The Myth of the Masters Revived

The Occult Lives of Nikolai and Elena Roerich


This book examines the lives of the famous Russian painter, thinker, and mystic Nikolai Roerich and his wife, Elena Roerich, the “mother” of Agni Yoga esoteric teaching. Extensively researched, it focuses on the couple’s spiritual quest, resulting in their gradual transformation under the influence of theosophy, spiritualism and Elena’s psychic “fiery experience” into mystics and gurus who fashioned their new version of the “myth of the Masters,” the invisible guides of humanity. Special attention is given to N. Roerich’s travels in Central Asia and Far East, his cultural and public activities and particularly his Buddho-Communist utopia. The myth of the Masters revived will appeal to those interested in New Age esotericism, mysticism, and Russian thought in the first half of the 20th century.

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Andreyev, Alexandre is research fellow at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, St Petersburg Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, and concurrently director of P.K. Kozlov Memorial museum affiliated with the above institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Russian history from the State University of St Petersburg (1998). His most important publications relevant to the subject of the book include: Soviet Russia and Tibet: The Debacle of Secret Diplomacy (Brill, Leiden – Boston, 2003); Tibet v politike tsarskoi, sovetskoi i postsovetskoi Rossii [Tibet in the politics of Tsarist, Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia] (St Petersburg University Press – “Nartang”, St Petersburg, 2006); Gimalaiskoe Bratstvo: Teosofskii mif i ego tvortsy [The Himalayan Brotherhood: A theosophical myth and its makers] (St Petersburg University Press, St Petersburg, 2008); Khram Buddy v Severnoi Stolitse [The Buddha Temple in the Northern Capital] (“Nartang”, St Petersburg (2nd edition), 2012); Tibet in the earliest photographs by Russian travelers, 1900-1901 (Logo, Studio Orientalia, New Delhi, 2013).
List of Illustrations and Color Plates

Prologue: Blavatsky and Her Masters
1. The artist’s roots and formative years
2. Elena, Nikolai’s Muse and Life’s guide
3. The time of fulfillment
4. Visions of the Beyond
5. A strange encounter at Hyde Park
6. In New York: Haunted by spirits
7. The Great Plan
8. The Apparition of the Black Stone: a miracle or a hoax?
9. Dreaming of New Russia
10. In India: Mahatma’s second coming
11. An alliance with Bolsheviks
12. The Transhimalayan Journey
13. The Moscow Mission and the trip to Altai
14. In New Mongolia
15. Leading the “Western Buddhist Embassy” to Tibet
16. Between the Himalayas and New York City
17. Suspected of Red sympathies
18. The Manchurian Expedition and the Kansas Project
19. The “chalice of poison”
20. The final years in Kulu
Epilogue: Inquiring into the phenomenon of the Roerichs’ Masters


All those interested in theosophy-derived teachings, New Age esotericism, mysticism, social utopias and Russian thought in the first half of the 20th century.