Siddhartha - An Indian Tale by Hermann Hesse. Published by MobileReference (mobi).

 
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Translated by Gunther Olesch, Anke Dreher, Amy Coulter, Stefan Langer and Semyon Chaichenets

Siddhartha is an allegorical novel by Hermann Hesse which deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man 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.

"Siddhartha" means "he who has attained his goals" or "every wish fulfilled". The Buddha's name, before his renunciation, was Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha. The main character of Siddhartha in the book is not the same person as the Buddha, who in the book goes by the name "Gotama".

- Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he's a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other "child people," dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse's other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader's ear down to hear answers from the river. In this translation Sherab Chodzin Kohn captures the slow, spare lyricism of Siddhartha's search, putting her version on par with Hilda Rosner's standard edition. --Brian Bruya

Customer Reviews:

  • Kindle Edition needs work
    This review is for the Kindle edition and not the book in general which stands on it's own merits and needs no review from me. The Kindle edition I read was full of typographic errors which detracts from the flow of the narrative. While most of the errors are small ones such as dropped letters or misspellings, they are extremely numerous. I would estimate there is at least one per page. Until a better Kindle version is made I suggest buying the physical book....more info
  • Simple, yet thought provoking
    This simple but thought provoking book will have your mind reeling with questions about family, friendship, and the true meaning of life. Hesse invites his readers to join Siddhartha in his journey to self-discovery and challenges readers to look deep into their own lives to find what makes them tick. At the age of thirteen Siddhartha willing leaves his family and his home to go in search for the ultimate nirvana, self-fulliment. He takes with him only his clothes and the three priniciples that will carry him through life; patience, fasting, and meditation. Full of vibrant, youthful idealism, Siddhartha forges into the world struggling to find his place, as well as create a life that is simple and meaningful.
    In Siddhartha, Hesse urges readers to look beyond the material world to find what is within mankind that is honorable and can be used to find happiness. Siddhartha, throughout the book relies on his patience to see him through, his fasting to help him survive, and his meditation to center his life. Each time Siddhartha falls into a lifestyle of possession and desire, he quickly releases himself from obligation and returns to his journey. The journey, however physical, is also a journey of the soul- the path back to himself. Each road he takes in the book is a learning experience, and each place leads him to a new light about the mind.
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has a desire to learn about their surroundings in a elevated sense, and who enjoys beautiful writing. Fall into an adventure that is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking, and follow Siddhartha's simple but powerful words of wisdom as you compile a new appreciation for the art of patience and meditation....more info
  • Cheaper for a reason
    formating is lacking and the tras
    nslation seems off. spend a little more and get a good edition....more info
  • in "ALL"
    It took few hours to finish the novel. As someone has said in the review, an audio version would be better i think. Overall, the writing is clear....more info
  • An essential read
    I read this book at least once a year, and every year, I find unexpected ways to grow and understand the world. It's an exquisite, essential read....more info
  • Profound and interesting read
    I found this book to be quite profound and interesting, even though I do not agree with its message in its entirety.

    While the book suggests different paths to enlightenment, such as the one experienced by Siddhartha (by observing nature and reflecting upon it), I feel that the Buddha's message may have carried more weight as it considers even physical aspects of nature to be an illusion, a veil covering the true essence of reality; although I am not a Buddhist, am not enlightened and can neither confirm nor disprove either of the approaches laid out in the book. Nonetheless, I do believe that it is important to have different experiences in life (just as the Buddha himself did) instead of starting out as a monk or an ascetic right from a young age and avoiding everything else - which Govinda, Siddhartha's friend made the mistake of doing, because he sought answers from everyone else but himself and followed blindly instead of going his own way. I suppose some might say that that's a little like not wanting to learn from others' experiences but we need to experience certain things for ourselves even if we have been warned. What does not kill us, makes us stronger and wiser.

    I also found this book to have parallels with Jiddu Krishnamurti's "Freedom From The Known".

    ...more info
  • Biblical
    When the gates of Hell opened wide and my soul entered the forest of uttermost darkness Siddhartha fell into my lap.

    The journey Hermann Hesse carries you through is one that is profoundly deep, meaningful, captivating.

    The simplicity of his words reflect God's authority and grace. That is precisely what I criticize about heavy books such as the Bible, the Koran..

    Although these Holy books are beautiful in their own right they leave way too much to interpretation.

    Siddhartha is simple, clear, powerful. A great guide to better understand the complexities of Truth.

    ...more info
  • Siddhartha
    SiddharthaThis book was recommended reading by an Indian friend, he said it changed his life. I am just beginning the book and will report later if I feel it will change mine....more info
  • The Search for Truth
    If you are a spiritual seeker, this book will open new doors of understanding to you. It certainly did that for me nearly thirty years ago.

    Siddhartha is an everyman who ultimately finds a way to align his spirit with the "realities" of life as we perceive it. The book is fine literature that is highly readable. It reads like a fantasy as it delves into the mystical realm which we all can experience.

    Being the author of a spiritually-themed book entitled "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude," I appreciate any book that attempts to reveal the truth of our nature. Siddhartha will certainly do that for you if you possess an open mind.

    Davis Aujourd'hui, author of "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude"...more info
  • Right book wrong translation
    Siddhartha

    I highly recommend this book but not this translation. The awkward sentence structures and many typographic errors get in the way of the reading. This is a story which should flow and unfold not stutter and stammer....more info
  • A great bookgroup pick!
    I read this book for book group. Prior to reading Siddartha, I had not read any Herman Hesse books so I was intrigued to read it, especially with all the great reviews.

    It is a short book - only about 118 pages - one that you want to take your time with if you can.

    The book is about Siddartha, as a boy he longs to learn, discover and find "the path of the paths". His philosphy is that he has to learn it on his own, it is not something that can be taught. We watch as Siddartha comes to this conculsion after years of teaching, we see him set out on his own, stumble, rediscover what is important to him, and then eventually find what he is looking for.

    Since it is only my first time having read this book I feel as if I only brushed the surface. I would say that the lessons learned are basic lessons that most people realize but it's good to be reminded of them. I'm sure if I continue to re-read this book over the course of my life I'll take different lessons from it each time that I read it. I found it to be a very peaceful read.

    ...more info
  • !Awesome!
    This book is superb! I was not able to put it down! I'll recommend it to all my friends in South America and Puerto Rico, where I have all kind of friends! Thanks again!...more info
  • A memorable novel about spiritual awakening
    This short book contains some profound lessons about religion, faith and coming of age. It is a book one can read quickly but it is not quickly forgotten. While Hesse won't blow you away as a writer in some respects (style, plot, dialogue, etc.), he does a wonderful job of character development in this novel (though be aware that the book is primarily focused on one person). This book is very enjoyable and can be digested by a variety of ages. I imagine this is the kind of book that will yield something new with each reading. Highly recommended....more info
  • Siddhartha
    This is the second time I'm reading Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha in a new translation by Sherab Chodzin Kohn. The first is translated by Hilder Rosner. I believe the translator is a practicing Buddhist. Inevitably, his version is tinged with a stronger Buddhist flavour than the original translation. Nonetheless, the lyricism of the prose is retained, and I find it no less poetic.

    Siddharta's intellectual pride makes him reject all teachings, including the Buddha's, to seek his own path. That path leads him to samsara, to material greed and desires of the flesh. And when he thinks he has found the one true path at the river, his former lover brings him a son, and he has to go through the pain of severing that final manifestation of ego all over again. All these, Hesse concludes, are part of the lessons that the seeker has to experience in order to find the truth - a truth that is beyond words, beyond the duality that hides behind words.

    This time round, I'm also more profoundly affected by the different characters in the book, and the human bonds that tie them to Siddhartha. Each of them stands for a human condition, and yet Hesse, with great economy of skill, is able to make them fully fleshed-out characters.

    Govinda, in particular, strikes me as a most moving character. He's not too bright, this Govinda, but he's earnest, loyal, and sincere. The two times that he meets Siddhartha along the river are the most touching episodes in the book. It's telling that Siddhartha reveals the summation of his long spiritual search to Govinda in the final chapter. Two old men, once the closest of friends, sit beside a river under the setting sun, discussing the ultimate truth of life. It is the calmest of images, but the questions asked and the answers given vibrate with cosmic significance.

    Read Siddhartha for an immensely poetic rendition of the spiritual search into the true meaning of life....more info
  • A great novel of Lost Youth
    I first read this book in high school but I have gone back to it over and over again. To me it is a timeless classic. Whether it is historically accurate or not isn't important to me. What's more important is that it is a great way to begin to understand eastern philosophy.

    When I read this book in my youth, I couldn't digest it because I was mired in western thinking and Christianity. Later in life it has been a guidepost to me. There is a profound undertone of sadness in the book as time progresses and youth is lost. Too me this is a novel of lost youth and a philosophical clash between east/west. Siddhartha gives up his way of life and beliefs several times and wanders a divergent path, only to be brought back to the river and the ferryman. The ferry man remains there to escort Siddhartha across the river and eventually takes him in. I believe these crossings represent the different passages in life when we alter our own destinies through are actions, whether knowingly or not.In the end Siddhartha fades into a broken form of enlightenment. A sort of circularity of time and life's passages is in tension with the linear no going back nature of time.

    To me the river is the overwhelming symbol and allegory. It is at once completely diverse but whole, composed of infinitely large numbers of water molecules flowing as one entity, linking the glaciers and the sea. The eastern concept of the unity and disunity of life, the yen/yang is completely encompassed within this symbol. Time flows by in the book cruelly like the river and strips away youth and folly, leaving a hardened wise man. Sons and Fathers blend together, this is magnified when Siddhartha's own son rejects him and steals from him. In the end Siddhartha becomes the Buddha-but his passage is one of suffering.

    Just for the lyrical pace of the prose and the exposure to eastern philosophy this little book is a must read. I keep coming back to it time and time again. Each time I get a little something different out of it. ...more info
  • Educational and thought-provoking, but handle with care . . .
    This is the first piece I have read on Buddhism. It's a thought-provoking, well-constructed and compelling tale of a young man (Siddhartha) who takes leave of his Brahman father, becomes an ascetic (in the extreme), then becomes a wealthy businessman and gambler and lover of women, then becomes an older but wiser poor ferryman with a broken heart over his rebellious son. Throughout, Siddhartha is considered a great sage by followers of his like belief system, although he falters greatly during those prosperous materialistic, sensual years. This tale serves a good primer into the matter of Buddhism, I think.

    In way of praise, I was greatly impressed by the running internal analysis of what "made Siddhartha tick". A man of great personal ethic and self-discipline, if somewhat lacking in altruism. A man of great self-control (sometimes?) and a seeker.

    An additional thought, however - notwithstanding all of the eastern mystic window-dressing, is Siddhartha's story all that unique? Young man leaves home pure of heart and with noble goals . . . he is caught up in ambition and success and wordly pleasures . . . then as an old man he eschews materialism and discovers the value of family, friends, and service. So Siddhartha's story so fundamentally different from many of ours?

    I included the term "handle with care" in my review title. That is a flag to the "wobbly seeker" to be careful with what you read and what you do with it. TRUTH is, by nature, exclusive. "Siddhartha" is an exqisitely written and thought provoking novel. It contains some true ethical and moral ideas. But it is not TRUTH. I'm not a follower of Buddha, but rather the Bible's "Jesus" (Yehoshua in his native language). I find that Siddhartha's quest for peace and Self (salvation of his soul -- or his "final ultimate incarnation" as perhaps Siddhartha would have said it) outside of the God and Savior of the Bible was folly. ...more info
  • Read it every few years
    Fantastic book. Deep, interesting, profound. I read it every few years and it has never let me down....more info
  • A life changing masterpiece, one cannot read this book without reflecting on ones own life
    The first time i read siddartha i thought to myself , "how do i acquire such tranquility of mind, and soul?" I have studied martial arts most of my life and i have been in the ring many times before, even though there is a great deal of discipline that is acquired along with the teaching of the martial arts, one also acquires a sense of instinct, and instinct drives even the most disciplined martial artist to act brash and hot tempered, and through my hot bloodedness i found this book. It is strange to think that such a simple act as reading the pages off of a book can instill such a serene sense in a person. When ever i read this book no matter how angry i'am at the time, i can't help but smile peacefully at the perplexeties of everyday life and the meaningless of anger and agitation, this book truly is a spiritual journey all of its own. This novel contains, what is in my opiinion, one of the most profound messeges ever written, and that messege is that no life style is wrong or right, it is the beauty of the buhddist teaching, it does not discriminate nor show contempt, for your life style, no matter how vague, or exciting, or misled, is not an evil but a step towards knowledge and spiritual enlightment, every action in your life shaping the kind of person your going to become and some how shaping the people around you as well. The path to true enlightment isn't leading the perfect life, its making mistakes, being human, and learning from ones transgressions. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever fealt the call of the self, the yearning of the spirit, and the release of the mind.
    ...more info
  • Siddhartha
    One of the best books i have ever read! It is is everything, the whole story....more info
  • OM
    This gem of a story was enriched by its `on tape' version that I downloaded from our library catalog; it was beautifully read. I could hear the OM calling to my core.

    It is a fascinating story of one in search of enlightenment, finding it losing it and finding it again only to realize it was always there! In this mostly adult life description of a great prince who left the world we also see him so drawn back into it that we are reminded of our challenges to demonstrate sincere spiritual values and not allow ourselves to become numb. The consequence of leaving home and family for this quest is painfully felt including trying to raise a spoiled child that he does not know and failing to do so. Yet he comes back to the river, sees his reflection there, releases his baggage to the quiet river keeper, and then realizes with full certainty that he is a part of this flowing life; the river speaks to those willing and trying to listen and says, OM.

    It is a classic among literary choices and several of the high schools wisely and openly offer this as their junior year summer reading, placing or nurturing the seed of awareness at a time when it's most needed. Most people I know read this book when it came out years ago. It is said, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear; this book was one of my teachers.
    ...more info
  • Siddhartha: polarity and unity
    Just as the river's message to Siddhartha, the depth of insights within the pages of this Indian tale can not be articulated. If one considers this book a "quick read", I might suggest a second reading (and a third). The pages are layered with themes, symbols, and lessons. The tale is a quest for enlightenment. The protaganist's experiences involve love, desire, polarity, time, status, rebirth, freedom, limitations, knowledge, wisdom, values, truth's, and place (just to name a few). The TOTALITY of all experiences is essentially what aides Siddhartha in finding the path towards UNITY. The river holds many lessons, but these lessons could not have been known without previous life experiences and resulting emotions (sometimes extreme). It is only when Siddhartha understands the river's nature of co-existence and polarity does Siddartha reach Om...

    "No longer knowing whether time existed , whether this diplay had lasted a second or a hundred years, whether there was a Siddhartha, or a Gotama, a self and others...wounded deeply by a divine arrow which gave him pleasure, deeply enchanted and exalted, Govinda stood yet a while bending over Siddarths peaceful face which he had just kissed, which had just been the stage of all present and future forms..."

    (After having lost my 1995 copy a number of years back, it was pleasing to reread this updated translation. The tale is as timely today, as it was in 1995. This is a book to keep as reference by the nightstand...highly recommended!)

    Ultimately, this book is not about one thing VERSUS another. It is about the co-existence of polarity for Unity....more info
  • Buddhist Morality Play
    Curious about Buddhism? Hermann Hesse's famous novel SIDDHARTHA is as engaging an entryway into eastern thought as you can find in any religious/eastern philosophy section of a bookstore, because it is both accessible and true to the system of beliefs set down so long ago.

    No, it is not a how-to manual complete with advice on meditation techniques, but it does clearly show how the protagonist's journey from the selfish hell of pleasing the body to the heavenly rewards of pleasing the soul can lead to oneness, completeness, and a unique form of happiness.

    In our material, self-absorbed times, the message is especially appropriate. At its nadir, Siddhartha's life is comprised of the pursuit of wealth and power, the sexual pleasure of women, the lovely reveries of fine wines, expensive clothes, obedient servants, sweet-smelling perfumes, rich meat and fowl, the siren call of gambling, and the false entitlement that is idleness. In short, he measures success in much the same way as many people in present-day capitalist nations. It is when Siddhartha begins to feel owned by his possessions and paradoxically empty in the fullness of his successes that he desperately seeks answers.

    Although the novel is more telling than showing, readers should realize that its purpose is not so much in the plot as in its cautionary theme. The ending, where Siddhartha's friend sees all life reflected in the protagonist's face, hammers home Hesse's appreciation of basic Buddhist concepts about life. For the curious about and the adherents of Buddhism, it is a pleasing morality tale that may be predictable but is no less worth the journey.

    SIDDHARTHA is one of those books that serious readers should have under their belt at some point during their lifetimes, no matter where they are on their own personal spiritual journeys... ...more info
  • A small gem
    I have read Sidharta 15 years ago and just re-read it again this week.
    Herman Hesse's wisdom is still intact, this small gem has profound truths and messages in it yet small and fast enough to not dwell in it for too long.
    I highly recommend to anyone who wants a profound and easy book to read.
    [...]
    Isaac Ohana...more info
  • Happily Ever Enlightend
    I first read the book Siddartha when I was in 7th grade and I enjoyed it immensely. I was told by many teachers that it was much too profound for me and that I would not grasp it. I do admit that I didn't make the connection between Siddartha and Buddha, but I wish someone had been there to guide me through it instead of squelching my will to read.
    I am now in my junior year of High School and it still remains one of my favorite books. I recommend it highly for 7th grade up. It really opened my eyes to a whole section of the Earth I had been neglecting to pay any attention too. I took a spiritual journey vicariously through Siddartha and came out a better, more worldly individual. This is a great book for parents and teachers alike to sit down and have discussions with kids about and allow children to formulate their own opinions. It's a great read as well as an eye-opener and I encourage everyone to check it out....more info
  • Great story
    This is the best story I've read. However, the brown paper was not the quality I expect....more info
  • Great book, Real Life Wisdom!
    I had read the translated book in my native tongue (Greek) at an early age, but now I discover a whole new world by reading it at my 40's in English... I hope you will enjoy its wise thoughts as I did....more info
  • Siddhartha
    The book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse takes place in Ancient India and follows the story of a man called Siddhartha. He is born into wealth and is very intelligent. Siddhartha starts searching for the Atman. The Atman is within and but no one can tell him how to find it. Not the Brahmins, who are the highest social class and similar to priests, or parents and teachers. He decides to leave his life of luxury and go to live with the ascetics with his best friend, Govinda. The ascetics, known as Samanas, teach that the way to Atman is by destroying your Self and that reality is an illusion. After a few years they hear stories of a Buddha who has attained enlightenment and is teaching disciples. They leave to follow him. Govinda stays with Buddha Gotama, but Siddhartha realizes that you can't teach enlightenment and he leaves.
    Siddhartha realizes as he wanders that what he senses is not an illusion and what is most important is that he listens to the voice on his inside. He meets a ferryman and crosses the river. In the city he falls in love with a beautiful woman who is a courtesan, and unknowingly impregnates her. In order to be with her Siddhartha must become materially wealthy. When he does this he loses all his holiness and becomes bogged down in everyday life off a rich man. Eventually Siddhartha realizes he hates life so much that he leaves the city. He is about to kill himself when he realizes he can leave that life behind. Siddhartha goes and lives with the ferryman and listens to the river, which tells him many things. He meets his son who runs away and Siddartha has some very important realizations about life.
    This overall is a good story. However the writing isn't fully realized. One thing that made this book a little alienating was that it talks about concepts that are not fully explained. The Atman is a good example. It talks about where it's located, but doesn't explain the location (the soul). The book takes awhile to grab the reader. If you keep reading it gets better but bogs back down towards the end of the story. Hesse often repeats himself. For example he compares Siddartha's lover's lips to a fresh cut fig twice in two sentences. While repetition is useful in making points if overused you become redundant, making it weaker and casting an uncreative light on the author. However Hesse takes a creative path and strays from the accepted history of Siddhartha Gautama's life. For example, he never mentions the Bodhi tree that Buddha sat under when he became enlightened. This makes it seem like more of novel than a biography. This is also apparent by the fact that Hesse doesn't go into detail about all Siddartha's life, telling only what is necessary to get his real focus, Siddhartha's theories and beliefs and how those were formed. He will take pages to tell about days and then skip over years in the same amount of space or less. While this is necessary to keep the novel in a readable page range and to show focus on important parts it doesn't give you a complete perspective. For a more complete and light-hearted look at Buddha I suggest Osamu Tezuka's Buddha magna.
    Siddhartha...more info
  • To Fully Appreciate Hesse's Siddhartha, There are Prerequisites to Read
    An opinion, nothing more: to fully appreciate Hesse's novel Siddhartha, I recommend that a potential reader first do some preliminary review of non-dual teachings (non-duality, advaita, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Dzogchen, etc.). Otherwise, the overall point might be lost on a reader unfamiliar with the different branches of the tree of Indian philosophy.

    An excellent example of a doctrine of no doctrines!

    Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of EATING THE MOMENT: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time (New Harbinger, 2008)
    www.eatingthemoment.com
    [...]...more info
  • great book, bad kindle adaptation
    The book is great, but this kindle version is very poor: bad lines breaks, no table of content, not even a cover image. Disappointing....more info
  • A masterpiece
    Siddhartha is much more than a story about a person's search for enlightenment. In many ways, it is a story of the human condition.

    I would recommend it to anyone who takes an interest in literary genius. ...more info
  • An essential read
    I read this book at least once a year, and every year, I find unexpected ways to grow and understand the world. It's an exquisite, essential read....more info
  • Great book poor translation
    What can you say about Hesse that hasnt already been said. The book's exploration of one mans search for meaning and enlightenment during the period of the first buddha is truly timeless. I wish the tranlation was as strong. Misprints are frequent,sentences are missing modifiers while other sentences seem to dangle in the air. Of course this becomes a very minor distraction to the piece as a whole which is why I gave the book 4 stars. If your looking to read Siddhartha do so but beware of the translation....more info
  • Samsara is nirvana
    There are some books everyone talks about but nobody reads. And then, there are books everyone reads but nobody understands. "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse seems to be one of those. I didn't expect much from this book after reading about it on the web. I expected it to be a really bad hippie book about some libertine who callously abandons his wife and kid, and then expects to "learn from the river", or whatever. I definitely didn't expect it to be Buddhist. Actually reading the book was therefore a pleasant surprise. Apparently, force-feeding high school students with "Siddhartha" is a really bad idea, LOL.

    Hermann Hesse's novel, first published in 1922, is obviously based on a close study of different Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Perhaps the author also studied Tantrism. The book is very clever, and contains allusions to both the Bhagavad Gita and the legend of the Buddha. "Learning from the river" turns out to be another allusion. Note also the deliberate confusion in naming the main character Siddhartha, while referring to the real Buddha as Gotama. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha's full name was Siddhartha Gotama!

    Whether the book is "Buddhist" or not is mostly a matter of definition. While Siddhartha rejects the Buddha, he eventually becomes enlightened himself by a path that could be accepted by some Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In the last chapter, Siddhartha realizes that samsara is nirvana, and grasps the concept of shunyata, fundamental tenets of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. More controversial are Siddhartha's libertine escapades. I think it all hinges on how you interpret his words that the libertinism was "inevitable". Was it inevitable in the sense that the path to enlightenment goes through rank antinomianism? Outside "left-hand" Tantrism, that would be a very controversial statement. Or was it inevitable in the sense of being fated and karmic? If so, I think most Buddhists would agree with Hesse. Some people just don't get it in the present lifetime... What the correct interpretation is, I honestly don't know.

    Siddhartha seems to reject four purported paths to salvation. First, he rejects the empty ritualism of the Brahmins. Then, he rejects the extreme asceticism of the Samanas. His reaction to the Buddha is more complex. On the one hand, Siddhartha admires the Buddha, who is clearly an enlightened being. On the other hand, Siddhartha feels that one cannot become enlightened by a strictly logical philosophy, or by reliance on a teacher. He senses a dualism in the Buddha's teaching, a dualism between False and True he somehow suspects doesn't exist in reality. Also, he believes that the strict logic of Buddhist metaphysics cannot explain the existence of the Buddha himself! Enlightenment looks "illogical" in a self-contained, purely philosophical system. Interestingly, the Buddha seems to tacitly accept Siddhartha's criticism, as if a secret understanding existed between them. Exoteric versus esoteric teaching?

    More difficult to fathom is Siddhartha's entanglement with Kamala and Kamaswami. To some extent, it sounds Tantric. Siddhartha indulges himself in sex, gambling and money without being affected by it, like an antinomian sage. And yet, in the end he *does* become affected, sinking deeper and deeper. My personal take on this, is that our hero rejects the Tantric path as well. Eventually, Siddhartha becomes a ferryman and "learns from the river". He realizes the essential emptiness and non-duality of all things, and finally reaches salvation. His friend, the Buddhist monk Govinda, experiences a mystical vision in Siddhartha's presence, similar to Arjuna's theophany in the presence of Krishna as recorded in the Bhagavad Gita. (Note the weird fact that the monk's name is Govinda, another name for Krishna!) Govinda reaches the conclusion that although Siddhartha's words are incomprehensible and doesn't sound Buddhist, he has nevertheless attained the same state as the Buddha. Govinda throws himself at Siddhartha's feet, and there, the story ends.

    Perhaps I should point out that I'm not a Buddhist by any standard. Still, I found the book to be extremely cleverly written, and it's now one of my favourites. Five stars!

    PS. I read another edition than this one. It was marked "Penguin Modern Classics" and had a foreword by Paulo Coelho. This edition doesn't seem available from the American site of Amazon. I have therefore placed my review here, purely at random. I haven't read this particular translation. I think... ;-)
    ...more info
  • Great
    Siddhartha, a bildungsroman by Herman Hesse, first published in 1922, is simply one of the greatest books ever written. I say that not because I agree with its essential philosophy (which is problematic in some of its over-simplicity), a predisposition that far too often accounts for why critics recommend or do not recommend a work of art, but because it is the embodiment of one of the oldest maxims that defines great literature: saying the most in the least amount of words. Technically, the book- which I have read several times, the last over a decade ago, is a long novella of just under 40,000 words (in English translation- and I read the famed Hilda Rosner version; the original German may be a few hundred words longer or shorter) yet the amount and depth of information it reveals about its titular protagonist has rarely been equaled in works five to ten times its length. It is this remarkable poetic compression that is at the heart of the book's greatness; and a style rarely used. Recently, I just finished reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation And Empire (the second book of his original Foundation trilogy) and was struck at how similar the two (or three- counting the original Foundation) books were in their approaches to narrative and characterization. It is well known that Asimov's masterpieces- which go well beyond the sci fi genre- were based upon the excellent historical stylings of Edward Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, and it is in that fact that the key to Siddhartha is turned.

    Even though Hesse's book is fiction, and its lead is not based upon the real Siddhartha Gautama (the original Buddha)- although he makes a fictive cameo, Hesse employs the same pseudo-historical approach to the tale. This allows for him to leap over great periods in the main character's life by tossing off bon mots and facts as if they were generally known beforehand by the reader. Later, many of these observations are revealed or reinforced by the `on stage' actions of Siddhartha and his colleagues. Of course, this is not the usual style of character revelation- which is dependent upon scene setting, interior analysis, symbolism, etc. Instead, Hesse's narrative simply puts the characters into situations where they have to tell what they feel. Siddhartha encounters the Buddha, the prostitute Kamala, or the ferryman Vasudeva, and instead of `showing' us, he `tells' us what is going on with the characters. Yet, he does it so well that to `show' us would require the novel being stripped of all its originality, and fabular qualities, in favor of another didactic tract on how to live one's life. Yet, slyly, the very fact that the characters, especially Siddhartha, tell us so much reveals their character very effectively. Siddhartha, himself, glosses over years in a few sentences, but the very fact that he does not feel inclined to tell us- or himself in interior monologue- certain details says quite a bit about his way of dealing with the world and himself. Rationalization is a quality few characters have as a prime one, so the fact Siddhartha has it in spades sets him up very uniquely.

    I see this form of characterization as `silhouetting' for what stays hidden, but can be presumed, is as important as that known. Asimov also uses this technique to great effect in his portrait of Foundation and Empire's villain The Mule. Little is known or revealed about the mutant until the last chapter, when all the hints coalesce into one of the great villainous perorations in literature; surpassing that of many arch-villains in thrillers and detective novels. The Mule, like Siddhartha, is sketched in great detail by all that is left out when key points are made. It's a wonder more writers have not picked up on this technique....It's no accident that the final image and focus of the book is not on the Western lead character, but his Eastern sidekick, for the book is an indictment, or, to be kinder, a trial of the Eastern way of life.

    Whether it passes that test or not is for each reader to decide, as is the test all great art faces in front of its audience. To recapitulate the book's greatest virtue, I say: YES! ...more info
  • Hari Om
    Thank you Mr. Hesse for writing this novel. The dvine spark that exists in the main character is something that everyone should be able to identify with. Being captivated by the pages of this book puts us in touch with the divinity that lies within us all. Throughout the book, the resolute spirit, the capacity for the character to live his life with abandon is always there. It is hard for this book to end and one wishes that Sidhartha continues on. Perhaps we can all bring Siddhartha with us in spirit, to provide us with uplift and inspiration as we carry on with our own journeys....more info
  • A rambling spiritual adventure...
    On a whim I picked this one up, knowing of it and recognizing the book title. I knew nothing of what the book was about, except what I could surmise from the cover.

    I was a little put off initially with the way Hesse wrote, kind of flighty with nothing too concrete or definite. Is it a spiritual quest, a personal quest and so on. Then as Siddhartha grows older within the book we begin to see the natural progression from one mental/spiritual situation to the next. We see him go from spiritual, to rich, gambling, to being poor to a heightened spiritual state and so on.

    All in all, after I worked my way into the flesh of Hesse's writing, I began to enjoy Siddhartha. You feel as though you are on the spiritual voyage with him and can understand where he is coming from. I am glad that there were only 150 pages and it was a fast read, because I most certainly would not want to read this style of writing for very long. I would recommend.

    4 stars....more info
  • Great Buy
    I'm usually concerned about purchasing items on line, especially books. I can honestly say that this experience was worth it. I would recommend this seller to anyone interested in purchasing good quality books at extremely reasonable prices.

    Buy with confidence, I did! ...more info
  • A must read for any spiritual seeker
    A journey through the life of a man with a single purpose: to find his own truth.

    Knowing that the only way to discover life's greatest mysteries is to go through the heart of them alone, he finds himself living one extreme after another until he finally rests in the balance.

    The ending will either leave you glowing or pondering, but either way you will not regret taking the time to read this remarkable tale....more info
  • Western Introduction to Eastern Philosophy
    Although I can understand the longing to separate oneself from the frustrations and hypocrisy of human life, it does seem like an abandonment rather than an accomplishment to me. Maybe because of this, and because I had been exposed to the tenets of both Buddhism and Hinduism prior to reading this novel, I didn't find it as life-altering and uplifting as many others find it. If you're new to eastern philosophy, this could be a good general introduction....more info
  • A Philisophical Classic
    I have never been a huge fan of philosophy, but I can see why this little tome is considered a classic. It is a life's journey and a profound look into the soul. Siddhartha's journey and his desire to be spiritually fulfilled began as a Brahmin's son, then as an ascetic, then into a life of lust and material possessions, and finally into a peaceful life as a ferry driver. With all his outward searching, Siddhartha comes to realize that inner peace is not achieved through lessons from a teacher, or fasting, or worldliness. It is an inward reflection, a recognition of self. This book challenges the ideas of love and nature, among other things....more info
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
    'Siddhartha' is an allegorical novel about the spiritual transformation of an Indian man called Siddhartha in the 6th century BC....more info
  • His Search is Our Search!
    Siddhartha is a man on a spiritual journey. German writer, Herman Hesse, starts off strong about a man who is willing to give up everything in search of his self and to live without the needs and comforts of life. Siddhartha is searching for meaning which includes a spiritual journey without material possessions and even relationships. He has a love relationship with Kamalah who would provide him his son, something that she predicted. That is where the story, I think gets lost. Instead the book sort of lost it's way rearding Siddhartha's journey by his relationship with Kamalah and his search for religion and spiritualism is brushed aside by his relationships with one woman and his quest to continue to find himself. Hesse is an interesting writer in that he starts strongly trying to help us find our own spiritual center much like Siddhartha has in his life and he gets lost along the way or is detoured. Despite it's short length, it's quite a powerful book but it loses it's punch midway in the novel...more info
  • One of the very greatest books I've ever read
    SIDDHARTHA is a heroic adventure of personal growth. In its characterization of a hero's journey--a soul's journey--it's even more universal than a Joseph Campbell discourse.

    As Campbell taught us, many works of fiction serve as symbolic case studies of personal growth. But I think SIDDHARTHA is the best, the most deliberate, the most allegorical, of all. SIDDHARTHA's narrative and metaphors never stray from the title character's self-exploration and development. Due to this tight focus, SIDDHARTHA actually reads and behaves like a quite simple tale.

    Most importantly (here's Hermann Hesse's genius), it improves upon the standard "monomyth" by giving us a peculiar, placid denouement that better shows how heroes are profoundly transformed by their quests....more info
  • The self realization
    This is for Tom. Your comments are wonderful and as with you I read this the first time when I was 19 (1969) and again quite a few times over the years and have passed it on to many in my own travels. Your comments concerning the self self self is understandable but think that you missed the most important aspect in all of that which is that you have a hard time in life finding all those other things you mentioned if you cannot find and know yourself. To me this is the meat of Hesse's understanding (along with the idea of all searches in all religions, in which he was aghast that Budhism even became a religion)of first knowing yourself and then find how it fits into the world around you.

    My 2 cents...more info
  • The life journey perfected.
    Although the story of a young Brahmin seeking enlightenment may seem as though it couldn't be applicable to the life of a college student, this couldn't be farther from the truth. The story, although very specifically centered around an idea and life I will never experience, is perfection as it relates to a life journey.

    Siddhartha encounters many obstacles and is pulled away from what he believes to be the focus of his life numerous times through out the story. This is a fundamental problem in every human life. This is the struggle to keep on the straight and narrow and achieve what we believe to be perfection in our lives. The story is simply that of a single individual striving to find a happiness that has no equal. This is indeed the great leveler in life. No matter age, creed, gender, or what have you, humans are only concerned with finding happiness. This book transcends all barriers and is story that all can find at least one point relatable to their lives. It is a great read and a great journey. It is worth the money to be able to read a book that motivates you to keep looking forward and keep striving for that final goal.
    ...more info
  • The Book's message is a good Message for all ages
    This fictional account of a young Indian nobleman's journey to enlightenment became the 1960's radicals Manifesto and Handbook. Whether intended to or not, this book along with another by Hesse, his "Steppenwolf," written the same year, and "The Tales of Don Juan" by Carlos Castenada, ushered in the era of the hippies, recreational drug use, and the "Beat" generation in the U.S. And while they all had a distinctively Buddhist flavoring, worldview and outlook to them, together they changed not just the U.S. but a large part of the thinking of the youth of the Western world.

    The story is set in the sixth century, the era when Buddha himself is believed to have lived. After many years of living a worldly life as a trader, and a father, Siddartha began his search for enlightenment in earnest. As is the case with Don Juan, Siddartha's journey is an inner solitary one, an attempt, as it were, to use his maturity and awareness of the world to gain better insight and awareness of himself and to better understand how he fits into the world around him.

    At the end of the novel he is captain of a small boat where he sees the river on which he traveled as an allegory of the passage of life's cycles from birth to death, and thorough various other phases of life. The ultimate goal of awareness and the ultimate message of the book are to become one with the cycles of the universe. His search ends with the understanding that we are all part of the same oneness, whether it is called god or just the universe or the cosmos: Change does not matter nearly as much as the fact that we are all connected.

    It is a good and uplifting message.

    Five stars....more info
  • Go With The Flow
    "Siddhartha" offers up numerous aphorisms for contemplation, and each reader takes away one or two nuggets that seem to drive home a point of particular relevance in that individual's life. Whether Easterner or Westerner, Buddhist or Christian, these aphorisms largely transcend particular organized religions and speak to the human condition generally. It is therefore irrelevant whether Hesse's Siddhartha was correctly modeled after Buddha.

    For this reader (Rosner translation), it's all about being "of the moment". The Chinese have a saying, paraphrased as "you can never set foot in the same stream twice." Absolutely true. "Past" and "Future" are purely intellectual constructs, and "Time", even when defined as elegantly as by the likes of Einstein, remains the purely human invention of a particular species on a particular planet. While the sum total of Siddhartha's approach to living is the result of all of his life perceptions and actions, he asks us to stop fixating on the future (the material goals of the merchant, the potentially endless search for wisdom through others - an inherently flawed concept - even the fruitless attempt to hold onto offspring who have developed their own aspirations and value system) but rather, to slow down and use not just our body (as Siddartha did with Kamala) but also our mind and heart to totally connect with our surroundings - the person whose eyes we make contact with or whose voice we hear; the smell, colors and temperature around us; even the ugliness of the actions of others; and to stop fighting our desire to "move things along", for, like the river, they will move us along, if we let them, and we can savor the ride by being a force of less resistance.

    Be open to the moment as much as humanly possible, Siddhartha suggests, and you will feel the pulse of eternity and your minute role in it. Only then can you fathom the immateriality of the past and the folly of playing to the future. Connect with your fellow human being, being with him or her in the moment, and let your immersion in the river of humankind carry your earthly vessel to a more sublime destination. In this, all individual religions unite; in this, all human preoccupations must give way; in this, "progress" may be achieved through a radically different human definition.

    Not easily done by we humans, but genuinely worthy of consideration.



    ...more info
  • Enlightenment?
    I first read SIDDHARTHA over thirty years ago. The only impression it left upon me at the time was disappointment. It seemed that Siddhartha really had not achieved much wisdom; he had simply grown old, after a life of mistakes, and finally resigned himself well enough to life's disappointments to be contented with life. To be sure, that is no mean accomplishment, but quite a few ordinary people manage to achieve it. Even I have, and I am not all that old yet. Upon reading it again, I see that Siddhartha is supposed to have achieved ultimate truth in the end. I am fairly sure that when Hesse wrote the book, he himself had not yet achieved ultimate truth. Did he ever?

    Siddhartha encounters Buddha while still quite young. He sees that though Buddha has found truth, he is not able to teach it in such a way that his followers do. So he does not become a disciple, but eventually finds the ultimate truth on his own. The A true seeker can accept now doctrine, though one who has found the truth accepts all doctrines. Carried to an extreme, and Siddhartha insists that it must be carried to the extreme, this means that contradictory doctrines are all equally true. Since time is not real then sorrow and bliss, good and evil, and so on, are illusions. This strikes unenlightened people like me as foolish - I really cannot acknowledge that Ted Bundy is not evil, nor that there is no difference between Auschwitz and Disneyland -- but the truth always sounds foolish to the unenlightened. This certainly makes the pronouncements of the enlightened impossible to criticize.

    In my unenlightened state, ultimate truth strikes me as pointless and gloomy. I gather that since we are all eventually supposed to reach NIRVANA, or whatever, and there is no time, then none of mankind's suffering is real. Well, it sure seems real; if it is not real, what on earth is its point? I am skeptical when I am told that Buddhist monks are in possession of ultimate truth. People read Siddhartha and tell me that they find it full of peace and wisdom. But I will bet that I am not the only one who is left shaking his head.

    Hesse's prose is quite beautiful. I imagine when it was written, SIDDHARTHA must have been one of the earliest Western accounts of Eastern philosophy. It is well worth reading on these accounts.
    ...more info
  • This one has me thinking...
    What more can I say about this book that the other 452 reviews before me have missed? Nothing I suppose, and this review is mostly for my own benefit. I finished this book over the span of two or three days, and while being a simply written book, it has been in my thoughts for some weeks. This book follows a young man through his life until he is old, living beside a river and learning everything from that river.

    What I took from the book was this: that there is no "answer" to life. Each one of us has different abilities, thoughts, backgrounds, ideologies... What really matters is time ticking by. This second, that second. Siddhartha realizes at the end of the book that wisdom and experience are different things. That trying to explain wisdom, as the Buddha and many, many other wise men try to do, is impossible-- only knowledge can be transferred, but not wisdom. In that sense, Siddhartha realized that our best teacher is ourselves.

    I was confused in some senses on the personal philosophy of Siddhartha; how can one truly learn from a river? It seems as though one could arrive at any conclusion based on a river, or any thing in nature or of observation, for that matter. Perhaps, Siddhartha realized that awareness, and living each moment was the answer to peace and happiness.

    I enjoyed reading this book, but unfortunately had expectations going into it based on the many reviews on Amazon. As always, expectations usually carry the nature of tainting many great things. Ah well, I will remember this book until the day I die....more info
  • Outstanding!!! 5 Star all the way
    I can't think of anyone who would read this book and not find something to grab onto from reading it. I think just about anyone can see a little bit of themselves through the character of Siddharth, the journey for authenticity which only comes through living life. Wisdom has to be experienced and we learn that from this book. Each of us has so many potential paths we could follow or so many different lives we could live but in the end how things play out is the one we were meant to be on. This is one of the greatest books I have ever read. To the reviewer who said its all about the self. Love has to start with loving yourself before you can love anything else, if you don't love yourself nothing else follows....more info
  • Endlessly re-readable
    I've been teaching this book to classes for about a decade, and if one of the marks of truly great literature is that it generates discussions - then this is most assuredly one of the greatest of books. Some students find it too challenging, of course. They decide to ignore Siddhartha's final vision altogether. This is one way to deal with the problem of being asked to think about life in a wholly new fashion, and rather than it being a 'fault' in the book it is evidence of the book's desire to give readers a push in a new and somewhat unnerving direction. For Siddhartha's vision is of a world in which 'I' and 'you' dissolve - and this can be perceived by some 19 and 20 year olds as extremely threatening.

    Any book that can shake up students in this age bracket is worth its weight in gold....more info
  • The best "little book" of Buddhism ever written....
    I have read this book no less than five times over the years. How one could not give this book 5 stars is beyond me. I have read numerous books relating to Buddhism and Hesse' "Siddhartha" although a fiction is probably the best book ever written on the subject. So simplistic yet so profound in its message. The essence of Buddhism can be found within these pages. I almost feel bad for the reviewers who gave this book 1-2 stars because they truly missed the point of this incredible book. Anyone that knows even the basics about Buddhism is already aware that the concept of Buddhism is very simplistic (which can be found in Siddhartha) it is the practice of Buddhism that takes dedication, discipline, and determination which is better explained in other books. A true classic which will stand the test of time. ...more info
  • for armchair Buddhists (in the Great White West)
    Judging from the title, I went into this thinking: This is Hesse's take on the life of Siddhartha Gautama.... You know, the Buddha? Instead we get this thin parallel of Hesse's "Siddhartha" rubbed up tangentially against Gautama's life and acts.

    I suppose that this prejudice tainted my overall read.

    That said, I did not find Hesse's Siddhartha to be a particularly mature or captivating work. It was well-crafted and (at times) thought-provoking but not particularly imaginative. Between this and Demian, I found myself thinking of Hesse as a watered-down, optimistic Kafka.

    Oooo.... Now there's an idea. The Buddha in Metamorphosis. (Hey you! Come back here with my idea!)...more info
  • Profound, inspiring, life-changing
    Siddhartha is Hesse's finest work, followed closely by Narcissus and Goldmund. It's the story of the emergence of the Buddha, written by an incredibly insightful and sensitive author who's clearly walked the spiritual path. It inspired me to write my book, To Bee or Not to Bee, an allegory about the same theme--spiritual awakening. It's now in 11 languages and exploding. Thank you Hermann, you were way ahead of your time.
    To Bee or Not to Bee: A Book for Beeings Who Feel There's More to Life Than Just Making Honey...more info
  • Siddhartha
    This is a fantastic book and should be read in high school class along with Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men. I know my children will be reading it....more info
  • Learning to live and to love
    This 1922 novella is often mistaken for a biography of the Buddha. The story is set in India in the Buddha's time, the central character shares the Buddha's birth name, and in the end a similar experience of awakening. Hesse's Siddhartha, though, follows a slightly different path.

    Both begin princes who renounce their inheritance for the life of a wandering ascetic. Both go on to practice yogic austerities to create altered states of consciousness, states that because of their temporary nature prove ultimately unsatisfying. At this point, the historical Siddhartha left his teachers and developed his own way to enlightenment. Hesse's Siddhartha, though, decides to learn something about the sensual world and begins by courting the lovely Kamala, who may be based on Ambapali, a courtesan from Buddhist scriptures who donates a park to the Buddha's monks. In Hesse's novel, Kamala leads Siddhartha into the world of sex, love, commerce, drink, and gambling, where he stays for many years until at last he begins to sicken of this life, experiencing a crisis that brings him close to death - and sets him back on the road to enlightenment.

    In the end Siddhartha realizes that while his decision to go out seeking himself was unavoidable, so too was his suffering. That the life he lived could not have been any different, that his path to enlightenment required he live exactly the life he had lived - good, bad, and wretched. As he tells his friend Govinda many years later:

    "I learned through my body and soul that it was necessary for me to sin, that I needed lust, that I had to strive for property and experience nausea and the depths of despair in order to learn not to resist them, in order to learn to love the world, and no longer compare it with some kind of desired imaginary world, some imaginary vision of perfection, but to leave it as it is, to love it and be glad to belong to it."

    The old Siddhartha settles next to a river, becoming a ferryman, the metaphorical Buddha carrying people from one side of life to the other. In his journeys back and forth listening to the river he realizes at last what he was searching for all these many years.

    "Within Siddhartha there slowly grew and ripened the knowledge of what wisdom really was and the goal of his long seeking. It was nothing but a preparation of the soul, a capacity, a secret art of thinking, feeling, and breathing thoughts of unity at every moment of life."

    I read this book nearly 30 years ago when I was 17. I can't remember what I thought about it then or what I might have got out of it. Now I wonder how someone just starting out on his journey could appreciate Hesse's insight. Perhaps, though, there was then some inkling of its importance. Perhaps that's why I remembered it fondly, which is perhaps what influenced me to pick it up again last month. And for that I am thankful to my younger self, the one who had to travel much the same road as Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha.

    #...more info
  • Siddhartha
    Well what can I say... This book was a life changing one. Once touched by it you kind of see the world in a different light. Siddhartha is well written and really does fuel your immagination not to mention it is quite a short book so there fore not that taxing. On the subject matter; I genuinly felt as if (if for only a brief momment) like I had been given small glimpse Of "Ohm" just enough to let you see how calm and peaceful the mind really can be. A great story that leaves you feeling humble but content with your place in the world. I recommend this book to any one who is struggling with consequences and pace of modern life :-)...more info
  • The Classic Story of Youth and Truth
    In 1984 i lived in Jerusalem. While living there i had the time to read, and to travel throughout that ancient land. Luckily for me i had the opportunity to be given this book which i eagerly read twice. Many of its lessons sank in deep. The ability to focus, the desire to find truth. Its lessons slowly sank into my being. And as i reflect on my life, and those lessons that have survived time, many of Herman Hesses words ring through the years. I would wish that all youth are exposed to these ideas. Surrounded by other youth and adults that have an appreciation for the inner life. In writing my own book - Living Education: The Power of the Circle I found some of Hesses words once again-this time an inexorable part of my soul. Read and enjoy. ...more info
  • The Path to Nirvana
    In Siddhartha, Herman Hesse does a masterful job of taking the reader through a journey of discovery, emphasizing the path to knowledge as much as the knowledge itself. The story roots its magic in common experiences that have a touch of pleasing familiarity, which combined with the masterful prose makes it a must read for any one.

    Unlike other seekers, Siddhartha, a young restless Samana (wandering ascetic), is not content to be a disciple of the enlightened one, Gotama, the Buddha. "You have learned nothing through teachings, and so I think, O Illustrious One, that nobody finds salvation through teachings. To nobody, O Illustrious One, can you communicate in words and teachings what happened to you in the hour of your enlightenment". So it is that Siddhartha, intent on finding his own way to salvation, decides to part ways with Govinda, his friend and "shadow", who has decided to become Gotama's disciple.

    On his aimless way out of Gotama's grove, the ascetic Siddhartha's awakening comes when he learns to appreciate the beauty in the world around him. Deciding to continue his learning by immersing himself in the world, and not by running away from it, he arrives in a town that would become his home for the next several years. It is here that he meets the beautiful courtesan Kamala who teaches him how to love. The young Siddhartha also earns the trust of Kumaraswamy the merchant, and becomes a rich man by managing his business.

    But just when life feels like it couldn't get better, Siddhartha's restlessness strikes again. He remembers the call in his heart that drove him as a youthful seeker: "A path lies before you which you are called to follow. The Gods await you." The love for "Sansara", the pursuit of worldly happiness, dies within Siddhartha and he wanders off again.

    The wandering Siddhartha meets Vasudeva the wise ferryman, and settles down in his humble abode. With Vasudeva, he learns to talk to the river and learn its secret: that it exists everywhere at the same time, at the source and the mouth, at the waterfall, in the current and everywhere; that only the present exists for it, and that the past and the future were just shadows for it. Siddhartha learns that his life has been like the river: that "Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the young man and the Sidhartha the mature are separated only by shadows, not reality", a discovery that would ultimately lead him to salvation.

    But Siddhartha's life is interrupted again when a sick and dying Kamala, on her way to see the Gotama, comes across his doorstep by accident. She dies but leaves behind her son, Siddhartha's son, conceived just before Siddhartha left the town.

    Affection for the child becomes the focus of Siddhartha's life, and it shocks him one day when the child leaves him seeking to make his own destiny. Siddhartha is distraught, but learns from Vasudeva and the river; in the river he sees his own life and how things had come full circle since he left his own father's home as a child.

    Thus Siddhartha truly learns to recognize life as an endless circle, and to stop fighting his own destiny. That is the moment when Siddhartha rises above the conflict of desires and attains salvation.

    Even though it deals with a complex subject, Siddhartha is an easy and pleasant read, and I'd highly recommend it to everyone. ...more info
  • The transformation of oneself for salvaton
    Siddhartha centers around a young man's desire to go out and explore the world, finding out on his own the paths, pitfalls, and destructive forces within one's nature. One of the key elements is Siddhartha choosing his own destiny--whatever that may be-- and having to work with the results. Through a character change, he is able to find redemption.

    Perhaps one of the most effective aspects of Hesse's novel is just the way it is written. His prose and detail make this story such an easy read, yet there is a deep, underlying poetic tone that affirms its message about individual quest and salvation. The story of Siddhartha venturing out from his parents and friend, and leaving despite his encounter with the Enlightened One, really becomes parallel to the story of the lost son who must find his way back home (in this sense, the idea of home is spiritual).

    Once Siddhartha leaves the life of the Samanas, he becomes drawn into the life of wealth, flesh, and excess: "The world had caught him; pleasure, covetousness, idleness, and finally that vice that he had always despised and scorned as the most foolish-- acquisitiveness. Property, possessions, and riches had also trapped him." He seemingly must continue to go down deeper out of himself, and fall into eventual despair before he rises.

    The real awakening he experiences comes at his lowest point. As he contemplates suicide by a river, he hears the sound from the depths of his soul that turns the tide of his outlook-- the sound of "Om", the prayer, which translates to "The Perfect One." There he understands the mistake he is about to commit, and the transformation begins, but not before going through other struggles.

    The story really is a testament to the philosophy that one must listen to the voice in their life guiding them to the right choice. Although Siddhartha makes many foolish mistakes along the way-- he fails to listen to fatherly advice, or counsel from his friend, or even words from their spiritual leader-- yet, it is almost critical for him to make these mistakes to gain a greater sense of himself. The journey into mistakes and correcting of these is as important as hearing that voice that guides. ...more info