In the midst of cleaning up my vast book collection, mostly on my e-reader, I managed to finish the tale of Siddhartha, a fairly small novel.
I’ve chosen it, because it fitted into my centennial challenge which needs completion, since I’m longing for a brand new challenge. I didn’t know what to expect, although the cover gave me some hint it might be spiritual, as the Buddha is the main adornment.
Siddhartha is also the name of the man we follow in this novel. He’s the son of a Brahman, in the caste-sensitive India, and is destined to become a Brahman himself.
Brahmins were traditionally responsible for religious rituals in temples, as intermediaries between temple deities and devotees, as well as rite of passage rituals such as solemnizing a wedding with hymns and prayers.
Siddharta tries many forms of religion to find enlightenment in his life, in which his experiences all sum up to be necessary to become the person he wants to become.
He leaves his safe existence of following into his father’s footsteps and becoming a Brahman himself. Trying an ascetic lifestyle, listening to teaching, being taught in the game of the flesh between man and woman, even earning riches and playing dice, he goes through life living different lives which gives him the enlightenment he hadn’t searched for.
This novel is quickly read, as it is both entertaining and very well written. No words were wasted with this novel, which is exactly the charm of Siddhartha. Seeking enlightenment and wisdom can quickly become irksome, as ideas tend to be indefinite in meaning as words are woven. Hermann Hesse accomplished in my opinion all he wanted to say in as few words possible, which gave their meaning a stark beauty.
The novel in a whole is also very rounded. It had a beginning, a definable progress towards the end, where the character may have find the bliss he needed, even if it came in different form as he had anticipated. With many novels depicting Indian characters, their simultaneous love and distance for each other strikes me as a beautiful. Their lovemaking is more intense because partly because of their egotistical behavior they need it to strengthen their bonds, which makes me reflect that in our society of ‘for better or worse’, we have lost a few things in the fire.
I would very much recommend it to anyone who seeks to enlighten themselves with some very true Indian wisdom. I might not have found Nirvana just yet, but I do feel I might have inched closer.