In Hermann Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha, the main character of the story, Siddhartha, a young Brahman along with his beloved friend, Govinda leaves home to find enlightenment. They join a group of ascetic Samanas and for many years Siddhartha and Govinda deny their body’s pains and senses including the external world. Yet, Siddhartha is not satisfied with the result and fails to find the true path to enlightenment that he is seeking. Furthermore, Siddhartha because of dissatisfaction renounces the life of asceticism and departs with Govinda to visit and hear Gautama Buddha speak and learn from him. However, Buddha’s teaching does not provide Siddhartha with what he needs therefore; he leaves Buddha’s presence and continues his journey to discover the true enlightenment while Govinda stays with Buddha. Siddhartha realizes that Buddha’s teaching will not be enough for him since his thirst is not that of knowledge but rather it is a thirst of feeling and experiencing that moment of attaining the enlightenment. Therefore, he decides to continue with his journey. While on his journey, Siddhartha suddenly realizes that one must seek and attaining enlightenment through living, not through preaching since what he is seeking is not something the outer world but rather it is the inner world, the self. During his journey, Siddhartha meets a Kamala, a beautiful courtesan, who introduces him to the life of wealth and pleasure. However, Siddhartha decides to leave Kamala after realizing that he has gone astray from his real path, from the path of self-discovery, unaware that she is not pregnant with his son. Siddhartha starts living with a Vasudeva, a ferryman who lives by a river. They both believe now that the river can teach them great wisdom...
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... 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.
Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2000. Print.
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