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Siddhartha is a novel that was written in 1922. Herman Hesse is the story's poet. Hesse attempts to address the question of spiritual liberation in his prose. Siddhartha, the main character, is a young man. The novel's story takes place in a district of Kapilavastu, Nepal. Siddhartha decides to abandon his wealthy background and embark on a voyage of self-discovery. Despite growing up in the affluent and successful Brahman household, he still feels like he has not accomplished all that he desired in life (Poston, Pp. 246). Siddhartha believes that divine instruction from his community's elders is insufficient. Therefore, he embarks on a journey with the aim of acquiring the happiness he has always wanted. Siddhartha chooses to leave his village and joins a group known as the Samanas. The team tries to gain self-satisfaction by teaching its members how to withstand hunger and pain. This is aimed at fleeing the limitations of the body from its desires. However, Siddhartha still felt that the group did not offered him all that he wanted and left to look for more. This is a misinformed decision since the Samanas proved efficient and it could have given him the satisfaction he sorted for and all he need was patience.
Siddhartha's move to leave both Samanas and Gotama Buddha does not make life any easier for him. After he leaves, he faces many challenges for example he loses touch with his inner voice (Malthaner, Pp. 95). From Gotama Buddha, Siddhartha wanders into a nearby town where his life takes a new direction. The beauty of a lady by the name Kamala catches his attention while in the city. Without giving it much thought, he decides to give himself to the lady as a student of love. From his actions, the conclusion is that Siddhartha thought he could find solace in learning about love. Therefore, he becomes Kamala's lover with an aim of learning about the art of love. Siddharta does this wishing that love can quench his thirst. Because of this uninformed decision, Kamala almost misleads him (Poston, Pp. 364). She advises him to look for more money and buy clothes and shoes as well as change his lifestyle. For the first time, Siddhartha felt like he had finally arrived at his destination. However, the love for wealth and lust misled him, and he developed self-hatred and a dangerous habit of gambling. He also developed anxiety, and this led to a state of depression which made him leave his posh house. This shows that even in love, Siddhartha did not find the satisfaction that he sought.
Half-starved and sunburned, Siddharth no longer appeared to resemble the boy he once was. Despite his friend Govinda finally settling down and finding peace in his life, Siddhartha fails to find wholeness in any way. He finds self-denial as an unfulfilling path and teaching (Malthaner, Pp. 106). This is because it does not provide him with a permanent solution to his problems. He is shocked by the fact that the Samanas have always lived the same kind of life for many years and yet they have attained true enlightenment spiritually.
Despite Govinda finding the Gotama camp fulfilling, Siddhartha's happiness about the group is short-lived. His doubts about the group take the better of him. He notices the contradictions in the teachings by Gotama (Malthaner, Pp. 105). Siddharth raises questions about how a person can be able to unify all the things and at the same time overcome the physical world. Sadly, Siddhartha concludes that being part of the Buddhists cannot guarantee him the peace he seeks to have. He leaves the Buddha in search of a meaningful life as he develops a feeling that religion cannot offer him what he wants.
As the years pass by, he manages to accumulate a lot of wealth and becomes a wealthy man. With his newly acquired status, he enjoys an affluent life. He acquires anything that the material world can offer him (Poston, Pp. 68). This further detaches him from real life as he becomes careless with his life. As time went by, losing or winning a betting game no longer made him happy. All the happiness he finds in his wealth becomes short-lived (Poston, Pp. 367). It becomes evident that the more material things he acquires, the less he becomes satisfied. Siddhartha almost ruins his life when he becomes empty and lets sex and drinking run his life. This lands him in a series of unhappiness which almost takes him to the drain. He soon understands that the material life he has got involved in is ruining his life without giving him the much-needed enlightenment he was after. Therefore, he decides to live it all behind him and vanishes to an unknown location without telling anyone.
After going missing from his for a long time, Siddhartha faces more trouble as he almost considers committing suicide (Malthaner, Pp. 103). This is opposite to what he had hoped he would gain after leaving the Samanas. Life becomes unbearable for Siddhartha making him feel as if he has lost everything in his life. This includes losing all he initially had such as wealth and a kind and loving family. During his horrifying encounters, a reunion with Govinda who is his old friend, does not offer him the much comfort he needed (Poston, Pp. 377). The problematic life Siddhartha is experiencing is seen from the fact that his friend Govinda fails to recognize him. However, when Siddhartha wakes up from his slumber, he recognizes his long lost friend. Siddhartha realizes that Govinda has dramatically changed and yearns for the same to happen to him. He makes known his wish to become a new person.
On the other hand, the search finally helps him find what he needed. As the novel progresses, Siddhartha decides to put his life back on track. He finds a ferryman, and he sees a chance of finally living a quiet life. Siddhartha asks the ferryman identified as Vasudeva if he could teach him and he gladly agrees (Poston, Pp. 275). Vasudeva accepts to have Siddhartha as his friend, and the two decide to work together on the river. Together, the two new friends spend time listening to the river. While staring at the calm waters, Siddharth expresses his wish to learn from the flowing water. He begins by studying the river and learns to be spiritually enlightened. The river's voice teaches him about unifying all life. He finally realizes the true meaning of peace and happiness.
In conclusion, the decision by Siddhartha to leave the Samanas did him more harm than good. He almost lost himself to the same world he was trying to overcome. His experiences became worse than the way it was at the point he was before seeking enlightenment. However, towards the end of the novel, it becomes evident that his journey to enlightenment became successful and he learns how to control his life and desires.
Malthaner, Johannes. "Hermann Hesse. Siddhartha." The German Quarterly 25.2 (1952): 103-109.
Poston, Bob. "Maslow's hierarchy of needs." surgical technologist 41.8 (2009): 347-353.
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