Siddhartha--Pages 1 though 54

Siddhartha is a very interesting novel that takes place between 540-480 B.C. When I read the title I thought it was going to be about the first Buddha, Gotama. Instead the story is about a handsome young son of a Brahman who is very intelligent, good looking, and able to “converse with the sages.” He has learned “the duty of total concentration.” He understood “how to utter the Om silently into himself as he inhaled how to utter it silently forth from himself as he exhaled.”
Om
Om

In other words he seems to have it all and everyone admires him. He has a very devout friend named Govinda who wants to be just like him. The only trouble is that Siddhartha is not content with what he has learned, and he doesn’t see that any of his elders has reached their highest achievement, “enlightenment.”
Enlightenment
Enlightenment

So being disillusioned, he decides he wants to follow the way of the Samanas (wandering priests) and see what he can learn from them. He asks his father for permission to go with them and his father says no. Here we learn about Siddhartha’s resolute determination. He will not give up his dream of following the Samanas and so he stands in the same spot all night until the next morning when his father finally relents and gives his permission for Siddhartha to join the Samanas. Govinda joins Siddhartha on his quest, and together they are off to a new life.


With the Samasas, Siddhartha learns even more discipline. He can even fast up to 28 days at a time.
Siddhartha
Siddhartha

He learns much from them but is still dissatisfied. Three years later Siddhartha and Govinda hear of a very great leader named Gotama, the Buddha. They leave the Samasas to go hear this “Sublime One.” Siddhartha is very impressed with this “perfect one” and asks for permission to speak with Gotama one day. Gotama answers Siddhartha’s questions very calmly and serenely, and then tells Siddhartha “You can speak very cleverly, my friend. Beware of too much cleverness!”


Siddhartha decided to leave the Buddha, and Govinda decides to stay and be one of his followers. Siddhartha goes the way of the world and meets new people who will have a very huge impact in his life. Two of the most important will be the “ferryman” and Kamala the courtesan.

Kamala is a beautiful woman who teaches Siddhartha about intimacy. He is very taken by her, and soon is involved in her world and the world of the town people. At first he is amused on how much importance they place on wealth and worldly things, but after a few years he becomes just like them. He becomes very wealthy, has an ongoing relationship with Kamala and loves to play dice, gamble, and overindulge himself. He gets so unhappy that thought of suicide crosses his mind and after a dream about a rare songbird in a golden cage, he knows he must leave this world behind.
Bird in a Golden Cage
Bird in a Golden Cage


He leaves everything, his mansion and vast possessions, and even his beautiful Kamala, who unbeknown to him is pregnant with his child.


This is the first part of our reading assignment. I am anxious to finish this book and write about the last half next week. I would like to add a few of my thoughts on the author, Hermann Hesse.

Reading about the author Hermann Hesse gives much insight to the character Siddhartha. I think Hesse to a certain degree is writing about himself. There seem to be so many similarities between Siddhartha and Hesse. Hesse’s own father was a missionary and Hesse grew up Claw, Germany which was where a lot of missionary publishing took place. There was a lot of pressure put on Hesse in his youth to become a minister, something which he did not want to do. He had a rebellious nature which you kind of see in the character Siddhartha. When he was 15 he ran away from the seminary he was attending. He finally had a breakdown and did not pursue a career in the ministry. He did however teach himself how to write and thus has become a very well known and well read German writer.

Sources:

"Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse











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