On the Threshold of the "Land of Marvels:" Alexandra David-Neel in Sikkim and the Making of Global Buddhism

Samuel Thévoz

Abstract


Alexandra David-Neel had already been acquainted with the Himalayas for a long time before the visits to Tibet in 1924 that would make her a mainstream figure of modern Buddhism. In fact, her encounter with Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism can be linked with Sikkim, where she arrived in 1912 after visiting India. An exploration of her Sikkim stay invites us to reconsider the self-fashioning of David-Neel’s image as an explorer of what she called the “land of marvels.” This paper highlights her construction of Sikkim as the locality that helped her create her singular vision of Tibet. Her encounters with local Buddhists in Sikkim provided her with the lofty images of a spiritual Tibet that she contributed to publicizing in the wake of the globalization of Buddhism.


Keywords


Alexandra David-Neel; Modern Buddhism; Tibetan Buddhism; Himalayan Borderlands; Travel Writing; Cultural Globalization; World Literature

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17885/heiup.ts.23541

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-heiup-ts-235414

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