The book “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse is a novel about the life of an Indian man named Siddhartha (Sidd) who lived in the time of the Buddha. The book tells the story of how he was born, living most of his life as a rich member of the Brahmin caste, and then ultimately set out on a spiritual journey that led him to become a Buddha. The book is a story about a man searching for peace and enlightenment.

Siddhartha is the main character in the book who leaves his family to seek enlightenment from various other religious figures wherein he learns from each one but is ultimately unsatisfied with the teachings of each. He finds enlightenment when he meets a ferryman who tells him to find peace within himself and not to look for it outside of himself.

Hermann Hesse wrote the main character starting out as a devout follower of Brahmanism but is disillusioned with this religion and wanders off to learn about the more worldly aspects of life. When he discovers a new religion in Buddhism, he becomes a devout follower of it during which he meets a Buddha-like figure who helps him come to peace with the world.

The theme of the book is that a person should seek their own enlightenment and not look to others for it. Siddhartha meets many other teachers while he seeks this, such as the Buddha and Govinda, his childhood friend, but his quest leads him to leave them all behind because he finds that they can’t show him how to find enlightenment within himself.

Memorable Quotes

It is a good thing to experience everything oneself, he thought. As a child I learned the pleasures of the world and riches were not good. I have known it for a long time, but I have only just experience it. Now I know it not only with my intellect, but with my eyes, with my heart, with my stomach. It is a good thing that I know of this.

page 80

Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it. I suspected this when I was still a youth and it was this that drove me away from teachers.

page 115

Further Reading

A Reader’s Perspective on Siddhartha – Herman Hesse by Valmira Rashiti, Youth Time Magazine

The Historical Context of “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse: How the Fictional Siddhartha Compares to the Historical Buddha by Jennifer Wilber, Owlcation

Siddhartha, the Paradox, and the Counterculture by Ashwin Manthripragada, Textpraxis

Siddhartha: Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East by Paul W. Morris, Tricycle Magazine

Leave a Reply