Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow
About two kilometres
from the Kremlin, along Prechistenka, a street of old stately
Moscow residences, sits the Russian Academy of Arts. Inside,
in a second-floor room at the end of a series of galleries
full of modern Russian paintings, is the newly inaugurated
Peace Table, a sister to the ones already in place in Auroville
and New York. Master woodworker George Nakashima had intended
it for Russia since 1984, but finding a home for it had been
nearly as epic a journey as the transformation of Russia itself.
Joining hands on 26th June 2001
Finally last Tuesday,
June 26th '01, about 150 people - Aurovilians, friends of
Auroville, Russian artists and intellectuals, the US and Indian
ambassadors, and representatives of four religious traditions
- came together to join hands around the table and celebrate
its consecration and the further breaking down of both literal
and figurative walls.
A permanent monument to peace and
Like its sisters,
the table is huge, about four meters by four meters, and fills
the centre of a corner room with no competing distractions.
On long, narrow scrolls that hang from the walls are words
of peace from the scriptures or holy men of various traditions
- Lao Tzu, the Seraphim of Sarov, Swami Akhilananda, the Dhammapada,
Guru Arjan, St.Matthew, Martin Luther King - together with
a Navaho chant and a Celtic prayer, among others. A few photographs
on the wall document the creation of the table at the Nakashima
studios. The room, along a well-traveled route through the
exhibition rooms of this respected academy and art gallery,
will remain the way we saw it, a permanent monument to peace
and human unity, tied through lines of force with Auroville
and New York.
ceremony was simple, with a few words from several guests.
The Academy's director, instrumental in finding a home for
the Peace Table, expressed his gratitude and pleasure at hosting
the table, which he said looked like a Bird of Peace (remarkably
reminiscent of Mother's comment that her signature represented
a Bird of Peace). George Nakashima's daughter, Mira, who runs
the studio today, offered an intimate insight into her father's
dream. Irene Goldman, an American dedicated to building relations
with Russia in the fields of the arts and humanities, and
who was instrumental in getting the table into Russia, offered
a sigh of relief that her 10-year efforts had been realised.
The US ambassador, a veteran diplomat, offered his hope "that
our leaders and our people will take inspiration from these
tables, and that we will live in a more peaceful world in
Acquire the spirit of peace,
and thousands around you will be healed
The first Peace
Table was installed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
in New York City during a gala concert for peace on New Year's
Eve 1986/87. The force behind that was Nakashima's good friend
and Dean of the Cathedral, James Parks Morton, a man of famously
eclectic spiritual inclinations who wears a bear's tooth given
him by a Native American medicine man over his pastoral collar,
and today serves as president of the dynamic Interfaith Centre
of New York. "Here we are in the hall of peace, surrounding
us are the words of peace, and in the centre is the table
of peace," he told everyone before reading from those
words hanging on the walls. His favourite: "Acquire the
spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be healed."
Finally, two speakers
from our Auroville family: Julian Lines,
representing both the Nakashima Foundation for Peace Board
and the AVI Board, spoke about linking the three host countries
in future programmes.
Then Bindu, ably translated into Russian by Sergei, spoke
on behalf of Auroville. She was great: a solid presence and
an excellent representative of Auroville's flame. She spoke
of our dream of creating in Auroville a real human unity,
related some of Auroville's international experience through
Peace Trees, and invited all present to help build the International
Zone of Auroville.
A concrete presence of conscious matter
Somehow, it was
a perfect ending, a tangible act that touched people beyond
those in our intimate Auroville family, who had already spent
a week building and bonding together during the annual Auroville
International meeting in St. Petersburg.
Most of all, the
table seemed to represent a concrete presence of conscious
matter in a land that had turned away from its real soul purpose,
but now seems abundantly fertile, hungry for the transformational
seeds of a new world.
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