About Boris Mouravieff

Boris Mouravieff, known for his historical works and more so for his esoteric Christian teachings, was born at the Cronstadt naval base in Russia on 8 March 1890. He was the second of three sons of the admiral of the fleet, count Piotr Petrovitch Mouravieff, who was the last Secretary of State of the imperial war Marine.


Graduated in 1910 as officer of the Superior School of the Russian imperial Marine, Boris Mouravieff climbed the rungs, particularly while serving from 1909 to 1912 aboard the battleship "Auroara". During the first World War he served in the naval forces of the Black Sea. In 1916 -1917, as vessel lieutenant, he commanded the rapid torpedo launching patrol flotilla, of which he was the author.


Upon the abdication of the Tsar in March 1917, he was promoted to frigate captain at the age of 27, before becoming assigned cabinet head to minister Alexander Kerensky in the first provisional government, directed by prince Lvov. Thereafter he was assigned, as joint head of State staff for the Black Sea fleet, by Kerensky who had become the head of the Russian government until his ousting by Lenin's Bolshevists during the October 1917 Revolution.


On the morrow of the peace of Brest-Litovsk in 1918 he quit the armed forces. He then remained in Crimea consecrating his time to archaeological works as well as to his own esoteric and historical researches.


Since his youth, Boris Mouravieff found interest in the esoteric tradition of Oriental Orthodoxy. This interest found its first guidance through some indications left by his grand uncle Andrei Mouravieff (died in 1874), who was the founder of a hermitage at Saint Paul, one of the great Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos. Andrei had undertaken researches in Egypt, Armenia, Kurdistan and even in Persia, retrieving traces of this tradition and manuscripts from the first centuries of our era.


By the end of 1920, Boris Mouravieff left Russia for Constantinople then for Bulgaria where he remained until1924.


In Constantinople, 1920-21, Boris Mouravieff attended the public conferences given by Piotr Demianovitch Ouspensky. It was there that the latter put Boris Mouravieff in contact with Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, with whom several contacts were to take place thereafter in Fontainebleau and Paris. For many years Boris Mouravieff and P. D. Ouspensky, bound by a friendship that was founded on the similarities of their topics of research, were to delve deeper in their respective works and consequently to discuss them, particularly from the aspect of the dangers associated with the fragmentariness of the latter's works. Such discussions took place at the occasion of their meetings in Paris and London; the last of which took place in 1937 near London.


In 1924 Boris Mouravieff travelled to France as a refugee and settled in Bordeaux, where in 1935 he met larissa Bassof, born in 1901 in Uzbekistan. Larissa, a ballerina, had a child from a first marriage, Boris Vsevolod Volkoff, born in France in 1928. In 1936 Boris Mouravieff married Larissa and all three settled in Paris that same year.


Since 1921 Boris Mouravieff pursued researches related to the political and diplomatic history of Russia, in particular regarding Peter the Great, which were to lead to the publication of several books (see bibliography). Until 1941, he worked as a consulting engineer for several petroleum companies, whilst consecrating free time to his historical researches, as well as to the esoteric tradition of oriental orthodoxy.


On June 11th 1940, Boris Mouravieff left Paris for the South of France, where his employer was located, and in 1943 he moved to a French town close to Switzerland. Having refused to collaborate with the Germans, he was arrested in 1944 by the Gestapo, held in custody, then released under surveillance. It was thereafter, on 9 March 1944, that members of the French resistance arranged for him and his family to escape to Switzerland. Received as refugees, they were assigned to reside in a camp in the Valais. Then later, at the end of the war, they were transferred to Geneva at their request and lived provisionally in an establishment called "Home for intellectual refugees", awaiting permission to live freely in an apartment in town. At 55 Boris Mouravieff was once again starting from zero. His financial situation precarious; earning his living with difficulty by way of tutoring and industrial translations.


In April 1945, he registered himself as student at the Institute of Higher International Studies in Geneva, and in 1951 received his diploma from this Institute for his work "L'Alliance Russo-Turque au milieu des guerres napoleoniennes".


Around the same time his wife opened the "Larissa Mouravieff" School of classical dance, which she directed for a quarter century. During those years Boris Mouravieff undertook to bring to the world his knowledge and mastery of the Oriental Esoteric Tradition, and at first conceived a novel, which remained unpublished. In April 1955 he became a privat-docent at the University of Geneva, where he lectured two classes until 1962. One of these classes was on the history of Russia before 1917, and the other class on esoteric philosophy. The latter was titled "Introduction a la philosophie esoterique d'apres la tradition esoterique de l'Orthoxie orientale" and it gathered on a regular basis an audience of between ten and thirty students.


The introductory discourse for the 1956 class year, having had for theme the "Problem of the New Man" was to be Boris Mouravieff's first published article in the magazine "Syntheses", and was later followed by several more (cf. Bibliography).


The elements of the teaching given at the University of Geneva are present in Boris Mouravieff's principal work "Gnosis", of which the first volume was published in 1961. The book's lucidity and mastery of exposition were immediately recognized and awarded the following year the prize "Victor-Emile Michelet" in recognition of an exceptional esoteric work.


In that same year, Boris Mouravieff established the Center for Christian Esoteric Studies (C.E.C.E.), in Geneva, over which he presided and took minute care until his last days. The primary goal which he set for the C.E.C.E. was to contribute to the formation of the New Man, who is urgently needed in this critical historical period of ours. This period recognized as a "transitional period", between a cycle that is ending and another new cycle, which, while bearing many promises is yet laden with plenty of dangers.


Following the publication of the first volume of Gnosis, the author received a voluminous correspondence. Because he was not contented with only answering those interested readers, he encouraged the formation of study groups in Geneva, Paris, Lille, Brussels, Cairo, Congo, etc. These groups formed under the C.E.C.E. had for goal to delve deeper and deeper into the teaching given in Gnosis.


In 1962 Boris Mouravieff retired from the University in order to dedicate all his time to the Center and to finishing the two other volumes completing the Gnosis trilogy. Volume II appeared in 1962 and volume III in 1965.


Within the framework of the C.E.C.E. Boris Mouravieff witnessed the growth of the groups in number and size and attended personally to answering every question raised by the members, whether collectively or individually.


In order to keep the groups informed and to coordinate their work, periodicals named "news Bulletins" (fr. Bulletins d'information) were published by the C.E.C.E. Moreover, as the last years of Boris Mouravieff's life were consecrated to helping students delve deeper in the esoteric teaching, he undertook to write the "Stromatas" (Receuil de Notes sur l'enseignement chretien esoterique: Les Stromates) with a view to clarifying, deepening and offering supports for a practical application of the teaching.


With these "Stromatas" gathered under the general title "The Art of Vanquishing" Boris Mouravieff commenced a huge and very ambitious project. Its intention was to compliment the teaching given in Gnosis with many practical elements answering the questions raised by students through the study of the doctrine. The first chapter appeared in 1966, followed by two others, published posthumously.


This extreme activity had its toll on the health of Boris Mouravieff, who in 1965 took a short respite in Cannes due to a cardiac arrest, and then later in June 1966 a very agonizing attack of rheumatic fever forced him to remain bedridden. On the 28th of September 1966 Boris Mouravieff died of a heart attack, at the age of 76 and was buried in Saint George's cemetery in Geneva.


Shortly after its founder's death the C.E.C.E. stopped its activity. Larissa Mouravieff circulated the second and third chapters of the Stromatas in 1968 and 1970. She gathered the archives of the Center and left them to the care of the Geneva Public and University Library before departing for Canada to join her son. A Boris Mouravieff Trust, which was created by the Geneva Public and University Library, can be consulted by anyone seeking to do so.

(Note: In order not to burden the text with many references, while at the same time avoiding plagiarism, we have opted to put every text taken from Boris Mouravieff's diverse works in quotation marks, without stating the exact source; this can be given on request. Any other quotations will state the book and author reference. Whenever we have paraphrased Boris Mouravieff, we have not put quotation marks but have put an asterisk at the end of the paraphrased text.)

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