Siddhartha - Reading Guides - Penguin Classics - Penguin Group (USA)
Now the ferryman recognizes Siddhartha as the samana from years ago. He introduces himself as Vasudeva and asks Siddhartha to share his hut again and tell. Vasudeva. Vasudeva, the enlightened ferryman, is the guide who finally leads Siddhartha to enlightenment. Siddhartha first meets Vasudeva after leaving. He has a long relationship with Kamala, a beautiful courtesan, and he Vasudeva Vasudeva is the ferryman who conveys the young Siddhartha across the river.
In emphasizing Siddhartha's self-assertive individuality, Hesse makes plain that his book is as much a product of Western as well as Eastern intellectual traditions. The story of the Brahmin's son who leaves home to seek deep and lasting satisfaction appears to end where it began: But the first words of the novel are a hint that it will proceed and find its momentum through a series of opposites: Immediately, light is contrasted with shade, and the stability of home is contrasted with the vehicles that ply the river's flow, foreshadowing Siddhartha's future life with the ferryman Vasudeva.
Each of the novel's twelve chapters, divided into two parts, finds Siddhartha simultaneously facing a crisis and a new beginning in his search. One of the important questions to consider is whether Siddhartha's search is driven more by discontent with his current state or by a vision of where he is going. In succession, he rejects the intellectual and ritualistic teachings of his father and the other Brahmins; the self-abnegating rigors of the ascetic samanas; the opportunity to become a disciple of Gautama, the Buddha; the world-weary existence of material success; and even the futile role of protective father to his son.
As Siddhartha reflects early on, the stages of his life are like "the old skin that leaves the serpent" p. The image of the rejuvenated snake sharpens the contrast between his deliberate intentions and the natural course of things through the stages of life. If we believe that Siddhartha achieves progress and not merely a change of circumstances in his lifelong search, it can be asked what part his own will plays in achieving the enlightenment that he finally comes to by the end of the story.
To an observer, the scene of Govinda gazing raptly at the face of his old friend beside the river might appear to be simply their reunion after many years of separation. However, we are told that what Govinda sees reminds him of the smile of Gautama, the universally acknowledged "Sublime One," the Buddha, whose lifelong disciple Govinda had been.
In finally identifying Siddhartha with the Buddha, Hesse suggests that the story he is telling is both more and less than an original work of fiction. It is important to keep in mind that Siddhartha is the given name of the person who came to be known as the Buddha.
The early events in the life of the novel's protagonist closely parallel the traditional story of the Buddha's life. In the third chapter of the book, the fictional character, Siddhartha, meets Gautama, a portrayal of the historical Buddha and, during their dialogue, rejects the idea of following him as a disciple among all the other disciples, including his friend Govinda.
In having Siddhartha set off on his own, Hesse raises searching questions about the nature of the relationship between a teacher and a disciple, about how a teaching that reflects the experience of a teacher can instill that experience in a follower. Through a movement from extreme to extreme, Siddhartha finally comes to the silent, listening Vasudeva, the ferryman.
Vasudeva's expert ability to navigate the opposite banks of the river and all they represent becomes an emblem of the unity of spirit that Siddhartha has sought, and the almost wordless communion between the two leads to the culmination of Siddhartha's search. As Hesse has told the story, the apparent resolution of opposites that occurs at the end seems to embody a teaching, though perhaps not one that can be easily verbalized apart from the telling of the incidents of the story itself.
At the same time, and in the spirit of Siddhartha's own search, Hesse has raised questions for us about whether words can communicate the deepest truths or can only prepare us to experience them. Why is he so certain that neither the Brahmins nor the samanas have found it?
Does Gautama adequately answer Siddhartha's contention that "no one is granted deliverance through a teaching" p. Why doesn't Siddhartha become one of Gautama's followers? What is the connection between Siddhartha losing his friend Govinda to Gautama and Siddhartha's "awakening"? What does it mean that "the awakening man was on the way to himself" p.
What is the meaning of Siddhartha's dream in which Govinda becomes a woman? Why does Siddhartha both love and despise the "child people"? How is it that having been a samana separates him from them? After waking up by the river, why does Siddhartha say, "I have nothing, I know nothing, I can do nothing, I have learned nothing.
Siddhartha thinks restlessly about it. He knows Vasudeva is right, but his love is stronger than this knowledge and he is terrified of losing the boy — he has never loved anyone so painfully and happily at once, and he cannot let his son go.
The character of Vasudeva in Siddhartha from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
We have never seen Siddhartha be so pushed and pulled in various directions before. But now he knows the love of the child people and can suffer for someone else and be stupid for someone else, and though he had mocked it before, he respects the feeling now and feels richer for it.
He feels that it is a very human, childlike feeling but that it is right. Pleasure, pain and folly all have their place. This is a far cry from his life as a samana and as a merchant, where feelings and pain were so hateful to him. After each period of discontentment, is an awakening, but it is a cycle that seems to be leading somewhere.
Active Themes Young Siddhartha goes on abusing his father, humiliating him and sulking. Nothing about Siddhartha can influence the boy.
He is bored and feels so imprisoned by Siddhartha's kindness that he would almost prefer to be punished. One day, when Siddhartha asks his son to do a chore for him, young Siddhartha erupts in a fit of rage and refuses. He dares Siddhartha to hit him and says he hates him for trying to make him an imitation of himself.
Siddhartha: Character Profiles
But Vasudeva responds that they will make a raft only to fetch the boat back and they must leave the boy. He will be able to look after himself better than Siddhartha is able to look after him.
Vasudeva is sorry to see Siddhartha suffering, but he is sure that Siddhartha will soon laugh at all of this. Vasudeva, as the wise elder in this situation, guides Siddhartha to make the right decision and let his son go. Ironically, it is the presence of his child that has made Siddhartha childlike again, desiring and seeking and needing guidance from the fatherly ferryman.
Active Themes They build the raft and go over to the boat that has been abandoned. Vasudeva takes an axe with them, because he suspects that young Siddhartha may have destroyed their oar to make a point. Sure enough when they get to the boat, there is no oar left. Just like Siddhartha, the boy is seeking his own path and must be left alone to follow it. Active Themes Siddhartha still wants to see his son.Siddhartha-clips of wisdom 11
He feels it all anew. Now he knows that he cannot save his son or bring him back. Going towards the town and the grove where he had been so jaded is like taking a step into the past for Siddhartha and we realize that he has learned all that he needed to from this place and must go back to the river in order to carry on his journey to enlightenment.
We see clearly that, even though Siddhartha feels loss, that he knows he must follow his own path and his son might have quite a different path. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Siddhartha, as he had learned from the river, sits and waits and tries to listen to his inner voice. Eventually he is brought out of the trance by Vasudeva standing above him, smiling cheerfully.
They share the fruit and go quietly back to the riverside hut. Soon Siddhartha falls asleep.