The Chintamani of the Roerichs: Tales of an extraterrestrial talisman: 6

Problems with the ‘Moscow version’
The Moscow story contains a number of unexplained contradictions. It means that Roerich had received the Stone in Paris in order to take it for Barchenko’s laboratory three years before arriving there, at a time when, even if he had planned the trip, he did not know whether he would be able to get permission for it, and before the laboratory had even been established. It is known that Roerich had planned to reach Mongolia even if he had been refused entry to the Soviet Union, and although in an exchange of telegrams at Urumqi, Georgy Chicherin, the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, had given Roerich reason to expect entry into Soviet territory, the family had in fact been uncertain of being given final permission up to the point they actually reached the frontier post at Chuguchak. The Moscow story may also mean that, had the Stone been sent to ‘the West’ from Russia, he was simply returning it there. If Barchenko had wanted a piece of the Chintamani stone, he could surely have obtained it through his contacts at the Petrograd Temple.
    Evidently Barchenko, a scholar with wide interests in ancient culture, religion and the occult, saw no incompatibility between his Communist creed and Buddhism, a non-theist faith which he believed prefigured ‘atheist’ Communist philosophy. Having learned about Kalachakra on a visit to Mongolia, in 1923 he is said by Constantin to have received initiation by Dorjiev into Kalachakra in the Petrograd Temple, and subsequently to have formed a Kalachakra study group in Moscow to spread Shambhala teachings amongst higher Bolsheviks. His instruction would have appealed to them because he was apparently convinced that the Kalachakra doctrine contained a ‘scientific’ analysis of historical cycles which presaged the Communist theory of dialectical materialism, and the prophesied imminent era of Shambhala would therefore have been a demonstration of its correctness. Around this time, Barchenko seems also to have been regarded as influential in the development of Soviet relations with Central Asia, being visited by two shadowy figures, Naga Navan and Khagan Khirva, representing Tibetan and Mongolian interests respectively, who sought his cooperation in this direction.
     If the alternative story is correct, it may mean, for example, that Barchenko would have been unable to obtain a piece of the Chintamani stone, and, at an early stage in the Expedition, Roerich had received knowledge of this and had decided to ignore the instructions given to them by their teacher to bring the Stone to the ‘fatherland’, and give it to Barchenko instead. Mme Roerich maintained in Legend of the Stone – published in 1931, three years after the end of the Expedition – that their Stone was ‘returning to the East’, and therefore, given the circumstances cited earlier relating to the first version of the Stone’s travels, Moscow would seem to have been insufficiently ‘East’. When Mme Roerich’s spirit guide Morya instructed that the Stone should be taken to the ‘fatherland’, this would have been understood by the Roerichs as ‘ancestral land’ – that is, either Mongolia or Tibet. This would be distinct from the Roerichs’ homeland, Russia, which would have been described as ‘motherland’, not ‘fatherland’. In the important passage quoted earlier from Nicholas Roerich’s book Himalayas – Abode of Light about the location of ‘the chief body’ of  ‘the miraculous stone’ and a closely similar passage in Supermundane by his wife, which speaks about the place where the Stone ‘was first revealed’ becoming the ‘foundation of Shambhala’, the Roerichs only went so far as to make a cryptic disclosure of the whereabouts of the main mass of the Stone –  that is, that it lay in ‘Shambhala’.
     In what appears to be another statement about the main mass, Mme Roerich in Legend of the Stone wrote that ‘the Stone rests visible upon the web of its native land’, seemingly alluding to knowledge of an actual location – or at least her visualisation of it in a landscape. Gvido Trepsa at the Roerich Museum has cast doubt on the interpretation of the Russian word ткань – which in the passage is rendered as ‘web’, but generally means ‘cloth’ or ‘fabric’ – as referring to landscape, suggesting instead it should be taken literally, and that therefore it refers to the embroidered cloth on which the Stone was depicted in the photograph taken soon after the Roerichs received the talisman in Paris. The full passage reads in the Russian явно же камень покоится на ткани родины своей, and a literal translation would have been ‘obviously or manifestly the Stone rests on the fabric of its native land’, so the translation in the book nuances the meaning in some respects – ‘visible’ refers specifically to the visual sense, and ‘web’ avoids the direct translation of ‘cloth’ – a woven artefact. Furthermore the verb покоиться suggests permanence, rather than, for example, something arranged for a photograph. These points seem to imply that the translator knew that what the writer had in mind was an object in a landscape rather than the object in the photograph, and that ткань was used metaphorically. The context of the passage also suggests this was what was meant, but there is a much stronger, probably conclusive reason for believing this. Surprisingly perhaps, much of the material in Legend of the Stone was written by Mme Roerich in her notebook diary in 1923, and the passage in question is dated 10th September of that year. However, the Roerichs did not receive the Stone until 6th October, and therefore the passage cannot have referred to the photograph which was taken subsequently. Thus the evidence suggests that ‘web’ should be taken to mean the ‘texture’ or surface of a landscape, rather than the embroidered cloth in the photograph. Regarding the Roerichs’ intended destination with the Stone, if the various statements discussed here do refer to a real location, and if the Roerichs’ mission was to return their Stone, or return with it, to that location, this would not be Moscow, but a destination associated with Roerich’s Shambhala project and the location of the prophesied spiritual ‘war of Shambhala’, which would be Mongolia.
     Regarding the so-called substitute stone, we have Roerich’s own statement that his luggage was not searched on entry to the Soviet Union, which is inconsistent with customs officials having an interest in a specific item of its contents when exiting, which is implied in the Moscow story. Relinquishing the Stone in Moscow would also have denied Mme Roerich the subsequent use of the talismanic ‘instrument’ which enhanced her mediumship, as it is otherwise supposed she continued to employ the Stone to assist her in receiving the teachings transmitted by her guide Morya, later known as Allal Ming, many of which were published as the Agni Yoga series.
     I would suggest that the Moscow story is a misconstrued reading of events connecting Roerich and Barchenko, who is nevertheless probably involved in some way in the story of the Stone. It is tempting to imagine Barchenko as the prime candidate for sending the Stone to the Roerichs in Paris, or at least that he was involved at some point in doing so. His 1923 Kalachakra initiation in the Petrograd Temple would have enabled him to have contact with Dorjiev and perhaps to receive the second piece at that time. Dorjiev would have been sympathetic towards Roerich’s aspirations – which were likely to have been inspired by the proposal Dorjiev himself had earlier formulated for a Central Asian pan-Buddhist theocracy – and Barchenko would have been in the position of being able to act as an intermediary. This line of speculation is elaborated upon in Section 15.

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