Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin
July 7, 2008
The “mad monk”, “the holy devil”, a “strannik”, a “starets”, or a “god”, these are all labels that were given by foes and friends of Grigory Efimovitch Rasputin throughout his life. Rasputin was born a peasant in the village of Pokrovskoe in western Siberia and raised by a hard working and heavy drinking well to do Siberian farmer as Siberia would have it. Although Siberia was associated with a hard life - the land was vast, not accessible by road or rail, and used as a place of exile for criminals and unfortunates who displeased their masters (p.14), it was a land free of slavery were one could own land, build a business, practice a deep faith that was not necessarily orthodox, and where men and women drank freely. Folk tales, medicine, and magic enhanced the richness of Siberian life. They partook in dancing and singing and some days, especially holidays, were characterized by fighting, abuse and sexual freedom of both men and women; however, in their most rowdy state, they never turned away a person needing food or shelter. Most of the residents of this obscure land made sure there was food and drink on the doorstep for any stranger in need.
Although Rasputin’s Siberian upbringing allowed many freedoms, it was not always easy for him. He had a way of calming animals and seeing things that his father thought was extraordinary but of the devil. As a child Rasputin thought everyone had these same abilities so they did not ring special to him. Upon the lost of his brother, where he almost lost his life too, he suffered greatly with depression and with bouts of unexplained over activity. This was the point where his parents could not understand this mystical side of their son that was surfacing; his mother was scared and unable to understand what was happening to him. His father lacked patience and became violent with him, often beating him.