokotova as the Key to Understanding the Creative Method of Helena Ivanovna Roerich. Heritage of Centuries, (2), 68-80. Retrieved from http://heritage-magazine.com/index.php/HC/article/view/28
Anthropology of Culture

The Image of Natalia Rokotova as the Key to Understanding the Creative Method of Helena Ivanovna Roerich

  • © Rybak Kirill Ye. Dr. Sci. (Museology, Conservation and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Objects), Leading Researcher, Likhachev Russian Research Institute for Cultural and Natural Heritage, Moscow, Russian Federation

  • © Izbachkov Yuri S. Independent Researcher


The movement of admirers of Agni Yoga (the Living Ethics) has a special place in the esoteric currents of Russia. Nevertheless, the popularity of this movement is obviously declining.
The Museum of the Roerichs’ publication of the archive of the Roerich family, including the previously unpublished recordings of Helena Roerich’s conversations with the “Teacher”, allows answering questions of interest to the adherents of the “Teaching”. One of the questions is the accuracy of the information that Helena Roerich reports: how truthfully Helena Roerich reported the facts about her incarnations in past lives. Did the prototypes of these incarnations really exist; did the events that Helena Roerich wrote about at the dictation of her “Teacher” happen? According to the Living Ethics, the Roerich family and the “Teacher”, including in their incarnations, are the messengers of the “Great White Brotherhood”, designed to convey the secrets of the universe to people so that people pass on to a new level of evolution. Not surprisingly, in her incarnations, Helena Roerich turned into royal persons, friends of famous persons, and sometimes into simple people. In the article, the authors conclude that Helena Roerich made obvious mistakes when describing events from the life of her incarnations. They show this on the example of the incarnations of Helena and Svetoslav Roerich – the Ryazan landowners of the first third of the 19th century, Natalia and Ivan Rokotov.
The authors have reconstructed the biographies of these characters from the records of Helena Roerich. Then they compared these biographies with information from archival documents about the noble Rokotovs in the Russian Empire.
The authors have been established that Natalia and Ivan Rokotov with biographies made by Helena Roerich are fictional people, a simulacrum.
Presumably, Helena Roerich borrowed the image of Natalia Rokotova from Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace. The image of the sensual but progressive noblewoman of the early nineteenth century, Natalia Rokotova, coincides with the image of Natalia Rostova. The authors conclude that there is no need to look for rational meanings and cause-and-effect relationships in the Living Ethics; they are replaced by Helena Roerich’s fantasy images and by the categories of cause-and-meaning. For adherents of the Living Ethics, such an assessment may sound like a sentence. What they perceive as the scientific description of a picture of the world is, in fact, the literary creativity of an ordinary person. In essence, the “Teaching” is Helena Roerich’s literary processing of religious texts and widely known historical facts, sublimation. Most of the plots and characters are borrowed from the ancient and medieval history or religions of the world. The “Teacher”, on whose behalf the narration is conducted in the “Teaching” is a figment of Helena Roerich’s imagination. Her notes are not insights, but are probably caused by a disorder of thinking. In describing her incarnations, Helena Roerich borrowed biographies of real people or characters from novels, supplemented them with events from her life and linked the destinies of incarnations with the destinies of people close to her.

Keywords: Living Ethics, Agni Yoga, sect, Helena Roerich, Natalia Rokotova, Natalya Rostovа, L.V. Shaposhnikova, Leo Tolstoy, historical simulacrum, thought disorder, religious experience.