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Siddartha and His Journey to Enlightenment

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Siddhartha and His Journey to Enlightenment

Siddhartha is a novel set in ancient India. It follows the life of Siddhartha. Siddhartha is the

Son of a Brahmin and a Brahmin himself. He is described as handsome, intelligent, and learned.

He has mastered all the rituals of Hinduism and is expected to be a great priest of the Brahmins.

Although Siddhartha has knowledge of many of the verses of the Vedas, he feels discontent.

He wonders if his father and other Brahmins have really achieved enlightenment. He

starts to wonder whether the holy books and sacrifices really lead to enlightenment. Govinda,

Siddhartha's best friend also feels discontent with the Hindu religion. Siddhartha tells Govinda

that he has decided to join the Samanas, a group of wandering half naked ascetics. Siddhartha

asks his father's permission to leave home and join the ascetics. Siddhartha's father reluctantly

allows him to join the Samanas because he knows Siddhartha will not change his mind. He

seems he would go even to the point of death, saying, "I will die". As Siddhartha leaves his

hometown he is glad to see that his friend Govinda has decided join him on his journey.

Siddhartha quickly learns the teachings of the Samanas and adjusts to them with ease. He

desires to become free of the self by eliminating worldly desires and attachments. He also desires

to halt the cycle of time through meditation. Siddhartha masters these new practices

and even finds favor with the eldest Samana. Siddhartha and Govinda spiritually advance

during their time with the Samanas, however Siddhartha starts to feel discontent and doubts that

this path is the way to enlightenment. He finds that asceticism doesn't lead to freeing of the Self,

breaking free from the cycle of time, and enlightenment. And after living with the Samanas for

three years, Siddhartha and Govinda hear word that Gotama the Buddha is teaching a new

doctrine. The Buddha teaches a doctrine that rejects the Atman, the Vedic text, and the caste

system. A doctrine that doesn't consists of samsara. A doctrine that reject rituals and the strict

caste system. Siddhartha and Govinda decided to join the Buddha. They journey to Jetavana,

where the Buddha and his followers dwell and engage in the Buddha's teachings. Gotama the

Buddha teachings consists of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path. Govinda

immediately devotes himself to the Buddha and decides become a permanent follower of

Gotama. Siddhartha feels that he cannot learn from teachers, rejects the Buddha's teachings, and

decides to leave.

Although Siddhartha is saddened to leave Govinda, who stays behind permanently as a

follower of Gotama, he knows he must seek enlightenment alone. As Siddhartha leaves the

Buddha's grove, he renounces the studies of the Brahmins and the Samanas. He also relinquishes

all teachings and teachers, including the teachings of the Vedas and asceticism. Siddhartha

decides he wants to learn from himself and find out who he really is. He feels that the path to

enlightenment is through himself, saying "I will no longer study Yoga-Veda, Atharva, or

asceticism, or any other teachings. I will learn from myself, be my own pupil; I will learn from

myself the secret of Siddhartha" (pg. 39)

Siddhartha wanders about for some time. He sees the world not in a spiritual way, but in a

new way. Siddhartha spends his first night alone in a ferryman's hut. The next day, Siddhartha

asks the ferryman Vasudeva, to take him across the river. The ferryman does so gladly and tells

Siddhartha about the knowledge of the river when Siddhartha compliments the river. Siddhartha

listens, not knowing that this river is where he will find true enlightenment. When they arrive

across the river, Siddhartha regrets not being able to pay the ferryman, but the ferryman tells

Siddhartha that he was not expecting a payment. He predicts that Siddhartha will one day

return to the river give him a gift. Siddhartha soon arrives in a town and meets Kamala, a

beautiful courtesan. Siddhartha tells Kamala that he wishes to learn about love from her. She

tells Siddhartha in order to be a student of hers he must have fine things, money, and presents for

her. Kamala sets Siddhartha up with Kamaswami, a wealthy merchant so he can earn some

money. Siddhartha soon become a very successful merchant. Siddhartha works for Kamaswami

in order to provide Kamala with presents so he can continue to date her. However, Siddhartha is

only interested in Kamala because he thinks that knowledge about love will lead him to

enlightenment. Siddhartha and Kamala also realize that they are not in love with each other.

They also understand that people like themselves cannot love saying, "Perhaps people like us

cannot love" (pg.73).

As the years pass, Siddhartha starts to gamble, in

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