Book Review: Siddharta

SiddhartaSiddharta by Hermann Hesse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

** Spoiler alert ** Siddharta is an indian tale about a brahmin boy who follows his heart, leaving the place he was brought up in to become a Samana, fasting and meditating for extended periods in the forest and the mountains. Later on in the story he meets the Buddha, but not being satisfied with teachings in general, he also rejects Buddha’s teachings. Instead of becoming a monk and a follower of Buddha, he starts a totally different life. He becomes a rich merchant, a lover, later an ordinary ferryman and a father.

As soon as I started reading the words on the first page I fell in love with the simple prose the author used in writing this book. The easy to digest information made my read easy and quick, never losing the ability to grasp the authors profound messages. Also, like the writing style the plot is authentic and zen like.

I noticed that there is no antagonist in the story unlike in most other stories. Perhaps the only antagonist in the search to unveil the deepest secret and mystery is Siddharta himself.

I loved all the characters in the book, especially Siddharta. He is a lovely character. He is strong willed, and an intelligent seeker of truth. For a character of this proportion the author did an amazing job in discerning and discribing his psyche. I found it immensly interesting to learn about the main character; his thoughts, his feelings, his behavior, the choices he made and where those choices led him. His meeting with the Buddha was especially meaningful to me.

The themes in this tale, such as self discovery and spirituality are among my favorite ones. I can say that Hesse is a master in working with these themes. The messages in these book are deep and profound. Often I have admired how skillfull Hesse was in writing out the character of Siddharta, whom I could relate to so deeply. Hesse depicted the good heart of Siddharta and this man’s character so beautifully.

It is interesting to read this tale, that took place in the Indian sub continent. The author was able to explore its culture and philosophies very well, I think. I do wonder how Siddharta would have responded to a meeting with Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Siddharta’s childhood friend Govinda joined him and became a Samana as well, but down the road they parted ways. Govinda followed the Buddha, while Siddharta went an entirely different path, slowly becoming like the childlike people, following his passions and yearnings, nurturing love and attachment.

Yet at the end of their lives when they meet in Siddharta’s hut Govinda’s heart is not at peace and is still seeking while Siddharta has found peace of heart. This story made me think, that’s for sure.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to every seeker.

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