Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rasputin - The Early Years

Rasputin - The Early Years

The story of Rasputin is a remarkable one, with the events of his life exceeded in peculiarity only by the truly inexplicable circumstances of his death. During his time he was a healer and self-proclaimed holy man, as well as the most unlikely of statesmen, enjoying incredible influence over the rulers of Russia.

The real name of the man who came to be known as Rasputin (the word means ‘debauched’ in Russian) was Grigory Yefimovich Novykh. Born in 1865 into a typical Siberian peasant family, he could never have envisaged, in his early years, how much he would go on to accomplish in his life. When he was about 18, Rasputin underwent a religious experience and decided to enter the monastery at Verkhoture, where he stayed for some months. Despite his famous soubriquet of ‘the mad monk’, however, Rasputin never actually became a genuine monk, perhaps because he was illiterate and unable to read the scriptures for himself. Whatever the reason, it is unlikely that any monastery would have been able to contain for long such an unusual character as Rasputin.

While at this monastery, Rasputin became familiar with the Khlysty religious sect – which mixed its own brand of mysticism with a degree of sexual hedonism not often found in the church, and which had actually been banned in Russia on heretical grounds. In spite of the fact that he was married, Rasputin launched himself into this world of fornication with considerable enthusiasm, even holding orgies in the marital home. At this time he was beginning to be aware that he might possess some unusual powers, and believed that these could be directly attributed to his sexual indulgences – for this reason he took part in these excesses at every opportunity.

Rasputin gained a reputation as a healer and clairvoyant. He had developed an unusual ability to cure ailments without even having to make a diagnosis, almost as if he detected the nature of the problem through psychic means alone. He travelled as far as Mount Athos, in Greece, and Jerusalem, where he demonstrated his skills to the religious dignitaries, to great acclaim. And so he established his reputation as a ‘staretz’ (the term for a self-proclaimed holy man and faith healer). Needy people would travel great distances to meet him, rewarding him for his services with gifts or money.


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