Siddhartha Essays: Achieving Enlightenment at the River

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Achieving Enlightenment at the River in Siddhartha

In Siddhartha's quest for enlightenment, Herman Hesse makes the river the final focal point of the novel. Siddhartha is set on his journey to the river by listening to his inner voice and questioning authority. The river comes to represent the ideas through which Siddhartha reaches enlightenment. The essential concepts of time and how it relates to life are discovered by Siddhartha through listening to the river. He comes to realize that his previous conclusion is correct, wisdom cannot be taught. When he reaches nirvana, he also sees how spiritualism and materialism both have a place in the cycle of life. Acting as Siddhartha's inspiration to his ultimate goal, the river operates as a significant element in Hesse's novel, Siddhartha.

Early in the novel, Siddhartha sets his life pattern by questioning the authority of Hinduism. With his friend Govinda, he begins life amongst the samanas. With the samanas, Siddhartha begins to master their teachings. Feeling unfulfilled, Siddhartha concludes as an ascetic he will not reach bliss as the eldest samana has yet to obtain enlightenment. Leaving the forest, Siddhartha and Govinda go to hear the teachings of the illustrious Buddha. After listening to Gotama's preaching, Siddhartha realizes that he will not reach enlightenment through teachings but along a path which he must contrive. Once again lead by his inner voice, Siddhartha begins to explore life in the material world. Over the ensuing twenty years, he becomes deeply entangled with samsara. In forgetting the past teachings, Siddhartha is able to start his journey anew. Disgusted with his life, Siddhartha leaves again and discovers the river. By listening to his...

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...hat leads him to the river where he learns the concepts of time and timelessness. From seeing many disciples of varying religions, Siddhartha decides that wisdom is incommunicable. His last revelation comes has he reaches nirvana. The two worlds of spiritualism and materialism do not exist as forces to side with but powers to be in harmony with. The ideas discovered come through his life experiences and most significantly at the river and the nature of it.

Works Cited

Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Dover Publications, 1998.

Malthaner, Johannes. "Hermann Hesse: 'Siddhartha'". The German Quarterly. Vol.25, No.2, March 1952.

Timpe, Eugene F. "Hesse's Siddhartha and the Bhagavad Gita". Comparative Literature, V.22 No.4 , 1970, p.23.

"Nirvana". The World Book Encyclopedia, (Vol.14). Toronto: World Book, Inc., 1987, p.332-333.

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