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Siddhartha
“What could I say to you
that would be of value,
except that perhaps you
seek too much, that as a
result of your seeking you
cannot find.” --Hesse
Hermann Hesse
 1877-1962
 German-born
Swiss novelist,
won the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1946
 Called
his books “biographies
of the soul”
 Hesse
grew up in a Catholic
family, but rejected everything
he had been taught.
Hermann Hesse
 Parents
were missionaries.
Hesse attended a seminary
but ran away from school in
1892.
 In
1911, he visited India and
learned about Eastern
religions.
Siddhartha – Publication
 Written
in 1922 after WWI
when people were trying to
make sense of the
devastation inflicted by
“civilized” countries
 Written
in German, first
published in the U.S. in 1951
Siddhartha – The Story
 About
the spiritual journey of Hindu man
in India who abandons a life of privilege
to seek enlightenment (around 500 BC)
 The
million dollar questions:
How do you achieve enlightenment?
How do you live a happy, fulfilled life?
Siddhartha – The Setting

Setting: India, where
Siddhartha encounters the
Buddha (563 BC – 483 BC)

Siddhartha is a Brahmin, a
member of the highest
ranking social class of the
Hindus– the priest class

(Not to be confused with
“Brahman,” which is the
name for the concept of the
universal soul)
Siddhartha – Characters



Siddhartha – The novel’s protagonist.
Siddhartha sets out on a quest for
enlightenment and tests the religious
philosophies he discovers.
Govinda – Siddhartha’s best friend and
sometimes his follower. Like Siddhartha,
Govinda devotes his life to the quest for
understanding and enlightenment.
Gotama – An enlightened religious leader
with many followers. Also known as the
Buddha, Gotama is said to have attained
Nirvana.
Siddhartha – Characters
 Kamaswami
- An older businessman who
teaches Siddhartha the art of business.
 Vasudeva – The enlightened ferryman
who guides Siddhartha to a transcendent
understanding of himself and the
universe.
 Kamala – A courtesan who instructs
Siddhartha in the art of physical love. In
addition to being Siddhartha’s lover,
Kamala helps him learn the ways of the
city and leave his ascetic life as a
Samana behind.
Siddhartha and the Buddha
 Hesse’s
Siddhartha shares his name with
the Buddha, and the novel’s story is similar
to what is known about Siddhartha
Gautama (pronounced “Gaught-um”).
 Like
Siddhartha, Siddhartha Gautama was
born an upper-class Hindu in India.
 Like
Siddhartha, Siddhartha Guatama left
home to seek a religious goal and
searched for years.
Siddhartha and The Buddha
 Like
Siddhartha, Siddhartha Gautama
studied with famous gurus of the day, but
found their doctrines lacking.
 Both
practiced the austerities and selfmortifications of the ascetics for many
years.
Siddhartha and The Buddha
 From
there, Hesse’s Siddhartha takes a
divergent path from Siddhartha
Guatama.
 Note:
The name “Siddhartha” means
“one who has reached his goal” or “one
who has found meaning” (in existence).
Siddhartha Gautama

He sat under a fig
tree and meditated
for days until he
found answers for
suffering.

Once he understood
the answer, he
became the
Buddha.

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