Inspiring Explorers- Alexandra David Neel

13The desire of knowing the unknown, exploring the hidden and far away and investigating the magic of the life is the main driving force of the mankind.

It did drive the most amazing woman of the 20th century, Alexandra David Neel to explore the unknown and forbidden since she was very young.

Reading her biography, at least the wiki page, is definitely worth of your time and I will not go into details here.

What amazed me most is that this courageous woman has defied time and pursued her curiosity driven path until she died at the age of 101.

Born and raised in Paris, she runs away from home at the age of 17, travels alone from Brussels to Switzerland, hikes alone through Alps, and reaches Lago Maggiore, where she is fetched by her probably annoyed  mother to bring her back home.

In her early twenties she becomes a political radical  and comes up with the anarchist treaties so menacing that the publishers refuse to touch it, but it nevertheless  gets translated and distributed in 5 languages.  david_neel_04

As soon as she gets hold of inherited money from her godmother she takes off for India and Ceylon at the age of 23 and stays there until she runs out of money.

In between travelling, and her passion for political radicalism and theosophical spiritualism she manages to study in Brussels Royal Conservatory and then later performs on stage as an opera singer.

She travels to India for the second time at the age of 43 and starts studying Sanskrit and receives the honorary title of the Doctor of Philosophy, something unimaginable for an European woman at that time. Year later she starts learning Tibetan, honoring the request of the 13th Dalai Lama.

Alexandra-David-Néel-Her dream of visiting Tibet, the forbidden country, came true twice between the years of 1912 and 1916, for which she was exiled from Sikkim.

WWI was raging in Europe so returning home was out of question, and Alexandra David Neel decides to travel to Japan, determined to return to Tibet.

She does so in 1921 (age 53) disguised as a beggar in the company of her friend and adopted son Aphur Yongden. The journey took 3 years which is described in her book “My Journey to Lhasa”.

House in Digne France

House of Alexandra David Neel in Digne, France

At the age of 57 David Neel returns to France but in 1937, she travels to China, and from there to India in 1946.

Back in France she continues writing and lecturing around Europe.

She died in 1969 at the age of 101 in Digne, France .

Some of my favorite Alexandra David Neel Books:

The secret oral teachings  6993833-M  Buddism its doctrines and methods  IOmmortality and Reincarnation Magic and Mistics of Tibet

Useful links:

The Amazing Tibetan Adventures of Alexandra David-Neel

Alexandra David Neel Books

Alexandra David Neel Official Site