Siddhartha, in Sanskrit, symbolises one who has found the ultimate meaning. Herman Hesse’s novel follows the journey of a bright young brahmin, Siddhartha, who is trying to find the truth. He has read the Vedic texts but is unable to understand the profound spiritual experiences it talks about. He realises that his teachers, and his parents and many people in his society know these texts and yet none of them seem to experience the deep spiritual experience written in them. This is where his journey begins, to understand himself and the universe around him.
Written poetically, the book flows gently like a river. In the short space of 150 pages, Siddhartha’s journey winds through self-inflicted physical suffering and exceptional material success paralleled with the constant spiritual struggle that Siddhartha finds himself in. What is the point of this physical pain that he learns to endure, what does he gain from material success? These are the questions that he cannot escape. The ultimate answer is something exceedingly simple, something we all know but cannot comprehend unless we experience it. And I would not like to deny you the delight of reading it in Herman Hesse’s lyrical masterpiece.
I will just give you a little snippet of the overall text as a little taste of what the entire book feels like.
After having been standing by the gate of the garden for a long time, Siddhartha realised that his desire was foolish, which had made him go up to this place, that he could not help his son, that he was not allowed to cling him. Deeply, he felt the love for the run-away in his heart, like a wound, and he felt at the same time that this wound had not been given to him in order to turn the knife in it, that it had to become a blossom and had to shine.
That this wound did not blossom yet, did not shine yet, at this hour, made him sad. Instead of the desired goal, which had drawn him here following the runaway son, there was now emptiness. Sadly, he sat down, felt something dying in his heart, experienced emptiness, saw no joy any more, no goal. He sat lost in thought and waited. This he had learned by the river, this one thing: waiting, having patience, listening attentively. And he sat and listened, in the dust of the road, listened to his heart, beating tiredly and sadly, waited for a voice. Many an hour he crouched, listening, saw no images any more, fell into emptiness, let himself fall, without seeing a path. And when he felt the wound burning, he silently spoke the Om, filled himself with Om. The monks in the garden saw him, and since he crouched for many hours, and dust was gathering on his gray hair, one of them came to him and placed two bananas in front of him.