The Chintamani of the Roerichs: Tales of an extraterrestrial talisman: 5

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The way of the Stone: the ‘Moscow version’
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Roerich’s secret visit to Moscow was long-planned, and had it achieved everything he had hoped, might have changed the future course of the Expedition. Primarily Roerich wanted to go to Moscow to initiate spiritual and commercial enterprises in the Altai – the so-called ‘Great Plan’ – and to secure his onward travel arrangements to Mongolia in anticipation of the ‘New Country’. This included acquiring the requisite passport and obtaining assistance from the Soviet state security organisation or ‘secret police’, the OGPU, regarding the protection and safe passage of the Expedition. In addition, he revealed during two interviews with Anatoly Lunacharsky, the Commissar for Education, and an unnamed OGPU official, that he wished to negotiate for himself an accommodation with the Soviet regime which included an institutional presence in his native country similar to that which he had established in America, and freedom of travel across Soviet frontiers at all times. These explanations are said to have been recorded in Roerich’s secret police file, which, owing to exceptional measures taken in the 1990’s when other archives at the Lubyanka were opened up, and apparently involving the intervention of the then Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, was moved to the International Centre of the Roerichs in Moscow, where it remains closed to researchers to this day. My own source for the information about the file’s content was the Russian philosopher Dr Alexander Piatigorsky, with whom, in London in 1984, I had lengthy discussions about a paper I had written on Roerich. Dr Piatigorsky himself had received the disclosure of the secret content at a time when he was still a Soviet citizen living in Moscow, from the typist who had typed the original OGPU report. Although Roerich undoubtedly smoothed his reception in the Soviet capital by issuing a personal manifesto – a version of which was included in the limited-edition volume Himalaya published in New York in 1926 – reiterating a belief held by Dorjiev and other Russian Buddhists that Communism and Buddhism could be reconciled, from his optimistic agenda, only the travel arrangements relating to the trip to Mongolia were actually realised. Lunacharsky had informed the artist that no absolute guarantee of his freedom of travel could be given, and privately advised him that he should leave the Soviet Union soon, while it was still possible for him to do so. Regarding the Moscow visit, however, and according to Constantin Ivanenko, there was rumoured to have been an additional, esoteric purpose concerning the Stone itself and involving a figure Roerich had known for some years in Czarist times. He was Dr Alexander Barchenko, a scientist trained in biology who had specialised in parapsychology, and was now the director of a psi-research laboratory he established in Moscow in 1925, which was funded by the Soviet government through the OGPU.
Dr Alexander Barchenko
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    Constantin’s alternative version of the destination of the Stone tells of a story that has apparently circulated in Moscow for a number of years, in which Roerich’s piece of the Chintamani stone – the one received in Paris – was ‘implanted’ by his followers at Barchenko’s psi-research laboratory in the city. The laboratory was located close to the Lubyanka, and the intention of concealing the ‘chip’ there was allegedly to create a ‘psi-communication terminal’ so that leading members of the Soviet government who worked at the OGPU headquarters could receive guidance from the Masters of Shambhala, because – the capital having now moved to Moscow – the piece at the Buddhist Temple in (the renamed) Petrograd could no longer be used so effectively for this purpose. We can see from this information that the Roerichs’ belief in the psi-enhancement property of meteorites – in their case a blend of spiritualism, Theosophy, and shamanic and natural magic – was evidently shared by Barchenko, although he now deployed his talents in the service of the new regime, for whom he is known to have developed innovative and often bizarre telepathy experiments aimed at the control and Sovietisation of the masses.
    After relinquishing his piece of the Chintamani stone, Constantin states that Roerich was given, as a substitute, a ‘conventional’ type of meteorite from a Soviet collection. The stated reason for this was to enable the Roerichs to pass customs inspection when exiting the Soviet Union.
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