Kuzma Alekseyev (Kuzya-the-God)

A historical figure who led the Teryukhan unrest and proclaimed himself a prophet, intertwining Mordvin traditional beliefs with Christianity.

Kuzma Alekseyev, also known as Kuzya-the-God, was a notable figure in the early 19th century, particularly known for his role in the Teryukhan unrest from 1806 to 1810. His exact surname is uncertain, with some sources suggesting it might be Pilyandin.

Early Life and Background

Little is known about Alekseyev’s early life. He lived in the Teryukhan Mordvin village of Makrasha. His teachings and actions during the period of unrest he led are the primary sources of information about him.

Beliefs and Teachings

Alekseyev combined Mordvin traditional beliefs with Christian elements and conjuring tricks, creating a unique blend of religious practices. He proclaimed himself a prophet and arranged secret devotions in a keremet (a place of prayers) near the village of Maloye Seskino. This syncretism and his charismatic leadership led to a growing disaffection among the Teryukhans towards the Russian Orthodox Church.

Role in the Teryukhan Unrest

During the Teryukhan unrest, Alekseyev emerged as a central figure, leading his followers in what was essentially a millenarian movement. Millenarianism typically involves the belief in a coming transformation of society, often led by a prophetic figure. In the case of Alekseyev, he taught about a universal kingdom that synthesized Christian and traditional Mordvin religious elements.

Arrest and Punishment

The Russian authorities, concerned about his influence and the unrest, sent troops to arrest him. He was subsequently tried and sentenced to corporal punishment, marking, and exile. In September 1810, he was subjected to birching in the village of Dalneye Konstantinovo, Teryushevskaya Volost. Despite being exiled to the Irkutsk Governorate the same year, he continued his sectarian activities.