"In the church documents, clergymen mentioned that Christianity was adopted voluntarily by the aliens. But the natives had the memory of it as of a coercive rite. There were stories about clergymen travelling from one settlement to another and forcing people to adopt Christianity. In the folklore, the following story remained. Once, clergymen came from Zashiversk and gathered the local people who lived along the remote bends and on the meadow near the lakes. Our longhaired ancestors were made to bend their heads so that their hair touched the ground and then water was thrown on them. After that, they were given new names and a breast toy (which means a cross). After the christening, the clergymen cut their hair and burnt it. The people were also made to throw out their ancient national costumes. The wooden idols (i.e., talismans and guards) were burnt. The traditional foods were prohibited and proclaimed to be foul. Women had to take off their facial veils.
This was happening all over. The word "christening" ist translated into the Sakha language als "surehtenii" (i.e., "finding heart"). Because of the unbelievable rumors that hearts were being pulled out and boiled in a bucket, many people ran away and settled in inaccessible territories, mainly going further to the Verkhoyansk pass.
Shamans were treated even worse. The weak shamans' hair was not only cut, but also plucked out: their tambourines and clothes were burnt. Strong shamans didn't let the clergymen come near; they didn't adopt Christianity until the end of their lives and stubbornly wore their hair in long plaits.
Historical documents witness the longstanding struggle of the clergymen against the pagan faith of our ancestors. There was an instruction about "deterring from dissent beliefs". There was an implacable struggle between clergymen and shamans. The instruction forbade the kamlanie for male and female shamans, and the christened had to confess to clergymen. Wooden gods (pagan idols) got the nickname "dolts" from clergymen and "idolaters" were to be punished, sometimes by corporal punishment. Nevertheless, some ancestors and dukes were not christened. No tsar's benefits or gifts tempted them. Regardless of the communication with Orthodox people and the proximity of the city, they didn't reject their beliefs.
Mass christenings of the dissenters of Elgessky ulus were conducted by the dynasty of the clergymen Sleptsovs. Their forebear, Aleksey Sleptsov, was sent as a clergymen to the Spaso-Zashiverskaya church in 1735 by the Irkutsk bishop, Innokentiy II Nerunovich. His work was continued by his son Mikhail, who served there for more than fifty years. For 118 years, the descendants of Aleksey Sleptsov spread the Orthodox beliefs in the Elgesskiy ulus.
It is believed in the 1820s almost all of the native people of the ulus became Orthodox. But due to the fact that the christening was mainly coercive, sometimes under the fear of trial or even carnage, the native people kept their pagan beliefs in their souls. The formal character of the new denomination is shown by the fact that, in the late 1830s, the alien authority admitted the existence of twelve shamans among the Orthodox Yakuts in the Elgesskiy ulus.
This was the situation regarding the people's beliefs and local religion in our Abyi in olden times. But this was fifty years before K. (Konstantin) Chirkov was born.
The history of the Elgessky ulus in relation to the new centralized religious policy of Russia was remarkable for the new insubordination, irreconcilability, and resistance of the people in their attempt to maintain their beliefs and native spiritual traditions. On the other hand, this period can be called a vivid page of the ulus' history, notable for the beneficent role of he local people for the sake of the tsar's vassals. First of all, it refers to the famous expeditions and discoveries, which the whole of Russia is still proud of.
In 1785, by the decree of Ekaterina II, a marine expedition was sent to explore the northeastern part of Sibir. It consisted of 141 people under the direction of a twenty-four-year-old Englishman, Iosif Bellings. His assistant was one of the most educated naval officers of that time, twenty-two-year-old lieutenant Gavriil Sarychev. The expedition was declard in different ways: in August of 1786 and again in October of 1787, when they couldn't manage to go east by the sea on the two ships built in Verhnekkolymsk. By that time, Yakuts from Zashiversk had machines, gave horses to travelers, and were good guides, and could be called the guardians of aliens who wandered into their severe land. It's no secret that many expeditions survived our severe climate and natural conditions only thanks to local guides. They were destroyed and perished ingloriously in snowy silence without the patient sons of the North. In their memories, Billings and Sarychev mentioned their guides and ferrymen with thanks. They were often "treated kindly and fed" by nice people, and were surprised that "there could be people happy with their conditions in such a cold and barren climate".
It must be confessed that some travelers misinterpreted the unselfish help and devotion of the northern people. They explained it by their ignorance, obedience, and sometimes even stupidity. It never occured to the Russian tsar's vassals that northern people, called wild indigene sweepingly, had their native ancient beliefs, their own traditional culture and their original way of life. In this sense, they really were of dissenting beliefs and different from the Orthodox."
Aleksandra Chirkova, Shaman: Life and Immortality
Aleksandra Konstantinovna Chirkova
Honored doctor of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia),
organizer of health care, surgeon, reflex therapist of the highest degree, professional healer, bioenergetics therapist, laureate of the gold medal for great services in the field of revival and the development of traditional medicine.