Last Updated 20 Jun 2022

Siddhartha Commentary: Bildungsroman

Category Novel, Siddhartha
Words 1390 (6 pages)
Views 225

“Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse is neatly categorized under the Bildungsroman genre. Bildungsroman is a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. Throughout the whole novel Siddhartha, the main character, is confronted by many setbacks not only physically and emotionally but also spiritually. Siddhartha’s father was a Brahman and thus Siddhartha learnt the traditions through his own father. However, Siddhartha felt that he was missing something and this started his journey to enlightenment.

Herman Hesse splits Siddhartha’s journey into three major locations. The confrontations that Siddhartha faces in the different location all relate to each other by three different aspects that affected Siddhartha. Mental situations, situations that involved human desire and spiritual situations are the three aspects that affected Siddhartha. Firstly, when Siddhartha encountered situation that involved his mentality, human teachers taught Siddhartha. Siddhartha was first taught by his father, the Head Brahman, through scriptures of ways to lead a blessed life.

However, Siddhartha had already mastered the ways of the Brahman. He also felt that his soul could not be taught by scriptures because if he continued learning though scriptures he would just go on a “detour, (he) was getting lost”. Soon after, Siddhartha left the Brahman ways with Govinda to learn from the Samanas. Once again, Siddhartha’s teachers were humans. The duo was taught to deprive themselves of all sorts of pleasure and to be an “empty human”. After slowly mastering the ways of the Samanas, Siddhartha soon became bitter to his surroundings.

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He saw his world as one full of negative things. Siddhartha’s “glance turned to ice when he encountered women”, “merchants trading, princes hunting, mourners wailing for their dead, whores offering themselves, physicians trying to help the sick, priests determining the most suitable day for seeding, lovers loving, (and) mothers nursing their children”. Siddhartha’s mouth would always “twitch(ed) with contempt”. Siddhartha would also be absolutely numb to the world saying that “the world tasted bitter” and that “life was torture. ”

The Samanas also taught Siddhartha self-deprivation. Siddhartha “went the way of self-denial by means of pain, through voluntarily suffering” in the process of this, Siddhartha was able to overcome pain, hunger, thirst (and), tiredness. ” Soon, Siddhartha acknowledged that the ways of the Samana was not able to achieve enlightenment. He told Govinda that the eldest Samana who has “lived for sixty years and has not reached the nirvana” so how were they supposed to attain enlightenment through the ways of the Samana if the eldest Samana hasn’t.

Siddhartha shadowed behind the mental games that the ways of the both the Head Brahman and eldest Samana. The way of the Brahman and the eldest Samana were only training Siddhartha’s mental but it did not touch even the slightest part of Siddhartha’s soul. Secondly, Siddhartha went through what I would consider a stage that lured him to somewhat go against what he learnt in the first part of the novel, which is accepting human desires and attending to them.

The start of this journey was when he let Govinda stay with the Buddha while Siddhartha ventured out himself. Throughout this journey, Siddhartha’s teachers are humans. Siddhartha learns the art of love from a ‘teacher of love’ named Kamala and the ways of the rich by a merchant named Kalaswami. Siddhartha learnt how to see the beauty in things however, this led him to take advantage of his surrounding’s beauty. When Siddhartha left Govinda, it symbolized him letting go of his the teaching from the Samanas and Brahman.

Once he let go, then Siddhartha was finally able to see the beauty of life, he saw “all of this, a thousand-fold and colourful, had always been there, always the sun and the moon had shone, always rivers had roared and bees had buzzed, but in former times all of this had been nothing more to Siddhartha than a fleeting, deceptive veil before his eyes, looked upon in distrust, destined to be penetrated and destroyed by though, since it was not the essential existence, since this essence lay beyond, on the other side of, the visible. Siddhartha then describes his ‘new life’ as a child-like laughter, he called it “beautiful and lovely”. As Siddhartha reaches the near village, Siddhartha sees a young woman and inside of him, there is a spark of lust that started the first fire. Siddhartha describes the feeling as one that made “his blood heating up”. Next, Kalaswami first sees Siddhartha as he “entered, a swiftly, smoothly moving man with very gray hair, with very intelligent, cautious eyes, with a greedy mouth”.

Siddhartha seems to take note of the result of indulging in too much pleasure. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize when he has become just like Kalaswami. Then Siddhartha finally realizes that pleasure is only temporary. Siddhartha sits and “he became aware of the strange life he was leading, of him doing lots of things which were only a game, of, though being happy and feeling joy at times, real life still passing him by and not touching him”. Siddhartha acknowledges again that through lust and desire, he was not able to attain enlightenment.

So, he continued his journey. Lastly, Siddhartha went through his final stage that would be considered a stage that was about Siddhartha spiritually. At first, Siddhartha’s spiritual journey begins at the Jetavana Grove where the Buddha gave his teachings. The second part of Siddhartha’s spiritual journey, he was guided by a human named Vasudeva. However, unlike the other teachers that Siddhartha had, Siddhartha learnt how to attain enlightenment through the river that he studied.

Siddhartha’s first step to enlightenment was when he was just about to leave the Jetavana grove where the Buddha gave his teachings. As Siddhartha was just about to leave the grove, the Buddha smiled at him. At that point, Siddhartha was able to understand the tranquility behind the smile. Siddhartha also understood that peacefulness was the result of enlightenment. The proof was the Buddha, his “eyes quietly looked to the ground; quietly, in perfect equanimity his inscrutable face was smiling”. Through Siddhartha’s spiritual path, dreams came to Siddhartha.

These dreams brought Siddhartha to a realization of how he was living in the past and they also guided Siddhartha is ways guided him on how he should live his life. Siddhartha’s dreams were manifestations of his consciousness. For example, Siddhartha’s internal ‘death’ through his indulgence of pleasure was represented by Kamala’s dead song bird. ” At the last stage of Siddhartha’s spiritual journey, Siddhartha made many self-reflections while studying the river. This made him realize what he did in the past, what he was doing in the present and what he would do in the future.

Siddhartha through the process of attaining enlightenment, he “stopped fighting his fate, (and) stopped suffering. On his face flourished the cheerfulness of a knowledge, which is no longer opposed by any will, which knows perfection, which is in agreement with the flow o f events, with the current of life, full of sympathy for the pain of others, full of sympathy for the pleasure of others, devoted to the flow, belonging to the oneness. ” Siddhartha studied the river and when he did, Siddhartha finally found enlightenment.

Throughout the novel, Siddhartha has had many different encounters with different people, animals and himself, Siddhartha changed from a boy to a man who’s eyes have been opened to the ‘new world’. Siddhartha’s goal that he had when he took the first step by leaving his house to join the Samanas was to attain enlightenment. With this goal in mind, Siddhartha was finally able to attain enlightenment with the help of the river. At first was boy who was hungry for the key to enlightenment even more for his hunger for new knowledge.

During his lifelong journey Siddhartha went through many mental, physical and spiritual struggles he on the road to attain enlightenment. However, unlike the other teachers that taught him their different specialties’, Siddhartha’s teacher that helped him to enlightenment wasn’t a human but rather it was from one of Mother Nature’s creations, the river. The many changes in Siddhartha’s life caused Siddhartha going through the vital process of growth. In conclusion, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a bildungsroman.

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