Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse is the story of a young Brahmin who ventures off in the world to find the meaning of life. His journey begins as a young Brahmin who excelled in life but felt he was missing something and ends as a wise man that has found peace within him. Throughout the book, Hesse allows the reader to connect with Siddhartha and watch as he grows through his experiences, and people with whom he comes in contact. During his journey, Siddhartha, makes many choices which leads to path of life which is marked by self-discovery and independence. Siddhartha grows as a person through three main occurrences: his meeting with Buddha, his attempted suicide, and his time spent with his son, as they all contribute to his finding of himself.
Siddhartha’s meeting with Gotama, the Buddha, is the first experience that contributes to his path of self-discovery. After several years of living the ascetic life of a Samana, Siddhartha decides to seek out Gotama, “The Illustrious One,” as a teacher or mentor in his journey to find his inner self. After their meeting, however, Siddhartha becomes more convinced that the Buddha’s teachings only apply to the Buddha himself, because it is what the Buddha has learned on his own path to nirvana, and Siddharthas path may differ. Siddhartha is convinced that he must find his path himself if he wishes to find nirvana. He understands that the Buddha had a remarkable experience, but it is a personal one. Siddhartha realizes that he must live his own life and make his own choices in order to learn from them.

The second experience that puts Siddhartha on a path to himself is his attempted suicide. When leaving Gotama, Siddhartha deserts his life as an ascetic and decides to explore his worldly needs and lives the life of a lover, merchant, and gambler. As a student he is taught the art of love by Kamala and the game of riches by Kamaswami. Siddhartha who was an ascetic becomes self centered, greedy, and no longer can “think, fast, and write”, which were his key traits. His time in the village is marked by a moral demise that is not what he wishes to seek. Siddhartha who was an ascetic and was insulted and sickened by material possessions now tastes the life of riches and is swimming in sin and has played the game of Samsara. His time spent in the village is leading him closer to the discovery of himself. His growth is evident in his leaving the village after becoming disgusted with the life that he has lived in the village. At this point he attempts suicide, Siddhartha has experienced both the lives of the rich man and the poor ascetic, and was capable of choosing which path suits him best.
The final experience in Siddhartha’s journey to himself was the discovery of his son, Little Siddhartha. After Kamala’s death, Siddhartha is left to raise the son he never knew that he had. Raising Little Siddhartha was not easy for him. Unlike his father, Little Siddhartha was ignorant and spoilt. Siddhartha was unable to communicate with the boy, and would do anything to make his son content. The unappreciative son, however, unable to acknowledge Siddhartha’s sacrifice for him ventured out by his self just as his father had when he was a young man. After a period of remorse Siddhartha came to the realization that the pain he felt was caused by the love for his son. This pain, however, is the final step in his path to himself. By learning to love, something, which he told Kamala that he would never be able to do, Siddharthas has completed his journey. By learning to love and learning to let go, Siddhartha places the final piece in the puzzle of self-discovery.

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In conclusion, Siddhartha’s nirvana can be traced to events that allowed him to seek out his individuality. His meeting with Buddha led him to see that an individual makes his/her own experiences; his experience in the village allowed him to unlock the person, whom he had never explored; and the time with his son gave him the opportunity to experience love. Siddhartha’s journey was determined by the choices that he made himself. Part of his self-discovery was made by good choices, while suffering the consequences of others.


In the book Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, the main character Siddhartha had many teachers along his quest for happiness. Throughout his life he denounced teachers and their teachings. In his last meeting with his lifelong friend, Govinda, he mentions five in which he was indebted : a beautiful courtesan, a rich merchant, a dice player, a Buddhist monk, and Vasudeva.
The first of these teachers along his way was Kamala a beautiful courtesan. Kamala taught him the wonderful pleasures of love and the importance of wealth and riches in society . It [had] never been my experience that a Samana from the woods should come to me and desire to learn from me. Never has a Samana with long hair and an old torn loin cloth come to me. Many young men come to me, including Brahmins sons but they come to me in fine clothes, in fine shoes; there is scent in their hair and money in their purses. That is how these young men come to me, O Samana. These teachings in which Kamala placed upon him helped him to seek out the riches and wealth that would supposedly bring him happiness.

Another of the people who Siddhartha obtained knowledge from was the rich merchant Kamaswami.Kamaswami taught Siddhartha the secrets of making money and living the life of a rich man. While working for Kamaswami many of Siddharthas values stayed intact but, slowly thesevalues began to slip away. In many ways Kamaswami taught Siddhartha the dark side of life.

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As the days went on Siddhartha began hating himself more and more. He viewed his riches as worthless, for they did not truly bring him happiness. Slowly he began squandering his money playing dice.He won thousands and lost thousands in order to reach the high he felt when he carelessly bet his money away. This taught him the worthless value of money, for money only brought more and more sadness.

Finally after rejecting this life of sin he vowed to leave the city and never return. As he retreated into the forest he decided to go to the river.At the river he found his friend Govinda, who had watched over Siddhartha while he had slept. Govinda was now a Buddhist monk who searched for happiness. I believe this showed Siddhartha that their two lives were still very similar. They both still seeked happiness and they were both in transitory.

The final teacher along Siddharthas quest for happiness was Vasudeva, the ferrymen. Vasudeva taught Siddhartha how to listen to people and the river which in turn helped Siddhartha on the road to happiness. You will learn it,but not from me. The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it. You have already learned from the river that it is good to strive downwards, to sink, to seek the depths. The rich and distinguished Siddhartha will become a rower; Siddhartha the learned Brahmin will become a ferryman. You have also learned this from the river. You will learn the other thing too.

Throughout this book Siddhartha distrusts teachers, but in the end he becomes one. Although he shys away from this classification, towards the end he begins to share the knowledge he has gained throughout the many different phases of his life.

Category: Roman Culture


Siddhartha: The Search for the Inner Self Siddhartha had
one single goal – to become empty, to become empty of
thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow – to let the Self
die. No longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an
emptied heart, to experience pure thought – that was his
goal. When all the Self was conquered and dead, when all
passions and desires were silent, then the last must awaken,
the innermost of Being that is no longer Self – the great
secret! (14) Siddhartha, according to his actions, was
constantly in search for knowledge, regardless of what kind,
or what he had to do to obtain it. In the book titled
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, this is shown to us by
Siddhartha’s leaving home to join the Samanas, and all the
actions leading to his residence alongside the river. Leaving
his loving family and home where all loved him, shows us
that Siddhartha not only knows what he wants but will do
anything to attain it. As described on pages 10 through 12,
Siddhartha did not leave his father’s chambers until he had
gotten his way, until his father had submitted to Siddhartha’s
wishes and agreed to let him leave home to join the
Samanas. This stubbornness, this patience with people and
situations is also a large part of Siddhartha’s character. It
enables him to out wait anyone or anything, which teaches
him how to do without and also helps him through his time
with the Samanas. “Siddhartha learned a great deal from the
Samanas he learned many ways of losing the Self” (15).

Despite the new knowledge he acquired, Siddhartha realized
that it was only ” . . . a temporary palliative against the pain
and folly of life” (17). And with this, his next decision was to
leave the Samanas and go in search of the Buddha in order
to learn perhaps something he did not already know.

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Through this we learn that Siddhartha, having learned all that
is possible in one place, moves to another in search for more
wisdom in search for the secret of how to obtain inner
peace, how to find the Self. This action also shows his
change by showing us that Siddhartha no longer has the
patience to stick to certain routines as he did when he was at
home in his youth. Finding the Buddha in a garden,
Siddhartha and Govinda spend an evening and afternoon in
the ” . . . Jetavana grove” listening to the teachings of the
Buddha. Although what he has to say is all important and
thought to be flawless by all, Siddhartha finds that the
Buddha’s ” . . . doctrine of rising above the world, of
salvation, has a small gap. And through this small break,
the eternal and single world law which the Buddha
preaches breaks down again” (32- 3). This realization that
teachings are not flawless shows that Siddhartha has started
thinking on his own. He no longer practices routines of
cleansing or chants verses in order to obtain a moment of
inner peace. Once again, Siddhartha renews his journey,
leaving Govinda and the Illustrious One behind, believing
that no one finds salvation through teachings. Siddhartha was
a deep thinker. He had found a flaw with the flawless
teachings of the Buddha. He had realized that he would
never attain inner peace through others teachings, but that he
alone had to seek it. And this is what he did, stopping next
for a lesson in love from the beautiful courtesan, Kamala.

Because of this experience, he shed his Samana robes and
became a merchant. He gambled and acquired riches all for
the love of a beautiful woman. As the years passed,
Siddhartha’s soul became corrupted with characteristics of
ordinary people. He relied on luxury now, when before he
could have fasted or begged for his food. His goals were
lost and forgotten until a dream one night awakened him and
” . . . overwhelmed him with a feeling of great sadness”
(82). Siddhartha, realizing he had lost his path, now decided
it was time to get back on it. This stubbornness, as
mentioned before, now helps him carry out his newly found
goal., also making his parting from Kama! la a lighter
burden. His soul had been corrupted. His goals had been
lost. Now Siddhartha had to start his search anew, but the
beginnings of the ability to love another person were now
implanted in his heart. As he reached the river, Siddhartha
was overwhelmed with a feeling ” . . . of desire to let himself
go and be submerged in the water. The chilly emptiness in
the water reflected the terrible emptiness of his soul” (88).

Siddhartha was in a terrible state. After years of riches and
luxury, he had cast it all aside in order to find a place for
spiritual renewal. In this quest for the inner Self, Siddhartha
had now reached this place: the river. “He sank down at
the foot of the cocoanut tree, overcome by fatigue.

Murmuring Om, he laid his head on the tree roots and sank
into a deep sleep” (90). After awakening, Siddhartha chose
to stay with the ferryman Vasudeva, who had been a great
listener. From this ferryman he learned how to listen to the
river and how to interpret what it was saying. Siddhartha
had thrown away his previous life of wealth for the life of a
ferryman, a life of poverty. But Siddhartha knew that from
the river his enlightenment would come. His prediction was
correct. When Govinda returned from a pilgrimage, he
stopped by the river and waited for the ferryman to carry
him across. He had recognized the peace on Siddhartha’s
face, the peace of one who had found the secret. And
indeed Siddhartha had. Through his quest for the inner Self
in Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha had given up many things, made
many sacrifices in order to further his knowledge. He was
always moving along, never stopping in one place
permanently. His quest was never ending until the river had
taught him what he needed to know. Hesse, in a way, shows
us that only through sacrifice will someone gain what he is
looking for. He shows us that life is not given to one on a
platter, but needs to be looked for in order to be found.

Siddhartha, through his departure from home and the
Samanas, his realization that not even the Buddha was
perfect in his teachings, his abandonment of Kamala, and
finally through his decision to stay and learn from Vasudeva,
shows us that he had spent his whole life in search of
something that was missing, his peace. In the end,
Siddhartha finds his inner Self, he finds his peace.


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