Love and Siddhartha
In Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, we see Siddhartha go on a long journey to achieve Nirvana. Nirvana plays a very important role in this novel. Nirvana is “The implication is that it is freedom from what ever binds you, from the burning passion of desire, jealousy, and ignorance.” You can have no feelings or love towards any individual, and absolutely no desire.”(Buddhism 101) Siddhartha through out his journey overcomes challenges that eventually lead to him achieving nirvana. There is a great feeling when you achieve nirvana “Once the goals are totally overcome, a state of bliss is achieved, and there is no longer the need the cycle of birth and death. All karmic debts are settled.”(Buddhism 101) You reach another spiritual level and you become elite and have a lot of knowledge. Siddhartha realizes that to achieve this goal of nirvana you need to love, and that’s the key to life. The theme of Siddhartha is the importance of love. This theme is portrayed through Siddhartha’s journey from arrogance to love, during which he go through several religious stages.
Siddhartha’s first stage in his journey to nirvana is a conventional Brahmin and Samana. Siddhartha demonstrates an ideal Brahmin from the beginning of the book; “Siddhartha had already long taken part in the learned men’s conversation and had engaged in debate with Govinda and practiced the art of contemplation”. Siddhartha starts off as a well educated, spiritual Brahman in the first stage of his journey. Siddhartha’s dad is very proud of his ideal sons achievements as a Brahmin and “he sees him growing up to be a great learned man and priest and a prince among the Brahmins”(p. 4).
Siddhartha has a goal to try to achieve Nirvana his “one single goal was to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasant sorrow and to let the self die.” Siddhartha is learning a lot from the samanas, hoping to eventually achieve the goal of nirvana, Siddhartha “learned a great deal from the samanas, he learned many ways of loosing the self he traveled along the path of self denial through pain, through hunger thirst and fatigue”(p.14).
Eventually Siddhartha realizes that the samanas way of life is not assisting him in achieving nirvana. Siddhartha is talking to govinda and displays his doubts about achieving nirvana, he says “ or are we perhaps in circles we who though to escape the cycle.” Later in Siddhartha’s journey to nirvana kamala his lover, thinks “she was not surprised when she learned that Siddhartha disappeared.” She knows that once you’re a samana you’re always a samana, and samanas cant love or feel affection. Siddhartha learns a lot from this stage of his journey as a Brahmin and Samana.
Despite his level of religious adherence, he is beset by arrogance. Siddhartha’s arrogance is first revealed when he interacts with his father “immediately he moved on again and began to walk quickly and impatiently no longer towards his father, no longer looking backwards”(p.42). As Siddhartha descends in his journey, and comes in contact with kind people who help him, and Siddhartha treats them condescendingly and mock those who help him on his way and he thinks “all whom I meet on the way are like subservient, all wish to be my friend, to obey and to think little people are children”(p.49).
As Siddhartha is passing through town, he treats people with rudeness and mockery and condescendingly thinks “ all were not worth a passing glance everything lied, stank of lies.” Siddhartha considers himself different and superior to others and crudely thinks “ the people in the world, the ordinary people were still alien to him, just as he was apart from them.” Siddhartha regards himself superior to other and mocks and ridicules others ways, we can see this when he thinks, “ he had always felt different than others, he had always watched them a little scornfully, with slightly mocking distain”(p.77). Siddhartha treats people with arrogence and mockery
Siddhartha then moves from arrogance to humility after degenerating into hedonism. Siddhartha starts to morph into a crude condescending man with no integrity. Siddhartha is morphing into those people he always ridicules; Siddhartha learns “how to transact in business affairs, to exercise power of people, to amuse him with women.” At first Siddhartha considers business a game and mocks people who take it seriously and Then “Siddhartha becomes trapped in the world of business and is stereotypical towards others and property, possessions and riches had finally trapped him, they were no longer s game or toy; they become a chain and burden.”
As Siddhartha gets deeper into his spiritually low stager he starts hating himself and what he has become. We can depict from the text that from when he despairingly feels “himself dying withering finishing”(p.79). When Siddhartha comes close to killing himself, he is saved with the spiritual word “om”. Siddhartha is reborn because of “one word, one syllable which with ought thinking he spoke indistinctively, the ancient beginning and ending of all Brahmin prayers, the holy om, which had the meaning of the perfect one.” Siddhartha has now transgressed into hedonism and Siddhartha “remembers all that he had forgotten all that was divine.” Siddhartha is reborn and is back to his spiritual self, realizing all the corrupt things he has done. Siddhartha has finally transgressed into his spiritual self again.
Ultimately Siddhartha experiences the importance of love, and achieving nirvana. Siddhartha learns many things about the world and nature on his journey. Siddhartha “ learned something new on every step of his path, for the world was transformed and he was enthralled. Siddhartha has opened up his eyes and is seeing the beauty in the world, and he thinks “ all this, colored and in a thousand different forms, had this colored and in a thousand different forms, the sun has always shone, the rivers had always flowed and bees had always hummed”(p.45).
Siddhartha finds out that he a son with kamala and his view of love is reversed. Siddhartha experiences life for the first time. Siddhartha is willing to do anything for his son feelings he has never experienced. Siddhartha think, “But stranger than the knowledge was his fear of losing him.” Siddhartha admits “ he had never lost his heart to anybody so completely had he ever loved anybody so much, so blindly, so painfully, so hopelessly and yet so happily.” Siddhartha finally expresses his love for someone and realizes that there is such a thing as love for even the most spiritual of people. Siddhartha comes to love the people he takes across the river as a ferryman.
He compassionately thinks “ their vanities to him, they had become understandable, lovable and even worthy of respect, there was a blind love of a mother for her child, the blind love of a fond father to his only son.” Siddhartha understands the people’s vanities because now he has experienced them and realizes their only human. Siddhartha finally realizes that love is the key to life. Siddhartha says to govinda” it seems to me, govinda that love is the most important thing in the world.” Siddhartha Is finally able to understand that love was what he was missing his whole entire life.
Siddhartha finally achieves his goal of nirvana at the end of the book. Siddhartha goes through a long challenging journey filled with obstacles to achieve nirvana. Siddhartha would never be able to achieve nirvana if he did not go through obstacles and pain and realize that love is the key to life. Siddhartha had to be arrogant and be a Samana to reach nirvana. Each path of his journey gets him more spiritual and gets him to see all his past errors. Siddhartha learns from his mistakes and eventually becomes a great spiritual mad who has achieved nirvana with love.