Siddhartha : Herman Hesse

Jun 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Public Domain Books


Type : Novella
Suitable for age group : 16 +

Hesse’s 12-chapter novel on a Hindu contemporary of The Buddha explores the totality of enlightenment that can only be gained through personal experience. In a later lecture Hesse explained : “Buddha’s way to salvation has often been criticized and doubted, because it is thought to be wholly grounded in cognition. True, but it’s not just intellectual cognition, not just learning and knowing, but spiritual experience that can be earned only through strict discipline in a selfless life.

Charting the phases of the student, household and spiritual life of our protagonist, Hesse provides a commentary on the life of the actual master himself. Siddhartha literally means ‘one who has achieved realization or understanding’, and in the process of writing the book, Hesse himself pursued the understanding of Indian and Buddhist philosophy in earnest following a personal crisis in his own life. However, Hesse’s conclusions are different from that of Buddhism in many ways, sometimes quite opposite on issues related to religious development of oneself, as opposed to intellectual attainment. The book reached its peak of popularity in the 1960’s and 70’s and interest has been steady ever since.

There has been a film version of Siddhartha released in 1972. This Gutenberg version in pdf can be downloaded here : Siddartha-Hesse.pdf

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2 Comments to “Siddhartha : Herman Hesse”

  1. Marinko says:

    I’ve never taken yoga per se, but I took some jazz dance and Karate, and I’ve incorporated a few stetrching exercises and yoga positions (such as the plow ) into my personal fitness regimen. There are, of course, more different types of yoga than breakfast cereals, which makes it difficult to know what each person might mean when they say yoga. In my acting days, for instance, I sometimes worked with an actress who was very much into a type of yoga that involved holding her open palms over her food prior to eating it so as to somehow synchronize her own energy to that of the food. I’ve seen other people do it, too, often discretely, because I guess they were taught by their gurus that the unenlightened wouldn’t understand, so then they simply pretend to be resting their chins on the backs of their hands thus forming a kind of roof over their plates while listening intently to their company, when in fact they’re busy realizing their food, i.e., doing yoga.And I don’t see myself ever writing a book, but if I did, I wouldn’t be handing out first drafts for evaluation. Most likely, I’d just have an occasional question about whether one or the other sentence sounds English. Anything beyond that, and I’d feel morally obligated to put that person on the cover as my co-author and share royalties.

  2. Kaled says:

    You’re right, Paul, wisdom can’t be paessd in words, but we can always hope that, clinging close to a person we recognize as wiser than ourself and praying fervently to be made more like her (or him), foolishness will fall away from us and wisdom will grow in us. If only we could be single-minded in our desire for wisdom! But of course, if we find ourselves hopelessly unable to make ourselves single-minded (as we all do), we need only ask for help; our Helper is closer to us, the wise tell us, than our own jugular vein. Or so my experience suggests.

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