The Evil Monk: Rasputin
The life and times of Gregory Efimovich Rasputin
By Bijan Adatia
No other figure in recent Russian history has received the amount of vilification and contempt heaped upon Gregory Rasputin. The self-styled monk, who received practically little education in the intricacies of the Russian Orthodox faith, came from the rural areas of Russia and achieved great recognition as a "staretz," or holy man in the highest circles of St. Petersburg society. From rags to social prominence the life of Gregory Rasputin holds many of the events leading to the eventual overthrow of the Russian imperial system, the dethronement of the House of Romanov and the assassination of the Imperial Family.
Gregory Efimovich Rasputin came from solid peasant stock. Gregory Efimovich was born on January 10, 1869, in Prokovskoe, a small village in Siberia on the banks of the Tura River. As a young lad, Rasputin shocked his village by constantly finding ways to get into trouble with the authorities.
Drunkenness, stealing and womanizing were activities particularly enjoyed by the dissolute young man. Rasputin in fact was developing into a rake, a man with a debauched, and endless, sexual appetite.
It was while on one of his escapades that Rasputin was first impacted by the mystical powers of the Russian Orthodox religion. At Verkhoturye Monastery Rasputin was fascinated by a renegade sect within the Orthodox faith, the Skopsty. Followers of the Skopsty firmly believed that the only way to reach God was through sinful actions. Once the sin was committed and confessed, the penitent could achieve forgiveness. In reality, what the Skopsty upheld was to "sin to drive out sin." Rasputin, one of the biggest sinners of the province, was suddenly struck by the potential held by this theory. It was soon thereafter that the debauched, lecherous...