Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – Reviewed by Guy Portman


{Contains Some Spoilers}

Siddhartha, a Brahmin’s son, finding village life increasingly unrewarding, leaves his family and sets off on a spiritual journey with best friend and devotee Govinda. Travelling as Samanas, they survive on donations and from begging.

One day they come across Gotama (the Buddha). Govinda decides to stay with the Buddha and become a monk, whilst Siddhartha, though recognising the Buddha as an enlightened being, is unwilling to rely on a teacher. He continues his journey of self-discovery alone. A meeting with the courtesan Kamala leads to a job offer from a businessman by the name of Kamaswami, and a very different life, entailing sensual pleasures and financial matters.

As the years pass Siddhartha grows dissatisfied with his materialistic and hedonistic existence. Eventually he abandons his possessions and sets out on a journey of self-discovery once more. When a ferryman takes him across a river, Siddhartha discovers the meaning of life. Soon after he is briefly reunited with his childhood friend Govinda.

Incorporating both Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, Siddhartha is a concise, philosophical novella with a graceful prose style that had a cathartic effect on this reader. This is a story about destiny, in which the river, a recurring theme, represents the circle of life.

Copyright © 2015. Guyportman's Blog

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