Siddhartha by Herman Hesse [Book Review]

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.jpg

Title : Siddhartha

Author : Hermann Hesse

ISBN : 9780141189574

Publisher : Penguin India

Genre : Classic

Pages : 160

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars







First things first- This famous book written by the Nobel Prize winner Herman Hesse is NOT Gautam Buddha’s story (though he features in the story).

This is the story of Siddhartha, a young boy, a son of a Brahmin, who leaves his home to wander in search of Atman’, the self and understand its intricacies. He renounces all worldly pleasures by becoming a ‘Samana’, by learning the art of fasting, penance and meditation. He learns the art of ‘love making’ from Kamala, the courtesan. However, despite the teachings and the learning he does not experience the real truth of life. He even meets Gautam Buddha but refuses to be his disciple as he says that no one but your own experience can take you to the path of enlightenment. He further wanders away from this life of renunciation and enters one of passion, desire, lust and wealth hoarding. This new life corrupts him as he embraces all that he loathed and previously considered inferior and finally realizes that he has turned into one among the masses. He is even filled with sense of attachment and longing for his son. He again turns back, goes back to his roots, and goes beside the river and tries to understand what it says. He realizes that the river is timeless, so is he and so is the world. It finally dawns upon him that instead of looking to an imaginary world that is perfect and has no flaws, the world should be loved as it is, with all its belongings, all its things and all its creatures. He condemns giving more importance to thought and speculation and insists on giving more importance to people and things.

Siddhrtha by Herman Hesse is a widely acclaimed book, being translated in many languages over the years. The story is completely non-predictable, engaging, thought provoking and will make you stop and introspect at various points. The writing is simple and coherent. Though I loved how the thought process of the protagonist is explained very explicitly and crisply at the end, the book did bore me somewhere in the mid where it got a bit repetitive and I couldn’t understand the flow of his thoughts. Having said that, I must assert that anyone with even a bit of philosophical and spiritual inclination is going to love this short book.

Buy a copy from Amazon here


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