Tolstoy and Practical Spirituality

  • Christian Bartolf


Count Leo Tolstoy publicly nominated the Doukhobors (Spirit Wrestlers) to receive the first Nobel Peace Prize because they would have served the cause of Peace best. This was during the times when the Doukhobors were persecuted by the Russian Tzar because of their collective burning of weapons for a New Era without War before the turn of the century (1895). The Doukhobor leader, Peter Verigin, like Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, was deeply influenced by Tolstoy’s writing The Kingdom of God is Within You. Tolstoy applied the nonviolent resistance principle (nonviolent non-cooperation with organized injustice and violence) to the secular institutions of society and state. In his The Gospel in Brief, Tolstoy laid the foundation of an “ethical religion” of nonviolent spirituality; this tract influenced Mahatma Gandhi as well as the philosopher Wittgenstein. Ironically, Tolstoy’s absolute “nonresistance” (nonviolent resistance) against all war dated back to his soldier days on the Crimean Peninsula when he witnessed firsthand the Crimean War atrocities: Tolstoy’s Tales of Sevastopol became his first literary success and brought him fame as a writer, long before War and Peace and Resurrection.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Bartolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Gandhi Information CenterBerlinGermany

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