Monday, March 11, 2013

Alexandra David-Néel

Alexandra David-Néel 

Alexandra David-Neel appealed to me because she was an adventurer.  She was the first western woman to cross the borders of Tibet and to enter the city of Llhasa in 1924 - that's 22 years before Heinrich Harrer, the German mountaineer the movie Seven Years in Tibet was based on.

 Much of her the information on Alexandra is in French however I found this information to be consistent:

She was:
  • born in France to a mother who wanted a boy.  The mother did not love her.
  •  a feminist and a became a Buddhist while in France.
  • an opera singer with some success
  • married, even though she professed never to do so, she left not long after her marriage she left to travel Asia.
  • fluent in Tibetan
  • divorced after her many years in Asia.

Eventually she traveled to Asia because she wanted to learn more about Buddhism.  She was fluent in Tibetan and was invited to meet with the 13th Dalai Lama (the first westerner to do so), whom she asked questions about Buddhism.  She took notes and wrote many books about the wonders and mysticism of the Buddhistism. One of which you can read for free with the link below.

Interesting to note:
  • Although Wikipedia and another French site says that Alexandra was born in 1868, I read in her book that she was 100 years old in 1967 and a close friend of hers said she died at 101. 
  • She was married and although she appeared to be born as a woman with means, her husband paid for her travels.  I wondered if she brought money into the relationship and in some ways, that money would have been hers anyway.  I also wonder if she was now a married woman, was it easier for her to travel even if it was without her husband.
  • She was one of the inspirations of photographer Masha Norby.
Other resources:
My favorite linke from
This is in French, if you are using Google Chrome, you can translate it:
An explanation of a fascination technique Alexandra used called Tulpa,

1 comment:

  1. Waht an inspiring woman, with an amazing adventurous spirit!

    Thanks for letting us know she existed.