Comparing the Journeys of Hesse's Siddhartha and Gandhi

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Siddhartha and Gandhi strove for different goals during their lives. Siddhartha's goal was very personal, while Gandhi's goal encompassed the world. This was shown by their spiritual development throughout their journeys. Siddhartha evolved from an inexperienced spiritual being to a man, returned to spirituality, and ended with nirvana. Gandhi traveled a much straighter path, originally being a worldly man merely seeking his correct place in life, when his spiritual development unexpectedly produced a great world leader; in Gandhi's own words, a politician trying to be a saint. Siddhartha and Gandhi's main goals were always different, but they traveled similar paths at times.

Siddhartha's goal was to find nirvana. He constantly sought this, in many different ways with many different teachers. He wanted to be at one with the higher being, to be at one with the higher Self, with Atman. "One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it...These were Siddhartha's thoughts; this was his thirst, his sorrow" (Hesse 8). Thus Siddhartha sought nirvana constantly, and this was his only care.

Siddhartha's path lead him through constant re-evaluations, keeping him focused on himself. He began as the son of a wealthy Brahmin, sheltered from the real world and any experience with it, but having the best education he could obtain. He began his life at home, as a thinker, possessing wisdom and thoughts he had yet to earn through experience.

Seeking nirvana, Siddhartha assessed his situation and came to the conclusion that he had learned all there was to learn from his home and his teachers there. So he found new teachers, the Samanas. Through their teachings, he could only find the higher self by killin...

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