THOUGHTS ON LITERATURE + DOWNLOADS.

S

SIDDARTHA
‘SIDDHARTHA’
Written by Hermann Hesse, originally in German.
Published in 1922.

‘Siddhartha’ is a simple story of a boy’s struggle and spiritual journey as he finds his way through a life of contemplation and contradiction. This boy, Siddhartha, lived in the time of the Buddha, Gautama himself, and at one point in the story, along Siddhartha’s journey, the two characters meet for a brief moment, and they exchange some words in conversation. Given his first chance to speak, Siddhartha makes sure that Gautama understands that, although he respects his teachings as a venerable master who has personally practiced what he preaches and experienced the ecstasy of enlightenment, he simply cannot be limited by following in any one man’s teaching, for true wisdom cannot be imparted in words, it absolutely must be experienced firsthand rather than expressed by a teacher and understood by a student. This Siddhartha knew without a doubt, and for this reason, he regretted to inform with all due respect that he could not follow in the Buddha’s footsteps along with the other disciples and monks, along with his long-time childhood friend Govinda, his best friend, who had now left him to pursue the monastic lifestyle. Throughout the novel, Siddhartha maintains this idea that it is a must for him to find truth in his own experience rather than in the scriptures and sermons of sages (a fundamental teaching of the Buddha), and this leads him through many experiences, each containing its own lesson for him.

Siddhartha started his life out as the son of a Brahmin, the highest caste in Hindu society, then left that life to wander in the desert with the samanas as an ascetic, alien to the world, trying to achieve complete abolishment of attachment. He eventually reached his goal, but as time passed however, he finally came to embrace the world instead, and somehow found himself immersed in the suffering of sansara. He gradually reached a breaking point which humbled him as he reflected on his whole journey through good and evil, now coming back around to repay him for every wrong and every right. In the end, Siddhartha comes to the realization that the Oneness of God is behind every physical form, and it shines through in absolutely everything, in any and every way imaginable, in every teacher and every teaching. As I read this book I wondered if Siddhartha and Gautama could be separate characters extracted from the Buddha’s identity because the writer intended to showcase a certain trait of the Buddha’s character, or a tenet of his teaching, or perhaps a specific side of human behavior in general, in each of these two characters. Perhaps they were meant to represent the yin and the yang, the light and the darkness, or maybe the passion and the logic, the magic and the monotony, the apparent contradictions which are present within one being – just a few of the many ideas this brilliant book made me think about during the course of reading it.

‘Siddhartha’ was written by German-born author and Nobel laureate in literature Hermann Hesse and published in 1922. A creative soul from the beginning of his life, Hesse was encouraged to read as much as possible by his maternal grandfather Hermann Gundert, a missionary, linguist and doctor of philosophy. His grandfather’s love of reading seems to have been a profound influence for young Hermann, whose focus growing up as a writer was on topics dealing with spirituality and the individual’s search for sanctity. Apart from working in a bookshop which allowed him access to a specialized collection on theology, Hesse’s grandfather also allowed him use of his personal library which contained a vast amount of world literature. Herman Hesse began to feel that he was a citizen of the world, fascinated with world culture, and he wrote and published Siddhartha after a long trip through Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, and Burma, which provided inspiration for the novel according to Hesse. He was very interested in both Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as other philosophical and spiritual systems, and spent most of his time with books rather than friends. 

There’s not a lot of action or too much adventure in this book, as is expected, seeing as it is more of a philosophical and thought-provoking novel, and at times it incites a surprisingly serene and peaceful mood with its poetically structured phrases and paragraphs. Everything is so thoroughly and delicately described as the author is a master at painting crystal-clear visions in one’s head. I enjoyed this book very much for the way it is able to blend various ideas from Buddhism and Hinduism into a simple but inspiring story of unity. Siddhartha realizes, after much suffering and grief, much joy and much pain, that there is no need to keep searching, as everything we will ever need is already present within us – the key to every locked door, the solution to every problem, the map to every maze we move through during our material existence. Definitely worth a read if you enjoy philosophical and thought-provoking literature. Siddhartha’s adventures conjure up many important ideas to consider about life and our purpose in it.

The original was published in German in 1922, and the English translation I read is by Gunther Olesch, Anke Dreher, Amy Coulter, Stefan Langer, and Semyon Chaichenets. I also read the book in Spanish with my wife, and thoroughly enjoyed it and understood it on a deeper level the second time. Comment if you’ve read it, and read it if you haven’t!

~ REBEL SPIRIT ~
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” 
~ ‘Siddhartha‘ by Hermann Hesse.

* FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD HERE: HERMANN HESSE – SIDDHARTHA (1922) – WWW.OFFICIALREBELSPIRIT.COM

This E-book forms part of Project Gutenberg and is in the public domain.
******************************************************************