Siddhartha (novel)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Siddhartha is an allegorical novel by Hermann Hesse which deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian prince called Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.

The book, Hesse's ninth novel, was written in German, in a simple, yet powerful and lyrical, style. It was first published in 1922, after Hesse had spent some time in India in the 1910s. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s.

Major themes

From the start of Siddhartha's journey, he seeks personal transformation. He joins the ascetics, visits Gotama, embraces his earthly desires, and finally communes with nature, all in an attempt to attain Nirvana. Siddhartha knows that he will not attain enlightenment by following Gotama. The novel also shows how the path to enlightenment cannot be conferred to another person because it is different for everyone and will likely never be achieved simply by listening to or obeying an enlightened one. For words and teachings may describe the truth but are not the Truth itself; being concepts, they trap you, since enlightenment means release from concepts.

Another powerful theme is the concept of the circle in time portrayed through the relationship of the father and son, exemplified with his experience with his father and again with the experience with his son. This idea is shown throughout by Siddhartha's need of companionship: first Govinda, then Kamala, and finally Vasudeva--each companion symbolized the attainment of the various stages in his path to enlightenment. The novel is unique in that time is not linear, the series of events occur at varying jumps in time; yet the themes throughout the book seem to come back to its origin. This symbolizes the essence of the River, being that the River is its own beginning, middle and end--or the source of life. At the end, Siddhartha was only able to reach enlightenment through this realization: that no matter how much life splits from the source, everything tends to gravitate back towards it. At the end of his journey, it is only through the acceptance of the spectrum of human emotion that Siddhartha attains Nirvana. As written, at the exact moment of enlightenment, Siddhartha experiences the emotions of humanity through the River all flowing from and to its source.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Siddhartha (novel)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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