Grigor Yefimovich Rasputin
“The Mad Monk”
Was Rasputin a holy man with good intentions, or a pseudo psychic with an evil spirit?
Grigor Yefimovich Rasputin was born in Pokrovskoye, Siberia, Russia. Birthdays were not commonly recorded among Russian peasants, so his exact birthdate is not known for sure but is said to be in the year 1870.
When he was a young boy, Rasputin executed an exceptional ability to heal animals. As he grew older, he began memorizing the Scripture, even though he was illiterate. He learned by memorizing what he heard in church. He was thought to possess the ability to predict the future, and claimed he had seen a vision of the Virgin Mary. The people in his village knew him as a spastic alcoholic who was always making some sort of scene, despite his apparent “religious gifts.” He could often be quite violent towards people. His reputation was 50/50. Some knew him as a gifted religious man, others knew him as an unpleasant man addicted to alcohol.
Grigor moved to a monastery where he became a monk. It is thought that he became a monk because his chaotic behavior in his village gave him no choice but to flee. He learned to read the Orthodox Liturgy and began gaining followers. Rasputin was a very persuasive man when he knew what he was talking about and he had a pull over people. He gave up alcohol as a Monk and became very depressed. He spent three months at the monastery, and left at 19 years old to marry his wife, Praskovya Fedorovna Dubrovina. They had three children together, Maria, Varvara, and Dimitri. They had two more children, but they passed away shortly after their birth.
He became a farmer while raising his children, but he was constantly drinking and sexually harassing women. He shortly after this left his family and began religious pilgrimages traveling to holy shrines throughout Greece and various countries throughout the Middle East begging for food and lodging, navigating his way through the holy land. As he traveled, he began gaining followers by telling everyone he could that he was a healer and that he could predict the future, and people started recognizing him as a “true holy man,” including the Russian Orthodox Church.
Rasputin was a self proclaimed saint and advertised himself as a healer. It is hard to say whether or not he was really a psychic and a healer, or just really good at acting and lying.
In 1905, Rasputin began living in St. Petersburg. He claimed to have had a vision while in a field, from the Virgin Mary herself, telling him that the son of a czar in St. Petersburg needed his healing powers. He became known as a mystic man and a faith healer by people in St. Petersburg because he was always having “visions of the future” and “healing” people. About two years into his life in St. Petersburg, Rasputin became a man of interest by the royal family, Czar Nicholas Romanov II and wife Alexandra Feodorovna. They had six children together. One of their children, Alexis, suffered from hemophilia. The czar and Alexandra believed Rasputin could heal their child. He gained their trust and began “healing” Alexis. Because of his supposed healing powers, Rasputin gained immense trust from Czarina Alexandra.
The royal family did not want the media to know about Alexis’ hemophilia, so they tried to keep it hidden as best as they could. Rasputin became the Czar’s advisor, but mainly for Alexandra. Just because he was involved with a royal family did not stop Rasputin from getting drunk constantly and making scenes everywhere he went. World War I began and Czar Nicholas took command of the Russian Army, leaving Czarina Alexandra to run the country. Many people believe that Rasputin was involved in many political decisions of Russia during this time. Alexandra trusted Rasputin very much, and it was speculated that he was her top advisor and closest confidant. People began believing that Alexandra and Rasputin were having an affair because of how close they were, and any time people brought up suspicions about Rasputin to Alexandra, she defended him tooth and nail. This started more rumors that Alexandra was a traitor to Russia and that she was telling Germany all of Russia’s secrets, because she was from Germany. There were rumors everywhere stating that Rasputin used sex and money to persuade people into promoting things he was doing or getting people to follow what he had to say. Rasputin had a lot of power over Alexandra and the Russian people and nobles began noticing this.
By 1916, Rasputin lost the trust of government officials due to his common drunken outbursts and people had by now realized that he was controlling Alexandra and had her tied around his finger. Extended family of the Czar and other Russian nobles decided that Rasputin was a threat to Russia and the Romanov family. They knew nothing they could say to Alexandra would get her to change her mind about Rasputin, so they decided they had to take him out themselves. On December 17th 1916, Duke Dmitri Romanov, Prince Felix Yusupov, Dr. Lazaret, and Vladimir Purishkevich invited Rasputin to Yusupov’s home. They convinced him that they were just going to have a meeting about political matters. They held their “meeting” in a dining room in Yusupov’s basement. He was given the instruction to stay in the basement and enjoy some tea, wine and pastries. The food that was offered to Rasputin was poisoned with cyanide. Rasputin did not eat or drink for a while, which drove the conspirators crazy, but after a while he began drinking the wine. He asked Yussupov if they could play the guitar and sing, and they did so for two hours. Rasputin was showing discomfort or any signs of reaction to the poison. It was driving everyone crazy that Rasputin seemed completely okay with being poisoned, so they decided to shoot him in the back. After two shots to the back and one to the head, Rasputin remained alive, but he was barely breathing. The conspirators then wrapped Rasputin in cloth and threw him into the Niva river. A few days later, his body was retrieved from the river, and they found scratch marks on the ice. So the man was not killed by three gunshots or poison, but by drowning.
An interesting fact is that Rasputin left a note to Czarina Alexandra a few weeks before his death stating that if he was killed by royal men, the Romanov family would be murdered. He was murdered in 1916 by Duke Dmitri Romanov and Prince Yusupov, who are royal men. In 1918 Czar Nicholas II, his wife, and their children were brutally murdered by communists. Was this his prophesy coming true, or just a coincidence?
It will never be known for sure whether or not Rasputin was really a holy prophet and healer, or if he was just a psychotic alcoholic addicted to power and control, but his impact on Russia and their government will never be forgotten.
“Rasputin – the Most Controversial Personality in Russian History.” Meet the Slavs. N.p., 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
The New York Times. The New York Times, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
Fuhrmann, Joseph T. Rasputin: A life. New York: Praeger, 1990. Print.