The Quest for Nirvana in Siddhartha Essay

The Quest for Nirvana in Siddhartha Essay

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The Quest for Nirvana in Siddhartha


In Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha and his friend, Govinda, leave their sheltered lives as Brahmins, Hindu priests, to be Samanas, ascetics who deny themselves all pleasure. Some years after, they meet the Buddha, whom Govinda stays with to be a monk while Siddhartha leaves to continue on his own adventures. Toward the end of their lives, they meet again at a river bank and discover if they have truly achieved inner peace. Hesse uses Govinda as a contrast to Siddhartha. As displayed in excursions with the Samanas, with the Buddha, and on other adventures, Siddhartha is a character who is more independent and must learn on his own while Govinda is more dependent and feels he must be taught.


Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 


According to Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Hesse was born in Germany in 1877. After rebelling from traditional education and being expelled from the seminary in which he was enrolled, he educated himself mostly through books. In his earlier years, he became a bookseller and journalist, which may have inspired his first book, Peter Carmenzind. Being a pacifist, Hesse moved to Switzerland during World War I. He came in contact there with renowned psychologist Carl Jung who inspired some of his better-known works.


Frank McLynn  Edwin F. Casebeer  Joseph Mileck  New Standard Encyclopedia  Ernst Pawel  Felix Anselm 


Frank McLynn, a biographer of Carl Jung, states that Hermann Hesse, following a breakdown, began psychoanalysis with one of Jung's pupils. It was through this pupil that Hesse eventually came in contact with Jung in 1916. According to noted Hesse...

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...dhartha and learn from what he sees without being taught. Theodore Ziolkowski notes that characters of Hesse have transformed from trying to escape their problems more toward trying to resolve their inner vision. Siddhartha and Govinda are both. The two characters try to escape their suffering by trying to learn how to deal with pain by exposing themselves to immense amounts of it while they are with the Samanas. However, they realize that this approach will not help the problem: human suffering exists as emotional as well as physical pain. They must learn how to separate themselves from this suffering, not hide from it; that is Nirvana. Their paths separate because Siddhartha's adventures are based on those of an independent man who will try to teach himself, whereas Govinda's are based on those of a dependent man who prefers to learn by example.


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