Alexandra David Néel, a woman who had adventure in her blood

Alexandra David Néel, a woman who had adventure in her blood

"Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes." This was the motto of Alexandra David Néel, a fearless explorer.

Alexandra was born in 1868 in Saint-Mandé, France. From a young age, she felt a constant desire to escape. So when she was 15, she ran away trying to reach England.

 

 

Passionate about Asian art and oriental spirituality, she learned Sanskrit and Tibetan and converted to Buddhism, which she would later study in depth during her stays in buddhist monasteries. At the age of 27, she travelled Asia for the first time as a singer and was even the “lead singer” at the Hanoi Opera.

 

 

Her desire of adventure was tireless. She left her husband in Tunis to go to Asia where she will stay for 14 years. There she met the 13th Dalai Lama in India, and traveled to Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, and Tibet. During her journey through the Himalayas in Buddha's footsteps, she is accompanied by a young Tibetan monk. For many years he would follow her in most of her travels and would later become her adopted son.

 

 

Determined, it was in 1924, when she was already 56 years old, that she achieved the feat that made her famous around the world. She walked through the mountains for thousands of kilometers  in difficult conditions. Disguised as a beggar, she succeeds in penetrating Lhasa until then, forbidden to the Westerners. Alexandra David Néel will then become the first Western woman to enter the city .

 

 

During her expeditions, she wrote numerous travel notes and essays on Buddhism. She has also written novels and several feminist essays such as “Pour la vie”(For Life)

She never stopped exploring new horizons. At the age of 100, she renewed her passport. More than ever, adventure made her dream.

 

 

Photo credits: 

Photo #1: Alexandra David-Néel

Photo #2: Alexandra Myrial, singer, in costume in 1898, Wikipedia

Photo #3: Alexandra David-Néel

Photo #4: Alexandra David-Néel with Yongden. Photo: Getty images

Photo #5: Alexandra David-Néel in Tibet in 1924

Photo #6: Alexandra David-Neel in Thibet, 1924