A Holy Man from Russia?
© 2021 Mohammed M Masood
A self-proclaimed Holy man who claimed to be Christ in miniature was responsible for the fall of the Romanov Dynasty which had ruled Russia for centuries and who were also linked to the British Royals by blood. Their fall ushered the rise of the Bolsheviks.
Our world is filled with Holy men from across religions, cultures, nations and walks of life. Most claim to have miraculous, mystical and spiritual powers that can heal the sick, bring down rain as well as calamities, from predicting the future of men to even predicting future events accurately using their mystical powers these holy men profess to have. However, most if not all turn out to be nothing more than but charlatans and quacks.
All that they look for are the gullible masses to show their gimmicks, trickery and extend their influence over them and in society all in pursuit of money, women and power. Strangely most are successful, and some are way successful that they are able to extend their influence in lobbies of power over powerful men - businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats, etc. Here is a brief story of one such holy man from the erstwhile Russian Empire who asserted to have great many mystical and spiritual powers, if he really was is a question that I will leave you to answer.
The Russian Empire existed before the Russian Revolution of 1917, the revolution overthrew the Tsars as centre of Political Power and later in the same year another revolution followed what is popularly known as the Bolshevik Revolution which led to the establishment of the Communist rule and the Russian Empire becoming the Soviet Union (1).
The Bolsheviks rose to power after the fall of monarchy in Russia and were led by their Leader Vladimir Lenin. Img Courtesy: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
One of the chief reasons attributed to this drastic change that led to the abdication of the Russian Monarch Nicholas II or Alexandrovich Romanov in 1917 thus bringing an end to the house of the 300 odd years of Romanov rule over the Russian Empire and then ultimate and brutal execution of the Tsar along with his family in the following year was their proximity with a mystic, self-proclaimed holy man – Grigori Rasputin popularly known to the world as Rasputin also called “The Mad Monk” which led to the fall of the house of Romanovs (2).
Grigori Rasputin was born in 1869 in Siberia – the only child to survive of the seven siblings who died before he was born (3). As a boy he claimed to have visions about the future. He did not have a good childhood and was not educated though he claimed to have visions and healing powers. His youth was also troublesome, he would drink and was generally badly behaved, he was married at the age of 28 and had four kids but he also cheated on his wife. He was known for stealing and once when his theft was discovered he ran away abandoning his family and stayed in an Orthodox Christian monastery for months (4). The Russian Orthodox Church an off shoot of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity was the prevalent and dominant religion of the Russian Empire (5). He chose there to become a monk.
Grigori Rasputin. Img Courtesy: Wikipedia
It is said that during this time when he was in monastery for years Rasputin joined a cult known as Khlystys - a breakaway from mainstream Orthodox church in Russia and whose beliefs and practices were considered as heretical and blasphemous. The members of this cult believed that salvation can only be achieved through God’s forgiveness and to be forgiven one had to sin. Therefore, they would indulge in all kind of unorthodox and even insane practices such as choking one and another to get high and danced frenziedly until they fell out of exhaustion and then indulge in sexual orgies with whomever lay next to them (6).
Rasputin took a lead in their evil practices and he would also not bathe, he wore shackles to cause pain as an act of atonement for his sins. When he returned home, he was a very changed man- he began to use his house for such practices along with members of his cult. His gaze had a terrifying effect and he claimed that he had even more visions from God. Rasputin had become a cult leader, a mystic, a spiritual healer whose fame had spread far and wide, the wealthy and the like travelled to his village in Siberia to be healed by him. On one occasion Rasputin claimed that he had vision of Virgin Mary to go and help the Royal Family, he therefore travelled to St. Petersburg, the imperial capital for the first time in 1903-04 which would be followed by many trips back and forth (7). He captivated Church leaders there who were first taken aback by his appearance and demeanor but were then impressed by his powers and thought that he was truly a man of God.
Rasputin had a terrifying gaze which had a hypnotizing effect. Img Courtesy: Wikipedia
As he was famed for his mystical and magical powers – members of Russian high society came to visit him during his stay at St. Petersburg and he developed a great many followers from the upper strata of the Russian elite society, and this eventually helped him in meeting the Tsar Nicholas- the Emperor of Russia in 1905 (8).
Tsar Nicholas was married to Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna a German princess and they had five children, the first four being daughters and the last a son – the male heir to their throne however the child suffered from Hemophilia – a disorder that prevents blood from clotting therefore leading to blood loss and ultimately death (9).
Tsar Nicholas II along with his wife Alexandra and his five kids. Img Courtesy: Wikipedia
It was here that Rasputin saw his opportunity and helped the Royals heal/cure their son a number of times where the doctors failed, he advised the couple not to use the medicines prescribed by the doctors, it has been known that at that point aspirin was given for many diseases and it is now known today that aspirin acts as a blood thinner so actually worsens the condition of a hemophilic. This led the Royals to believe that he was truly a man of god and this made him a regular at their palace. How he treated the prince was just a fluke or placebo effect is unknown, but this entrenched him with the Royals and had them win his confidence (10).
It is said that he gave drugs such as opium and morphine to the Tsar claiming that it would help him. Rasputin also helped the Tsarina with her anxiety. Rasputin became so close to the Royal family that he told bedtime stories to the children. It was claimed that he even raped a princess, but he had become so influential in the royal household that the charge was dismissed by Tsarina (11). However, his presence and influence over the Royal household led to sharp criticism among other nobles of the Royal household as well as the general public.
Rasputin along with the Tsarina and her kids. The Nanny (seated extreme right) of the kids is also seen in this picture. Img Courtesy: Wikipedia
Rasputin would continue to have his orgies at his apartment in St. Peterborough with his cult followers. On one of his visits back home to Siberia in 1914 an assassination attempt was made on him where he was stabbed in his stomach, but Rasputin survived (12).
It was this time that the First World War commenced, the Russian Empire joined the war and the Tsar decided to lead the Russian Troops personally, with the absence of Tsar in the palace Rasputin stepped in his shoes, as he was quiet influential over the Tsarina he ruled by proxy, over the next 2 years he led the Russian Government by making appointments over important posts and taking decisions which did not go very well among the nobles and officials as he was not qualified and incompetent for the job (13).
The war was a disaster for Russia, millions died and there was huge inflation which led to the Russian revolution in March 1917, however preceding that was the killing of Rasputin led by Russian aristocrat, Prince Felix Yusupov along with other members of Russian nobility tired over his influence over the royal place and his debauchery. He was invited to a dinner by Yusupov on Dec 29 1916 where it is said that his food and wine was laced with cyanide however it said the poison had no effect on Rasputin who was still well even after consuming all food and drink, the Prince began to believe and think that he really had mystical powers, he then had him shot personally with his revolver. However even after that it is said he lunged at the Prince and made an attempt to escape. During his escape attempt he was shot at close range by a number of men and his body was then disposed in a cold river – later when his body was discovered there was water found in his lungs which indicated that he died of drowning and that he still had life in him even after being shot so many times. His remains were then burnt (14).
Shortly before his death Rasputin had written to Tsarina that if he is killed by her family then they too will die within 2 years (15). His prediction turned out to be a prophecy for in July 1918 Tsar Nicholas , the Tsarina Alexandra and their children were all killed brutally by the Bolshevik Revolutionaries thus bringing an inglorious end to the Russian monarchy.
Rasputin had accurately predicted that if he was killed then the end of Romanovs will also be soon .
Was this just a coincidence that the prediction came true, did Rasputin really have mystical powers, was he truly a man of God or as some say the Devil incarnate?
© 2021 Mohammed M Masood
Notes and References:
1. History.com - Editors, Soviet Union [https://www.history.com/topics/russia/history-of-the-soviet-union , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
2. DNAINDIA.com - Editors, Who was Grigori Rasputin, the 'mad' monk who destroyed the mighty Russian empire? [https://www.dnaindia.com/world/photo-gallery-who-was-grigori-rasputin-the-mad-monk-who-destroyed-the-mighty-russian-empire-2892814/rasputin-was-assassinated-in-1916-2892819 , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
3. thefamouspeople.com - Editors, Grigori Rasputin Biography [https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/grigori-rasputin-6160.php , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
4. Richard Bevan, The life and death of Rasputin [https://www.history.co.uk/article/the-life-and-death-of-rasputin-part-1-the-wandering-holy-man , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
5. Mouzenidis Travel, Religion of Russia [https://www.mouzenidis.com/en-us/russia/article/religion-and-traditions , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
6. Richard Bevan, The life and death of Rasputin [https://www.history.co.uk/article/the-life-and-death-of-rasputin-part-1-the-wandering-holy-man , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
7. Oli Ng, Mysticism and Murder: The legendary story of Rasputin and St. Petersburg [https://www.russiancourses.com/blog/rasputin/ , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
9. Oleg Yegorov, How the ‘royal disease’ destroyed the life of Russia’s last tsarevic [https://www.rbth.com/history/329002-tsarevich-alexei-russia-house-romanov , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
10. Future Science Leaders - Editors, Aspirin: The Wonder Drug that Ended Tzarist Russia? https://www.futurescienceleaders.com/blog/2021/02/aspirin-the-wonder-drug-that-ended-tzarist-russia/ , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
11. Wikipedia, [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchess_Anastasia_Nikolaevna_of_Russia , last accessed on 17th September 2021]
12. thefamouspeople.com - Editors, Grigori Rasputin Biography [https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/grigori-rasputin-6160.php , last accessed on 17th Sept 2021]
13. bbc.co.uk - Editors, Reasons for the February Revolution, 1917 [ https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/ztyk87h/revision/2 , last accessed on 17th September 2021]
14. Kathryn Harkup, Poisoned, shot and beaten: why cyanide alone may have failed to kill Rasputin [https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2017/jan/13/poisoned-shot-and-beaten-why-cyanide-may-have-failed-to-kill-rasputin , last accessed on 17th September 2021]
15. Biography.com Editors, Rasputin [https://www.biography.com/political-figure/rasputin , last accessed on 17th September 2021]