The Novel Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – Informal Essay
The novel Siddhartha, written by Hermann Hesse, is about a young Brahmin, Siddhartha who has potential to be a prince among his caste members, and lives in India. During his youth, he grew up in a family that practices Hinduism, which they learn everything from their holy book only. The rituals and mantras they have taught Siddhartha and his best friend Govinda seem more a
matter of custom than a real path that could lead to true enlightenment. He leaves his family to go with a group of Samanas, who are starved, half-naked, and must beg for food, but only because they believe enlightenment can be reached through asceticism, a rejection of the body and physical desire. He lived as a Samana for years. He mastered everything to reach the true enlightment; he was close to perfection. However, everything collapsed when he met Kamala and Kawaswami.
When Siddhartha was attempting to master the material world, as he approached more, he became part of the material world, instead of becoming the true master of the material world. He was no longer skinny, naked Samana but a wealthy, fancy, greedy, and well-fed merchant. After recognizing that he had a dream to reach the true enlightenment, he left the city and went to Vasudeva, the ferryman, who told Siddhartha that he will return to him. Siddhartha confessed his sin, and started to mediate to reach the true enlightenment. After meditating for couple years, he met his old friend Govinda, who still follows Gotama but has not attained the kind of enlightenment that Siddhartha now neglects. Govinda came to see the sage man seeking for advice, and he didn’t recognize Siddhartha when he was giving Govinda advice. Through Siddhartha’s advice, two samanas found the true enlightenment that they have been looking for all of their lives.
My favorite part of the novel was Siddhartha’s mind. To reach his goal, he did everything whether he had done it reluctantly or pleasingly even though he was quivering in the middle of the novel. His dedication to reach his goal was unbelievable. He ditched every pleasure that he could have received just to reach his goal. He was also extremely courageous in some aspects. He was courageous when the asked his father for permission to leave with a group of Samanas. Siddhartha lived in a society where younger people respected and adored elders. It was difficult for Siddhartha to go up to his father and get permission to leave with a group of Samanas.
The least favorite part of the novel was the quivering moment of Siddhartha’s life. When Siddhartha met Kamala, he started to fall apart spiritually. Siddhartha fell in a love with Kamala, and she became more important than the true enlightenment. At the same time, Siddhartha was attempting to master the material world, as he approached more, he became part of the material world. Then he met Kawaswami who was a businessman. Which provoked Siddhartha to become a businessman. All of his effort and time to become a true enlightened samana became nothing. I was disappointed at Siddhartha he got affected by two people, who seemed like had no effectiveness at all.
When I look myself and compare my faith with Siddhartha’s faith, mine’s nothing because I am not as dedicated, enthusiastic, and courageous as Siddhartha. If I were in Siddhartha’s situation, I wouldn’t talk to my dad to leave with a group of samanas even though I wanted to, because I am not extremely courageous. Also, I wouldn’t leave the city if I started to make money, and become rich. Only the dedicated ones could leave like Siddhartha did in my opinion. The novel made me to think of the number people who actually practice their religion as much as Siddhartha with same dedication, enthusiasm, and courage.
In my opinion, Eight-Fold Path and Four Noble Truths of Buddhism is what they use it as guides to reach Nirvada, after their death. It works like Ten Commandments for Christians. I understand Eight-Fold Path and Four Noble Truths of Buddhism as Buddhism version of Ten Commandments. I think I will never be able to apply theses to my life unlike Siddhartha because I have to give up everything that I possess.
The novel is well written. It made me to think what a human could do when they’re trying to reach goals. After reading the novel, I learned that human has unlimited power to do things. The unlimited power exists when you are mentality is set to do something.