"Siddhartha" is one of the names of the historical Gautama, and the life of Hesse's character resembles that of his historical counterpart to some extent. Siddhartha is by no means a fictional life of Buddha, but it does contain numerous references to Buddha’s philosophies and his teachings. Although Hesse’s Siddhartha is not intended to portray the life of Gautama the Buddha but he used the name and many other attributed to reflect the legendary atmosphere and the pattern of his heroes transformation.
Shakyamuni, known in his youth as Siddhartha Gautama, was a prince who became aware of and profoundly troubled by the problems of human suffering. According to religious scriptures Siddhartha renounced his prince hood at the age of 19 and pursued the life of a religious mendicant from which he rejected both extremes of the mortification of the flesh and of hedonism as paths toward the state of Nirvana. After 11 years of ascetic practices and deep meditation, at the age of 30, he finally realized the truth that would emancipate mankind from their suffering, and he became a Buddha. All the teachings of Shakyamuni were recorded giving rise to a vast array of sutras or scriptures. The Buddha can in no way be described as a transcendental or supreme being. “Buddha” means the enlightened one; a Buddha is a person who perceives within his own life the essence, or reality of life itself. Unlike other religious philosophies or systems of religious thought, Buddhism makes no clear distinction between divinity and humanity. Its teachings enable people to attain enlightenment, to become Buddhas themselves. This ultimate reality supports and nourishes humanity, and all other living beings. Those who have perceived this ultimate reality inherent in their own lives truly know themselves, they are Buddhas. (Introduction to Buddhism)
The basic teaching of Buddha is formulated in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Preceding from the premise that suffering exists and that a release from it must be found, Buddha constructed his system. The First Noble Truth is to be understood, the universality of suffering. The Second Truth is to be abandoned, the desire to have and control things that cause suffering. The third truth is to be made visible, the supreme truth and final liberation of Nirvana...
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...is world. He realizes that this had to come, so that he would no longer fight what he considered fate, but gave himself unreservedly to his destiny, thus Siddhartha has overcome suffering at last, and with it has attained the last step of his contemplation. He has entered Nirvana, peace has finally come to Siddhartha at last. When it is asked of Siddhartha to show the wonders of enlightenment his efforts to express that he has found the way in words are doomed, since the way within for one individual defies formulation for another, for simply expressed “knowledge can be imparted, but not wisdom”. (Field)
Field, George W Herman Hesse Boston: Twayne Pub., 1970
“Introduction To Buddhism” SGI-USA
Malthaner, Johannes. World Literature Criticism James P Draper, ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research Comp., 1992.
Otten, Anna. Hesse Companion. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1977.
Robinson, B.A. “Buddhism” Religious Tolerance www.religoustolerance.org/buddhism.htm (5 Mar 2001)
Rose, Enrst. “Faith From the Abyss” Contemporary Literature Criticism. Riley, Carolyn. Vol. #1. Detroit: Gale Research Comp. 1973, 145.
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