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Mahatma Gandhi: "Leo Tolstoy - the most honest man of his time"

Mahatma Gandhi: "Leo Tolstoy - the most honest man of his time"

To write about the great people is always difficult. And it's not just their genius, widely known, undeniable talent and creative immortality. The reason is another. Tolstoy died 106 years ago, and before that he had a whole life-long of 83 years - so it is very difficult to understand what are the facts reached to this day without exaggeration or understatement, and what is fiction or facts, but overgrown with legends and fiction ...

Of course, there are facts that Tolstoy wrote about himself and reached us almost intact. And, importantly, the whole of his own life permeates through all his works. In the biography of Tolstoy "Escape from Paradise" by Pavel Basinskii , author says: "He is a piece of writing of himself". Well, talk about vegetarianism and not to mention the "First Stage" by Tolstoy - it would not be professional at all. However, I would not like to retell this book, you can find it freely available on the Internet and read. There are many quotations of the writer renouncing meat in this book, and also talking about the moral side of eating the animals and much more. Tolstoy's views on this matter, I think, very clear. It is also clear in contemporary’s minds of what was Leo Tolstoy - the man of ideas, a deep moral thinker who preached non-violence towards all the living things. But had he always been so? And what had led the great writer to the life of vegetarian ascetic, full of thoughts about human nature? I have tried to answer to these issues in this article, based on information from the most reliable sources.

Kazan University, sprees and Gipsies

It is difficult to imagine that sprees, drinking with the gypsies, trips to a brothel in the period of study at the University of Kazan - were part of the life of the young Count Leo Tolstoy. These facts are very often omitted in the biographies of the writer, but they do have a place to be. Yes, and Leo never denied this lifestyle, which was mentioned in his diaries. He began to write his diaries, by the way, lying in the Kazan hospital where he was treated for a venereal disease. And he kept diarising to the end of his days. He did not really like this life, but due to the death of the mother in his early childhood and family fragmentation, he was left to himself. And, apparently, the young boy was not easy to take your life under control. After only 2 years at the University, he was expelled. He went to law college because he didn’t want to take a foreign language course again, but did not stay there for long too. So he decided to go to the estate, which he had inherited - to Yasnaya Polyana.

Card’s holy debt

Hard to believe, but the first thing Leo Tolstoy made after arriving to Yasnaya Polyana was gambling with his neighbor and lost his house. The building will disassemble for logs and transferred to a neighboring estate. Then the Count will go to Moscow and St. Petersburg, gambling and losing and then he will go away from the debtors (perhaps from creditors?) - In the army: to his older brother Nicholas who was already a professional soldier in the Caucasus,. There Tolstoy continues to make debt, but paying for them: for it is the honor of a gentleman, honor the Count, it was not impossible to give.

Despite the fact that Tolstoy, wearing a military uniform, together with the officers continued sprees and trips to the brothels. And on the parties of a secular society, he was always quiet and suspended. One lady meets Tolstoy in the 40s of the 19th century at the ball, before his military service, writes: "Leo Tolstoy was always distracted at the balls, he danced reluctantly and generally had the kind of person whose thoughts are far away from the outside, and it takes him a little. As a result of this distraction, many girls find him a boring cavalier ... ".
Apparently, Count Tolstoy to made choices in favor of the worst life, pulling away from something aristocratic. Maybe it was a protest?

Creativing war

Vacuous life of cadet Tolstoy ended when the Crimean War started. This is truly a turning point in the life of the writer. It may be this event caused the young man to grow up and to reconsider his life, who knows? Tolstoy was in the defense of Sevastopol, at the end of which he not only miraculously survived, but also wrote one of his first works - one story of the future cycle "Sevastopol Stories". Latter only few people believed that this work was created by Leo Tolstoy. Talent is only beginning to assert itself ...

Circle of life

Later the writer's life began to spin: Literary Society, a trip to Europe, the opening of schools for children in Yasnaya Polyana, the treatment of depression in Bashkortostan, marrying Sofia Andreevna Bers, the beginning of family life and, of course, the writer's talent development. And though Tolstoy was already quite popular writer, the true glory brought to him the novel "War and Peace". Then was published "Anna Karenina," in which chapters Tolstoy raises questions of morality. The same Tolstoy, who did not hesitate to hiking in the brothels and drinking bouts with his comrades. And that was only the beginning ...

The spiritual crisis and vegetarianism

In the late 1870s, Tolstoy wrote: "Well, you will have 6,000 acres in the Samara province - 300 heads of horses, then what?" "Well, well, you will be more famous than Gogol, Pushkin, Shakespeare, Moliere, all writers in the world - well, well, so what! ". By the time he was a very rich man with an international reputation. After gaining all, he realized that he had lost himself. The spiritual crisis led the writer to seek faith. He became interested in religion, Orthodoxy, but eventually realized that the Church and faith in God are separated and sharply spoken on this subject, both in letters and in his works. Finally Synod excommunicated him, when the writer was 74 years old. Tolstoy said that it is faith in God helped him to think so and express his thoughts aloud.

Then, vegetarianism came into the writer's life. In my view, it is inseparably connected with the spiritual crisis and the search for self. In the "First Stage", which he had written 14 years after the transition to a new type of food, Tolstoy tells that he saw how pigs are killed. It made a huge impression on him. Then he deliberately decided to go to the slaughterhouse, where he watched the way the killing of young bulls for almost the whole day. Yes, on the one hand, this was the catalyst, but on the other - whole his past life with sprees, booze and brothels resulted in the dire need of the spiritual? Did it become the inspiration for the author's search for himself? Did it eventually lead him to vegetarianism and did what he become?


Leo did not stop at a rejection of animal food. He simplified his life to a minimum. Get rid of unnecessary furniture, always dressed very simply and did not hesitate to manual labor. Actually, Konstantin Levin of "Anna Karenina" - a prototype of the writer - a man of noble origin, that can roll up our sleeves, go to work, together with the men. Toward the end of his life - he also gave up all of his property and of any copyright in his works, making them public property. This was very hurt for his wife and eldest sons. At that time, Tolstoy's literary heritage was estimated at 10 million gold rubles, current money - billions. And these rights no one passed by inheritance ... The writer himself said that all the works of any creator should be free, so that everyone can find his thoughts ...

"Goodbye, Yasnaya Polyana!"

The whole life of Leo Tolstoy: hiis upheaval years, a breakthrough war, spiritual crisis, the adoption of vegetarianism, asceticism and renunciation of all his literary legacy - reminds me, if not the life of a holy man, then the path of many great people who have come to something more heavenlike, not afraid of the word - to enlightenment. Shortly before his death, Tolstoy secretly left Yasnaya Polyana, to go on a pilgrimage to the monasteries and shrines. However, his pilgrimage plans, he had not realized, dying from cold, passed into pneumonia in the "Astapovo" station. According to some versions of his last words were "I love the truth ...". The life of the writer ended quietly and just as he probably wanted.

Mahatma Gandhi, with whom Tolstoy was in correspondence, then say to him: "Leo Tolstoy - the most honest man of his time, who never tried to hide the truth, embellish it without fear of any spiritual or temporal power, reinforcing his message chores and going any sacrifice for the sake of the truth. " And here it is difficult to add something. Yes, the only honest man sinned in the past and able to without fear of his sins to confess, can come to spiritual harmony, spiritual balance, to find, and most importantly, to understand themselves. Count Tolstoy is undoubtedly succeeded.