The Followers Of Grigorieff
The forms taken by religious mania are not always as harmless as in the
case of the "God Sava." Ivan Grigorieff, founder of the Russian
Mormons, began by preaching that God created the world in six days, but
by degrees he came to attack established religion as well as the
existing social order. According to him, the _molokanes_ were
"pestilent," the _douchobortzi_ were "destroyers of the faith," and the
"mad cattle." There was only one truth, the truth of
The Bible should be interpreted "according to the spirit," and as the
Apostle Paul had said that Christ was to be found in those who believed
in Him, then Grigorieff could be no other than Christ. He went to
Turkey, returned in the rôle of "Saviour," and preached the necessity
for a "spiritual life." Several women were chosen to share his life
and that of the twelve "Apostles" whose duty it was to "glorify" him.
Passing from one hallucination to another, he insisted on a general
cessation of labour. "Work not," he said, "for I will be gentle and
merciful to you. You shall be like the birds who are nourished without
need to till the earth: Work not, and all shall be yours, even to the
corn stored away in the government granaries."
And so the peasants of Gaï-Orlov left their fields unfilled, and
cultivated nothing save hymns and prayers. They seemed to be uplifted
as by some wave of dreamy, poetic madness. Even the unlettered
imitated Grigorieff in composing psalms and hymns, some specimens of
which are to be found in Father Arsenii's collection. They breathe an
almost infantile mysticism.
"The dweller in heaven,
The King Salim,
Saviour of the world,
Shall descend upon earth.
The clouds flee away,
The light shines. . . ."
"We will climb the mountain,
It is Mount Sion that we climb,
And we will sing like angels."
When Grigorieff's mind began definitely to fail, and, forgetful of
divine service, he passed his time in the company of his "spiritual
wives," doubt seized upon the members of his church, and they composed
a melancholy psalm which was chanted to Grigorieff by his "Apostles."
Hope of all men . . .
Thou gavest us the spark,
The spark of faith.
But to-day, little father,
Thou hidest the light,
Thou hidest the light. . . .
Our life is changed.
We weep for thy faith,
Lost and deranged,
We weep for thy holy life.
Upon the Mount Sion
There grew a vine of God. . . ."
Grigorieff appeared to be touched, and replied with a psalm which
explained, in rhymed couplets, how the Holy Ghost (that is to say,
Grigorieff) was walking in a garden when brigands appeared, and tried
to carry him off--an allusion to some of his followers who had caused
dissension by proclaiming themselves to be "Holy Ghosts." But the sun
descended upon the Garden of Paradise, the celestial garden . . . and
One day, however, "Anti-Christ," in the person of a travelling
magistrate, descended upon Gai-Orlov and carried off Grigorieff. He
was sent to prison, where he died of poison administered by one of his
"spiritual wives," who was jealous of her rivals. But his teachings
did not die with him. His work was continued by the peasant
Verestchagin, with the help of twelve venerable "apostles."