Siddhartha, written by Herman Heese, is a book about a man’s journey to find his inner self beginning when he is young and ending when he is of old age. Siddhartha, while on this quest, searched for different mentors to teach him what they know, hoping to find truth and balance in and of the universe. At the end of the novel, Siddhartha reaches the enlightenment through many teachings.Govinda, Siddhartha dearest friend and confident, is often viewed as his Siddhartha’s follower, or as his shadow.
In the beginning, Siddhartha goes with Gotama to hear the teachings of the Buddha, and Govinda remains with Buddha to become his disciple. Siddhartha believes that each person must find his or her own way to salvation and does not stay with Buddha. He says, “That is why I am going on my way-not to seek another and better doctrine, for I know there is none, but to leave all doctrines and all teachers and to reach my goal alone-or die. (28)” This quote is the underlying message portrayed for the rest of Siddhartha’s quest.
This tells that life experience is the best teacher, which in turn is the core of Buddhism. As the two friends part to go their separate ways, Siddhartha again voices the central idea of the novel: he reminds the Buddha that the process of enlightenment which he underwent is unteachable, and that there is no way of communicating first-hand experience to the disciples.As the last part begins, Govinda has arrived to cross the river, meeting Siddhartha, who is now an old man. Immediately upon being reunited, Govinda knows that Siddhartha has found his own way and then realizes that he did it without the formal system of the Buddha. After being asked how he was able to reach enlightenment, Siddhartha draws the distinction between knowledge and wisdom.
He says, “ No, I am telling you what I discovered. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be forfeited by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” (115) .
Siddhartha shares many teachings he has learned with Govinda. Siddhartha holds up a stone in example, showing that one thing is enfolded in the past, present, and future. He also stated that language is only a device, and that wisdom is not communicable. This means that, through experience, wisdom is attainable, but if you trying to teach enlightenment, the meaning will not be fully appreciated to whom it is taught . We also learn that not only Samana has left its mark on Siddhartha, but that also his brief contact with Buddha left its mark also. The Buddhist doctrine shows two opposites are Samsara and Nirvana.
All truth has these two opposites, the truth side and the illusion side. When Gotama admits he has still not found peace, he suddenly has an inexpressible experience much like Siddhartha had when he met Vasudeva years before. Siddhartha then summons Govinda to kiss him on the forehead.
Govinda feels as if he is touching perfection, the illustrious one, eternity, and gets a mystical transference from Siddhartha. Siddhartha sees in Govinda’s beautiful smile, a continuous stream of thousands of faces much like those Siddhartha saw many years earlier in the river.“Instead he saw faces, many faces, a long series, a continuous stream of faces-hundreds, thousands, which all came and disappeared and yet all seemed to be there at the same time, which all continually changed and renewed themselves and which were yet all Siddhartha” (121) At this point, Govinda had attained Nirvana, reaching the depths of the ancestral soul of man. “Incontrollable tears trickled down his old face. He was overwhelmed by a feeling of great love, of most humble veneration. (122)” Govinda had finally completed his quest for enlightenment.Bibliography: