Book Reviews

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The Hill of Fire

by Monica Bose

2002. 164 pp., 30 b & w pl. 215 x 152 Softbound.

ISBN-10: 974-524-003-6 $23.00
ISBN-13: 978-974-524-003-2

The Hill of Fire

Mountain Path, quarterly issue for April—June, 2003

Every so often a special book comes along which inspires the reader. This is such a one.
    Monica Bose is the daughter of the heroine of this biography. She has written a marvellous, sensitive story of an exceptional human being who, in her quest for enlightenment did not forget others and dedicated her medical skill and energy to relieve suffering wherever she was.
    Born in Paris she survived the vicissitudes of childhood illness and the death of her father. Life was not easy for her mother and herself but somehow they endured and the suffering deepened her awareness. A brilliant student she enrolled at the medical faculty of the Sorbonne while at the same time exploring her talent as a dancer. It was during this period she came across Theosophy. Its proclamation ‘There is no religion higher than the Truth’ satisfied her need for a wider perspective than the Catholic Church at the time. She graduated and added a post-graduate qualification in tropical hygiene and medicine. After a crucial meeting with Rukmini Devi who revived Bharata Natyam in India, she met J. Krishnamurti who set her on the journey to India, the land in which she most felt at home.
    What I would like to emphasize is the courage and perseverance of Sujata as she was later named and the commitment she made to pursue her star whatever the cost or circumstances. A doctor, a Buddhist nun, eventually a married woman and a mother, and always a seeker, she remained true to her quest.
    She died in India in 1965, her body exhausted from the unremitting labour that relieved others in physical pain. A person who experienced all the highs and lows on the path without flinching, she comes across in this loving biography as an exceptional soul.

Michael Avalon

From the Newsletter of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation, April 2002

This wise and sensitive book gives rare insight into Krishnamurti, Tibetan Buddhism and life with Ramana Maharshi in the 1930s. A fascinating account of a courageous woman’s search for Truth, written with deep understanding by her daughter. Suzanne Alexandra Curtil, a talented dancer, doctor and diviner left her native France and Theosophy in 1925 for India, where she became a Buddhist priestess. On a mission to the Himalayas, she was instructed by the renowned Tibetan sage Tromo Geshe Rimpoche, and almost reached Lhasa. In 1936 she went to see Ramana Maharshi, made Tiruvannamalai her home, and opened a medical practice in the town. This book relates authentic experiences, and presents aspects of the quest for truth in the 20th century in an unusually lucid historical context. Monica Bose adds her own vivid memories of Ramana Maharshi and of Arunachala where she lived as a young girl. An extract is published as a main feature in the current issue of Self Enquiry (the Tri-annual Review of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation, UK).

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