Siddhartha Essay, Research Paper
In Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, a man was in search to find his inner peace. This man,
Siddhartha would encounter many different stages in his life, creating both successes and
failures. Throughout life, Siddhartha came across many experiences that changed his life
and at the same time helped him to conquer his goal of reaching his Nirvana. From
adolescence to old age, he encountered many different people, each educating him in a
different manner and bringing him one step closer to succeeding in his quest.
As a child, the life that Siddhartha was living was not the ideal way in which he wished
he could live. Siddhartha had asked permission from his father to let him go and join the
Samanas but his father refused. “I will stand and wait” (Hesse 11) was how Siddhartha
reacted to the response from his father and he would indeed do that until his father had
finally given him consent to leave. This is where Siddhartha comes across his first
experience in such a way that, all his life he had obeyed his father and for the first time, he
had done what his heart told him instead. When he entered the Samana way of life, “he
traveled along the path of self-denial through pain, through voluntary suffering and
conquering of pain, through hunger, thirst and fatigue” (Hesse 15). He gave up all of the
material things in life to try and find himself. “But although the paths took him away from
self, in the end they always led back to it” (Hesse 15-16). The way of the Samanas was
not the way that Siddhartha would find inner peace and therefore would have to move on.
Through the teachings of the “Illustrious One,” Siddhartha would learn that teachers and
preachers was not how you attain Nirvana but instead you must experience it yourself.
Being aware that the best teacher is himself, he would continue on his defined path.
As Siddhartha grew older and moved away from the Samanas, he spent his adulthood
in the city for about 20 years. There, Kamala, a rich courtesan would teach Siddhartha
love. He had not loved nor cared to love but Kamala was a goddess to him. Not only did
she show him how to love by having his child but she had taught him how to dress and
look rich and sent him to Kamaswami, a wealthy merchant. Here, Siddhartha would come
across the life of greed. His life as a businessman was flourishing but he was not yet
satisfied. Therefore, as he reached his old age, he continued on his quest and returned to
As Siddhartha realizes in his old age, his only satisfaction would be in the river where
he would find his inner peace. As Vasudeva explained to him, the river symbolized rebirth
and renewal. It became aware to Siddhartha that everything in life was united and flowed
together and that everything comes back, just like he returned to the river now. “In his
heart he heard the newly awakened voice speak, and it said to him: Love this river, stay by
it, learn from it” (Hesse 101). Consequently this is what Siddhartha did in order to find his
true self and accomplish his goal as he did at the river.
When Siddhartha had begun his quest, he had one single goal- “to become empty, to
become empty of thirst, desires, dreams, pleasure and sorrow and to let thy self die”
(Hesse14). He was able to do this through a long, untravelled path. He would choose
and reject through his entire quest to find what he was looking for. Through all three
stages of his life, Siddhartha learned that no matter who or what tried to teach you, the
most influential teacher is yourself along with experience. He gave up his prior life to find
himself and went out into the world, experienced and listened to his many teachers and
finally found what was sitting at the end of the path waiting for him.