Rasputin

Gregory Efimovich Rasputin is one of the most debated characters of the 20th Century. Thousands have discussed whether Rasputin was a holy man who came to the aide of the royal family or more simply, a cheat who thrived in womanising and in truth, a man who had a debauched sexual appetite. After all the word "Rasputin" in Russian mean "the debauched one". But in the following pages, I will try to explore a better side of Rasputin; I will attempt to give an accurate analysis of Rasputin and let the facts prove who Rasputin was.

On 10 January 1869, in the midst of a harsh winter, Gregory Efimovich Rasputin was born in the Siberian village of Pokrovskoye. Little is known of his background. His father, Efimy, was a farmer of moderate success, married to a wife, Anna, who had already provided him with an older son, Dimitri. Although later enemies were to allege that Rasputin's surname was in fact an insult meaning "debauched" in Russian, it had been the family name for years, derived from the word for a fork in the road. Pokrovskoye perched on the banks of the Tura River in Tobolsk Province; Pokrovskoye was a typical Russian peasant village where few if any were educated and town?s people were religious, narrow minded and fearful.

When Rasputin was eight years old, he suffered his first tragedy. He was playing with his older brother along the banks of the Tura when Dimitri fell and was drowned. Shortly thereafter, Rasputin began to startle his fellow-villagers by making amazing predictions. In one incident, Rasputin correctly identified a horse thief. As a teenager, Rasputin paid a visit to the local Verkhoturye Monastery. Here he encountered not only the Orthodox Church he had known from his childhood but also a number of heretical sects. Principals among these were the Khlysty and the Skopsty. The first group held that only through sin could one truly repent and receive God's grace, while the second believed that if a penitent studied long enough, it was possible to attain a semi-divine nature and escape earthly judgment. When Rasputin returned to Pokrovskoye, he was a changed man: he impressed his fellow villagers with his impressive religious exhortations, spiced up with half-understood bits of doctrine he had picked up at Verkhoturye. Contrary to common belief, the "monk" Rasputin was in fact a married man. His wife, Praskovie, bore him four children, two boys and two girls. One son died in infancy, the other, Dimitri, was disabled. But the two girls, Varvara and Maria, grew up normally and eventually went to live with their father in St. Petersburg.

One day, while working in the fields, Rasputin claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary. According to his version, she instructed him to become a pilgrim. He decides to bid his family farewell and sets off on a staggering journey on foot that would take him to the Orthodox monastery at Mount Ethos in Greece, two thousand miles away. When he returned to his village, his semi-religious aura seemed even more impressive. He attracted large crowds when he preached, although his version of the Gospel, sprinkled with half-learnt truths about sin and salvation, was decidedly un-Orthodox. Rasputin also allegedly began to practice what he preached, bedding as many of his female disciples as would allow him. According to Rasputin, such sexual unions, far from being wrong, were simply a way to true penance, which in turn would lead to salvation. It is one of the greatest contradictions in Rasputin's story, and he was never able to reconcile his physical desires with his spiritual goals. Shortly after the turn of the century, Rasputin left Pokrovskoe on another pilgrimage which would take him to Kazan and finally to St. Petersburg. Here he attracted much attention among the local Orthodox hierarchy for his seemingly genuine desire for salvation coupled with his undoubted gift for speaking and persuasion. He left the Imperial capital, only to return, this time for good, in 1905, when a fateful meeting propelled him into the orbit of the Czar and Czarina. Thus setting his image in Russia?s history forever.

Rasputin was introduced to Nicholas and Alexandra by Grand Duchess Militza on 31 October 1905. Militza, a daughter of the King of Montenegro who had married into the Russian Imperial Family, was renowned for her interest in spiritualism and the