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Commentary on Siddhartha Essay



Siddhartha, written by Herman Hesse, is a powerful novel that depicts the life of a young man who is in search of enlightenment as well as his own individual personality. The journey he takes leads him to many unknown paths that have an great effect on him, leading him to what he longed for: love, inner peace, and wisdom. When we are first introduced to Siddhartha we recognize him as an individual that is not satisfied with his life, even though he had loving parents, and respect from the people in his village. If he ever became a god , then Govinda wanted to follow him as his friend, his companion, his servant, his lance bearer, his shadow. That was how everybody loved Siddhartha. He delighted and made everybody happy. Siddhartha begins to doubt the teachings of the Brahmins as well, and felt that his inner soul was still not happy. He began to suspect that his worthy father and his other teachers, the wise Brahmins, had already passedthe best of their wisdom his intellect was not satisfied, his soul was not at peace.

Siddhartha then decides to go on a journey to find enlightenment, knowledge and becoming an individual. He the decision would displease his father but he would not leave unless he had the blessing from his father to do so. With your permission, Father, I have come to tell you that I wish to leave your house tomorrowI wish to become a Samana. I trust my father will not object. Siddharthas father was very hesitant about letting his son go, however he realized that his Siddharthas mind and soul were somewhere else, and that he was there only physically. You will go into the forest...and become a Samana. If you find bliss come back and teach it to me. If you find disillusionment, come back Now go kiss your mother and tell her where you are going. For me it is time to go to the river and perform the first ablution.

Letting go of his current self and to become empty, was Siddharthas continious goal. Siddhartha had one single goal- to become empty, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure, and sorrow- to let the Self die. No longer to be Self to experience pure thought- that was his goal. Siddhartha learned a lot from the Samanas and the many techniques of losing the Self. However every time he would lose the Self he would always go back to it. He lost himself a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt in non-being. Butthe paths took him away from Self, in the end they always led back to it. Siddhartha and Govinda both discuss the Buddha and Govindas desire to go learn from the Perfect One. I wish that both Siddhartha and I may live to see the day when we can hear the teachings from the lips of the Perfect One. My friend, shall we not also go hither and hear the teachings from the lips of the Buddha? After learning from the Samanas, Siddhartha decides he is his best teacher. You have spoken well, Govinda, you have remembered well, but you must also remember what else I told you-that I have become distrustful of teachings and learning and that I have little faith in words that come to us from teachers. But I am ready to hear that new teaching, although I believe in my heart that we have already tasted the best fruit of it.

The oldest Samanas response to the leaving of Siddhartha, was filled with anger. Siddhartha then decided to show him that he learned something from him. He looked into the old mans eyeshypnotized himconquered his will The old man became silenthis eyes glazed, his will crippledhe was powerless under Siddharthas spell. As Siddhartha and Govinda were in town to see the Buddha, Siddhartha was not very content about learning anything from him because he felt he was taught everything there was to learn. He was not very curious about the teachings. He did not think they would teach him anything new.

After listening to the Buddhas teachings, Govinda decided to stay with the Buddha and Siddhartha decided to continue on his journey as he explained to the Buddha. I came from afar with my friend to hear you and now my friend will remain with you; he has sworn allegiance to you. I however, am continuing on my pilgrimage anew. Siddhartha started his way back to his journey believing that the Buddha had robbed him of his best friend. Siddhartha now realized that he was not young anymore, he had left the part of him that desired to be taught. He was no longer a youth; he was now a man. He realized that something had left him, like the old skin that a snake sheds. Something was no longer in him, something that had accompanied him right through his youth and was a part of him: this was the desire to have teachers and to listen to their teachings.

Siddhartha then realized that letting go of all his teachings would help him fulfill himself. I will no longer study Yoga- Veda, Atharva-Veda, or ascetsism, or any other teachings. I will learn from myself, be my own pupil; I will learn from myself the secret of Siddhartha. Siddhartha then begins to sleep in a ferrymans hut , there he dreams about a woman and the pleasures of life he yearned to experience. When Siddhartha encounters a woman in a village that entices him to have sex, his conscious does not allow him to do anything. Siddhartha also felt a longing and the stir of sex in him he hesitated for a moment, although his hands were ready to seize her. At that moment he heard his inward voice and the voice said No!

Siddhartha asks Kamala to teach him the art of Love. However Kamala is not pleased with his appearance so she tells him to go get a job and clothes. Siddhartha then goes to work with the Kamaswami at Kamalas request. Siddhartha did not care for business and even though he talked to everyone else, he felt very different from everyone else because he felt no emotions. Although he found it so easy to speak to everyone,.he was very conscious of the fact that there was something which separated him from them- the fact that he had been a Samana.

Siddhartha visited Kamala daily and learned the art of love. Kamala understood him better than anyone because they were both so much alike because they both had no emotions. You are like me; you are different from other people. You are Kamala and no one else, and within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself, just as I can. Few people have that capacity and yet everyone could have it.

Over the years Siddhartha gained some characteristics as the other people except for a sense of a true meaning of happiness in life. He acquired some of the characteristics of the ordinary people, some of their childishness and some of their anxiety. And yet he envied them; the more he became like them, the more he envied them. He envied them the one thing they lacked and that they had; the sense of importance with which they lived their lives, the depth of their pleasures and sorrows, the anxious but sweet happiness of their continual power to love.

Siddhartha then begins to reexamine his own life and goes through a mid-life crisis. How many long years he had spent without any lofty goal., content with small pleasures and yet never really satisfied. Without knowing it, he had endeavored and longed al these years to be like all these other people, like these children, and yet his life had been more wretched and poorer than theirs, for their aims were not his

Siddhartha ended up running away with the thought of how he lived and finally came to realize that the old Siddhartha no longer existed and he that he was reborn. Siddhartha now realized why he had struggled in vain with this Self when he was a Brahmin and an ascetic. Too much knowledge had hindered himtoo much doing and strivingHis self had crawled into this priesthoodinto this intellectualityNow he understood it and realized that the inward voice had been right, that not teacher could have brought him salvation.

Siddhartha meets, Vesudeva the same ferryman he met before and relates to him. On one of the voyages they see a woman with her young child that turns out to be Kamala with Siddharthas child. Kamala had been bitten by a snake and during their final discussion Siddhartha realizes that they both found inner peace. Have you found peace?...He smiled and placed his hand on hers Yes she said I see it. I also will find peace. After Kamalas death, Siddhartha took in his child and finally found something meaningful in his life which was the unconditional love for his son. He felt indeed that his love, this blind love for his son, was a very human passion At the same time he felt that it was not worthless, that it was necessary, and that it came from his own nature. This emotion, this pain, these follies also had to be experienced.

Siddhartha at this point in the novel he views Vasudeva as a god, as one who has reached Nirvana. This was no longer Vasudeva ..that he was God Himself that he was eternity himself. As Siddharthe stares into to the river he saw life. He saw his father lonely, mourning for his son; he saw himself, lonely, also.along the burning path of lifes desires; each one concentrating on his goal, each one obsessed by his goal, each one suffering. The Siddhartha heard the river as one. They were all interwoven and interlocked , entwined in a thousand ways. And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil all of them together was the world. The voice of the river became the holy word Om. When Siddhartha listend attentively to this river. the great song of a thousand voices consisted of on word: Om perfection. From reaching this point of enlightenment Siddhartha does not fight his destiny. There shone in his face . One who is no longer confronted with conflict and desires, who has founded salvation, who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream, belonging to the unity of all things.

They both became silent and Siddhartha as they tell each other goodbye it becomes emotional. Govinda comes to realize that Siddhartha was finally peaceful and finally reached what he had been searching for in life, and is deeply touched by his love. Siddharthas peaceful face which he had just kissed, which had just been the stage of all present and future forms.His countenance was unchanged after the mirror of the thousand-fold forms had disappeared from the surfaceHe smiled peacefullyexactly as the Illustrious One had smiled. Govinda bowed low. He was overwhelmed by a feeling of great love, f the most humble veneration. He bowed low in front of the man sitting there motionless, whose smile reminded of everything that he had ever loved in his life, of everything that had ever been of value and holy in his life. Govinda realizes that Siddhartha has finally found enlightenment, peace, and finally felt the nurtured love of his dear friend.

In the end of the novel Siddhartha meets Govinda, on the river. Govinda did not recognize Siddhartha. Govinda and Siddhartha fell into a conversation of seeking, the meaning of seeking, and why not reaching that particular goal. Govinda asked him Are you not also a seeker of the right path. ? Siddhartha filled with wisdom responds when some one is seeking he only sees the thing that he is seeking, that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because hi is only thing of the thing he is seeking. Seeking means: to have a goal , but finding means : to be free, .. to have no goal. Govinda then realizes the man he is conversing with is Siddhartha, and they begin to share their new experiences and wisdom. When saying goodbye, Siddhartha noticed suffering, continual seeking failure were written in his look, then Siddhartha shared the gift of enlightment with Govinda. With a kiss on Siddharthas forehead Govinda, no longer saw the face of Siddhartha.he saw .. many faces, a long series. Yet none of them died, they only changed, were always reborn, continually ha a new face: only time stood between on face and another and over them all there was continually something thin unreal and yet existing Siddhartha smiling face. Siddharthas smile was the same as the Illustrious One. Through his smile he showed peace, love, content, enlightenment.

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