Siddhartha Vasudeva Essay

Siddhartha - The novel’s protagonist. Siddhartha sets out on a quest for enlightenment and tests the religious philosophies he discovers. Siddhartha’s most defining characteristic is his desire for a transcendent, spiritual understanding of himself and the world. He devotes himself wholeheartedly to the pursuit of this understanding, even when the path is difficult. Outside forces do not easily sway Siddhartha, and he follows his heart. A man dedicated to his personal quest for knowledge, Siddhartha will abandon a course if he feels it is flawed. Siddhartha has a son, who is also named Siddhartha.

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Vasudeva - The enlightened ferryman who guides Siddhartha to a transcendent understanding of himself and the universe. Vasudeva is spiritually and socially flawless, and he ferries true seekers of wisdom to enlightenment. He is closely linked to the river, and he helps Siddhartha learn how to listen to the river’s secrets. Siddhartha achieves enlightenment only because of his association with Vasudeva.

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Govinda - Siddhartha’s best friend and sometimes his follower. Like Siddhartha, Govinda devotes his life to the quest for understanding and enlightenment. He leaves his village with Siddhartha to join the Samanas, then leaves the Samanas to follow Gotama. He searches for enlightenment independently of Siddhartha but persists in looking for teachers who can show him the way. In the end, he is able to achieve enlightenment only because of Siddhartha’s love for him.

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Kamala - A courtesan who instructs Siddhartha in the art of physical love. In addition to being Siddhartha’s lover, Kamala helps him learn the ways of the city and leave his ascetic life as a Samana behind. Just before she dies from a snakebite, she reveals that Siddhartha is the father of her son.

Gotama - An enlightened religious leader with many followers. Also known as the Buddha, Gotama is said to have attained Nirvana. He teaches the Eightfold Path to his many followers as the way to achieve true enlightenment. Siddhartha and Govinda seek him out, but while Govinda becomes a follower, Siddhartha ultimately rejects him. Siddhartha concludes that while Gotama has achieved enlightenment, his teachings do not necessarily help others find enlightenment.

Kamaswami - An older businessman who teaches Siddhartha the art of business. Kamala refers Siddhartha to Kamaswami, and with Kamaswami’s guidance, Siddhartha successfully insinuates himself into the society of city-dwellers. Nonetheless, the lessons he learns from Kamaswami about the material world lead only to unhappiness. Money and business are just a game for Siddhartha, and they do not lead to fulfillment.

Young Siddhartha - Siddhartha’s son with Kamala. Young Siddhartha poses the final test Siddhartha must pass before enlightenment. When Kamala dies, young Siddhartha resists starting a new life with Siddhartha. He is a materialistic city-dweller, dislikes his father, and wants to return to his familiar city life. Siddhartha loves his son, and he must overcome this potentially binding love in order to achieve enlightenment. Just as Siddhartha’s own father had to let him go out on his own, Siddhartha must let his son discover the world for himself.

Siddhartha’s Father - A respected Brahmin in Siddhartha’s boyhood community. Siddhartha’s father familiarizes Siddhartha with many basic religious teachings, but he is unable to provide Siddhartha with the answers he needs, which leads to Siddhartha’s quest for enlightenment through other religious traditions. When the Samanas arrive to tempt Siddhartha away, Siddhartha’s father initially resists but eventually lets him go.

The Samanas - A group of traveling ascetics who believe that a life of deprivation and wandering is the path to self-actualization. The Samanas initially captivate Siddhartha and Govinda, but the two eventually forsake them to follow the teachings of Gotama. When Siddhartha eventually leaves the Samanas, he appears to have attained a superior level of spirituality.

Siddhartha Essays: Achieving Enlightenment at the River

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Achieving Enlightenment at the River in Siddhartha

In Siddhartha's quest for enlightenment, Herman Hesse makes the river the final focal point of the novel. Siddhartha is set on his journey to the river by listening to his inner voice and questioning authority. The river comes to represent the ideas through which Siddhartha reaches enlightenment. The essential concepts of time and how it relates to life are discovered by Siddhartha through listening to the river. He comes to realize that his previous conclusion is correct, wisdom cannot be taught. When he reaches nirvana, he also sees how spiritualism and materialism both have a place in the cycle of life. Acting as Siddhartha's inspiration to his ultimate goal, the river…show more content…

With Vasudeva, Siddhartha begins spiritually as a child. By destroying his old Self, Siddhartha is no longer hindered by "too much knowledge...too much doing and striving." (99) Thus, as a child Siddhartha begins to hear the river, and learn from it. In his education, the concept of time repeatedly arises. The river is seen as always flowing and changing, just as the world does. Siddhartha comes to understand that life is transitory, a cycle that is eternally repeating. Looking at the river, it is made of water, water from the rains. Before that, the water was in the clouds, the air, evaporated from the river. Travelling from sky to earth, brook to river, the river is always present. The only change is how it is reflected in the ephemeral life. The continual flow from one to another illustrates the principle of timelessness.

The Buddhist concept of timelessness is based on the wheel of life. Because of future reincarnation, Buddhists to not perceive time as a fixed linear progression and therefore time is irrelevant. The river signifies time in that "the river is everywhere at the same time...the present only exists for it...not the past...nor the future." (107) Time is the idea of passing events, just as the river comes to illustrate the same when Siddhartha sees his life has been a river of events. However, because a river is ever present and always in motion, time is also dynamic. Being perpetual, the river and time are symbolically the

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