The Chintamani of the Roerichs: Tales of an extraterrestrial talisman: 4

The way of the Stone: the accepted story 
While Mme Roerich had stated that the Stone would return to ‘the East’, reflecting the instructions of her guide to bring the Stone to the ‘fatherland’, it is unclear precisely where either of these terms refer to. ‘East’ could be open to broad interpretation, considering the route taken by the Central Asian Expedition.
    The Stone seems to have remained in India with Mme Roerich in 1924 while Roerich made a return visit to the United States. Beginning in 1925, the Roerichs’ journey with the Stone took them first to Ladakh, then across the Karakorum Range and through Chinese Turkestan. In a secretly-planned move the Roerichs then crossed the Soviet border and reached Moscow, at which point the trail of the Stone diverges, in the sense that two versions of its destination are available to us.
The map of the route of the Roerich Central Asian Expedition as it is represented in Nicholas Roerich’s travel diary Altai-Himalaya, published in 1929. Note that the route for the journeys to and from Moscow, via Omsk, is omitted.
    In the first version, its subsequent travels are generally thought to be identical to the route taken by the Roerichs themselves, as they continued eastwards across the Soviet Union to Mongolia, then southwards to Tibet and eventually returning to India. In this scenario either Mongolia or Tibet could plausibly be identified as the ‘fatherland’ of the Stone in the spiritual as well as the geographical sense. A passage in Legend of the Stone contains a seemingly unequivocal passage confirming that the Stone travelled with the Expedition from Mongolia to Tibet: ‘The camels bring the Stone to Tibet. Across the desert they carry It and with It a new power’. There is also implied here a sense of a mission which had recently been, or was expected soon to be, accomplished, to which the Stone would lend its energy, and perhaps in so doing, become itself additionally empowered. A passage in Roerich’s book Shambhala also hints that the artist’s mission required that the casket, and presumably also its contents, should return to India: he states he was departing from his ‘young friends’ and going on the Expedition ‘for their sake… in order to bring to them the treasure casket’. From the foregoing, it would be entirely reasonable to suppose that Roerich’s journey with the Stone to the utmost destination he seems to have been determined to reach – Mongolia – represented for him the symbolic inauguration of the new era of Shambhala.
    The well-known portrait of Nicholas Roerich holding the casket, painted by his son Svetoslav in 1928, may also hold one of the clues that Mongolia represented the hoped-for culmination of the artist’s mission for Shambhala. The picture was based on a photograph taken in 1928, after the Expedition had returned to India. However the author Andrew Tomas, in his book We are not the First, said it portrayed Roerich in Mongolia, and that the casket he is holding contained ‘a stone from another planet’ – in other words, the Stone itself. This location may well have been his understanding, from the personal contact he had had with Roerich, although in a later book, Shambhala – Oasis of Light, Tomas altered the location to ‘Tibet’, perhaps his way of correcting it on learning that the picture itself was painted after the Roerichs’ return to northern India – in fact, most probably at Kulu, where they eventually settled after the Expedition. Thus it is known for certain that the casket returned to India with the Roerichs, and Roerich’s gaze of profound reverence on the casket suggests that on his return it also contained the Stone, and that therefore his mission with it ‘to the East’ may have been accomplished en route – or at least that certain of the preconditions may have existed, even if the hoped-for events themselves did not materialise.

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