Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:40 am

Part 1 of 3

From the Guimet Museum to De-Chen Ashram: Alexandra David-Neel, Buddhism and Fiction1
by Samuel Thévoz



(2016 Research Fellow, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies)
This is a pre-published draft of an article published by Transcultural Studies (Heidelberg), 2016/1, 149–186, under the title: On the Threshold of the "Land of Marvels:" Alexandra David-Neel in Sikkim and the Making of Global Buddhism available online: ... view/23541
This draft deals in more details with biographical and literary issues than the definitive published version.

I look around and I see these giant mountains and my hermit hut. All of this is too fantastic to be true. I look into the past and watch things that happened to me and to others ; […] I am giving lectures at the Sorbonne, I am an artist, a reporter, a writer; images of backstages, newsrooms, boats, railways unfold like in a movie. […] All of this is a show produced by shallow ghosts, all of this is brought into play by the imagination. There is no ‘self’ or ‘others,’ there is only an eternal dream that goes on, giving birth to transient characters, fictional adventures.2

An icon: Alexandra David-Néel in the global public sphere

Alexandra David-Néel (Paris, 1868–Digne-les-bains, 1969) certainly ranks among the most celebrated Western Buddhist pioneers who contributed to popularize the modern perception of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism at large. As is well known, it is her illegal trip from Eastern Tibet to Lhasa in 1924 that made her famous. Her global success as an intrepid explorer of Himalayan Buddhism started with her first published travel narrative: Voyage d’une Parisienne à Lhassa, that was published in 1927 in Paris, London and New York simultaneously.3 In this book, she explains how she overcame the difficulties of journeying to a forbidden country and entering its capital city right under the nose of Tibetan and British authorities. The publication of Voyage d’une Parisienne à Lhassa was widely acclaimed. From this point on, this French-Belgian traveler was to become a national hero in France4 and, on the larger international scale, stood out both as an iconic woman adventurer and as a popular authority on Tibet and Buddhism.5

As such, she was to be acknowledged by generations of readers interested in Asia as a key figure for spiritual seekers of Eastern religion and philosophy. Not least of them were Alan Watts (1915–1973), who wrote the prefaces of several English translations of her books, and representatives of the Beat Generation such as Jack Kerouac (1922–1969), Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997) or Gary Snyder (1930–). For instance, Snyder prompted Ginsberg to read back and forth David-Néel’s The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects6 (1951, English transl. 1967) claiming that it was ‘a great book, with absolute answers on some questions.’7 Ginsberg admitted himself that ‘Blakean imagery in Alexandra David-Neel’s Magic and Mystery in Tibet [her second bestselling book] magnetized [him] toward Buddhist meditation.’8

Alexandra, the adventurer of the Tibetan highlands, eventually became famous as the explorer of the Tibetan spiritual world. Indeed, Alexandra David-Néel’s name has been associated to an image of Tibet as a ‘land of marvels’ and her books clearly participated in creating a global understanding of Buddhism as a path towards personal liberation consisting in a set of techniques of meditation that she herself learned from Tibetan ‘yoguis.’ Her life narrative thus established a scheme that many Westerners would later reproduce either by traveling eastward or by benefiting from Western or Eastern Buddhist teachers coming from Asia to the West. David-Néel was not the only Westerner at the time to head toward Asia on a spiritual quest. Since the 1890s, Buddhism had drawn the attention of Westerners as a serious alternative religion to Christianity, both as an arguably ‘modern’ and ‘rational’ religion9 and as a potentially ‘World religion,’ such as it was introduced to the first World Parliament of Religion (Chicago, 1893)10 by prominent Asian Buddhist monks such as Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1963) from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Sôen Shaku (1859–1919) from Japan.11 As recent studies have showed, by the 1920s ‘Western Buddhist pioneers’ having taken Buddhist vows already were quite numerous such as famous British Ananda Metteyya (1872–1923) or German Nyanatiloka (1878–1959).12 In the process, there was a growing audience for international Buddhist networks such as the International Buddhist Society (Buddhasasana Samagama) Metteyya founded in 1903.13 Recent inquiries highlighting the role of Buddhism in the processes of globalization have identified both neglected Western and Eastern actors in the development of Buddhist networks and the rise of global Buddhism between 1860 and 1960.14

Surprisingly enough, a prominent — but controversial — Western Buddhist figure such as Alexandra David-Néel has been expelled from the scholarly narratives of modern Buddhism.15 Nevertheless, in the light of the recent interest in the globalization of Buddhism, David-Néel deserves to be reconsidered, insofar as the successive stages of her encounter with Asia contribute to understand the historical complexity of the rise of modern and global Buddhism.16 Prior to her incursions beyond the political border to Tibet in 1924, incursions that made her name famous worldwide, Alexandra David-Néel had already acquainted herself with the Himalayas for a long time. In fact, her encounter with Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism took place not in Tibet but in Sikkim.17 First visiting India in 1911, she then arrived to the edges of the Raj in Sikkim in 1912 on the border with Tibet. This invites us to reconsider the construction of Alexandra David-Néel’s own heroic image of an explorer of what she herself called the ‘land of marvels.’ The lofty images of a spiritual Tibet — a ‘mind’s Tibet’18— she has contributed to create in the West are rooted in time and space and need to be connected to concrete encounters with local Buddhist representatives in Sikkim.

In so doing, this inquiry highlights not only Alexandra David-Néel’s travels to Asia and spiritual evolution, but more importantly the place and the actors who literally gave birth to her widely acclaimed vision of Tibet. Sikkim and Buddhist lamas in Sikkim actually changed and nourished her view on Tibetan Buddhism and ultimately left a lasting imprint on her own authorial identity. Through her, they were to play a major role in the advent of modern Buddhism. The story told here extends far beyond the figure of Alexandra David-Néel: it shows a Western Buddhist woman convert going eastward; it symmetrically highlights Buddhist representatives from Sikkim going westward without even stepping into the Western world.

Sikkim beneath the heroic adventurer’s bestsellers: the traveler’s letters to her husband

Alexandra David-Néel sojourned in Sikkim twice, first from April to October 1912 and then again from December 1913 to June 1916. She gives some insights on these two stays very briefly in the opening pages of My Journey to Lhasa and offers more details in the two first chapters of With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet.19 But the circumstances and encounters that triggered her interest in Tibet in the first place are scarcely accounted for in these travel narratives. She reshaped the course of her travels from a retrospective point of view, adding some details, and leaving out others. It is precisely this prequel of the well-known story of her encounter with Tibet that I would like to explore in this paper.

For this purpose I rely on an alternative source: her letters to Philippe Néel (1861–1941), whom she had married in 1904. Mr. Néel resided in Tunis, where he worked as a railway engineer.20 It is through these letters that he followed his wife’s travels in Asia from 1911 onwards, travels, which he supported financially. These letters have first been published in 1975, after the death of David-Néel in 1969 under the title ‘journal de voyage’ (travelogue).21

This title is somewhat misleading, since it is not a log book per se. The information is primarily addressed to her husband who, one must note, was rather reluctant to her departure to Asia for what he called her ‘growing mysticism.’22 This may explain why she states that she ‘only focuses on what is likely to be of concern to [him], leaving aside the philosophical or mystical aspects which prevail here.’23 One can thus discern in these letters a strategy of persuasion at a time when she was still in need of her husband’s financial support and of social recognition. In this respect, it is striking for the modern reader accustomed to David-Néel’s style that the very topics which she became famous for are notably absent or given reduced importance in her letters. These documents, on the other hand, allow one to follow almost day after day David-Néel’s trips and encounters. In this way they give us an insight into the more concrete aspects of her travels and help us give flesh to the local agents she met in her travels, hear voices that would become muffled or anonymous in her print oeuvre and sense how they altogether modified her own agenda. Moreover, these letters contribute to shed light on the progressive evolution of her perception of the Tibetan world.24

Based on these letters, I will first analyze the different issues that presented themselves at this time in her sudden interest for Tibet. This interest was directly linked to the encounters both with British officials and Buddhist representatives that took place upon her arrival in Kalimpong in April 1912, following her trip through India. I will then show how these get into play in the way she pictures Tibet from the southeastern Himalayan slopes of Sikkim. Finally, looking for comparative purpose at her With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet, I will underline to what extent Alexandra David-Néel’s stay in Sikkim served as a decisive epiphany, gave birth to the traveler’s authorial voice, shifted the way the Tibetan world was depicted in the long run, and delineated specific features of modern Buddhism.25

From theatre to orientalism: finding a signature name

To fully understand what happened during David-Néel’s stay in Sikkim, one needs to keep in mind David-Néel’s distinctive ‘career-paths’ as an author and as a Buddhist convert. The former sheds light on what was at stake in the rising interest toward Buddhism at the time, while the latter more specifically defines her specific approach to it.

Regarding the first aspect, Alexandra endorsed many personae and elected several signatures by which she signed her works — the most commonly known being ‘Alexandra David-Néel.’ Born Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David, it is only since 1919 that Alexandra — she would herself choose this first name as a stage and pen name much later26 — hyphenated her married name with her maiden name to sign articles and her first bestselling book My Journey to Lhasa. ‘Alexandra David-Néel’ was to become the definitive signature under which she would be acknowledged worldwide as an adventurer and a popular writer. The author’s name even took a transnational turn, since the hyphenated French names ‘David’ and ‘Néel’ (pronounced /dævıd/ and /nel/) were immediately spelt ‘David-Neel’ in the first edition of My Journey to Lhasa by Harper & Brothers. In the process, the compound lost its French spelling distinctive ‘touch’ and acquired an Anglo-Saxon flair in its newly standardized pronunciation /deıvıdni:l/.

Before 1924, she made herself known through a series of publications under various other signature names. From 1893 to 1899, she signed articles on social matters (as is well known, she made no secret of being a feminist and an anarchist).27 She used the pen name ‘Mitra,’ after the old Vedic god and guardian of cosmic order. After publishing a few articles in Le Lotus bleu, the French journal of the Theosophy Society, she had ‘Notes sur le Bouddhisme’ published in L’Étoile socialiste, revue populaire hebdomadaire du socialisme international in 1895 under the same name. From 1900 to 1908, she published several articles under the name ‘Alexandra Myrial,’ among which a contribution on the religious power in Tibet and its origins, that appeared in the Mercure de France in 1904. ‘Alexandra Myrial’ was not only a pen name but also a stage name: between 1893 and 1900, she toured outside of France as an opera singer, in Athens, Hanoi, Haiphong, Saigon, and Tunis, playing leading roles in Lakmé, Thaïs and other famous musical dramas of the time. She also wrote under this name a novel entitled Le Grand Art (unpublished), a satirical fiction, which transcribed her vision of fin de siècle artistic milieus.28 From 1909 onward, she devoted herself to Eastern studies more eagerly and tried to get recognition from scholarly circles. In this context, she signed several articles on Buddhism and her first book-length opus on Buddhism29 by her maiden name ‘Alexandra David.’ It is only a decade later that her success story — belonging to another literary genre — was to appear associated with the name ‘Alexandra David-Néel.’30

A Buddhist convert: from the cult of nothingness to Buddhist modernism

As far as David-Néel’s acquaintance with Buddhism is concerned, one needs now to sort out the successive steps that finally led her to Asia from 1911 to 1924, traveling through India, Japan, China and Tibet. The starting point can be identified as her stay in London in 1889, when she met members of the Theosophical Society who shared their ideas on Buddhism with her.31 It prompted her to attend Sylvain Lévi (1863–1969)’s32 and Philippe-Édouard Foucaux (1811–1894)’s teachings on Indian and Tibetan Buddhism at the Collège de France when she went back to Paris at the end of the same year. The library of the Guimet Museum, which had just opened, was the place where she claims to have had her ‘calling,’ following which she converted to Buddhism.33 In 1891, she left Europe for a first stay in India (she would return there in 1896 and 1901), where she met Theosophists, Buddhist reformists, and Vedāntins.34

Through her readings and her own commitment, David-Néel developed an understanding of Buddhism that tended to depart both from the spiritual syncreticism of her Theosophical fellows and from the philological rigor of the French scholars (although she expected to obtain a position in Eastern studies sooner or later).35 At first, she shared the conception of Buddhism as the ‘cult of nothingness’36 that was widespread in fin de siècle Europe. This pessimistic conception, popular in disenchanted philosophical and artistic milieus, was inspired both from Schopenhauer’s philosophy37 and from philological debates on the notion of nirvānaṇ rooted in Eugène Burnouf (1801–1852)’s pioneering Introduction au Buddhisme indien (1844). Indeed, in a note from 1889, David-Néel reflects on the notion of nirvānaṇ as follows: ‘Sleeping... dying... dreaming, maybe! [...] Do you understand, now that you know life, that the Buddhist asks Nirvana as the price of their virtue! The unconscious union to the universal mind, a kind of nothingness, rather than living again and again. […] Be ready to undergo anything with the same calmness.’38

However, two decades later, she came to defend as a ‘practicing and militant Buddhist’39 what she herself called ‘Buddhist modernism.’ While supporting the ‘revival of Buddhism around and inside India,’40 she intended to remove Western forms of ‘Buddhisms’ that in her opinion amounted to ‘esoteric, spiritualistic, theosophical or occultist nonsensical mixtures of ideas borrowed here and there.’41 Her project at the time when she decided to go back to India in 1911 is best described in her own words in Le Modernisme bouddhiste et le Bouddhisme du Bouddha:

One will find here not the Buddhism taught by this or that sect, but the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, as close as the scholars’ research works can bring us to it. It is the very Buddhism reformists or ‘modernists,’ if I may use a vivid word that has become common nowadays, are struggling to establish in the East and to spread in the West, which is quite an unprecedented phenomenon.42

She adds that the practice of Buddhism in most of Asia at the time amounted to degenerate forms of Buddhism. This idea was widely shared at the time; Tibetan Buddhism, for example, was labeled ‘Lamaism’ and was held to be a despicable collection of gross superstitions and barbaric practices maintained by despotic lamas exerting their power on ignorant people.43 What David-Néel claims to portray in her book instead, is the ‘living Buddhism true to the spirit of the primitive doctrine,’ which in no way resembles the ‘corpse dissected by Orientalist scholars.’ The book addresses the questions of the life of the (historical) Buddha, the Four Noble Truths, Meditation, Karma, Nirvana, Sangha (the community), and ends with considerations on the modernity of Buddhism as regards the role of women in society and, more generally, social inequality. Two years before the publication of Le Modernisme bouddhiste et le Bouddhisme du Bouddha, she had already introduced European and Asian ‘Buddhist modernists’ to the reader of the Mercure de France as vanguard thinkers who held Buddhism for a rational method of liberation and developed realistic plans of social reforms out of it.44

Multiple aspects of David-Néel’s biography thus delineate her approach to Buddhism at the time she entered Sikkim: not only was she a convert, but also an active promoter of Buddhist modernism, be it in the West or in the East. Her encounter with Buddhist practitioners in Sikkim will put to the test her conception of Buddhism. It will trigger a shift in her appreciation of Tibetan practices and beliefs, and will also nuance her perception of Tibet as a whole.

At the edge of the British Rāj: the two stays in Sikkim

When she arrives in Ceylon on 18 November 1911, David-Néel is no longer an opera singer touring French colonies in North Africa and South Asia. She is now an ‘Orientalist’ scholar traveling across territories of the British Empire. Her one-year travel from Southern to Northern India made her aware of the specific geopolitical issues linked with recent events in the British policy regarding Tibet, and David-Néel writes to her husband time and again that ‘here the events in Tibet are the main topic all the time.’45 Indeed, after Francis Younghusband (1863–1942) led the infamous Frontier Commission to Lhasa in 1904,46 regulations between the British Raj of India and Tibet generated what Charles Sherring called a ‘British borderland.’47 They gave rise to new central posts for the British officials — the so-called ‘Frontier cadre’ of recent historians48 — on the Eastern border between India and Tibet. Thus, Gangtok in Sikkim had been the administrative capital since 1894 and the residence of British Political Officers since 1868. Sikkim itself had become a British protectorate since 1890. Yatung on the Nathula Pass and Gyantse further on the trade route into Central Tibet became trade agencies in the wake of the Younghusband expedition. Tibet consequently became a strongly restricted area supervised both by Tibetan and British authorities. This geopolitical situation explains the turn David-Néel’s stay in Sikkim took since. In order to dwell in the borderland, she could but lean on the British colonial economic and administrative structure and local Western networks. However, the imperial framework that had enabled her to reach India and the remote slopes of Sikkim soon proved to her a coercive force which she would gradually try to loosen or escape — eventually at her own expense.

A brief analysis of the places where David-Néel’s traveled during her two successive sojourns in Sikkim shows how each of them responded to a very different dynamic in terms of interactions with the colonial power and with local representatives. David-Néel first stayed in Sikkim during five months (14 April–5 October 1912).49 After her arrival in Darjeeling from Calcutta by train, she reached Kalimpong and spent one week there before going to Gangtok. As the headings of her letters show, her entire stay was then based in Gangtok. From there, David-Néel made several trips up North, notably one important journey from 28 May to 11 June to Lachen and from there to Thangu on the border of Tibet, and another shorter excursion from 23 to 30 June on the way to the Jelepla pass (Eastern Sikkim), close to another border with Tibet (see Figure 1). In October, she left Sikkim for Nepal. As I shall explain later, the highlight of David-Néel’s first stay certainly was her trip to Lachen and Thangu. There she could both have her first glimpse of the Tibetan landscape and meet a Buddhist lama who would be of crucial importance to her.

Figure 1: Alexandra David-Néel’s first stay in Sikkim (April–October 1912). Map courtesy of Joëlle Désiré-Marchand, from her book Alexandra David-Néel. Vie et voyages, Paris: Arthaud, 2009, p. 161.

This trip to the border of Tibet deeply affected her second stay in Sikkim. David-Néel came back to Eastern Himalayas in December 1913 with the intention of going to Bhutan. The trip to Bhutan had to be canceled and David-Néel then decided to stay once again in Sikkim, a stay that ended up extending to almost three years.

Gangtok was again her ‘base-camp’ during the first nine months (7 December 1913–25 August 1914), limiting her explorations to Podang Monastery (a few kilometers North). Her letter dated 28 September 1914 signals that she was in Lonak Valley (‘High Himalayas’), a remote location that itself accounts for the two-month gap in her correspondence since her last letter in August (she just received her husband’s letters dated 3 and 22 August).50 After that, her stay was centered in the area of Lachen, where she spent the ‘winter months’ (November 1914–May 1915). She then spent a remarkably long time in high and remote places on the border of Tibet, notably so in Dewa Thang between Thangu and Gyaogang, at an altitude of over 13,000 feet (May 1915–August 1916). There she famously lived in a cave before having a cabin built (‘De-Chen Ashram,’ 1 June 1915–2 July 1916 and August 1916).51

As one can see from this sketch of David-Néel’s itineraries in Sikkim, her first stay relied strongly on the colonial structure, while her second stay was more erratic until its center of gravity was displaced to the farthest edge of the Raj. The logic of David-Néel’s itineraries clearly reflected her endeavor to distance herself from the Western world, embodied, as she often writes to Philippe, by British authority and colonial community, as well as by missionaries.52 In order to explain the shift revealed by this brief overview and to understand the growing and somehow surprising appeal Tibet and ‘Lamaism’ suddenly exerted on the ‘Buddhist modernist’ she claimed to be, one needs to go into more details about two aspects: firstly, her interactions with some specific figures she met in Sikkim, and secondly, her perception of landscape.

The ‘civilized yogui’ between British colonials and Asian Highnesses

The British community of officials and the missionaries of the Scandinavian Alliance Mission stand at the background of the significant daily events that David-Néel chooses to highlight in her letters.

The Scandinavian Alliance Mongolian Mission was a Scandinavian Protestant Christian missionary society that was involved in sending missionaries to Mongolia and China during the late Qing Dynasty (late 19th and early 20th century).

See also

• Swedish Mongolian Mission
• Protestant missionary societies in China (1807–1953)
• Timeline of Chinese history
• Protestant missions in China 1807–1953
• List of Protestant missionaries in China
• Christianity in China

-- Scandinavian Alliance Mongolian Mission, by Wikipedia

She first praises her European fellows’ kindness and generosity.53 However, after her first trip to Lachen, she confesses to her husband in a letter dated 27 July 1912 that they perceived her as a ‘civilized yogui’ violating colonial social codes due to her establishing personal ‘links with natives.’54 As a counterpart, she quickly makes overall fun of the English middle-class and of the tea-parties held in the bungalows on the Himalayan hills: ‘I did not come here to live among British bourgeois […] pledged to the missionaries. They are all servants of the politics of the White,’ she writes to Philippe.55 A fierce anticlerical, she shows no mercy either to Rev. E. H. Owen, whom she thinks is a poor interpreter of her Tibetan-speaking interlocutors. Owen is, she feels, too concerned with preaching the Gospel in Lachun and taking care of the Mission House community to understand anything about Buddhism.56

A special meeting of the Diocesan Synod of Moray, Ross, and Caithness [Scottish Episcopal Church], was held in the Cathedral of Inverness on Thursday the 18th inst. There were prsent -- the Most Rev. the Primus; the Very Rev. Dean Christie; the Very Rev. Provost Powell; the Rev. Canon Roughead; the Rev. George Boyes, Aberchirder; the Rev. J. Brodie Innes of Milton Brodie; the Rev. Farquhar Smith, Arpafeelie; the Rev. W.J. Bussell, Dingwall; the Rev. E.H. Owen, Forres; the Rev. Archibald MacGillivray, Strathnairn; the Rev. H.J. Allardice, Craigellachie.

Election of Synod Clerk.

The Primus intimated that he had received the resignation of the Rev. J.F. Macdonald, Huntley, Synod Clerk; and it would now be the duty of the Synod to elect another clerk in his room.

Dean Christie had much pleasure in proposing that the Synod should select the Rev. E.H. Owen, Forrest, as successor to the late Synod Clerk. Mr. Owen was well known for his administrative capacity and business habits. He had long been chosen to act on the Committee on Claims, and had there proved extremely attentive and useful.

Canon Roughead seconded the resolution, and it was unanimously agreed to.

The Primus expressed a hope that the office would by-and-bye be of greater importance and the value to its holder than it is at present.

The Rev. E.H. Owen begged to express his warm sense of this mark of confidence. He felt that he was not worthy of the terms in which the proposer of this resolution had alluded to him; but it would be his earnest endeavour so far to justify their choice, as to strive to fulfil the duties of the office to the very best of his ability.

-- Special Synod of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, From Our Own Reporter, The Scottish Guardian, May 1, 1872

Sir Charles Bell (1870–1945), the Political Officer for Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet and Official Resident at Gangtok, was a central figure involved in the political affairs of Tibet in particular.57 It is nonetheless surprising how little David-Néel mentions him, although his impact on her travel is significant. At first, she admits the Resident ‘Mr. Bel’ and his wife’s ‘cordiality’ and ‘kindness.’58 Charles Bell incites her to buy the Tibetan–English dictionary published by the government59 and plays the middleman between her and the Dalai Lama60 and later the Panchen Lama.61 But, when she comes back to Sikkim the second time, he is ‘too busy with the Sino-British-Tibetan conference’ held at Simla and ‘simply fails to write’ and recommend her to the Maharaja of Bhutan.62 But above all he is the one who forbids her to ‘go beyond the frontier that marks the limit of British domination’63 at a time when ‘England is slowly taking hold of Tibet.’64 In this respect, she mentions Bell’s name one last time when telling her husband about her return from her illegal excursion to Shigatse in June 1916. He severely penalized local people for helping the traveler and banished her from Sikkim. This prompted her to undertake a trip to Japan before coming back to Tibet through China in the 1920s. But at the time of her banishment, she confesses to her husband with melancholy that her ‘adventures’ are over and that her ‘dream’ has come to an end, giving a unique and matchless value to her stay in Sikkim.65

The British colonial world and some of its main representatives thus offer support to David-Néel’s stays in Sikkim, but also progressively come to represent the grim side in her encounter with Tibet. In contrast, the bright side is represented by encounters with various prestigious figures that embody the Tibetan world to her. In her first letter after leaving Tunis for Colombo, David-Néel proudly claims to her husband that she is ‘in friendly relationship with Asian highnesses and majesties.’66 Her encounters with Tibetan monks and dignitaries in Kalimpong, and then in Gangtok or Lachen Monastery, are to be related to her own spiritual quest and conception of Buddhism as well as to her scholarly ambitions. She had already made clear to her husband when writing to him from India that ‘there is a highly respectable position to take in French Orientalism.’67 As I will show below, much later, provided with the means to meet her ambitions, she will re-use the exact same phrase.68

One must remember that David-Néel had dwelt among the Parisian circles as well as the British and German circles of Buddhist studies. French scholars focused on the study of what was then called the school of Northern Buddhism, or Mahayana Buddhism.69 David-Néel often refers to her teacher Philippe-Édouard Foucaux and his famous translation of the Lalitavistara from Tibetan manuscripts, a Mahayana sutra devoted to the the life of the Buddha and filled with what was considered at the time legendary and superstitious elements.70 As for the British and the German scholars, they focused on the so called orthodox Southern Buddhism and tended to focus on the historicity of the Buddha’s life and teaching: David-Néel met Thomas W. Rhys Davids (1843–1922) and his wife Caroline Augusta Foley (1857–1942) in London in 1910,71 who considered Buddhism as a ‘science of mind,’72 and corresponded with Hermann Oldenberg (1854–1920).73 Although David-Néel expects to find a place in French Buddhist studies, she consistently challenges Western Orientalism (and overall philosophy) and its ‘dry and dead erudition,’74 taking the perspective of a Buddhist practitioner endowed with a unique experience from the inside. At the end of her first stay in Sikkim, she sums up her position to Philippe: ‘You know my projects: be active as an Orientalist in a more learned way than previously. Write, teach at the Sorbonne. These occupations are in perfect harmony with my position among promoters of the religious reform trend in Asia.’75 As a modern Buddhist reformer focusing mainly on Southern Buddhism as it was reconstructed, in the wake of Burnouf’s pioneering work, by British and German scholars, David-Néel definitely took an irregular stand in French intellectual field and tried to insert her public persona on a more transnational level.

In this respect, being allowed to meet Thubten Gyatso (1876–1933), the 13th Dalai Lama, is a happy coincidence David-Néel could not have dreamed of. Thanks to the support of Charles Bell, the Dalai Lama was offered to stay in Sikkim at the time of his three-year exile after Chinese warlord and former imperial resident (amban) in Lhasa Zhao Erfeng (1845–1911)’s troupes had attacked the Tibetan capital in 1909 and forced him to flee to India. After staying in Darjeeling, the Dalai Lama moved his court to Kalimpong — then a famous hill station and an important trading outpost — until his return to Tibet in June 1912, the Republican Revolutionaries having overthrown the Qing Dynasty. This situation immediately appears to David-Néel as an opportunity to build an exclusive network for the sake of her own scholarly ambitions. The French Buddhist Orientalist traveler is granted an extraordinary audience with ‘His yellow Highness.’ David-Néel gives a long account of the meeting to her husband and writes of the ‘Pope of Asia’76 that ‘his Tibetan brain hardly grasps that one can become a Buddhist by studying Oriental philosophy on the benches of a European university. That I have not had a guru, a mentor, escapes him. Moreover, I understand, from what he says, that he has a poor knowledge of Southern Buddhism.’77

By the time of the Parliament, the preceding decades of debate and scholarship had established and agreed upon certain facts: Buddhism was founded by a historical man, Sakyamuni, who had taught a system of ethical philosophy that had later (for variously contended reasons) developed features of a religion. This Buddhism was atheistic or at least agnostic, denied the existence of an immortal soul, and taught self-reliance rather than reliance on a savior. Both supporters and detractors also agreed that the teachings of the Buddha had much in common with contemporary Western philosophy. The division of Southern and Northern Buddhism was generally accepted. Southern Buddhism was the Buddhism of the Pali texts, associated with the Buddhist practices of Ceylon, Siam, and Burma. These preserved the "essence" of Buddhism, variously referred to as "Pure Buddhism," "Original Buddhism," or "Real Buddhism." Northern Buddhism was the Buddhism of Sanskrit texts and their derivatives in the languages of northern Asia. This was the Mahayana, considered to be a later corruption of the Founder's teachings. Southern Buddhism was "Protestant"; Northern Buddhism was "Romish."

So well established were these "truths" of Buddhism that Western scholars quite confidently corrected Asian Buddhist authorities who attempted to modify them. The Reverend Dr. F. F. Ellinwood, for example, wrote at length explaining the real meaning of nirvana to Japanese Buddhist abbot Shaku Soen.4 Eminent Pali scholar T. W. Rhys Davids also criticized Japanese delegate Ashitsu Jitsuzen's understanding of this key term. According to Rhys Davids, Ashitsu's paper at the World's Parliament of Religions demonstrated "how astounding is the gulf on all sides between popular beliefs and the conclusions of scholarship."5 Western scholars alone possessed the truth of Buddhism. Asian practitioners became "merely nominal Buddhists who know little if anything about genuine Buddhism as elucidated in the texts."6

-- Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition, by Judith Snodgrass

She explains on this occasion to the Dalai Lama that ‘Northern Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism in particular were not well received in the West probably because they are misunderstood.’78 This is why she ‘had thought to speak directly to the head of Northern Buddhism in order to get some authoritative clarification on the theories of the Tibetan School.’79 The Dalai Lama will later send written answers to her inquiries through Charles Bell.

In her letters the episode of her encounter with the Dalai Lama is described over several pages and clearly appears as the highlight of her stay at Kalimpong as a prestigious gateway to the ‘threshold of Tibet.’80 She hardly mentions it on the other hand in her personal diary.81 She also writes of her encounter with the Dalai Lama in the famous literary periodical Mercure de France82 and gives further expositions to British Indian journals at the time.83 It is thus clear that she expects it to provide her with a new prestige not only in the eyes of her husband, but also in the French scholarly circles and the British official community.84 Although she still felt that her convictions were at odds with Lamaism, she confesses to Philippe that ‘coming back [to Europe] with a study on Lamaism completed by the side of the Dalai Lama would prove a fabulous Orientalist piece of work.’85 This underlines her ambition to provide the West with a personal experience and first-hand knowledge of Buddhism, but first and foremost to turn Tibetan Buddhism into her own ‘field of investigation.’86

However, her meeting with the Dalai Lama is only a first step into the Tibetan Buddhist world. A more lasting and close relationship soon develops with the Maharaja Thutob Namgyal (1860–1914)’s son, Maharajkumar Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal (1879–1914). Sidkeong Tulku was both the crown prince (Maharajkumar) of Sikkim and the reincarnated abbot (Tulku) of Podang Monastery. David-Néel has with him long discussions on primitive and ‘authentic’ Buddhism in his incongruous cottage-like and Chinese-looking bijou private house in Gangtok.87 Sidkeong Tulku ‘has been raised in Europe’88 and shares with her the pious modernist wish to spread the true Buddhist teaching in Sikkim and Tibet. This goes together with the ambition to eradicate the Lamaist superstitious and degenerate cult. With the support of Sidkeong Tulku, David-Néel is invited to preach at the monastery of Podang and across Sikkim. She explains to Philippe that she introduced the Western Buddhist scholarly studies and the spread of Buddhism in the West to the lamas. First and foremost, she urged them to ‘rise above the differences between schools and sects, so as to revive the primitive philosophical doctrine.’89

It is noteworthy that another Western Buddhist convert, J.F. McKechnie, aka Silacara Bhikku (1871–1952), the ‘Scottish Orientalist’ as David-Néel calls him,90 spent some time in Sikkim in Fall 1914. Silacara was the disciple of another famous Western Theravada monk, Anton Gueth, aka Nyanatiloka, who shortly joined Silacara and David-Néel in Sikkim.91 As followers of the doctrine of ‘Southern Buddhism,’ the two bhikkhus shared Sidkeong Tulku and David-Néel’s reformist views. Sidkeong’s sudden and precocious death in December 1914 just after he had succeeded his father as the Maharaja of Sikkim brings an end to their plans.92

David-Néel’s views on Tibetan Buddhism are further influenced by the encounter of Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup (1868–1922), headmaster of the state Bhutia Boarding School at Gangtok and her personal interpreter.93 It is only later that Dawa Samdup’s name will become famous in the Western world through Dr. Walter Y. Evans-Wentz (1878–1965)’s publications a few years later, notably so with the bestseller The Tibetan Book of the Dead in 1927.94 David-Néel discovers through him many aspects of Tibetan literature such as the story of the Tibetan hermit and poet Milarepa. She plans to collaborate with him on a study on Padmasambhava, ‘Tibet’s great apostle,’ she says, and an ‘intriguing character.’95 But Dawa Samdup will follow Charles Bell to be his interpreter during the Simla Convention and will only reappear at the end of her stay in March 1916.96

In the first stage of Alexandra David-Néel’s stay, Sikkim strikingly appears as a significant cosmopolitan hub of Buddhist modernism, in which European and Asian Buddhists happened to meet, discuss their respective agendas and share their common views on the advent of a globalized form of Buddhism. David-Néel sums up in her own words and from her own standpoint the local and global issues of this unique situation, which took place in the framework of British colonial empire and testified to a certain extent to cultural imperialism: while reading the Dhammapada97 and discussing philosophical questions together with Sidkeong Tulku at Lachun, she writes that they ‘planned several useful reforms regarding the lamas, the religious education, etc.’ She then adds: ‘I think that my coming in this country will not be absolutely useless for the population’s progress and instruction.’98 Nevertheless, as I would like to show now, her acquaintance with Tantrist Kazi Dawa Samdup and Nyingma teachings of Tibetan Buddhism practiced in Sikkim certainly triggered an unexpected countercurrent to take effect in the process of modern Buddhism. This allows us to ascribe noteworthy forms of agency to local Buddhist representatives on this unforeseen ‘middle ground’99 where European and Asian political and religious players came to meet.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Part 2 of 3

At the edge of the world: a Tantric yogi and a Huron hut

David-Néel’s encounters with the Dalai Lama, Sidkeong Tulku and Lama Dawa Samdup at her arrival in Sikkim are followed one month later (May 1912) at Lachen by that of Kunzang Ngawang Rinchen (1867–1947), best known as ‘the Third Gomchen of Lachen.’ The ‘Gomchen’ (‘Great Yogi’) was the abbot of Lachen Monastery, and was well-known for receiving teachings from a lama in Tibet and spending many years as a solitary hermit meditating in remote caves in the mountains. David-Néel grasps from her first encounters with the Gomchen the central point of his teachings, which she precociously and somewhat clumsily describes as ‘what Mahayana calls Sunyata: the Great Void, void from the illusion of divided [‘morcelée’] life, infinite, eternal Existence.’100 Whereas David-Néel translates the basic concept of sunyata in the terms of Western concepts and testifies to Western misconceptions of the time (here ‘void’ understood as ‘immortality’ strongly echoes Theosophists’ interpretations of Buddhist doctrines),101 she certainly steps away at this point from her former Buddhist conceptions based on Southern Buddhism as formatted by modern scholars and Buddhist reformers. Simultaneously, she goes on preaching to the local lamas. The unforeseen events of this period seem to take on an essential meaning, since she writes down for the first time her own future author name in a meaningful transpersonal perspective:

The words which I repeat, the ideas which I venture, the feelings which I express are those of the Buddhas. […] Their wisdom and compassion have come through the ages […] to be heard. […] Padmasambhava and so many others preached in this country. […] That which speaks, that which took their names, that is called today Alexandra David-Néel.102

The encounter with Ngawang Rinchen definitely opens up new insights for David-Néel and his determining role intertwines in a quite complex way with her own personal quest and persona. In her letters, Ngawang Rinchen paradoxically is as much a crucial character as an elusive figure. She plainly calls the Gomchen the ‘Yogui,’ alternatively the ‘Great Yogui’ or her ‘lama-yogui’103 but, conscious of Philippe’s suspicion regarding spiritual matters, she carefully avoids going into the details about their meetings and discussions. However, the lama-yogui’s presence lets itself be felt increasingly in her letters at the time of her second stay in Sikkim from October 1914 onward. It is at this time that, having left Gangtok for Lachen, she has a ‘Huron hut’104 built close to the yogui’s meditation cave at Dewa Thang, close to the border with Tibet. This move appears as a decisive step forward in her approach to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism.105

In November 1914, David-Néel asks the Gomchen to teach her Tibetan in exchange for English lessons, a deal that he ‘miraculously’ accepts.106 She herself declares that ‘it is a unique opportunity to learn Tibetan quickly and to assimilate doctrines no Orientalist scholar has ever understood.’107 The Gomchen approves of Sidkeong Tulku’s reformist plans, and David-Néel feels his teachings are consistent with her own beliefs: ‘The Buddhist renounce to what is no longer important to them because they have rationally measured its emptiness and nothingness.’108

However, the lama-yogui — whom she sometimes calls Mephisto109 — introduces her to a very different understanding of Buddhism than the supposedly ‘pure’ tradition of the South endorsed by the Buddhist modernists: ‘My lama-yogui, here, teaches terrifying doctrines and, compared to him, Max Stirner and Nietzsche look like mere babies coming out of the nursery school. […] I have learned more here in fifteen days than in one year in Gangtok.’110 She stops being a proselyte to become the lama’s novice and surrenders to him the ‘absolute obedience that he demands.’111 Although she remains suspicious of the Lamaist ritualism, she admires the meaning underlying the rituals and dances performed by the lama-yogui and his disciples: that ‘all is empty and vain, an illusion and a mirage, and that the ironic performer himself is only a shadow, a ghost devoid of reality.’112 Time and again she uses the metaphor of the movie screen113 to translate the profound teaching of the lama-yogui.114 She soon learns to use the ritual accessories such as the tambourine (damaru) used in meditation115 and gradually practices the yoguis’ methods of meditation and bodily techniques.116

Through the Gomchen of Lachen, it is the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that David-Néel discovers. As she herself admits, this gives a new impulse to her formerly rather fundamentalist conception of Buddhism.117 As it turns out, she identifies in the esoteric practices of the Ngagpas (Tantric practitioners) and in the ritual of chod (gcod)118 a deep understanding of Buddhist philosophical inquiry. These practices appear to her as genuine ‘methods to reach tharpa [supreme liberation], to free oneself from illusion entirely, to erase the mirage of the world as the product of one’s imagination and to liberate one’s mind from fanciful beliefs,’ as she will write years later in With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet.119 So as to reconcile these practices with her own convictions, she opposes Tantric initiations to the exoteric ritualism of Tibetan Buddhism she calls the ‘Lamaist jumble.’120

Tantrism actually becomes the focus of David-Néel’s approach of Tibet. It is only decades later that Western readers will become familiar with this aspect of Tibetan Buddhism through her later books such as The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects or Initiations and Initiates in Tibet.121 In order to fully understand David-Néel’s statements about Tantric Buddhism, we need to take into account an external historical factor: the First World War, about which she has been kept informed by Philippe and Silacara. In the letters written during her second stay in Sikkim, David-Néel very often comments on the war and justifies herself for staying away from Europe in this critical time.122 In so doing, she suggests how her stay in Sikkim can benefit to the despairing situation. She thereby delineates her role as an author-to-be and anticipates the expectations of her potential readership:

Anticlericalism is out of fashion: it is one result of the war. When men are scared they turn to the gods, to the supernatural, like children that hang to their mother’s skirts. A breeze of spirituality blows over the world alongside with the blast of the cannonballs that rip through the air. Vulgar religiosity will turn into longing for philosophy in the larger-scale minds. I have some idea that my books on Vedanta and Tibetan mysticism are likely to meet the needs of many readers after the storm.123

The ‘cult of nothingness’ had first proved a solace for her fin de siècle anticlericalism, disillusion and neurasthenia. The rationalism of Buddhist modernism then gave an impulse to her conviction that the pristine teachings of the Buddha pertained globally to the modern world and had to be spread to East and West indistinctly. The Tantric vision of the Gomchen now consolidates her confidence that Buddhism still proves accurate for her in a new form. Moreover, it appears as the most relevant solution to the devastating side-effects of internationalization.124 In the eyes of Western Buddhist scholars and practitioners, Esoteric Tibetan Buddhism (sometimes called Tantrayana or Vajrayana) was so far overly discredited. This notwithstanding, Tibetan Buddhism now takes clear precedence over Theravada in David-Néel’s commitment to Buddhism. Furthermore, David-Néel’s meditation retreat to the edges of Tibet at De-Chen Ashram125 becomes paradigmatic for the message of peace and reenchantment she feels she has to deliver to the four corners of the earth: ‘Now I can only see things, even things as dreadful as this war, as dreams and nightmares. They are only shadows on a cinematographic screen.’126 ‘Hence, the one who knows the great secret can only smile at the phantasmagoria that the world is, and the great peace will surround them. […] Phantasmagoria too is this war.’127

The ‘Land of Marvels:’ the metamorphoses of Tibetan sacred landscape

David-Néel’s privileged access to the Tibetan esoteric tradition actually finds an echo in the way she starts to consider Tibet as a whole from the Sikkimese threshold. At the time, Tibetan geography and cultures had just started to be discovered in the wake of 1890s Western explorers. While British and French explorers alike described the country in terms of ‘sacred landscape,’128 their underlying motivation to do so was distinct. In the context of the Great Game, British travelers considered Tibet as a ‘buffer state’ beyond the British Rāj. The sacred character ascribed to Tibet amounted, in their view, to a protective power over the imperial territory. In contrast, the French travelers insisted either on the geographical129 or on the cultural130 dimension of Tibetan landscape. The Great Game, as is well known, led to a long period when Tibet was an officially forbidden country.131 Although explorers had considerably contributed to improve knowledge of the country in the last decade of nineteenth century, the perception of Tibet remained that of a terra incognita, an unknown territory, both geographically and culturally. As such, the ‘British image of Tibet’132 seems to globally outweigh the more variegated image other nations such as France gave of Tibet and Tibetans at the dawn of the twentieth century.133

At the first stage of her stay in Sikkim, David-Néel’s vision of Tibet stands out as a transnational representation based on both French and British standards. Like European travelers, she distinguishes the ‘imagined Tibet’ from the ‘real Tibet’ and ascribes a sacred dimension to Tibet. At odds with her French fellows, she reckons that she shares with the British their appeal for the ‘other side,’ the fantasized unknown territory beyond the border of the Rāj. After accompanying Sidkeong Tulku leaving for Gyantse up to Thangu in May 1912, she wishes she could go back to the border-pass with Tibet and walk beyond the frontier. She then admits that she is like all the other Europeans in this situation:

Here, all the Europeans are under this strange spell. They say ‘Tibet’ almost in a low voice, in a religious way, somewhat fearfully. I shall see it again at another border, but this will be the Tibet of Chumbi Valley. And the Resident [i.e. Charles Bell] warned me that it is a false Tibet as green as the Sikkimese valleys and without the roughness of the fearful and spellbinding true Tibet I have contemplated.134

While Tibet appears in British imperial fantasies as a harsh borderland and a blank ‘buffer state,’ the Tibet David-Néel dreams of takes on new connotations. By doing so, she not only borrows from previous representations given by travelers but also appropriates these representations. Her letters reveal the ambiguous and somewhat distant look she throws on the way her European fellows envision what used to be called the ‘land beyond.’ On a second journey through upper Sikkim in August 1912, she realizes that she is the ‘prisoner of a dream, attracted by who knows what...’ She adds: ‘I wish I could go to the end of my journey and write the books I have dreamed of.’135 Indeed, she later envisions to explore the ‘hazily beyond’136 in a way that peculiarly stands apart from her predecessors:

I have visions of Himalaya, of lakes mirroring snowy peaks, of cascades in the woods. […] Tibet! Tibet! A part of me remained up there in the high steppes, in the barren loneliness of Gyao-guwn where, perhaps recklessly, I have proffered the ‘vow that binds’ as do Tibetans think. Ten years too late! I confess that I was burned by desire in front of this closed door, opened for me. The desire to seize this unique occasion, to go and learn there what none of the few explorers had been able to get in touch with, to do what no European had ever done.137

Her dream of Tibet is one that gives a twist to the geographical category of ‘real Tibet:’ she gives a spiritual dimension to it, while at the same time the Tibet she is bound to is also the promise of self-realization. Here and there she insists on Himalayas and Tibet as a wilderness which ‘speaks the same language’ as the Sahara her husband lives close to.138 She gives it a spiritual meaning that links it to the medieval topos of the desert, but finds new religious models to express it: ‘It is one of the dreadful and spectacular aspects of what Indian philosophers call Mâya, an illusion, the mirage of the material world.’139

In this respect, she believes her link to Tibet to be of an ontological nature: ‘I have been a nomad of Central Asia in one of my previous lives, as my Oriental friends enjoy to say for fun.’140 This however is a serious matter to her: ‘indeed, I clearly get recollections of it, remote and deep inside myself, up there in the wide steppes.’ She adds that ‘in her veins’ she ‘for sure’ has the ‘atavism of an Asiatic nomad’ and may have been a ‘great Tibetan lama in the past.’141 This explains why ‘she has felt nostalgia for Asia before she ever went there’ and that although she was ‘born a Parisian’ she is ‘endowed with such a mentality so alien to the one of her native milieu.’142

David-Néel’s discourse in her letters testifies to a heterogeneous set of representations of Tibet in the first decades of the twentieth century. First and foremost, her commitment to Buddhism and scholarly ambitions give an unexpected twist to the categories of ‘real Tibet’ she inherited from her predecessors and fellows. In this respect, her vision of Tibet is not only the transnational product of two different traditions in the history of European representations, but is thoroughly transformed by her actual field experience and personal encounter with Sikkimese landscapes and people. In the process, her exploration clearly takes a metaphorical flair that turns the categories of ‘imagined Tibet’ and ‘real Tibet’ upside down and blurs their conceptual definitions. While the primary meaning of ‘real Tibet’ should refer to what one knows of the place once one has come into contact with it — at the time, what the explorers had seen and written about Tibet — ‘imagined Tibet’ refers to fantasies about it, like those about unknown or utopian lands. Through her insight into the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism David-Néel pictures ‘real Tibet’ as the ‘land of marvels.’143 In this respect, she suggests that Himalayan landscape is endowed with special qualities that resonate with her own vision of the world. Reflecting on her everyday life in the remote beside her lama-yogui she writes to Philippe:

Everything is but a dream! Is it not a dream for a Parisian woman to be here on this steep mountain slope, sleeping on a camp bed and living in the only company of a prodigious sorcerer who spent more than twenty years of his life isolated in the wilderness, who lived in cemeteries, who ate corpses, what do I know? Is it not unlikely? How would I not call it a dream?144

On the threshold of Tibet, Himalayan mountain landscape, as she describes it, encapsulates the Tantric visions that she has experienced with the Gomchen. ‘The Buddha saw something. [...] My lama-yogui “saw” too. [...] In study and meditation, I seek to see what the Buddhas have seen.’145 The vision develops throughout her perception of Tibetan landscape. After her first meeting with the Gomchen in May 1912, she already describes the ‘strange Himalayan light’ in a way that stands out of the explorers’ usual formulations:

Everything is hazy, dark, but, unlikely as it may sound, a white luminosity wraps everything and the shadow mysteriously glows with some kind of brightness that is neither sun or moon, that does not seem to come down from the sky but emanates from the things themselves, or rather from something that would be inside them, behind their material shape. What a country...146

Later, at De-Chen Ashram (Dewa Thang), she gets used to contemplate the Himalayan landscape as a means to unbind through meditation her attachment to ‘the world, the civilization and its conventions.’147 At the end of her stay, she watches the ‘Transhimalayan mountains and the Tibetan land turn blue’ and concludes: ‘things are like thin sand, […] like water [...]. Impermanence everywhere, the Buddha said. […] All of this is a dream.’148

At this key-point of Tibetan and European intercultural history, David-Néel remarkably reverses the so-far prevailing paradigm of geographical discovery into an exploration of a new kind, as she confesses to Philippe: ‘If I can transcribe this vision in a lived and lively way as the [Buddhas and the lama-yogui] have, then maybe is it worth for me to write and speak.’149 Before she actually entered Tibet ten years later and became famous as the first European woman to get to Lhasa, it is on the very Sikkimese threshold that she developed a set of images representative of the ‘magical Tibet’150 better known to us from her later travel narratives.

A symbolic birthplace: a retrospective mise-en-scène

Having succeeded in entering Lhasa in 1924, David-Néel returns gloriously to France. Right after the success of her travel narrative My Journey to Lhasa in 1927 (the English version was published prior to the French edition), she has a Tibetan-style house built at Dignes-les-bains, mirroring in some way Sidkeong Tulku’s partly Asian partly British house in Kalimpong. There she writes her well-known bestsellers that will reward her with financial incomes and a wide readership.151 Two years after publishing My Journey to Lhasa, she focuses on her encounter with esoteric Tibetan Buddhism in With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet. The English backcover claims that in this book Alexandra David-Néel ‘describes her experiences during a fourteen-year stay in Tibet, as she studied and participated in the occult philosophies of mystics and magicians.’

I have suggested so far that the remarkable success of her representations of Tibet is the result of her encounter with the Tibetan world at the margins of both British Empire and Tibet proper. The first lines of her book can be read as a retrospective tribute to Sikkim:

‘Well, then, it is understood. I leave Dawasandup with you as interpreter. He will accompany you to Gangtok.’

Is it a man who is speaking to me? This short yellow-skinned being clad in a robe of orange brocade, a diamond star sparkling on his hat, is he not, rather, a genie come down from the neighboring mountains?

They say he is an ‘incarnated Lama’ and heir prince of a Himalayan throne, but I doubt his reality. Probably he will vanish like a mirage, with his caparisoned little steed and his party of followers, dressed in all the colors of the rainbow. He is a part of the enchantment in which I have lived these last fifteen days. This new episode is of the stuff that dreams are made of. [...] I hear myself, as if I were listening to some other person, promising him that I will start the next day for his capital, and the little troop, headed by the musicians, disappears.

As the last murmurs of the plaintive melody die away in the distance, the enchantment that has held me spellbound dissipates.

I have not been dreaming, all this is real. I am at Kalimpong, in the Himalayas, and the interpreter given me when I arrived stands at my side.152

Kalimpong, the gateway to Sikkim on the border with British India, appears here at the very forefront of the narrative of David-Néel’s discovery of ‘real Tibet and its religious world.’153 From the start, she clearly rewrites her own story giving it a new birthplace. The readers familiar with My Journey to Lhasa now become acquainted with the dream-like tone she had given to her letters from Sikkim, which were inspired from the ‘psychic atmosphere’154 of the philosophical ‘fairy tale’155 she had steeped in. She thus retells her readers what she had already told her husband seventeen years earlier. But now the dream stands as the matrix point of the book: in her narrative, dream is now the beginning of all things concerning Asia. The narrative reconstructs the travel as an epiphany in which Kalimpong plays the function of the symbolic doorway giving access to the other side of reality — or, rather, to the ultimate truth. Whereas in this narrative Sidkeong Tulku becomes some Shakespearian airy spirit,156 the meeting with the Dalai Lama almost disappears into thin air. Kazi Dawa Samdup — although his name is mentioned from the start — shrinks away into a three-page colorful portrait as if he had escaped from his own stories fashioned ‘in the style of Boccaccio.’157 Her lama-yogui stands out as an awe-inspiring and ‘bizarre character.’158 Nevertheless, he is only mentioned here and there and David-Néel’s encounters with the ‘gomtchèn’ are described rather synthetically: ‘what I learned that way was Tibet itself, its inhabitants’ customs and thoughts.’159 In a few pages, these once essential figures fade out at full throttle160 and give way to the core matter of the book: a collection of picturesque and fairy stories on magicians, sorcerers, Tantric ascetics and their supernatural powers and esoteric practices. The accounts are scarcely (or not at all) related to their sources and the events are only loosely connected to the time and space of the travel experience. Her readers proved to be eagerly receptive to these modern fantasy tales on death and the beyond, gathered in a rhapsodic narrative and only held together by the authoritative ‘I’ of the narrator.161

Alexandra David-Neel's Adventures in Tibet Fact or Fiction?
by Braham Norwick
The Tibet Journal
Vol. 1, No. 3/4, Special Issue : “Tibet: A Living Tradition”: Proceedings of a Symposium held at The Newark Museum (Autumn 1976), pp. 70-74
Published by: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives

In the process, one can sense from the skillful mise-en-scène of her second book that Alexandra David-Néel’s authorial status has now been ascertained. Does she speak here as a scholar? After all, one major benefit of her travel to Sikkim was the surfacing of a number of Tantric Buddhist texts previously unknown to Western scholars.162 Or does she want, mainly, to publicly profess her Buddhist faith in picturing her encounters with distinguished lamas and Tibetan spiritual masters? One should remember that these issues actually belonged to her previous agenda that can be read in her letters. At the time, she had to find her way out of the ‘double bind’ that tied her to both the scholar communities she was critical of and to the oversyncretic spiritual atmosphere of Theosophy that had a grip on Buddhist reform movements.163 But now her voice sounds quite different. Indeed, at a time when Tibetan studies were still at their beginnings in the Western scholarly world, her books on the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism had a unique value for scholars. But at the same time they too obviously did not conform to scientific methods and targeted a wider audience.164 As I have pointed out in my introduction, it is rather as an adventure writer that she first will be recognized.165 But her popularizing work on Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism also contributed to the success of her adventure narratives and novels. She thus became a popular writer of a special kind, one who claimed to combine the authority of a Buddhist convert and of a scholar floating on the margins of French and British Orientalism: in the eye of the public this double aura gave its flair to her books that were for the most part rapidly translated into English. It certainly accounts for the international success of ‘visions of Himalaya’166 in which the distinction between ‘real Tibet’ and ‘imagined Tibet’ is blurred even after she actually entered its geographical perimeter. Although Tibet was by then no longer uncharted territory, this vision lingers in David-Néel’s writings on a metaphorical level. In post-First-World-War and Second-World-War eras, it is this vision, as David-Néel herself foresaw it in Sikkim, that strongly contributed to turn Tibet into one of the most obvious and essential repository of Buddhism. Tibet was no longer a repellent ‘Lamaist’ country. At a time when Tibet as a state remained an ‘unsolved question in the international arena’167 and was an indefinitely restricted area, it appeared to David-Néel’s readers — Allen Ginsberg reading With Mystics and Magicians to Tibet clearly testifies to it — to hide one of the most appealing spiritual wisdom available to the modern world.

Conclusion: broadcasting Tibet, or the Sikkimese ways of global Buddhism

In With Mystics and Magicians to Tibet, David-Néel not only credits Sikkim with her encounter with Tibet, but also uses her stay in Sikkim as an introduction to the literary tone and manner that she will become famous for. Through David-Néel’s letters from Sikkim, the Journal de voyage gives us access to the genetic processes of her vision of Tibet. In this vision, the beholder — the traveler’s and writer’s pervasive ‘I’ — and the show — the world, the others, the landscape, the beyond — alike are put into perspective, transcended and eventually deterritorialized. Such a vision was to become a standardized pattern of globalized Buddhism in the twentieth century. Its roots and emergence in David-Néel’s discourse should actually be given a broader perspective if we wish to consider more closely the global issues of her Sikkimese experience. An alternative angle to look at David-Néel’s modernist self-fashioning and worldwide success is found in The Way of the White Clouds, a famous travel narrative by another Western Buddhist modernist, Anagarika Govinda (born Ernst Lothar Hoffmann, 1898–1985). He was a Theravada bhikku who intended to purify Vajrayana practices, but then turned to Tibetan Buddhism. He became a disciple of the Gomchen of Lachen twenty years after David-Néel had stayed at the monastery of Lachen. In his book, Govinda recalls ‘the famous French Orientalist and explorer Alexandra David-Neel, whose books on Tibet were so outstanding that they were translated into all the major languages of the world’ and writes:

The profound knowledge that informed her books, which for the first time gave an objective account of hitherto unknown spiritual practices and psychic phenomena, were the direct outcome of these three years of study and meditation under the Great Hermit, who thus — with unfailing certainty — had chosen the right medium for broadcasting his message over the entire world, without himself ever leaving his far-off retreat among the snows of the Himalayas. With this ‘message’ I do not mean a message of any personal nature or the propagation of any particular doctrine, but a message which opened the eyes of the world to the hitherto hidden spiritual treasures of Tibetan religious culture.168

Govinda’s statement suggests judiciously that one might reevaluate the subjective feature of Alexandra David-Néel’s tone and the literary indeterminacy of her adventure narratives.169 In his perspective, her books are best considered as a collection of quotations of the Gomchen of Lachen, a crucial figure whom we have seen was so complexly bound up in Alexandra David- Néel’s spiritual quest and public persona.170 Moreover, David-Néel’s books obey a fundamentally global logic, since through them the lama-yogui’s ‘secret oral teachings’ found an accurate transcultural form to meet the modern world and circulated across the transnational networks of twentieth-century written literature.171 In this respect, it is significant that, almost a century after David-Néel had intended to preach Southern primitive Buddhism to Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, in Kalimpong, Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, a major figure of Buddhism today in the global public sphere, wrote in a fitting reversal of roles the foreword to a recent edition of My Journey to Lhasa, paying homage to ‘the first to introduce the real Tibet to the West’ and ‘to convey the authentic flavor of Tibet as she found it.’172

When David-Néel came back to Europe, she did not adopt the scheme of transmission perpetuated by many of contemporary Buddhist modernists and leading intellectuals (Ananda Metteyya, T. W. Rhys Davids, Nyanatiloka, Anagarika Dharmapala, Walter Evans-Wentz, and later Taisen Deshimaru (1914–1982), D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) and Chögyam Trungpa (1939–1987), to name but a few): she did not turn into a Buddhist lama (unlike Anagarika Govinda or more recently Matthieu Ricard), did not accept any disciple and did not preach Buddhism orally any more. She did not found communities or get involved in Buddhist institutional structures. She nonetheless went on writing about Buddhism throughout her life. As Govinda suggested, Sikkim, rather than France or Europe, gave birth to and literally produced Alexandra David-Néel’s authorial voice, offering her a new and lasting career-path.

An indicator of the successful cadre officers' deep involvement in their role was their inability to detach themselves from Tibetan affairs after their departure. Most of the Sikkim Political Officers either sought to return to the frontier in some capacity, or devoted a significant part of their retirement to the Tibetan cause.

Bell and MacDonald both remained closely involved in Tibetan affairs. MacDonald made several attempts in the 1930s and '40s to return to Tibet in an official capacity, and attempted to persuade Bell to return and lead another mission to Lhasa. MacDonald was involved in a number of business enterprises on the frontier, and his Kalimpong hotel was a centre of Tibetan affairs there.

O'Connor frequently gave advice on Tibetan matters to both the Tibetan and British Governments, and, after attempting a new career in business, worked as tour guide on the frontier. Bailey, posted to a Central Indian Princely State after leaving Sikkim, attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the Political Department to return him to the frontier. Gould extended his term of service on the frontier until he was forced to retire on medical grounds, and he and Richardson both supported the Tibetan cause in retirement. The lure of Tibet also affected a number of those who served there in lesser capacities, Escort Officers, Captain Perry and Captain Parker, and Telegraph Sergeants Lee and Martin were among those who applied to live in Tibet.

-- Tibet and the British Raj, 1904-47: The Influence of the Indian Political Department Officers, by Alexander McKay

But David-Néel implicitly rejected the idea of being a ‘vessel’ merely delivering a message; rather, she chose to be a cultural translator of Tantric Buddhism and strove to devise an appealing form for the requirements of the modern era through written literature.173

In the process, did not her own author name and public persona overshadow her guru on the stage of global Buddhism in the twentieth century? Her lama-yogui’s teachings on the threshold of the ‘land of marvels’ had already prompted her to write to Philippe, who had first got to know her as an actress and a novelist: ‘There is no ‘self’ or ‘others,’ there is only an eternal dream that goes on, giving birth to transient characters, fictional adventures.’174 In With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet, as we have seen, she still maintained that she ‘heard [her]self as if [she were] listening to some other person.’ Ultimately, this ‘sûnyavâdin’ (follower of the way of emptiness) understanding of reality and of the self175 fittingly defines the specific way Alexandra David-Néel’s encounter with Sikkimese remote highlands affected her Buddhist modernist views and contributed to the advent of global Buddhism.
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1 This work was supported by the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research under Grant  PA00P1_145398:

2 Alexandra David-Néel, Correspondance avec son mari. Édition intégrale, Paris: Plon, 2000, p. 392.

3 Alexandra David-Néel, Voyage d’une Parisienne à Lhassa, Paris: Plon, 1927; English transl. My Journey to  Lhasa, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927.

4 Hélène Duccini, ‘La “gloire médiatique” d’Alexandra David-Néel,’ Le Temps des médias, 8, 2007, pp. 130-141.

5 See for example the typical titles of the numerous biographies dedicated to David-Néel, such as Ruth Middleton, Alexandra David-Neel. Portrait of an Adventurer, Boston: Shambhala, 1989 or Joëlle Désiré- Marchand, Alexandra David-Néel. De Paris à Lhassa, de l’aventure à la sagesse, Paris: Arthaud, 1997.

6 Transl. of Les Enseignements secrets dans les sectes bouddhistes tibétaines, co-authored with Aphur Yongden (1951), San Francisco: City Lights, 1967.

7 Gary Snyder, The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. 1956–1991, Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008, p. 54.

8 Quoted in Barbara Foster and Michael Foster, The Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel. A Biography of the Explorer of Tibet and Its Forbidden Practices, New York: Overlook, backcover.

9 Expanding the field of the encounter of Buddhism with the Western world (Philip C. Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism, Cambridge UP, 1988; Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake. A Narrative of Buddhism in America, Berkeley: Shambhala, 1992; Thomas A. Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912. Victorian Culture & The Limits of Dissent, Chapel Hill/London: North Carolina UP, 1992; Stephen Batchelor The Awakening of the West. The Encounter of Buddhism and the West, London/Berkeley: Aquarian/Parallax, 1994), recent studies have highlighted the wake of ‘modern Buddhism’ or ‘New Buddhism’ at  the end of the nineteenth century. See Donald S. Lopez, ‘Introduction’ to A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essentials  Readings from East and West, Boston: Beacon, 2002, pp. i–xlii; David L. McMahan, The Making of Buddhist  Modernism, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008; Donald S. Lopez, Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed,  Chicago: Chicago UP, 2010 and David L. McMahan, ed., Buddhism in the Modern World, New York: Routledge,  2012.

10 Tomoko Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religions or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism, Chicago/London: Chicago UP, 2005, pp. 121–146.

11 At first supported by American Theosophist Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907), Anagarika Dharmapala intended to revive Buddhism in India and became one of the most prominent Buddhist reformers of his time. In 1891, Dharmapala cofounded with Edwin Arnold (the famous 1879 The Light of Asia epic poem’s author) the Maha Bodhi Society for the restoration and preservation of the ancient Buddhist sites of India. David-Néel corresponds with him starting from 1910 and will represent him at the Congrès de la Libre Pensée in Brussels in 1911. See Joëlle Désiré-Marchand, Alexandra David-Néel. Vie et voyages, itinéraires géographiques et spirituels, Paris: Arthaud, 2009, pp. 121–123. Invited by influential Paul Carus (1852–1919), Rinzai Zen master Sôen Shaku represented Mahayana Buddhism at the Parliament. Shaku wrote a preface to Carus’ acclaimed Gospel of Buddha published the following year; his famous-to-be student Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki translated it into Japanese under the title Budda no fukuin.

12 Stephen Batchelor, The Awakening of the West, 1994, pp. 40–41 and 307–308. A former member of Aleister Crowley’s Order of the Golden Dawn, Charles Henry Allan Bennett (aka Ananda Metteyya) was one of the first Westerners to have ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1901. Anton Gueth (aka Nyanatiloka) left Frankfurt in 1902 to study Buddhism in India; he then went to Burma to meet Metteyya and became a bhikkhu (Theravada monk) in 1904.

13 The Buddhasasana Samagama was founded in Rangoon; in 1907, Ananda Metteyya led the first Buddhist mission to London where the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland was founded with Thomas W. Rhys Davids as president.

14 In addition to the studies already mentioned, see for instance the special issue of Contemporary Buddhism: An  Interdisciplinary Journal, 14/1, 2013 edited by Alicia Turner, Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, A Buddhist Crossroads: Pioneer Western Buddhists and Globalizing Asian Networks 1860–1960.

15 See note 9 above. Donald Lopez offers some explanation as to why she belonged to the ‘Great Mystifiers’ of Western Buddhist history, along with, for example, Helena P. Blavatsky and Cyril H. Hoskin, aka Tuesday  Lobsang Rampa. This notwithstanding, he does not study David-Néel for herself in his own work. See Donald S.  Lopez, ‘The Image of Tibet of the Great Mystifiers,’ in Thierry Dodin and Heinz Räther, eds., Imagining Tibet:  Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies, London: Wisdom, 2001, pp. 183–200.

16 Although the two notions overlap, one can distinguish between ‘modern Buddhism’ and ‘global Buddhism’ as two aspects and partly subsequent phases of transnational developments of Buddhism. ‘Modern Buddhism,’ sometimes also called more restrictively ‘Western Buddhism,’ ‘New Buddhism,’ ‘Protestant Buddhism’ or ‘Buddhist Modernism’ by other scholars, is described by Donald S. Lopez as ‘an international Buddhism that transcends cultural and national boundaries, creating […] a cosmopolitan network of intellectuals, writing most often in English.’ (A Modern Buddhist Bible, 2002, p. xxxix) It supports the idea that ancient Buddhism fundamentally shared modern ideals of ‘reason, empiricism, science, universalism, individualism, tolerance, freedom and the rejection of religious orthodoxy.’ (p. x) Detraditionalization, demytholigization,  psychologization are socio-historical processes underlying the rise of modern Buddhism (McMahan, The Making of Buddhist Modernism, 2008, pp. 27–60). Whereas ‘modern Buddhism’ definitely shows a tendency towards universalism, it is only one facet (one ‘sect,’ Lopez argues, p. xxxix) of ‘global Buddhism,’ as an outcome of the ‘decentring tendencies of postmodern globalization’ that ‘disembed Buddhist discourses from its traditional sites and reembed it in a wide variety of discourses,’ (McMahan, The Making of Buddhist Modernism,  2008, p. 256) and tears Buddhism between global standardization and local idiosyncrasies and traditions.
17 Although politically independent from Tibet, Sikkim adopted Tibetan Buddhism as a state religion from the 17th century onward and has been ruled by the Namgyal dynasty – the so-called Chogyal (tib. Chos rgyal), or ‘Dharma kings,’ possessing both temporal and spiritual power. The form of Buddhism practiced in Sikkim belongs to the Nyingma tradition, or the ‘ancient school,’ also known through the travelers’ accounts as the main  Red-hat sect (non reformed) of Tibetan Buddhism.

18 Patrick French, Tibet, Tibet. A Personal History of a Lost Land, London: HarperCollins, 2003.

19 Alexandra David-Néel, Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet, Paris: Plon, 1929; English transl. With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet, London: John Lane, 1931 (also transl. Magic and Mystery in Tibet, New York: Kendall,  1932).

20 Analyzing the Néels’ marriage from a sociological standpoint, Heidi Kasevich states that ‘in 1904, the elegant Alexandra David wed the dashing Philippe Néel, a quintessential colonial gentleman; the genteel wife knew that a familial connection with a prominent Norman family would bestow immeasurable status on her as a female  intent on pursuing a career.’ Reciprocally, ‘Philippe, who was an infamous ladies’ man, also benefitted from this legal rapport since it fulfilled the French state’s unofficial requirement for every colonial gentleman: marry a  European lady.’ Heidi Kasevich, A Civilized Yogi: The Life of French Explorer Alexandra David Néel, 1868–  1969, PhD Dissertation, New York University (unpublished). The quotation refers to a lecture (p. 12) held on January 22, 2013 at the Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, available at

21 Alexandra David-Néel, Journal de voyage. Lettres à son mari, vol. 1 (11 August 1904–27 December 1917) and 2 (14 January 1918–31 December 1940), Paris: Plon, 1975. I shall refer here to the later reprint of her letters: Alexandra David-Néel, Correspondance avec son mari. Édition intégrale, Paris: Plon, 2000. Since the Correspondance has not been published in English, the translations of all quoted letters are mine. On the editing  of the letters, see Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet’s prefaces to the letters (pp. 11–32). David-Néel wrote the letters intending to use them later as an aide-mémoire (hence the title Journal de voyage) and asked Philippe to keep the most important of them (see Correspondance, p. 167). A few days before her death, she handed the three suitcases that contained them to her secretary, Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet, trusting that she would make good use of them. Moved by their unexpected frankness and sensing that they gave access to a new dimension of David-Néel public and print persona, Peyronnet decided to publish them with considerable editing: passages about physical hard times, financial difficulties, but also Sanskrit and Tibetan expressions and lengthy descriptions have been reduced. Peyronnet nonetheless points out that philosophical considerations have been strictly respected.

22 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 181.

23 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 84.

24 As one can sense from my introduction, I will not use local sources except for biographical details, since by comparing Alexandra David-Néel’s (once) private letters to the print output of her travels, my inquiry primarily intends to highlight what the Sikkimese world brought (or did) to her and how she herself perceived and transcribed its effects.

25 As can be seen from my introduction, I shall mainly focus here on the ambivalent aspects of Alexandra David-Néel’s position in Buddhist studies, involvement with Buddhism and contribution to global Buddhism. Hence, I do not primarily address postcolonial and gender issues, although I take into account the scope of these studies in  my argument. In so doing, my paper is a positive response and further inquiry into what Sara Mills could say of David-Néel’s specific socio-literary position: ‘It is not unusual to find a woman writing about spirituality, and some of the authority of David-Neel’s texts derives from her position within this tradition [of female mysticism].  However, it is unusual to find a woman writing authoritatively about a religion other than Christianity, and claiming mystical and supernatural powers for herself. This is obviously not easily recuperated within the west’s ‘regime of truth’.’ Sara Mills, Discourses of Difference. An Analysis of Women’s Travel Writing and Colonialism, London/New York, Routledge, 1993, p. 208.

26 Désiré-Marchand, Alexandra David-Néel, 2009, p. 15.

27 Alexandra David-Néel, Féministe et libertaire: écrits de jeunesse, Paris: Les nuits rouges, 2003.

28 She also published an essay on feminism in 1898 with a foreword by Élisée Reclus: Alexandra Myrial,Pour la vie, Bruxelles: Les Temps nouveaux, 1901. See Jean Chalon, Le Lumineux Destin d’Alexandra David-Néel,  Paris: Perrin, 1985, pp. 85–130. All the biographical data that follow refer to Chalon.

29 Alexandra David, ‘Les Bouddhistes européens,’ Le Soir de Bruxelles, 26 October 1909; Le Modernisme bouddhiste et le Bouddhisme du Bouddha, Paris: Félix Alcan, 1911.

30 In the wake of Edward Said’s celebrated Orientalism (London: Routledge, 1978) and more specifically Gayatri Spivak’s influential essay ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ (in Cary Nelson and Larry Grossberg, eds., Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, London: Macmillan, 1988, pp. 271–313), postcolonial and gender studies have paid a lot of attention to the construction of identity of women through writing and traveling. See, among others, Billie Melman, Women’s orients: Englishwomen and the Middle East, 1718–1918, London: Macmillan, 1992; Sara Mills, Discourses of Difference, 1993; or, more recently, Kristel Siegel, ed., Gender, Genre, & Identity in Women’s Travel Writing, New York: Peter Lang, 2004. For an overview of the question in French studies and a study of one woman traveller at the end of nineteenth century, see Samuel Thévoz, ‘Une “étrange nature:” l’exploration du Baltistan ou l’émergence d’un imaginaire féminin dans le Voyage d’une Parisienne dans l’Himalaya de Marie de Ujfalvy-Bourdon,’ Travaux de littérature, 26, 2013, pp. 33–48. For a decade, critics have especially focused on the rise of feminism in France during the Third Republic. See for instance Mary Louise Roberts, Disruptive Acts. The New Woman in Fin-de-siècle France, Chicago: Chicago UP, 2002, Christopher E. Forth and Elinor Accampo, eds., Confronting Modernity in Fin de Siècle France, New  York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. As regards David-Néel, Heidi Kasevich sums up her situation very clearly:  ‘What jobs were open to a woman with a secondary degree from an aristocratic, Catholic boarding school in Belle Époque France? The republicans’ pronatalist agenda and cult of motherhood notwithstanding, there were unprecedented opportunities for enterprising women. Mass consumerism and new forms of entertainment drew women into public life, and the Third Republic’s restoration of the freedom of press and association gave women the chance to openly criticize constrictive and demeaning notions of femininity: there were no fewer than 100 women’s organizations with various political affiliations in fin-de-siècle France. Alexandra took advantage of the two most viable options for ladies: theater and journalism. […] That Myrial never fully embraced opera singing  as a career path is inextricably linked to the fact that she did not experience the kind of success that she yearned  for on stage—as did her contemporary, Sarah Bernhardt. [...]’ (Kasevich, A Civilized Yogi, p. 11) She then began to pursue a career in journalism, and notably contributed as a ‘collaboratrice libre’ to the feminist and subversive paper La Fronde.

31 In her letters, she makes overall fun of the numerous ‘bums that revolve around the few scholars that founded the Buddhist Society of England.’ Correspondance, p. 77.

32 She often refers to him in her letters. David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 84, 100, 138 and passim. Appointed a  professor in Sanskrit literature and language at the Collège de France in 1894, Sylvain Lévi was the most authoritative French Indologist of the time. He welcomed Alexandra David-Néel on her return to France in 1925 and introduced her to the Parisian intellectual milieus of the time. See Désiré-Marchand, Alexandra David-Néel, 2009, p. 467.

33 Alexandra David-Néel, L’Inde où j’ai vécu, Paris: Plon, 1969, p. 12.

34 She intended to show the closeness of Advaita vedanta with and its influence on Buddhist metaphysical conceptions. This ranks among the topics she will deal with in the long run; see David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 132, 168–169, 205–206, 298–9, 333, 357.

35 Eastern studies used to be called ‘Orientalism’ at the time. Since David-Néel herself uses the term in this sense, I shall stick to its historical meaning here without reference to Edward Said’s famous concept.

36 See Roger-Pol Droit, The Cult of Nothingness. The Philosophers and the Buddha, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2003.

37 For a discussion of this widespread view of Schopenhauer’s Buddhism, see Urs App, Schopenhauers  Kompass, Rorschach: University Media, 2011.

38 Alexandra David-Néel, La Lampe de Sagesse [posthumous], Monaco: Le Rocher, 1986, p. 24 (translation mine). She testifies her to a fin de siècle neurotic sensibility. In her letters to her husband, she often admits that she is inclined to neurasthenia.

39 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 132.

40 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 206.

41 David, Le Modernisme bouddhiste, p. 10.

42 David, Le Modernisme bouddhiste, p. 11.

43 In his introduction, L. A. Waddell (1864–1938) famously stated for example that ‘Lamaism is only thinly and imperfectly varnished over with Buddhist symbolism, beneath which the sinister growth of poly-demonist superstition darkly appears.’ (Laurence A. Waddell, The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism: With its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, London: Allen, 1895, p. ix). For an analysis  of the phenomenon, see Donald S. Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-La. Tibetan Buddhism and the West, Chicago:  Chicago University, 1998, pp. 15–45.

44 Alexandra David, ‘Quelques écrivains bouddhistes contemporains,’Mercure de France, 16 December 1909, pp. 637-647. She evokes famous Buddhist scholars such as Thomas Rhys Davids along with Buddhist modernizers such as Ananda Metteyya, Anagarika Dharmapala, the Burmese Maung Nee and the Indian Lakshmi Narasu: they all propose, she writes, ‘a rigorously logical method, a continual appeal to our reason.’

45 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 199.

46 Francis Younghusband, India and Tibet, 1903–1904, London: John Murray, 1910.

47 Charles Sherring, Western Tibet and the British Borderland. The Sacred Country of Hindus and Buddhists, with an Account of the Government, Religion and Customs of its Peoples, London: E. Arnold, 1906.

48 Alex McKay, Tibet and the British Raj. The Frontier Cadre, 1904–1947, Richmond: Curzon, 1997.

49 The dates are only indicative, since they refer to the headings of the letters and hence can reveal some interval with the actual time of travel. For commented maps of David-Néel’s itineraries, see Désiré-Marchand,  Alexandra David-Néel, 2009, pp. 155-231.

50 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 329.

51 For a map showing clearly the dynamics of this stay, the probable location of Dewa Thang (a locality not reported on the maps) and her dwellings in Northern Sikkim along the Tibetan border, see Désiré-Marchand, Alexandra David-Néel, 2009, p. 200 and p. 225 for a map of her illegal trip from Chörten Nyima to Shigatse.

52 For an analysis of the recurring motif of David-Néel’s ever-displaced ‘home’ (she uses the English word) in her letters to Philippe from Sikkim, see Margaret McColley, ‘Alexandra David-Néel’s home in the Himalayas: where the heart lies,’ in Kristel Siegel, ed., Gender, Genre, & Identity, 2004, pp. 279–292.

53 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 153–4 and 165.

54 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 200–1. In English in the original letter.

55 David-Néel, Correspondance, p.201.

56 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 168 and 172. Interestingly enough, she never mentions him in Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet: in the narrative of 1929, Owen has been replaced by her Sikkimese servant as her interpreter with Tibetan lamas at Lachen.

57 For more details on Charles Bell in Sikkim, see Emma Martin’s paper in this issue.

58 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 165.

59 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 374–5.

60 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 191.

61 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 227–8.

62 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 287.

63 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 148–9.

64 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 202 and 398.

65 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 426. A gap in her correspondence between July and August 1916 signals her illegal excursion to Shigatse in Tibet.

66 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 196.

67 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 84. She adds that gaining that position would be all the more difficult since she is both a woman and a Buddhist activist (Correspondance, p. 132).

68 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 332. In this passage, she significantly highlights her scholarly ambition, but clearly hides other motivations for studying Tibetan Buddhism on the grounds that ‘they are of a mystical nature that [Philippe] would hardly understand.’

69 Sylvain Lévi believed that ‘French Indology is mainly attracted by Buddhism, which is the only universal outcome of the Indian genius. In Buddhism itself, it has always dealt more favorably with so-called ‘Northern’ Buddhism, which covered the widest area of propagation by far.’ Lévi, ‘Les parts respectives des nations occidentales dans les progrès de l’indianisme’ [1924], in Mémorial Sylvain Lévi, Paris: Hartmann, 1937,  pp. 116-–117 (translation mine).

70 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 134, 197, 307–8. Foucaux’s translation famously served as the main source for Edwin Arnold (1832–1904)’s celebrated epic poem, The Light of Asia (1879). While the school of Southern, or Hinayana, Buddhism (from which present-day Theravada Buddhism practiced in Ceylon and Southeast Asia has derived) was supposed to be closer and more faithful to the Buddha’s teachings, Northern Buddhism, or Mahayana Buddhism, was considered a later and corrupted development that spread from Northern India to Tibet, China, Japan and Korea. Significantly Émile Littré’s 1874 Dictionnaire de la langue française (vol. 2,  Paris: Hachette, p. 383) only mentions that ‘once chased out of India in the 7th century, Buddhism was disseminated in Tibet, Tartary, China and Japan.’ The geographical divide between North and South in the development of Buddhism as two distinct entities cannot be convincingly sustained and is no longer in use.
71 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 76–77. Rhys-Davids was the most prominent British scholar of Buddhism  at the time. He worked in Ceylon and founded the Pali Text Society. He viewed Pali Buddhist texts he focused on as the most ancient and authentic testimonies on the Buddha’s life and message. From the standpoint of gender studies, it is significant that David-Néel was mainly in touch with his wife Caroline, who had just been appointed to the position of Lecturer in Indian Philosophy at Manchester University and was also closer to Theosophy than her husband.

72 Quoted in McMahan, The Making of Buddhist Modernism, 2008, p. 52.

73 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 155. In the wake of Rhys-Davids’ text discoveries, Oldenberg focused on Pali sources for stressing the historicity of the Buddha. In his acclaimed 1881 Buddha: Sein Leben, seine Lehre, seine Gemeinde, he fiercely argued against French Indologist Émile Senart (1847–1928)’s theory that Buddha was but a historical manifestation of a more universal solar myth (Essai sur la figure du Bouddha, Paris: 1875). David-Néel proudly writes to Philippe that Oldenberg ‘praised her’ for being the ‘first in Europe’ to ‘see right through the problem’ of ‘Nirvana as the suppression of the idea of a distinct, separate and permanent personality.’

74 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 84.

75 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 208.

76 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 144, 148.

77 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 146.

78 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 147.

79 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 147.

80 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 229.

81 Chalon, Le Lumineux Destin, p. 196.

82 Alexandra David, ‘Auprès du Dalaï-Lama,’ Mercure de France, October 1912, pp. 466–76.

83 See David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 160 and 165.

84 In this regard, David-Néel dresses like an Indian ascetic so as to ‘dispirit [British] ladies’ and ‘show symbolically that she was welcomed as an outstanding European woman.’ David-Néel, Correspondance,  pp. 144–5.

85 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 144.

86 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 132. She had published an article on Tibetan theocracy earlier. Alexandra Myrial, ‘Le pouvoir religieux au Thibet, ses origines,’ Mercure de France, December 1904, pp. 599–618.

87 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 154–7.

88 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 146–7.

89 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 185–6, 194–5, 211; see also p. 337. When David-Néel was lecturing on Buddhism in Adyar, Madras and Calcutta, she took the name of ‘Sunyananda,’ (Désiré-Marchand, 2009, p. 152) or the ‘Bliss of Emptiness.’ She writes that she is now called an incarnation of dakinis (female deities) throughout Tibet (Correspondance, p. 252). She simultaneously wrote a leaflet to be published in Tibetan (Correspondance, p. 165).

90 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 330, 361, 389.

91 Batchelor, The Awakening of the West, pp. 307–8. See also David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 415.

92 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 349–50.

93 David-Néel hardly ever mentions to her husband Aphur Yongden, her famous Sikkimese ‘adopted son’ who will later co-author significant books like The Secret Oral Teachings. She merely evokes a ‘servant’ at Chöten  Nyima in November 1914 (Correspondance, p. 335) and then in Kyoto (p. 450). Likewise, in Magic and  Mystery (pp. 27ff), she credits lama Bermiag and Kushog Chösdzed, whom she met in Gangtok, as her first  informants on the conception of death and the beyond in Tibetan Buddhism. However, in her letters, she merely mentions having tea with one ‘very learned lama’ and ‘member of the State Council’ at Sidkeong Tulku’s house (David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 154–5). Moreover, she mentions Laden La (Sonam Wangfel Laden, 1876– 1936) only once, although he appears as a key-figure for the organization of her stay.

94 See Dasho P.W. Samdup, ‘A Brief Biography of Kazi Dawa Samdup (1868–1922),’ Bulletin of Tibetology,  2008, 44/1–2, pp. 155–158. Before translating Buddhist texts into English, Dawa Samdup served as interpreter for the Maharaja of Sikkim and for Charles Bell, notably so during the Dalai Lama’s stay and the Simla Convention. His biographer strikingly states that ‘Kazi Dawa Samdup wanted to propagate Tibetan Buddhism to  the world, and especially to the English-speaking world. This required extensive translation of difficult Buddhist and tantric texts into English and heavy publication expenses, which he could not afford. His opportunity came when the famed orientalist Dr W.Y. Evans-Wentz came to see him in Gangtok.’ Besides the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1927), Evans-Wentz posthumously published Dawa Samdup’s other important translations: Tibet’s Great Yogi: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1928), Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1935), Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1954). For a survey of  the reception of the Bardo thödol in the West, see Donald S. Lopez, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. A Biography,  Princeton: Princeton University, 2011.

95 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 148–50, 160, 167.

96 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 412.

97 A collection of sayings of the Buddha translated from Pali, most famously featured in Max Müller’s Sacred  Books of the East, vol. X, Oxford: Clarendon, 1881, pp. 1–95.

98 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 172.

99 Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.

100 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 169.

101 J. Jeffery Franklin, The Lotus and the Lion: Buddhism and the British Empire, Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2008,  pp. 74–87.

102 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 186. This passage was omitted in Journal de voyage, pp. 165.

103 She only mentions the term ‘Gompchen’ in January 1915, Correspondance, p. 352.

104 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 381.

105 After the death of the Maharaja of Sikkim in December 1915, and in the absence of Dawa Samdup, the Gomchen remains her only informant on Tibetan Buddhism. It is also the time when Philippe is no longer able to support Alexandra financially. She receives funds from the Maharaja of Nepal to carry on her Orientalist research. David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 364 and 368.

106 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 333.

107 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 333.

108 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 334. This is precisely what she holds for the ‘modernity’ of Buddhism as compared to the outdated Christian tradition.

109 ‘All of a sudden, while he is speaking, his eyes become similar to those of a Mephisto, with sparks of fire deep inside… and what he says is fantastic, his profoundness and boldness are frightening.’ David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 337–8.

110 Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche both were emblems of fin de siècle nihilism and anarchism that unsettled and disrupted bourgeois conventions and agendas on a global scale. See Benedict Anderson, Under Three Flags, London: Verso, 2005. Before publishing her essay Les Théories individualistes dans la philosophie chinoise: Yang-Tchou (Paris: Giard et Brière, 1909), Alexandra David had entitled an article on the Chinese philosopher ‘Un “Stirner” chinois’, Mercure de France, 76/275, 1 December 1908. David-Néel binds here European subversive theories and violent activism to Tantric fearsome iconography such as the famous wrathful deities, awe-inspiring ritual practices and mind-striking formulas and conceptions symbolizing the destruction of the self. See also David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 203. Kasevich condenses this idea in her subtitle ‘Beyond the adventure heroine: Anarcho-Buddhism and the search for freedom’ (A Civilized Yogi, 2013, p. 9). This blend of anarchist ideas and Mahayana Buddhism certainly left its mark on Gary Snyder’s socially engaged Buddhism. See Snyder, ‘Anarchist Buddhism,’ Journal for the Protection of All Beings, 1, 1961, pp. 10–12. For a study on David-Néel’s conception of Vajrayana Buddhism and especially her understanding of Mahayana Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) as the core text collection of Tibetan Buddhism, see Geneviève James, ‘La quête mystique d’Alexandra David-Néel,’ 2005, pp. 97–126.

111 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 334.

112 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 352.

113 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 226, 300–1, 342, 354, 392.

114 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 354.

115 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 362.

116 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 297–8.

117 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 252; see also p. 130.

118 Technique of meditation and set of rituals through which adepts seek to ‘cut’ (gcod) through the ego by generating visions in which the body is sacrificed and which ultimately leads to the realization of the nonexistence  of the self.

119 Alexandra David-Néel, Mystiques et Magiciens, p. 165. I literally translate from the French, since the English version is less precise: ‘to blot out the mirage of the imaginary world’ (With Mystics and Magicians, p. 152).

120 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 235.

121 Transl. of Initiations lamaïques (1930), London: Rider, 1931.

122 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 322–3, 333–4, 337, 339, 342, 389, 397, 413.
123 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 357.

124 On the paradoxical ties between the rise of nationalism and internationalization, and the modern ideas of peace, happiness and progress, see Anne-Marie Thiesse, La Création des identités nationales, Paris: Le Seuil, 1999 and Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections of the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso, 1983.

125 Although bde chen literally means ‘the Great Bliss’ in Tibetan, she translates it as ‘the Great Peace.’ David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 377.

126 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 392.

127 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 342. She had already explained to Philippe that ‘Nivritti marga is the way that leads to the dissolution of the self [...], the road that leads to peace and serenity’ (David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 305). She later recalls: ‘Sadly, almost with terror, I often looked at the threadlike path which I saw, lower down, winding in the valleys and disappearing between the mountains. The day would come when it would lead me back to the sorrowful world [géhenne, in the French original] that existed beyond the distant hill ranges, and so thinking, an indescribable suffering lay hold of me’ (With Mystics and Magicians, p. 78). One can  only think here of the way she will later recall the Guimet Museum in L’Inde où j’ai vécu, p. 11: ‘It was a temple  […] where enthusiastic Orientalists used to lose themselves in studious research works, forgetting the noises of Paris that hit the walls without succeeding in troubling the quiet and dream-like atmosphere of the inside’  (translation mine).

128 Peter Bishop, The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape,  Los Angeles: University of California, 1989, esp. pp. 97–135 and Samuel Thévoz, ‘Le sacre du paysage tibétain,’  Géographie et cultures, 80/2011, pp. 169–191 (

129 See for example Fernand Grenard, Tibet: The Country and its Inhabitants. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1904, pp. 91-149.

130 See especially Jacques Bacot, Le Tibet révolté. Vers Népémakö, la Terre promise des Tibétains. Paris:  Hachette, 1912. For an overview of Bacot’s contribution to the preception of Tibetan landscape, see Samuel  Thévoz, ‘Paysage et nomadismes dans Le Tibet révolté de Jacques Bacot,’ A Contrario, 1/5, May 2007, pp. 8–23,

131 Peter Hopkirk, Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, London: John Murray, 1982, pp. 5–19 and 220–236.

132 Alex McKay, ‘Truth, Perception, and Politics. The British Construction of an Image of Tibet,’ in Thierry Dodin and Heinz Räther, eds., Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies, London: Wisdom,  2001, pp. 67–89.

133 Samuel Thévoz, ‘The French for Shangri-La. Tibetan landscape and French explorers,’ French Cultural Studies, 25/2, May 2014, pp. 103–120.

134 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 180–1 (emphasis mine).

135 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 220–1.

136 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 420.
137 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 261.

138 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 343 and 412–3.

139 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 376.

140 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 343.

141 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 365.

142 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 365–6.

143 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 285. The original French expression ‘pays des prestiges’ is ambiguous and refers both to the meaning of ‘prestige’ in a sociological sense and ‘marvel’ in a supernatural sense. The ambiguity appears to be strikingly fruitful here.

144 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 335–6.

145 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 394.

146 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 159.

147 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 341.

148 David-Néel, Correspondance, pp. 424–5.

149 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 394.

150 Frédéric Lenoir, La Rencontre du bouddhisme et de l’Occident, Paris: Albin Michel, 1999, pp. 211–39.

151 On this period of intense publishing and lecturing, see Désiré-Marchand, Alexandra David-Néel, 2009,  pp. 387–404.
152 David-Neel, With Mystics and Magicians, p. 9.

153 David-Neel, With Mystics and Magicians, p. 27.

154 David-Neel, With Mystics and Magicians, p. 80.

155 David-Neel, With Mystics and Magicians, p. 151.

156 The overall rather literal English translation gives more strength to this intertextual reference when the translator chooses to write ‘this new episode is of the stuff that dreams are made of’ instead of the rather plain French ‘ce nouvel épisode est bien dans la note du rêve.’

157 David-Neel, With Mystics and Magicians, p. 25.

158 David-Néel, Mystiques et Magiciens, p. 53. Translated plainly as ‘strange person’ in the English version  (p. 45).
159 David-Néel, Mystiques et Magiciens, p. 83. The English translation ‘I became, in that way, closely acquainted with Tibet’ (p. 77) does not render the strong idea of ‘learning Tibet itself.’ Whereas David-Néel credits Bermiag Kushog and Kushog Chösdzed for enabling her ‘to lift the veil that hides the real Tibet and its religious world’ (With Mystics and Magicians, p. 27), she does not go into details about the Gomchen’s teachings. It so appears that in The Secret Oral Teachings, she clearly refers from the first lines of the first chapter to the Gomchen’s teaching at Dewa-Thang but the master is not named and the event is located neither in  time or space.

160 See for instance how the author sums up in two lines the death of Sidkeong Tulku and the departure of Dawa  Samdup to Simla at the beginning of the second chapter.

161 According to Jeanne Denys’ Alexandra David-Néel au Tibet. Une supercherie dévoilée, Paris: La Pensée universelle, 1972, the editor explicitly asked David-Néel to stuff her adventure narratives and novels with such anecdotes; Denys, who was her former librarian in Digne, accused her of fraud and claimed that her accounts amounted to falsification and pure deception. See Mills, Discourses of Difference, pp. 125–53 for a discussion of Denys’ arguments and a Foucaldian analysis of the question in terms of ‘discursive constraints’ beyond the question of telling fact from fiction. I argue here that David-Néel certainly played with the readers’ expectancies, taking the risk as a Western Buddhist woman writer of being both rejected (as did Denys) or praised (as is asserted by her wide readership). In so doing, she sets new literary standards for the question of reality/fiction that she was trying out and improving in her letters to Philippe. Ultimately, my point is that the success of this literary process and effect is best understood as shedding light on the rise of global Buddhism from early- to late-twentieth century.

162 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 252.

163 Theosophists — now a large part of her readership and her main publisher-to-be (éditions Adyar) in France beside Plon — are significantly portrayed in a more merciful light in With Mystics and Magicians (p. 49) than they were in her letters to Philippe.

164 It actually appears that her books were used and read by scholars such as the French Tibetologist Jacques Bacot in France, who reviewed a number of them positively.

165 Jacques Brosse, Alexandra David-Néel. Aventure et spiritualité, Paris: Albin Michel, 1978.

166 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 261.

167 Dibyesh Anand, ‘Strategic Hypocrisy: The British Imperial Scripting of Tibet’s Geopolitical Identity,’ The Journal of Asian Studies, 68/1, 2009, pp. 227–252.

168 Lama Anagarika Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds [1966], New York: Overlook, 2006, p. 154.

169 For a study of David-Néel’s writings as an ‘exploration of voice’ moving toward a ‘transcendent self,’ see Robert William II Jones, ‘Of offal, corpses, and others: An examination of self, subjectivity, and authenticity in two works by Alexandra David-Neel,’ PhD Thesis, Florida Atlantic University, 2010.

170 Ngawang Rinchen, like Kazi Dawa Samdup, was aware of the geopolitical situation of Sikkim and of the framework modern Buddhism was likely to offer to Tibetan Buddhism. He obviously had some agency in broadcasting his teachings: David-Néel makes repeatedly clear in her letters that he carefully chose the texts they would read together, interpreted for her the rituals she would witness or perform, gave her permission or on the contrary forbid her to publish Tantric texts. Had he wished to do so, his coming to Europe would have attracted an enthusiastic audience (David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 414). The Secret Oral Teachings (pp. 2–3) begins with an uncredited quote obviously pronounced by the Gomchen and gives a sense of the global issues he addressed while teaching to David-Néel: ‘The great majority of readers and hearers are the same all over the world. […] It is not on the Master that the ‘secret’ depends but on the hearer. A Master can only be he who opens the door: it is for the disciple to be capable of seeing what lies behind.’

171 Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1996, pp. 27–47. In inscribing Alexandra David-Néel in the global public sphere of Buddhist modern literature, I am also indebted here to global literature studies such as Franco Moretti, ‘Conjectures on World Literature,’ New Left Review, 1, January-February 2000, pp. 55–67. As far as Western Buddhist literature is concerned, some scholars have recently begun to pay attention to the ties between literature and Buddhism: Jeff Humphries, Reading Emptiness: Buddhism and Literature, Albany: SUNY, 1999; Jeffrey Franklin, The Lotus and the Lion, 2008; John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff, eds., Writing as Enlightenment: Buddhist American Literature into the Twenty-First Century, Albany: SUNY, 2001; Lawrence Normand and Alison Winch, Encountering Buddhism in Twentieth-Century British and American Literature, London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2013; Heinrich Detering, ed., Der Buddha in der deutschen Dichtung: zur Rezeption des Buddhismus in der frühen Moderne, Göttingen: Wallstein, 2014.

172 Tenzin Gyatso, Foreword to Alexandra David-Neel, My Journey to Lhasa, New York: Perennial Currents, 2005, i.
173 She is thus a pivotal figure in the history of global Buddhism such as analyzed by Martin Baumann in ‘Modernist interpretations of Buddhism in Europe,’ in McMahan, ed., Buddhism in the Modern World, pp. 119- 135. Baumann locates a shift in modern Buddhism during the interwar period: mainly an intellectual and aesthetic phenomenon before the First World War, pertaining to a rationalist approach, modern Buddhism was by then a “thin” transnational network, implying disseminated and distant written transactions. In the post-war period, modern Buddhism became a “thick” global establishment, implying practical, existential, day-to-day commitment and focused on meditation both as self-cultivation and physical training.

174 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 392 (see epigraph).

175 David-Néel, Correspondance, p. 342.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:46 am

TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) [The Scandinavian Alliance Mission]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/3/20



The Scandinavian Alliance Mongolian Mission was a Scandinavian Protestant Christian missionary society that was involved in sending missionaries to Mongolia and China during the late Qing Dynasty (late 19th and early 20th century).

See also

• Swedish Mongolian Mission
• Protestant missionary societies in China (1807–1953)
• Timeline of Chinese history
• Protestant missions in China 1807–1953
• List of Protestant missionaries in China
• Christianity in China

-- Scandinavian Alliance Mongolian Mission, by Wikipedia

TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) is an inter-denominational evangelical Christian missionary organization founded by Fredrik Franson. As a global missions agency, TEAM partners with the local church to send missionaries and establish reproducing churches among the nations, going where the most people have the most need and proclaiming the gospel in both word and action.

Founded more than 125 years ago, TEAM partner with churches to send missionaries to work in evangelism, church planting, community development, healthcare, education, social justice, business as mission and many other areas of global missions.


TEAM was founded October 14, 1890, by Rev. Fredrik Franson (as the Scandinavian Alliance Mission, or S.A.M.). Early missionaries pioneered in China, Japan, South Africa, Mongolia, India and South America. Following Franson’s death in 1908, the mission continued to expand into Latin America and thrive in Africa and Asia. Following World War II, the ministry grew rapidly as wartime experiences fueled passions to serve overseas and provided new missionaries with the skills to do it.

In 1949, the Scandinavian Alliance Mission changed its name to become The Evangelical Alliance Mission, or TEAM, a better reflection of its broad scope of ministries and missionaries. In the decades following, TEAM opened major initiatives in the Arab world, and developed specialized ministries such as hospitals, Bible institutes, orphanages, publications, linguistic work, and children’s education to support its overall mission of church planting.

TEAM grew both organically and through mergers with other missions, and by the beginning of the 21st Century had also renewed its focus on “post-Christian” regions of Europe and Central America.
TEAM workers celebrated as the mission’s vision came full-circle when they began working for the first time in Sweden, homeland of founder Fredrik Franson.

TEAM is one of Missions that own and operate Christian Academy in Japan. They are currently under investigation for allegations of child abuse which dates back to the early 1950s. The reports extend to the dorms and also to TEAM hostel which was owned by The Evangelical Alliance Mission and run by missionary parents. The hostel housed up to 20 students ranging in ages from 6 to 18. The abuse and neglect that was inflicted upon the youngest is difficult to accept. The blame is pointed at TEAM for allowing such young children to be separated from there loving parents while being forced to grow up in a hostile, unloving and insecure environment. I personally will never get over it. Unfortunately I am collateral damage for the sake of christianity. Cited and written by one of the abused children.SR

Today, in a rapidly changing missions context both in the United States and abroad, TEAM and its network of over 2,000 churches continues to explore new fields for missionary work and innovative new ways to serve. Today, more than 575 TEAM missionaries and staff serve in more than 40 countries.


TEAM's purpose is to help churches send missionaries to establish reproducing churches among the nations to the glory of God. TEAM is an evangelical mission agency which, in alliance with churches around the world, has planted and established Bible-believing congregations on every continent. TEAM personnel contribute to this goal as they live out their faith through many avenues, including education, media and literature, relief and development and health-care.

See also

• The Scandinavian Alliance Mongolian Mission
• Allianz-Mission
• [(CAJ Christian Academy in Japan)]
• [(TEAM hostel)]

External links

Official site of The Evangelical Alliance Mission
Official site for The TEAM Blog
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:46 am

Fredrik Franson
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/3/20



Fredrik Franson, Swedish-American Preacher

Fredrik Franson (17 June 1852 – 2 August 1908), founder of The Evangelical Alliance Mission, of Chicago, Illinois, was born in Pershyttan, Västmanland, Sweden. In 1869 he came to America to join two brothers, Frans and Eric. He was accompanied by his parents, a brother August, and a half-sister Anna. They settled in Saunders County, Nebraska, where the family established a home, later known as the Roland Nelson farm, three miles north of Mead.

In 1875, he united with a little Baptist Church near his home in Estina, Nebraska, and was baptised. He preached his first sermon in that school house where the Baptist Church held its services. The building still stands on a farm property and a marker placed on the spot where the church stood.

Founding TEAM

His next years were spent traveling to many countries teaching and preaching. Sensing the need for more training, Franson went to Chicago in 1876 hoping to meet the famous evangelist D.L. Moody. He became a part of the church founded by Moody and was trained by the evangelist as a counselor.

Franson eventually returned to Nebraska to minister to Scandinavian immigrants, but in 1879 he felt led to go to Utah Territory to minister to some 30,000 Swedish immigrants who had gone there for inexpensive land. Franson's evangelistic endeavors were broadened to include members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had recently settled in Utah Territory.

Two years later Franson left for his homeland. While carrying on an extensive ministry in Europe, he heard the well-known missionary statesman, Hudson Taylor, challenge people to go to China with the gospel. From that encounter, Franson got a vision to form missionary sending agencies in various European countries, and before he left the continent, six such organizations had come into being: Danish Mission Confederation, Swiss Alliance Mission, German Alliance Mission, Finnish Alliance Mission, Swedish Evangelical Mission in Japan, and Swedish Alliance Mission. All six agencies continue to send out missionaries to this day.

After arriving back in America, Franson continued to preach. His desire to motivate others for cross-cultural missions led him to form a training class in Brooklyn, New York. In 1890 he founded the Scandinavian Alliance Mission in Chicago, later known as The Evangelical Alliance Mission, also several missions in Sweden.

His first class on October 14, 1890, is recognized as the "birthday" of TEAM, although the early name for the agency was "The Scandinavian Alliance Mission." This name reflected Franson's vision to bring churches together into an alliance enabling even small congregations to have a part in sending out missionaries. Classes were also initiated in Chicago, Minneapolis and Omaha. Soon a formal board of directors came into being, and on January 17, 1891, the first band of 35 missionaries boarded a train for the West Coast and eventually China.

Photographs of these early missionaries depict a dedicated group of people who chose to live and dress as the Chinese did. Other groups soon joined the first recruits, and Franson fervently challenged still more to go. In order to get to China, the early missionaries had to pass through Japan, and that soon became a new field for the mission. In a similar manner, by 1892, a small group also went to Swaziland.
In 1906 T.J. Bach and his wife left for Venezuela. Bach would later become TEAM's third General Director. In 1908, following one of his lengthy trips to the fields, Franson took several days off to rest at the home of some friends in Idaho Springs, Colorado. One morning his host tried to wake him for breakfast, but he had died during the night.

Death and legacy

Fredrik Franson died August 2, 1908, in Idaho Springs, Colorado, where he had gone for some much needed rest. His age was 56. Services were held at the Presbyterian Church in Colon, Nebraska and burial was in Estina Cemetery, south of Leshara. His body was later moved to Chicago into the Franson Memorial Building.

The Mission which Franson founded with 1 field and 50 missionaries has grown under the guidance and blessings of God until today has well over 1000 missionaries in over 20 fields.

His motto was "Forward 'Till Upward."

Two great-nephews remain in this area to keep his memory alive, Wallace Anderson, Colon, Nebraska and Robert Franson, Springfield, Missouri.

Franson left behind no family or estate. His legacy was a group of dedicated people whose desire was to take the gospel to all people. Franson's two passions -- evangelism and church planting -- continue to be the focus of TEAM's worldwide ministry.

See also

• List of the Martyred Protestant Missionaries during the Boxer Crisis of 1900


• Edward P. Torjesen, Fredrik Franson, Pasadena:William Carey Library, 1983

External links

• Works by Fredrik Franson at Project Gutenberg
• TEAM History
• Daniel Heinz (2000). "Franson, Frederick (auch: Fransson, Fedrick)". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 17. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 399–404. ISBN 3-88309-080-8.
• 1983 Saunders County History - Family Stories
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:12 am

Dwight L. Moody
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/3/20



Dwight L. Moody
Preacher, evangelist and publisher
Born: Dwight Lyman Moody, February 5, 1837, Northfield, Massachusetts, US
Died: December 22, 1899 (aged 62), Northfield, Massachusetts, US

Dwight Lyman Moody (February 5, 1837 – December 22, 1899), also known as D. L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher connected with the Holiness Movement, who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now Northfield Mount Hermon School), Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers. One of his most famous quotes was “Faith makes all things possible... Love makes all things easy.“ Moody gave up his lucrative boot and shoe business to devote his life to revivalism, working first in the Civil War with union troops through YMCA in the United States Christian commission. In Chicago, he built one of the major evangelical centers in the nation, which it is still active. Working with singer Ira Sankey, he toured the country and Britain Europe, drawing large crowds with a dynamic speaking style that preached God's love and friendship, kindness and forgiveness rather than hellfire and condemnation.

Early life

Dwight Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts, as the seventh child in a large family. His father, Edwin J. Moody (1800–1841), was a small farmer and stonemason. His mother was Betsey Moody (née Holton; 1805–1896). They had five sons and a daughter before Dwight's birth. His father died when Dwight was age four; fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, were born one month after the father's death. Their mother struggled to support the nine children, but had to send some off to work for their room and board. Dwight too was sent off, where he received cornmeal, porridge, and milk three times a day.[1] He complained to his mother, but when she learned that he was getting all he wanted to eat, she sent him back. During this time, she continued to send the children to church. Together with his eight siblings, Dwight was raised in the Unitarian church. His oldest brother ran away and was not heard from by the family until many years later.[2]

When Moody turned 17, he moved to Boston to work (after receiving many job rejections locally) in an uncle's shoe store. One of the uncle's requirements was that Moody attend the Congregational Church of Mount Vernon, where Dr. Edward Norris Kirk served as the pastor. In April 1855 Moody was converted to evangelical Christianity when his Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball, talked to him about how much God loved him. His conversion sparked the start of his career as an evangelist. Moody was not received by the church when he first applied in May 1855. He was not received as a church member until May 4, 1856.

According to Moody's memoir, his teacher, Edward Kimball, said:

I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness.[3]

Civil War

Dwight Lyman Moody c.1870

The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meetings in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man standing up with a few tallow candles around him, holding a negro boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he could not read out, and had to skip. I thought, 'If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will astonish me. As a result of his tireless labor, within a year the average attendance at his school was 650, while 60 volunteers from various churches served as teachers. It became so well known that the just-elected President Lincoln visited and spoke at a Sunday School meeting on November 25, 1860.[4]

D. L. Moody "could not conscientiously enlist" in the Union Army during the Civil War, later describing himself as "a Quaker" in this respect.[5] After the Civil War started, he became involved with the United States Christian Commission of YMCA. He paid nine visits to the battlefront, being present among the Union soldiers after the Battle of Shiloh (a.k.a. Pittsburg Landing) and the Battle of Stones River; he also entered Richmond, Virginia, with the troops of General Grant.

On August 28, 1862, Moody married Emma C. Revell, with whom he had a daughter, Emma Reynolds Moody, and two sons, William Revell Moody and Paul Dwight Moody.

Chicago and the postwar years

Moody's first Sunday school class, North Market Hall, Chicago, 1876

The growing Sunday School congregation needed a permanent home, so Moody started a church in Chicago, the Illinois Street Church.[6]

In June 1871 at an International Sunday School Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dwight Moody met Ira D. Sankey. He was a gospel singer, with whom Moody soon began to cooperate and collaborate.[7] \

Sankey was born in Edinburg, Pennsylvania, on August 28, 1840,[1] one of nine children of David Sankey and his wife Mary Leeper Sankey. The family's ancestry was English on the father's side and a mix of Scottish and Irish on the mother's.[2] David Sankey was a banker, a former state senator and a Methodist lay preacher.[3][4] As a young boy Ira displayed a love of music that was encouraged by his parents, who typically spent evenings with him at home, singing hymns. At the age of eight he began attending Sunday school.[5]

When he was 16, Ira underwent an experience of religious conversion at a revivalist meeting held at a nearby church, King's Chapel.[6] A year later the family moved to New Castle, where the young Sankey joined the local Methodist Episcopal Church. His enthusiasm and talents were quickly recognized and led to his appointment as Sunday school superintendent and choirmaster.[2][5]

In 1861, at the start of the American Civil War, Sankey answered President Lincoln's call for volunteers and joined the Twelfth Pennsylvania Regiment.[2] He served between 1861 and 1863.[7] In the army he continued his religious and singing activities, forming a choir and assisting the chaplain. When his period of enlistment was over he returned to New Castle, where his father had been appointed by Lincoln as a Collector of Internal Revenue. In 1863 Sankey joined his father in government service and, that same year, married Fanny Edwards, a member of his choir.[2]

Back in New Castle, Sankey developed a local reputation as a singer, much in demand in churches and revival meetings. In 1867, when a local branch of YMCA was formed, Sankey became its secretary and later its president.[8] As president, in 1870 he was a delegate at a national conference held in Indianapolis, where he encountered the noted preacher Dwight L. Moody for the first time. Moody was instantly impressed as Sankey demonstrated his ability to enliven an audience rendered soporific by inactivity and overlong prayers by giving an impromptu rendering of the hymn "There is a fountain filled with blood".[1] Meeting Sankey at the end of the session, Moody demanded that the young man join him in his mission work: "I have been looking for you for the last eight years".[5] Unable to decide on the spur of the moment, Sankey returned to New Castle and pondered Moody's challenge for six months before deciding to return to Chicago for a week's trial with Moody. Before the week was up he resigned his government post and threw in his lot with Moody's mission, thus beginning their lifelong partnership.[2][5]

-- Ira D. Sankey, by Wikipedia

Four months later, in October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed Moody's church building, as well as his house and those of most of his congregation. Many had to flee the flames, saving only their lives, and ending up completely destitute. Moody, reporting on the disaster, said about his own situation that: "... he saved nothing but his reputation and his Bible."[8]

In the years after the fire, Moody's wealthy Chicago patron John V. Farwell tried to persuade him to make his permanent home in the city, offering to build a new house for Moody and his family. But the newly famous Moody, also sought by supporters in New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, chose a tranquil farm he had purchased near his birthplace in Northfield, Massachusetts. He felt he could better recover in a rural setting from his lengthy preaching trips.[1]

Northfield became an important location in evangelical Christian history in the late 19th century as Moody organized summer conferences. These were led and attended by prominent Christian preachers and evangelists from around the world. Western Massachusetts has had a rich evangelical tradition including Jonathan Edwards preaching in colonial Northampton and C.I. Scofield preaching in Northfield. A protégé of Moody founded Moores Corner Church, in Leverett, Massachusetts, and it continues to be evangelical.

Moody founded two schools here: Northfield School for Girls, founded in 1879, and the Mount Hermon School for Boys, founded in 1881. In the late 20th century, these merged, forming today's co-educational, nondenominational Northfield Mount Hermon School.[9]

Evangelical travels

Dwight Lyman Moody, Vanity Fair, 3 April 1875

During a trip to the United Kingdom in the spring of 1872, Moody became well known as an evangelist. Literary works published by the Moody Bible Institute claim that he was the greatest evangelist of the 19th century.[10] He preached almost a hundred times and came into communion with the Plymouth Brethren. On several occasions, he filled stadia of a capacity of 2,000 to 4,000. According to his memoir, in the Botanic Gardens Palace, he attracted an audience estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000.[11]

That turnout continued throughout 1874 and 1875, with crowds of thousands at all of his meetings. During his visit to Scotland, Moody was helped and encouraged by Andrew A. Bonar. The famous London Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, invited him to speak, and he promoted the American as well. When Moody returned to the US, he was said to frequently attract crowds of 12,000 to 20,000 were as common as they had been in England.[12] President Grant and some of his cabinet officials attended a Moody meeting on January 19, 1876. He held evangelistic meetings from Boston to New York, throughout New England, and as far west as San Francisco, also visiting other West Coast towns from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to San Diego.[13]

Moody aided the work of cross-cultural evangelism by promoting "The Wordless Book," a teaching tool developed in 1866 by Charles Spurgeon. In 1875, Moody added a fourth color to the design of the three-color evangelistic device: gold — to "represent heaven." This "book" has been and is still used to teach uncounted thousands of illiterate people, young and old, around the globe about the gospel message.[14]

Missionary preaching in China using Moody's version of The Wordless Book

Moody visited Britain with Ira D. Sankey, with Moody preaching and Sankey singing at meetings. Together they published books of Christian hymns. In 1883 they visited Edinburgh and raised £10,000 for the building of a new home for the Carrubbers Close Mission. Moody later preached at the laying of the foundation stone for what is now called the Carrubbers Christian Centre, one of the few buildings on the Royal Mile which continues to be used for its original purpose.[12]

Moody greatly influenced the cause of cross-cultural Christian missions after he met Hudson Taylor, a pioneer missionary to China. He actively supported the China Inland Mission and encouraged many of his congregation to volunteer for service overseas.[15]

International acclaim

His influence was felt among Swedes. Being of English heritage, never visiting Sweden or any other Scandinavian country, and never speaking a word of Swedish, nonetheless he became a hero revivalist among Swedish Mission Friends in Sweden and America.[16]

News of Moody's large revival campaigns in Great Britain from 1873 through 1875 traveled quickly to Sweden, making "Mr. Moody" a household name in homes of many Mission Friends. Moody's sermons published in Sweden were distributed in books, newspapers, and colporteur tracts, and they led to the spread of Sweden's "Moody fever" from 1875 through 1880.[17]

He preached his last sermon on November 16, 1899, in Kansas City, Missouri. Becoming ill, he returned home by train to Northfield. During the preceding several months, friends had observed he had added some 30 pounds (14 kg) to his already ample frame. Although his illness was never diagnosed, it has been speculated that he suffered from congestive heart failure. He died on December 22, 1899, surrounded by his family. Already installed as the leader of his Chicago Bible Institute. R. A. Torrey succeeded Moody as its pastor.


• Heaven Diggory Press ISBN 978-1-84685-812-3
• Prevailing Prayer—What Hinders it? Diggory Press ISBN 978-1-84685-803-1
• Secret Power Diggory Press ISBN 978-1-84685-802-4
• The Ten Commandments[18]
• Also, A Life for Christ—What a Normal Christian Life Looks Like.

Legacy and honors

Religious historian James Findlay says that:

Speaking before thousands in the dark business suit, bearded, rotund Dwight L. Moody seemed the epitome of the "businessman in clerical garb"who typified popular religion in late 19th-century America.... Earthy, unlettered, a dynamo of energy, the revivalist was very much a man of his times.... Moody adapted revivalism, one of the major institutions of evangelical Protestantism, to the urban context. ... His organizational ability, demonstrated in the great revivals he conducted in England, combined to fashion his spectacular career as the creator of modern mass revivalism. [19]

Ten years after Moody's death the Chicago Avenue Church was renamed the Moody Church in his honor, and the Chicago Bible Institute was likewise renamed the Moody Bible Institute.[20]

During World War II the Liberty ship SS Dwight L. Moody was built in Panama City, Florida, and named in his honor.[21]

See also

• Biography portal
• Horatio Spafford, a friend of Moody who wrote the words to the hymn It Is Well With My Soul
• Northfield Mount Hermon School


1. Johnson, George (2011). What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 113–115. ISBN 1465380981.
2. Johnson, George D. (26 October 2011). "What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?". Xlibris Corporation – via Google Books.
3. Moody (1900), 21
4. Johnson, George D. (26 October 2011). "What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?". Xlibris – via Google Books.
5. Donald W. Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 134.
6. Billy Graham Center Archives. "SELECT LIST OF EVENTS FROM MOODY CHURCH HISTORY". Records of The Moody Church - Collection 330. Wheaton, IL: Wheaton College. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
7. OBrien, Glen (1 June 2015). "Christian Worship: A Theological and Historical Introduction". Wipf and Stock Publishers – via Google Books.
8. Johnson, George D. (26 October 2011). "What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?". Xlibris Corporation – via Google Books.
9. "NMH's History - Northfield Mount Hermon". Archived from the original on 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
10. Bailey, Faith (1987) [1959]. D. L Moody. The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. p. Cover. ISBN 0-8024-0039-6.
11. Johnson, George D. What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?. Xlibris Corporation. p. 115. ISBN 9781465380982.
12. "D.L. Moody -". Worthy Christian Library.
13. Moody, William Revell (1 June 2001). "The Life of Dwight L. Moody". The Minerva Group, Inc. – via Google Books.
14. Austin (2007), 1-10
15. Johnson, George D. (26 October 2011). "What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?". Xlibris Corporation – via Google Books.
16. Gustafson (2008)
17. Johnson, George D. (26 October 2011). "What Will A Man Give In Exchange For His Soul?". Xlibris Corporation – via Google Books.
18. "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS text by D. L. Moody". Archived from the original on 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2009-09-19.
19. James F. Findlay, "Moody, Dwight Lyman," and John A. Garraty, Encyclopedia of American Biography(1974) pp 772-773.
20. Timothy J. Demy and Paul R. Shockley (2017). Evangelical America: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Religious Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 286–290.
21. Williams, Greg H. (25 July 2014). The Liberty Ships of World War II: A Record of the 2,710 Vessels and Their Builders, Operators and Namesakes, with a History of the Jeremiah O'Brien. McFarland. ISBN 1476617546. Retrieved 7 December 2017.


• "Dwight Moody: evangelist with a common touch" Christianity Today, 8 August 2008.
• Christian Biography Resources
• Dorsett, L. W. A Passion for Souls: The Life of D. L. Moody. 1997
• Findlay, J. F. Jr. Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist 1837–1899. 1969
• Gundry, S. N. Love them in: The Proclamation Theology of D. L. Moody. 1976
• Evensen, B. J. God's Man for Gilded Age: D. L. Moody and the Rise of Mass Evangelism. 2003
• Gloege, Timothy. Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism (2017)
• Gustafson, David M. "D.L. Moody and the Swedish-American Evangelical Free." Swedish-American Historical Quarterly 55 (2004): 107-135. online]
• Hamilton, Michael S. "The Interdenominational Evangelicalism of D.L. Moody and the Problem of Fundamentalism" in Darren Dochuk et al. eds. American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History (2014) ch 11.
• Moody, Paul Dwight. The Shorter Life of D. L. Moody. 1900 online

External links

• Recording of Moody reading the Beatitudes
• Sample sermons by D. L. Moody
• "Shall I enter the Army?" Moody said, "No."
• Works by Dwight L. Moody at Project Gutenberg
• Works by Dwight L. Moody at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Works by or about Dwight L. Moody at Internet Archive
o Glad Tidings, sermons by D. L. Moody
o The Gospel Awakening, sermons by D. L. Moody
• books by D. L. Moody
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:31 am

John V. Farwell
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/3/20



John Villiers Farwell Sr.
Born: July 25, 1825, Mead's Creek, New York
Died: August 20, 1908 (aged 83), Lake Forest, Illinois
Occupation: Senior partner of John V. Farwell & Co., joint partner - Farwell, Field & Co., (1862-1865)
Spouse(s): Abigail G. Taylor, Emeret C. Cooley
Parent(s): Henry Farwell and Nancy Jackson

John Villiers Farwell Sr. (July 29, 1825 – August 20, 1908) was an American merchant and philanthropist from New York City. Moving to Chicago, Illinois at a young age, he joined Wadsworth & Phelps, eventually rising to be senior partner as John V. Farwell & Co.. He was also a mentor and brief joint partner with Marshall Field, (1834-1906), in the firm Farwell, Field & Co. from 1862-1865, before Field moved on with other partners to eventually establish his own famous prototype of the modern department store at Marshall Field and Company. Farwell was a leader in several Christian philanthropic efforts including YMCA, the United States Christian Commission during the American Civil War, and was a believer and supporter of the evangelical works of Dwight L. Moody. Later, he served as an Indian agent and had large land holdings in Texas. He and his brother, Senator Charles B. Farwell, of Illinois, are the namesake of Farwell, Texas.


John Villiers Farwell was born on July 29, 1825 in Mead's Creek, Steuben County, New York. He was the brother of Charles B. Farwell, who would go on to become a United States Senator. When he was thirteen, his father moved the family to a farm in Ogle County, Illinois. Farwell attended Mount Morris Seminary and graduated in 1844. Farwell decided to head to Chicago, Illinois to seek employment. He worked in the office of the City Clerk of Chicago then joined the dry goods house of Hamilton & White as a bookkeeper. Farwell then took a position at Wadsworth & Phelps. Farwell trained several of Chicago's future prominent businessmen, including Marshall Field and Levi Leiter.[1] Farwell married Abigail G. Taylor, the daughter of Ogle County farmer John G. Taylor, in 1851, but she died after two years.[1]


Farwell was named a partner in the firm, then known as Cooley, Wadsworth & Co., in 1850. He married Emeret C. Cooley in 1854; they had three sons and a daughter. In 1863, Farwell was named senior partner of the firm following the retirement of E. S. Wadsworth.[1] In 1864, the company was restyled Farwell, Field & Co. after Marshall Field and Levi Leiter were admitted to the partnership.[2] However, the next year, Field and Leiter left to join Potter Palmer in what would become Marshall Field & Co.[3][4] Farwell's dry goods house then became known as John V. Farwell & Co.[1] The company survived the 1871 Great Chicago Fire and was officially incorporated in 1891, when charge of the company was turned over to his sons.[1]

Farwell was an early leader in the history of YMCA, rising to become president of the Chicago chapter. Farwell probably met Dwight L. Moody through YMCA. He was named superintendent of Moody's Illinois Street Church in 1859, holding the position until 1867. He built the first church building for Moody on the corner of Illinois and Wells Streets in 1864. Farwell provided Moody with the financial backing needed to support the institution; Moody even lived in one of Farwell's YMCAs. Farwell was named a trustee of the Moody Bible Institute when it was founded in 1886.[5] During the Civil War, Farwell was President of the Chicago Branch of the United States Christian Commission. A Republican, Farwell was a delegate from Illinois to the 1864 presidential election, supporting Abraham Lincoln. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant named Farwell to the Board of Indian Commissioners[1]

A group led by Farwell, his brother Charles, Abner Taylor, and A. C. Babcock was named responsible for constructing the Texas State Capitol in 1879. In exchange for his service as builder, the Farwells were paid with the largest cattle ranch in the world, the 3,050,000-acre (1,230,000 ha) XIT Ranch. The Farwells oversaw a herd of over 150,000 cattle. The ranch proved relatively unprofitable, as cattle prices plunged in the late 1880s. By 1905, the land was mostly subdivided. Farwell was also a member of the Chicago Historical Society and the Union League Club.

He died at his home in Lake Forest, Illinois on August 20, 1908 following a six-month illness.[1] John V. Farwell & Co. maintained its name until it was purchased by Carson, Pirie & Co. in 1926.[6]


1. Bateman, Newton; Selby, Paul, eds. (1918). "Farwell, John Villiers". Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois. Chicago, IL: Munsell Publishing Company. pp. 162–163.
2. Stevenson, Andrew (November 1908). Torrey, R. A.; Gray, James M. (eds.). "John V. Farwell: Christian Merchant and Philanthropist". The Institute Tie: The Christian Workers' Magazine. Chicago, IL. IX: 246.
3. Andreas, Alfred Theodore. History of Chicago. II. Chicago, IL: The A. T. Andreas Company. p. 694.
4. Ditchett, Samuel Herbert (1922). Marshall Field and Company: The Life Story of a Great Concern (1st ed.). New York City, NY: Dry Goods Economist. p. 20.
5. Findlay, James F. (1969). Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist, 1837-1899. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9781556356230.
6. Jaher, Frederic Cople (1982). The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. p. 541.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:47 am

Charles B. Farwell
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/3/20



Charles B. Farwell
United States Senator from Illinois
In office: January 19, 1887 – March 3, 1891
Preceded by John A. Logan
Succeeded by John M. Palmer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 1st district
In office: March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1873
Preceded by Norman B. Judd
Succeeded by John Blake Rice
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 3rd district
In office: March 4, 1873 – May 6, 1876
Preceded by Horatio C. Burchard
Succeeded by John V. Le Moyne
In office: March 4, 1881 – March 3, 1883
Preceded by Hiram Barber, Jr.
Succeeded by George R. Davis
Member of the Indiana House of Representatives
Personal details
Born: Charles Benjamin Farwell, July 1, 1823, Painted Post, New York
Died: September 23, 1903 (aged 80), Lake Forest, Illinois
Nationality American
Political party: Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Eveline Smith
Alma mater Elmira Academy

Charles Benjamin Farwell (July 1, 1823 – September 23, 1903) was a U.S. Representative and Senator from Illinois.

Life and career

Farwell was born in Painted Post, New York, and attended Elmira Academy before moving to Illinois in 1838. He first tried his hand at surveying and farming before moving to Chicago in 1844, when he went into banking. From 1853-1861, he served as the Clerk of Cook County. Farwell was "one of the principal builders in [Chicago's] business district" in the last quarter of the 19th century.[1] That he was able to amass a sizeable fortune can be proven by the fact that he owned one of the finest mansions on Chicago's North Side.[2]

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives four times beginning in 1870, winning his first election to the House by a healthy margin over Chicago's "Long" John Wentworth (by some 5700 votes). Farwell went on to serve in the House of Representatives in the 42nd, 43rd, 44th and 47th Congresses. In 1876 the Democrat-controlled Congress accepted John V. Le Moyne's challenge to Farwell's election and removed Farwell from office; Farwell declined to run again at the time of the general election later on in 1876. In 1880, he was elected to another term in Congress (the 47th Congress). Upon the death of John A. Logan in 1887, Farwell was elected to serve out Logan's term in the U.S. Senate, but refused to run for re-election to a full term.
[3] Significantly, in Farwell's first term as Senator, he supported the introduction of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have granted women's suffrage rights (the right to vote) - simultaneously a landmark achievement of and a setback in the long struggle for voting rights for women that would not be overcome until the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920.[4]

In 1876, at his wife's urging, Farwell underwrote the construction of College Hall, North Hall and a gymnasium at Lake Forest College. The couple also donated additional land to the college which had been struggling since the end of the Civil War.[5] Part of their philanthropy was to ensure a co-ed liberal arts college near home for their daughter, Anna, who graduated from Lake Forest College in 1880. Anna later married the composer Reginald de Koven, and became a successful socialite, novelist and amateur historian. His daughter Rose was married to Hobart Chatfield-Taylor.[6]

A group led by [John V.] Farwell, his brother Charles, Abner Taylor, and A. C. Babcock was named responsible for constructing the Texas State Capitol in 1879. In exchange for his service as builder, the Farwells were paid with the largest cattle ranch in the world, the 3,050,000-acre (1,230,000 ha) XIT Ranch. The Farwells oversaw a herd of over 150,000 cattle. The ranch proved relatively unprofitable, as cattle prices plunged in the late 1880s. By 1905, the land was mostly subdivided.

-- John V. Farwell, by Wikipedia

1869: The John V. Farwell estate at 888 East Deerpath is constructed, using Portland cement, by an unknown designer.
The design of the house appears to have been influenced by English architect John Ruskin who called for a revival of the Gothic spirit in architecture (Coventry, Meyer, Miller 2003 p. 43).

1870: The Sen. Charles B. Farwell estate, Fairlawn, is constructed on a block bounded by Deerpath, Lake, and Mayflower Roads and Spring Lane. The house, modeled on the Tuscan villa form, is built in the Italianate style by an unknown architect. Farwell, who is a Congressman from a Chicago district, is chided in the November 2 Chicago Tribune by his opponent, John Wentworth, for living in Lake Forest, and not in his district.

1871: John V. Farwell becomes mayor of Lake Forest.

1873: There is a financial panic due to over-borrowing for railroads among other things, and a five-year recession follows, fought against by Congressman C. B. Farwell in Washington, for three terms from 1871 to 1877.

1880: Under sponsorship of the C. B. Farwells, the monthly Lake Forest University Review is launched in January, with Anna Farwell (Class of 1880) as editor. The monthly continues through 1883. North Hall, a gift from Charles B. Farwell, is built to house Lake Forest Academy.

1886: Chicago Haymarket Square Riot of May 4, 1886 takes place. Labor Union workers request 8 hour work days, and organize a strike on May 1 to gain attention. On May 3, a riot at McCormick Reaper Plant results in one death during a fight between workers and police. On May 4, a rally begins at Haymarket Square, on Randolph Street. Although a seemingly peaceful protest, a bomb explodes, and ignites a shoot-out between the protestors and policemen. The bomb kills a policeman. Thirty one anarchists and socialists are arrested, and it is deemed inconclusive as to who organized the bomb throwing. Judge Joseph E. Gary states, “inflammatory speeches and publications” presented by the eight prisoners ignited the sentiments of the mob.

1891: A gymnasium by H. I. Cobb is built on Lake Forest College campus and opens in April. Constructed at a cost of $30,000, this is one of the best equipped gymnasiums in the Midwest. It is the gift of Senator Charles B. Farwell.

1896: The Onwentsia Club opens on the grounds of the Henry Ives Cobb home, successor of the Lake Forest Golf Club. The Cobb home is turned into a clubhouse. Members of the Onwentsia Club include established Lake Forest families such as the Farwells, Holts and Durands and well known Chicago families such as a the Armours and McCormicks (Coventry, Meyer, Miller 2003 p. 68). Ardleigh, the John V. Farwell Jr. house, is constructed in the English traditional style. It is designed by Arthur Heun (Coventry, Meyer, Miller 2003).

1900: The first automobile, a black Winton, is introduced to Lake Forest by Arthur Farwell, son of J. V. Farwell.

1939-1945: Lake Foresters provide entertainment for Officers, their wives as well as enlisted men from Great Lakes. Mrs. Albert Farwell gives ‘Navy Waffle Parties’ for men recovering at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital. Around 4,000 men attended Mrs. Farwell’s parties over the course of the war (Arpee 1963 p.239).

1887: Fort Sheridan becomes a full-fledged military installation on November 11 in Highwood. The fort is built partially as a response to the Chicago Haymarket Square Riot of May 4, 1886 which showed the need for a military presence near Chicago. The Farwell brothers of Lake Forest were involved in the creation of the fort (Ebner 1988 p. 140-141).

-- Timeline of Lake Forest History, by the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society for the Community's Sesquicentennial, 2011

See also

XIT Ranch


1. Steffes, Patrick (31 December 2011). "Bertrand Goldberg in Tower Town Part 1: Bertrand Goldberg's Commune". Forgotten Chicago. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
2. "Charles B. Farwell mansion, 120 E. Pearson St., Chicago, IL (1905)". Library of Congress, courtesy Chicago History Museum. 1905. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
3. "FARWELL, Charles Benjamin". Offices of the Historian, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives. n.d. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
4. Steffes, Patrick (31 December 2011). "Bertrand Goldberg in Tower Town Part 1: Bertrand Goldberg's Commune". Forgotten Chicago. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
5. Ebner, Michael H. (Summer 2007), "North Shore Town and Gown", Chicago History, p. 6
6. Bluff's Edge Estate Archived June 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links

• United States Congress. "Charles B. Farwell (id: F000037)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 5:12 am

XIT Ranch
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 1/3/20



XIT Ranch chuck wagon, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum

Cowboys at the XIT Ranch in 1891

The XIT Ranch was a cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle which operated from 1885 to 1912. Comprising over 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km²) of land, it ran for 200 miles (300 km) along the border with New Mexico, varying in width from 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 km). The massive ranch stretched through ten counties in Texas, and at its peak regularly handled 150,000 head of cattle.


In 1879, the 16th Texas Legislature appropriated 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km²) of land to finance a new state capitol.[1] In 1882, in a special legislative session, the 17th Texas Legislature struck a bargain with Charles B. and John V. Farwell of Chicago, Illinois, under which a syndicate led by the Farwells, with mostly British investors, agreed to build a new Texas State Capitol in Austin and to accept the 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km²) of Panhandle land as payment.[2][3][4] The ranch stretched across all or portions of Dallam, Hartley, Oldham, Deaf Smith, Parmer, Castro, Bailey, Lamb, Cochran, and Hockley Counties.[1]

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines syndicate as a group of people or businesses that work together as a team. This may be a council or body or association of people or an association of concerns, officially authorized to undertake a duty or negotiate business with an office or jurisdiction. It may mean an association of racketeers in organized crime.

-- Syndicate, by Wikipedia

In 1879 the Sixteenth Texas Legislature appropriated three million acres of land to finance a new state capitol building and appointed a Capitol Board (composed of the governor, comptroller, treasurer, attorney general, and land commissioner) to give the land to a contractor in exchange for building the Capitol. In 1881, after a fire destroyed the limestone Capitol, in Austin, which served the Republic from 1839 to 1842 and the state from 1845 to 1852, the state government pushed forward its plans to build a new Capitol. First, the Capitol Board hired architect Elijah E. Myers for $12,000 after he won the building commission’s design competition in 1881. Next, Mathias Schnell accepted the contract in return for the land. Schnell later transferred three-fourths interest to Taylor, Babcock, and Company of Chicago, which organized the Capitol Syndicate. The land that the syndicate was to receive as payment was in the unsettled Panhandle, so the syndicate established the XIT Ranch to make the most of the land until it could be sold.

Myers modeled the Texas Capitol after the National Capitol, using a Renaissance Revival design. His plans called for native limestone, but Myers agreed to use red granite donated by the owners of Granite Mountain instead. Because red granite is harder than limestone, Myers modified his plans and eliminated the original design’s elaborate carvings. Myers, however, suffered from psychosomatic illnesses, which made him so difficult to work with that he was fired in 1886.

Construction began in 1882, and eventually Gustav Wilke, a Chicago builder, took over the massive project. Because the red granite was so expensive to transport and work with, the state stepped in, constructing a railroad from Granite Mountain to Burnet and providing convict labor. In 1885 union laborers—angry about the use of convict labor and the low wages Wilke offered—boycotted, and Wilke sent a representative to Scotland to contract granite cutters. The U.S. government indicted Wilke in 1886 for violating the Alien Contract Labor Law and fined him $64,000, which equaled $1,000 for each laborer imported.

-- Texas History 101: The Capitol Building's history is as colorful as its exterior, by TexasMonthly, June 30, 2003

Total expense for the Capitol building materials and labor amounted to $3,744,630.60, of which the Syndicate Company paid $3,224,593.45. In return, they received 3,000,000 acres.[5]:53

Though Mathias Schnell won the contract for constructing the new building in January 1882, by May he had assigned all interest to Taylor, Babcock and Company. This company was composed of Col. Abner Taylor of Chicago, Col. A.C. Babcock of Canton, and John V. and Charles B. Farwell of Chicago. Abner Taylor was assigned company representative in June. Babcock inspected the Capitol Tract that same year, setting out from Tascosa on 23 March and arriving at the Yellow Houses on 27 April. His inspection noted the 1880 J.T. Munson survey, used to define the capitol lands, used the northwest boundary of the state defined by John H. Clark's 1859 survey. Clark's line defining the 103rd meridian, approved by Congress in 1891, turned out to be about one half mile west of the true meridian. The issue was not settled until John V. Farwell and President Taft were instrumental in passing a 16 Feb. 1911 joint resolution by Congress honoring the Clark line. This action saved Texas a strip of land one half mile wide and 310 miles long.[5]:52,57,59–67

In order to raise the capital needed to fence the ranch, build houses and barns, provide water, and purchase the cattle, John V. Farwell formed the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company, Limited, in London. The money was raised through the sale of debentures paying 5 percent interest. Directors of the company included John V. and Charles B. Farwell, Walter Potter, Henry Seton-Karr, Sir William Ewart, Edward M. Denny, Baron Thurlow, and the Marquis of Tweeddale, while the Earl of Aberdeen and Quintin Hogg were Trustees. The company existed until 1909, when all bonds had been redeemed,[5]:72–73

Company headquarters were located in the northern boundary of the ranch, at Buffalo Springs, with George Findlay directing business. Col. B.H. Campbell became general manager, and Berry Nations range foreman. The ranch started operations in 1885, purchasing cattle and moving them onto the ranch. By 1887, the herd was maintained at between 125,000 and 150,000, or about 20 acres per head. W.S. Mabry surveyed in the four-wire barbed wire fence line, and by 1886, 781 miles of fence were in place, including a 260 mile long west line and a 275 mile long east line. Cross fences were added by the late 1890s to make 94 pastures, bringing the total to 1500 miles of fence. A telephone line connected Tascosa to Alamocitos in 1888. Though the northern portion of the ranch had plenty of water near Buffalo Springs, the portion south of the Canadian River needed wells, which were also surveyed in by W.S. Mabry. By 1900, the ranch had 335 windmills averaging 34 feet high, with 12–18 foot wheels, producing water from an average depth of 125 feet. Additionally, 100 earthen dams were constructed. Trail driver Ab Blocker devised the XIT brand. The brand was simply made with a five inch long straight bar, applied five times. Yet, the XIT brand was not immune from "brand burning" by rustlers, which involved burning the original brand into another brand. Cowboy legends also kept alive the myth that the brand means "Ten In Texas." Each calf was branded with XIT on its side, the last numeral of the year on its shoulder, and the number of the division on its jaw.[5][2][1]

The ranch was initially divided into 7 division headquarters, located at (1) Buffalo Springs, (2) Middle Water, (3) Ojo Bravo, (4) Rito Blanco, (5) Escarbada, (6) Spring Lake, and (7) Yellow Houses, with (8) Bovina added later. Each was equipped with residences, cellars, bunkhouses, store rooms, barns, corrals, and two-wagon freight outfit. Large warehouses were maintained at Tascosa in 1887, after the introduction of the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad, and in Bovina, after it was connected to the J.J. Hagerman's Pecos Valley and Northeastern Railroad in 1898. General headquarters were moved to Channing in 1890. Each division wrote a monthly report and an annual report containing details about the cattle, range weather, and the men employed. Buffalo Springs became the steer ranch, Middle Water the cull ranch, while Ojo Bravo, Escarbada, Spring Lake and Yellow Houses became breeding ranges. The 10-12 cowboys working a division in the winter increased to 25-30 in the summer.[5]:97–98,147–150

Unfortunately, Campbell's management led to the ranch becoming a "stopping place and rendezvous for a large number of bad men and criminals," in the words of A.L. Matlock. Matlock was picked by John V. Farwell to run the ranch in 1887. Matlock chose A.G. Boyce as his general range manager.[5]:100–102,109

The Texas Trail was used for trail drives connecting Tascosa to Dodge City until 1885. Afterwards, the Northern Trail connected Buffalo Springs to the XIT range on Cedar Creek, 60 miles north of Miles City, Montana. That trail was used from 1886 until 1897. Over a period of 3 months, some 10,000 to 12,500 steers were moved from the Yellow Houses 1000 miles north to Cedar Creek. There they would graze for two years before being shipped to Chicago.[5]:126–128,136–137,141

Though the original stock consisted of Texas Longhorn cattle, in 1889, work started to improve the herd by introducing Hereford cattle and Polled Angus cattle. Registered herds were bought in 1892, and the Rito Blanco division bred the Angus, while the Escarbada, Spring Lake and Yellow Houses divisions bred the Herefords.[5]:182,187–190

Rules of the XIT Ranch

The XIT Ranch had 23 rules, on Abner Taylor's orders. They included prohibitions against carrying arms (No. 11); drinking alcohol (No. 15); and gambling (No. 12). Rule No. 22 stated the aim of the ranch was "sterling honesty and integrity".[1][5]:116,241–245

Sold off

The original plan of the Capitol Company was colonization, with ranching viewed as a temporary use of the land until farmers arrived. In 1890, Matlock began using an immigration agency, and 80,000 acres were prepared as farming tracts.[5]:71,205,211,224

Cattle prices crashed in 1886 and 1887, and in the fall of 1888, the ranch was unable to sell its cattle and make a profit. The ranch operated most years without showing any profit. Predators such as the Mexican wolf and cattle rustling led to further losses.[1]

In 1901, the ranch syndicate began selling off acreage to pay the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company, Limited, bonds. Large tracts were sold to cattlemen such as George W. Littlefield, who bought 235,858.5 acres of Yellow Houses in 1901. In 1904, the ranch started using land and development companies for wholesale purchases, but in 1905, 800,000 acres were also divided up into 160-640 acre tracts. Finally, in 1905, to prevent speculation, the syndicate established a land commissioner, and in 1915, a real estate trust. This trust, Capitol Reservations Lands, operated until 31 Dec. 1950. Yet, Capitol Mineral Rights Company retained much of the mineral rights.[5]:218–225

The family of Minnie Lou Bradley, who went on to establish the Bradley 3 Ranch in Childress County east of Amarillo, made large purchases of XIT land. Other purchasers included Texas cattlemen William E. Halsell, and John M. Shelton.[1]

Lee Bivins bought 70,000 acres from XIT's Capitol Syndicate. Located near Channing, Texas, the purchase included XIT headquarters.[6]

The last of the XIT cattle were sold on 1 Nov. 1912.[1][5]:217

Recognizing that their earlier surveys exceeded the stipulated areas by 2-4 percent, the state of Texas sued the Syndicate in 1918, claiming the excess was 57,840.5 acres. As a consequence, the state recovered 27,613.6 acres in Dallam County, and 30,226.9 acres in Hartley County.[5]:216–217


In remembrance of the massive ranch, the City of Dalhart hosts the XIT Museum and the annual XIT Rodeo and Reunion held the first Thursday through Sunday of August. The celebration includes three days of junior and professional (PRCA) rodeo events, the world’s largest free barbecue, three nights of live music, a mud bog competition, an antique tractor-pull, and other activities.

Several businesses in the Dalhart area use "XIT" in their names and styles.

In popular culture

The Charles Ives song, "Charlie Rutlage," is about a poor XIT ranch hand who is killed. Cowboy artist Red Steagall song “6000 miles of wire” is about the forming of the XIT ranch.

See also

• Ira Aten
• Patrick H. Landergin


1. XIT Ranch from the Handbook of Texas Online; retrieved April 13, 2005.
2. Thumbnail History of the XIT Ranch; The XIT Museum website; retrieved March 20, 2009
3. "Fairlawn: The Farwell/McGann Estate at 965 East Deerpath" Biography of Charles B. Farwell; retrieved March 17, 2011
4. History of XIT Ranch; "My Turn;" Hidden Ancestors ; retrieved March 17, 2011
5. Haley, J. Evetts (1929). The XIT Ranch of Texas: And the Early Days of the Llano Estacado. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 3, 75, 77, 83–88, 95–96, 106, 121–122, 149. ISBN 0806114282.
6. Archer, Jeanne; Taras, Stephanie (2009). Touching Lives: The Lasting Legacy of the Bivins Family. Tell Studios Inc. p. 41. ISBN 9780974914862.

Further reading

• Cordia Sloan Duke and Joe B. Frantz; 6,000 Miles of Fence: Life on the XIT Ranch of Texas; Austin: University of Texas Press; 1961.

External links

• The XIT Museum
• XIT Rodeo & Reunion
• Photos of the XIT Ranch hosted by the Portal to Texas History
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jan 04, 2020 5:55 am

The Union-Bustin' Origins of the Texas State Capitol
by Andrew Weber, Austin's NPR Station
May 13, 2015



A look at the construction site of what would become the Texas State Capitol. AUSTIN HISTORY CENTER, VIA PORTAL TO TEXAS HISTORY

This week marks the 127th anniversary of the Texas State Capitol’s dedication. Well, not necessarily. May 14 marked the completion of the Capitol, along with a week-long celebration to dedicate it, but the state didn’t accept Pomeranian builder Gustav Wilke’s granite-domed monument to Texas because of structural issues — chiefly, the copper roof leaked.

The building was officially dedicated seven months later, but Wilke’s architectural prowess wasn’t blamed for the building’s initial shoddiness — he would later go on to build some of the world’s first skyscrapers. Ultimately, the capitol building’s inconsistencies, exacerbated by a Chicago-based syndicate bankrolling Wilke’s operation, a years-long labor strike and a handful Texas convicts and Scottish strike-busters, contributed to the project’s hamstringing.

The Syndicate

The new Capitol project was approved by lawmakers in 1879 and was hastened after the state’s original building caught fire in 1881. Of the two plans submitted to revamp the Capitol, the state contracted Mattheas Schnell of Illinois for the gig in 1882. Twelve days later, Schnell transferred the project, which included a payment of more than three million acres of land in Texas, over to what the Southwestern Historical Quarterly called “the syndicate,” a company run by U.S. Senator Charles B. Farwell, his brother John Farwell and U.S. Rep. Abner Taylor, all from Illinois.

Taylor, the project head, requested the state acquire more limestone, the building’s initial component, from Illinois, as Texas’ supplies were thin. The state balked, as the Capitol was meant to be built with native materials. So it was decided the project would use red granite from Marble Falls, which tacked on an extra $613,865 to the budget.

To keep labor costs low, the state allowed Wilke to employ up to 500 convicts. Wilke was then subcontracted to oversee the project.

Convicts, Scottish Scabs and Cutters

Despite protests from Texans over using prison labor, Wilke continued the use of convicts on the Capitol project. The Austin chapter of the Granite Cutters of America said both Wilke and the syndicate “care for nothing but the almighty dollar and now seek to degrade our trade and fill their own pockets.” This was in response to Wilke’s proposal to pay granite cutters $3 a day, a dollar below the union’s wage.

Builder Gustav Wilke imported workers to cut granite for the Capitol. They were promised up to $6 a day, but were paid less than a dollar a day upon arrival. CREDIT AUSTIN HISTORY CENTER VIA PORTAL TO TEXAS HISTORY

The project was boycotted by granite cutters nationally.

In April 1885 Wilke sent an associate to Aberdeen, Scotland — a town renowned for its granite cutters. More than 120 granite cutters and blacksmiths were recruited and were promised 18 months of labor, with wages ranging from $4 to $6 a day.

When 88 Scots arrived in New York City, Wilke’s agent George Berry failed to tell them that their work on the Capitol wasn’t legal, as it violated the Alien Contract Labor Law. Members of the Granite Cutters’ Union convinced 24 of them to abandon the work upon their arrival.

The remaining 64 began a seven-day journey to begin work at Marble Falls.

Holding the Bag

Wilke continued recruiting Scots, and by 1886 the Capitol’s walls, ornamental work and dome were nearing completion, but by May of 1887 only 15 of the Scots remained.

At least three had died and the others grew tired of less-than-promised wages — it’s estimated that the workers made less than a dollar a day. Some of those that left provided their contracts to the Cutters’ Union, which used them as evidence in a prosecution of the syndicate and Wilke, all of whom were indicted in July 1886.

Wilke swallowed the charges, admitting to violating the labor law and accepting a fine of $1,000 per worker for a total penalty of $64,000. The fine was eventually appealed and lowered to $8,000, along with a $500 fee to the Cutters’ Union.

When the project finished in May of 1888, it finished $520,000 under-budget. Of course, it showed. The dome, which was the final stage of construction, wasn’t up to standards, and it took another eight months to officially dedicate the now-iconic dome.
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