DAVID-NÉEL, Alexandra

DAVID-NÉEL, Alexandra (née Louise Eugène Alexandrine Marie David). St.Mandé (Seine) 24.10.1868 — Digne (Basses-Alpes) 8.9.1969. French Bauddha and Traveller. The only child of Louis Pierre David, a huguenot freemason and ardent republican, and Alexandra Borleman, a catholic Belgian. From 1873 grew up in Belgium. At an early age she developed a passion of travel and, running out from home, in her teens saw much of Europe. In her youth she was both theosophist, feminist and anarchist, in 1889 adopted Buddhism. Champion claims that she spent 18 months in India 1891-92 and became pupil of Swami Bashkarânanda, but Wikipedia is silent. In 1895-1904 worked as opera singer (as Alexandra Myrial), performed in the Vietnam, Greece and Tunisia. Married in 1904 with Philippe Néel, an engineer and her distant cousin, but the marriage ended in practice in 1911. After having studied Tibetan and Sanskrit in Paris (Faculté des lettres) from 1887, she spent long periods in Asia in 1911-25 and 1936-46. She lived long time in Sikkim, trying to go to Tibet, and herself claimed to have succeeded and visited Lhasa in 1924. She quarreled with British authorities and Christian missionaries in Sikkim. In 1836 she used the Siberian route to China, reached Tibet in 1939 and claimed to have stayed there all the war years. In any case she knew well Tibetan culture and religion, although some of his claims are far from convincing. In 1929 she adopted the young Sikkimese Lama Aphur Yongden, who had been her servant from 1914. Her last years she lived in Digne (Basses-Alpes), in a house she had bought in 1928.

Publications: La philosophe Meh-Ti et l’idée de solidarité. 185 p. P. 1907; Les theories individualistes dans la philosophie chinoise. 150 p. P. 1909.

Le modernisme bouddhiste et le Bouddhisme du Bouddha. 280 p. P. 1911.

A pied et en mendiant de la Chine à l’Inde à travers le Thibet. Voyage d’une Parisienne à Lhassa. 332 p. P. 1927, translations: English My Journey to Lhasa. 310 p. L. 1927; German Arjopa. Die erste Pilgerfahrt einer weissen Frau nach der verbotenen Stadt des Dalai Lama. Lp. 1928; Czech 1934.

Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet. 306 p. P. 1929, translations: English Magic And Mystery in Tibet. 285 p. L. 1932; German by A. Dissen Heilige und Hexer. Glaube und Aberglaube im Lande des Lamaismus. Lp. 1931; Czech 1934; Dutch 1941; Spanish Buenos Aires 1942.

Initiations lamaïques; des théories, des pratiques, des hommes. 244 p. P. 1930; translations: English Initiations and Initiates in Tibet. 224 p. L. 1931; German Meister uns Schüler; die Geheimnisse der lamaistischen Weihen. Lp. 1934.

with Lama Yongden: La vie surhumaine de Gesar de Ling. P. 1931; translations: English The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling. 271 p. 1959; The secret oral teachings in Tibetan Buddhist sects. 128 p. Calcutta n.d..

Grand-Tibet. Au pays des Brigands Gentilshommes. 357 p. P. 1933; translations: German Mönche und Strauchritter; eine Tibetfahrt auf Schleifwegen. Lp. 1933; Czech 1937.

Le bouddhisme, ses doctrines et ses méthodes. 257 p. P. 1936; translations: English Buddhism, its doctrines and methods. L. 1939; German Vom Leiden zur Erlösung. 196 p. Lp. 1937.

Magie d’amour et magie noire, scenes du Tibet inconnu. 246 p. P. 1938, transl.: German München 1952, Italian Milano 1945.

Sous des nuées d’orage. 279 p. P. 1940; A l’ouest barbare de la vaste Chine. 301 p. P. 1947, German Wien 1952.

Le Lama aux cinq sagesses. 19??, translations: Czech 1947.

Au cœur des Himalayas. Le Népal. 227 p. P. 1949; translations: German Im Schatten des Himalaja. Zauber und Wunder in Nepal. Wb. 1953.

L’Inde. Hier–aujourd’hui–demain. 311 p. P. 1951, translations: German Zwischen Göttern und Politik. Indien – gestern, heute, morgen. Wb. 1952.

Les enseignements secrets dans les sectes bouddhiques tibétaines. 148 p. P. 1951.

Textes tibétains, inédits. 199 p. P. 1952, translations: German Unbekannte tibetische Texte. 173 p. München 1955, 2nd ed. as Ralopa. Bern 1980.

Le vieux Tibét face à la Chine nouvelle. P. 1953; translations: German Altes Tibet, neues China. 203 p. Wb. 1955.

Sources: *J. Brosse, A. D.-N.: L’aventure et la spiritualité. 287 p. P. 1978; R. Champion, D.O.L.F. 262f.; Anna Ghosh, JASB 4:12, 1970, Year-Book for 1969, 193-195; *Ph. van Heurck, Alexandra David-Néel, Mythos und Wirklichkeit 1868–1969. Ulm 1995; Who Was Who in France 1967-1968; Works in the N.U.C.; Wikipedia with three photos; *alexandra-david-neel.org.

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