Leo Tolstoy and the Baha'i Faith:

Jun 2006
The same questioner said: "I have read much of Tolstoy and I see a parallel between his teachings and yours. In one of his books he speaks of the Enigma of Life, and describes how life is wasted in our endeavour to find the Key. But Tolstoy goes on to say: 'There is a man in Persia who holds the secret.'"

"Yes," said 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "I received a letter from Tolstoy, and in it he said that he wished to write a book upon Bahá'u'lláh."

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 94

"When very young, Leo Tolstoy took a great interest in Near Eastern culture. He started to learn Turkish and Arabic, successfully passed his entrance exams in 1844 and has become for a while a student of the Turkish-Arabic section of Kazan University, then the best Oriental studies center in Russia....

Even more he was attracted in 1898-1909 by the Bahai movement, and for some time he fostered
an idea of writing a book about this radical offshoot of Islam. There are sources on
Bahai history and doctrine in Yasnaya Poliana’s library, incuding the research of
F.C. Andreas and a Russian translation of Bahaulla’s Kitab-i Aqdas by A. Tumansky.4
Tolstoy could not help but sympathized with the Bahai sayings coined by Abd
al-Baha when they asked God to unify mankind and illumine the world of humanity" -

Leo Tolstoy and Ameen Rihani

A Russian poetess, member of the Philosophic, Oriental and Bibliological Societies of St. Petersburg, published in 1903 a drama entitled "The Báb," which a year later was played in one of the principal theatres of that city, was subsequently given publicity in London, was translated into French in Paris, and into German by the poet Fiedler, was presented again, soon after the Russian Revolution, in the Folk Theatre in Leningrad, and succeeded in arousing the genuine sympathy and interest of the renowned Tolstoy, whose eulogy of the poem was later published in the Russian press.

~ Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 56

"The teaching of the Bábís," wrote Leo Tolstoy, "....have great future before them....I therefore sympathize the Bábísm with all my heart, inasmuch as it teaches people brotherhood and equality and sacrifice of material life for service to God....The teachings of the Bábís which come to us out of Islam have through Bahá'u'lláh's teachings been gradually developed, and now present us with the highest and purest form of religious teaching."

~ Shoghi Effendi, Summary Statement - 1947, Special UN Committee on Palestine
Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
I not long finished reading that book - A very interesting man

Unfortunately he could just not make the next step and accept the Baha'i Faith

There was just a couple of ideas He could just not let go of. He was definitely in tune with the Baha'i Faith though.

Regards Tony
Jun 2006
The book is still available:

Leo Tolstoy and the Bahá'í Faith
by Luigi Stendardo
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-85398-215-9

‘Very profound. I know of no other so profound.’

This was the final conclusion about the Bahá’í Faith of the great nineteenth-century writer, Leo Tolstoy, a few months before his death in 1910.

Tolstoy first heard of the Bahá’í teachings in 1894 at a time when the movement was known hardly at all in the West, and its leader was a prisoner in an obscure outpost of the Turkish Empire. This book traces the developments and fluctuations in Tolstoy’s attitude as more information was made available to him. It is based on the author’s correspondence and diaries, as well as the memoirs of those close to him and Bahá’ís who came into contact with him. Most of the material is here made available for the first time in English, translated from Russian, Persian and French, and includes a hitherto unpublished Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

£7.95 / $14.95
84 pages
21.6 x 13.8 cm (8.50 x 5.5 in)

Leo Tolstoy and the Bahá'í Faith

Also at

Leo Tolstoy & the Baha'i Faith SC

Jun 2006
Martha Root on Leo Tolstoy...

An interesting account by Martha Root...

When I was in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1927, I met the secretary of Count Leo Tolstoy, Mr. Valentin Bulgakov; we had a long talk about Count Tolstoy and his contact with the Baha'i Movement. Later, in December, 1930, I met Miss Alexandra Tolstoy, the youngest daughter of this great Russian writer and humanitarian. She said to me then, "What Mr. Bulgaliov has told you about my father's interest in the Baha'i Movement is true. He was with him during the last four years of my father's life; he was his secretary and arranged his library." Then, too, I corresponded with Mrs. Isabel Grinevsky of Leningrad in 1927 and she wrote me about Count Tolstoy.

It is through these kind friends that I have the facts for this article. An added interest was given to the subject for me when only a few days ago, May 3 1, 1932, I interviewed the president of a Roman Catholic university in Poland who had met 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1914, in Haifa, Palestine. 'Abdu'l-Baha said to him that there was no greater writer in Europe than Count Leo Tolstoy. "What a pity that Tolstoy, who so admired the Teachings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, never had the privilege of meeting Him."

"Count Tolstoy knew the Baha'i Teachings through literature. I think he did not know any Baha'is personally," said Mr. Bulgakov in his talk with me. "He first heard of the Baha'i Movement in May, 1903, when Mrs. Isabel Grinevsky brought out in Leningrad (the former capital of Russia that then was called St. Petersburg) a great drama called Báb; it was in verse and gave the illumined history of the Forerunner of the Baha'i Movement, a young man called Báb and His disciples called Letters of the Living; the scenes were laid in Persia. This drama was played in one of the principal theatres of St. Petersburg, in January, 1904, and given a remarkable reception. Some of the critics went far in its praise. For example, the poet Fiedler (who afterward translated the drama into German) said: 'We receive from the five acts of the poetical drama Báb more information about the Baha'i Movement than from the deep, scientific researches of Professor Edward G. Browne, Gobineau and Russian scientists and historians. As the Herold has already published two full feuilletons about the poem, we shall speak only of the performance of the play. Rarely has the renown of any play preceded the performance as has this of Mrs. Grinevsky.' "


Count Tolstoy, I feel, was a Baha'i in spirit, for the word signifies in the Persian language "Light-bearer," even though he heard of the Teachings late in life. He was born September 10, 1828, and so was nearly seventy-five when he first learned through the drama Báb of this universal religion for peace which had its rise in Persia about the middle of the nineteenth century. He passed on November 10, 1910, but in one of his last writings, I hear, he penned these words which will be read not only by this generation but by millions yet unborn:

"We spend our lives trying to unlock the mystery of the universe, but there was a Turkish Prisoner, Baha'u'llah, in 'Akka, Palestine, who had the key!"

(Martha Root, The Baha’i World, 1932-1934)

Baha'i Talks, Messages and Articles: Count Leo Tolstoy and the Baha’i Movement – by Martha L. Root
Oct 2011
Yes this is truly interesting factual history.

I once had the book on Tolstoy and the Baha'i faith.

It interests me that the play Bab traveled through many European countries but the memory of its wide interest and acceptance by the different populations appears to have been lost. sad
Aug 2014
Blue Planet
I not long finished reading that book - A very interesting man

Unfortunately he could just not make the next step and accept the Baha'i Faith

There was just a couple of ideas He could just not let go of. He was definitely in tune with the Baha'i Faith though.

Regards Tony

The reason why he did not accept Baha'i as his religion should be this idea he had:

"I know the Bahá’í teachings, and I am in agreement with its basic principles, except for the belief in the infallibility of its founders and a few other details. "
(Makovitsky, U Tolstogo: 1904-1910; ‘Yasnopolyanskie zapiski’, vol. 4, p. 255. Quoted in Stendardo - vol. 81, p. 77. _
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