Working towards a Bachelor of Arts, Simran writes articles on modern history, art theory, religion, mythology, and analyses of texts.
How Russia viewed Rasputin during his lifetime
The majority of society and the aristocracy despised Rasputin. This was because they believed that he was driving a wedge between Russia’s citizens and the Tsar. Most saw him as a manipulative, sex-crazed peasant whose influence over the Tsarina was unacceptable. Even so, due to the lingering pain that Rasputin had due to being stabbed by Guesva, he engaged in drunken behavior and his promiscuity worsened. In 1915 his influence on Alexandra led to the sacking of five politicians. Citizens of Russia began to blame Rasputin for the issues within Russia, mainly due to the fact the Tsarina would profusely defend Rasputin, making them believe that he had her under a spell. Many women were falling for Rasputin's hypnotic charms. One, Olga Lokhtina, invited him to stay in her home. She became a lifelong devotee, changing from a witty, intelligent socialite into a crazed eccentric.
Satanic Perceptions of Rasputin
Modern day perceptions of Rasputin have evolved over time due to the discovery of information regarding the individual and how with technology, historians are given access to more sources in order to create theories. One of these theories revolves around the fact he had seduced women, in the process aggravating the general public. However, according to the secret served that the Khlysty believed that sin was an essential step towards redemption, providing a reason why in which Rasputin had engaged in the adulterous behavior, but there had been numerous women claimed to have been raped by him.
At one time Rasputin had been caught violently beating his wife while she held on to his manhood, shouting: “I am your ewe, and you are Christ.” It had also been reported that the virgins that he had laid with had locks of their hair cut off. Evidence of hair was found in 1977 when authorities uncovered boxes containing hair in his garden. Rasputin was also taught by an occult organisation, the Khlysty, a band organisation of an extremist Christian faith that was split from the Russian Orthodox belief. This could have meant that the society may have urged Rasputin to infiltrate the Romanov family and pave a way to the Bolsheviks.
This is since the Khlysty’s strict beliefs also matched the Bolshevik’s leader, Lenin’s beliefs. Lenin’s main slogan, “Bread, Peace and Land” was often used to counter provisional government to persuade the peasantry and working classes to support the party. He had believed in a strict, hierarchical structure to govern Russia and opposed Marx’s belief of Russian citizens having social rights.
This ties into the strict beliefs that the Khylstys maintained as well as through his reliance on Christianity, it could have been possible that the Khylstys had urged Rasputin to tarnish the Romanovs’ reputation. If this was so, Rasputin’s behaviour, as well as the Khylsty’s behaviour and beliefs could have been influenced by a quote from Jesus; "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”
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Since the Khylysty had a literal perception of the Bible, it is a matter of perspective that could explain their theory of sin and redemption. The Khylysts partook in rituals that revolved around that belief, that to through you could have harnessed the power of the ‘Tantra,’ (a sexual energy can be harnessed to achieve union with the divine, achieving the ‘inner chi’) an archaic belief practiced by very few monks and cults. However, if the inner chi was to be abused, it could create a potentially dangerous force in your physical body known as sexual energy. Rasputin partook in this belief. However, he abused that knowledge, creating a ‘devil.’ The doctrine states that you are not to use the energy with desire; otherwise, it would result in creating a split personality and would cause the suffering of others.
This was believed by numerous historians to explain Rasputin's odd behaviour, including accusations of being a satanic man, why he was adulterous, and why there were numerous accounts of unexplainable moments in his life like, for instance, his death. He had been shot multiple times, stabbed, poisoned, and brutally beaten, yet autopsy results indicated that his death was a result of drowning. This would have explained how after his heart had stopped, he had been able to wake up and tell the prince, “You have been a bad boy.” This explained why his motto was, “sin that you may receive forgiveness.”
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Furthermore during his participation in ‘sacred orgies,' it appeared that he had seemed to have more energy instead of being tired, explaining his sexual strength. Numerous people believe that he obtained his holiness through his sins. This could also have explained Stolypin’s death. Evidently, Rasputin attempted to hypnotize him during an argument they had, as reflected in Stolypin’s documents to the Tsar. He reported that he yelled at Rasputin but in the middle of the argument Rasputin’s ‘satanic eyes’ had stopped him. Stolypin had made a report of all of Rasputin and sent it to the Tsar, allowing Stolypin to order Rasputin out of St. Petersburg in 1911. Stolypin’s Minister of Religion (Lukyanov) began an investigation to look into and gain evidence of Rasputin’s scandalous deeds. Due to this, Tsarina Alexandra despised Prime Minister Stolypin. However, after Stolypin was assassinated the Tsarina had conveniently brought Rasputin back to Petersburg.
Henceforth it is clear that due to the way in which historians has access to a larger range of sources, they are able to draw connections to other religions such as Hinduism’s Tantra and the Kylsty. Therefore this concludes the satanic representations that Rasputin had in regards to Russian society.
“if it was your relations who have wrought my death then no one of your family, that is to say, none of your children or relations will remain alive for more than two years.”
— Letter from Rasputin to Tsar Nicholas II
Letter From Rasputin to Tsar Nicholas II
I write and leave behind me this letter at St. Petersburg. I feel that I shall leave life before January 1st.
I wish to make known to the Russian people, to Papa, to the Russian Mother and to the children, to the land of Russia, what they must understand. If I am killed by common assassins, and especially by my brothers the Russian peasants, you, Tsar of Russia, have nothing to fear, remain on your throne and govern, and you, Russian Tsar, will have nothing to fear for your children, they will reign for hundreds of years in Russia. But if I am murdered by boyars, nobles, and if they shed my blood, their hands will remain soiled with my blood, for twenty-five years they will not wash their hands from my blood. They will leave Russia.
Brothers will kill brothers, and they will kill each other and hate each other, and for twenty-five years there will be no nobles in the country. Tsar of the land of Russia, if you hear the sound of the bell which will tell you that Grigory has been killed, you must know this: if it was your relations who have wrought my death then no one of your family, that is to say, none of your children or relations will remain alive for more than two years. They will be killed by the Russian people...I shall be killed. I am no longer among the living.
Pray, pray, be strong, think of your blessed family.
7 Dec 1916
Positive Interpretations of Rasputin
Individuals such as the Tsarina saw Rasputin as a pious and holy man. According to historians such as Delin Collin, on many occasions, Rasputin would “taking up the causes of the oppressed” and speak up against antisemitism. He questioned the purpose of pogroms stating that “instead of organizing pogroms and accusing Jews of all evils, we would do better to criticize ourselves.” He was seen as an empathetic spiritual healer who wanted to avoid the First World War since he knew it would have needlessly resulted in calamity, even stating that "too many peasants were dead because of the war" in 1916. He held potent values of equality and felt that “all religions were valuable and were just different ways of understanding God.” He furthermore opposed the death penalty since he was convinced that most of the condemned were innocent.
Modern Interpretations of Rasputin: An Overreaction?
Despite the rumors, numerous historians believe that most of the ‘satanic’ representations of Rasputin were the product of superstition and hatred. Since Rasputin was anti-Semitic and promiscuous, it was possible that most rumours were created to spite him. This could have included the men whose wives he had slept with or rumors that the prince had created to justify his murder. There was no viable evidence besides the word of Rasputin’s conspirators that he had risen and attacked the prince.
It was possible that the prince had left Rasputin and Rasputin attempted to escape. The accounts that were used to depict Rasputin’s murder are biased, and furthermore, the rumours of him hypnotising individuals such as Stolypin could have been products of paranoia. Overall, the bad habits that have created his odd behaviour could have been due to his childhood as his father had been an alcoholic and there was no viable evidence to his ‘abusive’ behaviour as they had been created by rumours.
Mark Leaver on June 22, 2020:
something to think about... Rasputin