The way a person lives his life and his religious beliefs can greatly affect history and the well being of a nation. A life of stealing and lying can kill you and destroy a nation, while leading a Godly life will keep you and everyone around you protected. Rasputin, in both his distorted religious beliefs and lifestyle, not only got himself killed, but changed the history of Russia and the world forever.
Rasputin was born Grigory Yefimovich Novykh in 1872, to a Siberian family, in the town of Pokrovskoye. Even though Grigory attended school, he remained illiterate throughout his whole life. His licentious reputation also earned him the nickname Rasputin, which is Russian for “debauched one.” At the age of 18, he apparently underwent a religious conversion and eventually went to a monastery in Verkhoture where he was taught the beliefs of the Khlysty sect. Rasputin perverted these beliefs into the doctrine that one is nearest to God when feeling “holy passionlessness” and that you reached this state after sexual exhaustion that comes after prolonged debauchery. Rasputin did not become a monk. Instead he returned home and married Proskovia Fyodorovna, who bore him four children. Marriage did not satisfy him, so he left home and wandered to Mount Athos, Greece, and Jerusalem living off peasant donations as a self-proclaimed holy man with the ability to heal the sick and predict the future.
Rasputin’s travels took him to St. Petersburg where he was welcomed with open arms. The court circles at that time were entertaining themselves with mysticism and the occult. So Rasputin’s alleged extraordinary healing power was warmly accepted. In 1905 Rasputin was introduced to the royal family, and in 1908 was called to the palace by Nicholas II and Alexandra during one of their hemophiliac son’s bleeding spells. Rasputin successfully relieved the boy’s pain and while leaving the palace told the boy’s parents that the destiny of both the boy and the nation’s destiny was linked to him, thereby setting in motion a decade of Rasputin’s influence on the royal family and affairs of state.
In the presence of the royal family, Rasputin maintained the posture of a humble and holy pheasant, though outside court he soon fell into his former licentious ways. Preaching that physical contact with himself had a purifying and healing effect, he obtained mistresses and tried to seduce many other women. When Nicholas II heard the accusations of Rasputin, the czar refused to believe that he was anything less than a holy man, and Rasputin’s accusers found themselves in remote regions or removed from their positions of influence.
By 1911 Rasputin’s behavior had become a scandal. The prime minister sent the czar a report on Rasputin’s misdeeds. As a result, Nicholas expelled Rasputin, but Alexandra had him returned in a matter of months. Nicholas, not wanting to anger his wife or endanger his son, chose to ignore any more allegations of wrongdoing.
Rasputin reached the zenith of his power in the Russian court after the year 1915. During World War I, Nicholas II took personal command of his troops and went to the front, leaving Alexandra in charge of Russia’s internal affairs, with Rasputin serving as her personal advisor. Rasputin influenced the selection of church officials and cabinet ministers, and he occasionally intervened in military matters to Russia’s detriment.
Several attempts were made to take the life of Rasputin and save Russia from further distress, but none were successful until 1916. Then a group of extreme conservatives formed a conspiracy to eliminate Rasputin and save the monarchy from further scandal. On the night of December 29-30 (December 16-17, old style), Rasputin was invited to visit the husband of the czar’s niece’s house, and once there was given wine and tea cakes with enough poison in them to kill an elephant. When he did not die, the frantic conspirator shot him five times, but still he lived. They clubbed him, to no avail. Rasputin collapsed but was able to run out into the courtyard. The conspirators then bound him and threw him through a hole in the ice into the Neva River, where he finally died by drowning.
The murder only strengthened Alexandra’s resolve to uphold the principle of autocracy, but only a few weeks later the whole imperial regime was swept away by revolution. It is said that the czarina went nightly to Rasputin’s grave to pray. With the death of the Romanov dynasty, one of Rasputin’s many prophecies proved to be true.
Rasputin was most definitely one of the main causes of the overthrow of the czarist government and the rise of Bolshevism. One is reminded of the great French Revolution which began in 1789. When early acts of violence were reported to the weak French king, Louis XVI, he is to exclaimed, “Why, this is a revolt!” A more discerning rejoinder was, “No, sire, this is a Revolution.”
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