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CHAPTER XV

THE DUKHOBOR MOVEMENT

During the night of July 10th, 1895, at three different places in Trans-Caucasia, the Dukhobors piled up their arms, poured oil upon them, and then burned them amid the singing of psalms. When we Tolstoyans learned the motives of this remarkable act, we were struck by the spiritual affinity between us and the leaders of the Dukhobor movement. This affinity led the authorities, as well as independent investigators, to ascribe the Dukhobor movement to the propagation amongst them of Tolstoy's ideas. In reality, the Dukhobor movement was much more complicated. The Dukhobor teaching had existed for over a century, and its main principles—condemnation of violence, of taking life, and of all church ritual—came very near to Tolstoy's conception of Christianity. The positive side of their teaching—productive communities, brotherhood, and solidarity—is certainly very similar to that of Tolstoy. Therefore the Dukhobor leaders, although but slightly acquainted

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