Characters in Siddhartha

Siddhartha is a novel that conveys its message through symbolism and written by Herman Hesse , is about a spiritual journey of a boy known as Siddhartha from a certain region in Asia who lived at the same time as Buddha.

This was his 9th novel and was first written in German ( though the writer was himself  French ) in a simple but lyrical manner. It was first published In 1922 after the writer had spent some ample time in India in 1910 and got first publishment in the US in 1951 thus gaining popularity in the 1960s.

This book was written as a dedication to Roman Rolland ( a French dramatist , essayist, art historian and mystic , who became a nobel prize winner for literature in 1915 ) and whom he referred to as his ‘ dear friend’.

Siddhartha is derived from two words in the Sanskrit language , which means ‘achieved’ and artha which is equivalent to wealth.  The two words intertwined means ‘he has found meaning ( existence ) or ‘he has achieved his goals’. There is substantial significance in siddhartha  to Buddha’s in that the latter real name before his renunciation was Siddhartha Gautama  and evidently enough Hesse refers to Buddha as Gotana instead.

This boy, Siddhartha is followed by the novel along his spiritual progress and struggle to his goal of reaching enlightment which he eventually manages to achieve by simply listening to a river’s murmuring. This is not without the assistance and mentorship of a ferryman , Vasudeva , who leads him .  Aforehand , he had developed a forceful personality and convincingly manages to his senior, elder Samana to permit him to join Buddha ( Gotana).

Buddha and Siddhartha double in the sense that they have the following similarities:-

They both portray perfection in their own ways of doing things and were literally out in search of the inner peace and happiness.  Since they share the same name , there is some likelihood that their personalities and characteristics are closely related and though Siddhartha at one time fell out with Buddha , he still admired his teachings and wisdom.

Their names have hidden meanings assigned to them as ‘Buddha’, Gotama or Gautama refers to someone who has attained enlightment , the illustrious or perfect one while Siddhartha on the other hand interprets as ‘the wealth of a filled aim’.  With achievement comes hard work which both these two personalities must have possessed.

Despite some disagreeable issues , like Siddhartha not embracing  and totally and satisfyingly  agreeing to Buddha’s ideologies that enlightment is acquired through teachers , doctrines and disciplines, which motivates him into seeking a different path , he still honors the former and does not give up his quest for happiness search.

Both these two persons are what we can describe as  ‘hands on learners’ as it seems like they learnt their life-long experience by experimenting until they finally settled on what gave them peace and understanding. Coincidentally , they also had to both renounce their initial birth names to acquire others that reflected more on their real life behavior and encounters.

As clearly illustrated in the novel, both were passionate , of peaceful demeaner, gentle and loving and inorder to fully become achievers had to undergo a lot of  life hussles in the name of getting the real and true meaning of  ‘life’ and what it offers.

They later come to agreement that true wisdom can only be perceived through humility, which eventually pushed Siddhartha to learn from a river that roared funnily ( by listening ) and a kind old fool who was always smiling and was secretly referred to as a saint as he did no wrong to no one.

Buddha, on the other hand learnt his lesson from cognition ( scientific process of thought ) but not from intellectual or just learning and knowing .  They thus finally settled on spiritualism that could only be earned through strict discipline in a selfless life and mentored others into believing that true happiness comes from doing good  and sharing with others.

Their  final reality and  acceptance is scientifically based ( cognition) and their humble personality portrays that they were not  very materialistically oriented but their wealth was acquired through hard work , patience as well as emulating others. Despite encountering  numerous hardships and having persevered them all they both happily reached their destiny and have ever since left a noble legacy for others to learn from.

Having been both potentially capable individuals  , both Siddhartha and Buddha had their human weaknesses clearly illustrated in that accepting reality was but an illusion to each one of them and many a times they kept on running away from the truth and in search of  greener pastures.

As is very significant in everyday life , experience , reality and acceptance are  vital in revealing our inner true identity which is the only source of  happiness . Buddha and Siddhartha managed to acquire this rare but well  and widely sought after knowledge and eventually embraced the fact that experience is the aggregate of conscious events a human being experiences which connotes participation, learning and even knowledge in order to reach realistic understanding and eventual enlightment.

Siddhartha and Buddha are therefore lessons in our daily lives in that despite the endless difficulties one may face , giving up is not the option and that one should just hang in there as there is light at the end of tunnel. Nevertheless, one should never settle for anything less than what gives them satisfaction and happiness as this is the true meaning of  ‘ a fulfilling life ‘.

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