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Siddhartha

“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.” --Hesse

 1877-1962

Hermann Hesse

 German-born Swiss novelist, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946  Called his books “biographies of the soul”  Hesse grew up in a Catholic family, but rejected everything he had been taught.

Hermann Hesse

 Parents were missionaries. Hesse attended a seminary but ran away from school in 1892.

 In 1911, he visited India and learned about Eastern religions.

Siddhartha – Publication

 Written in 1922 after WWI when people were trying to make sense of the devastation inflicted by “civilized” countries  Written in German, first published in the U.S. in 1951

Siddhartha – The Story

 About the spiritual journey of Hindu man in India who abandons a life of privilege to seek enlightenment (around 500 BC)  The million dollar questions: How do you achieve enlightenment? How do you live a happy, fulfilled life?

Siddhartha – The Setting

Setting: India, where Siddhartha encounters the Buddha (563 BC – 483 BC)  Siddhartha is a Brahmin, a member of the highest ranking social class of the Hindus– the priest class  (Not to be confused with “Brahman,” which is the name for the concept of the universal soul)

Siddhartha – Characters

   Siddhartha – The novel’s protagonist. Siddhartha sets out on a quest for enlightenment and tests the religious philosophies he discovers.

Govinda – Siddhartha’s best friend and sometimes his follower. Like Siddhartha, Govinda devotes his life to the quest for understanding and enlightenment.

Gotama – An enlightened religious leader with many followers. Also known as the Buddha, Gotama is said to have attained Nirvana.

Siddhartha – Characters

   Kamaswami - An older businessman who teaches Siddhartha the art of business.

Vasudeva – The enlightened ferryman who guides Siddhartha to a transcendent understanding of himself and the universe.

Kamala – A courtesan who instructs Siddhartha in the art of physical love. In addition to being Siddhartha’s lover, Kamala helps him learn the ways of the city and leave his ascetic life as a Samana behind.

Siddhartha and the Buddha

 Hesse’s Siddhartha shares his name with the Buddha, and the novel’s story is similar to what is known about Siddhartha Gautama (pronounced “Gaught-um”).

 Like Siddhartha, Siddhartha Gautama was born an upper-class Hindu in India.

 Like Siddhartha, Siddhartha Guatama left home to seek a religious goal and searched for years.

Siddhartha and The Buddha

 Like Siddhartha, Siddhartha Gautama studied with famous gurus of the day, but found their doctrines lacking.

 Both practiced the austerities and self mortifications of the ascetics for many years.

Siddhartha and The Buddha

 From there, Hesse’s Siddhartha takes a divergent path from Siddhartha Guatama.

 Note: The name “Siddhartha” means “one who has reached his goal” or “one who has found meaning” (in existence).

Siddhartha Gautama

 He sat under a fig tree and meditated for days until he found answers for suffering.

 Once he understood the answer, he became the Buddha.