Sat 04 April 2015 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Siddhartha is a contemporary of Gautama Buddha and the protagonist of the German novel by the same name written by Herman Hess. Siddhartha renounces familial life to achieve enlightenment. He is accompanied on this journey by his friend, Govinda. They hear of Buddha's teachings and approach him with answers to their questions. Siddhartha is still not satisfied and moves on to find the answers to his questions while his friend, Govinda becomes a disciple of Buddha.

As a part of his journey, Siddhartha reaches a city across the river and here is smitten by Kamala, a courtesan. While he detested material possessions until now, he goes after them to get her love. After a few years, he finds himself hating himself and that his goal in life was to seek the answers to his questions. He abandons Kamala and reaches the other end of the river and takes refuge under the boatman who helps him cross the river. Here he decides his goal is to only serve the river and all those people who wish to cross it.

One day, he glances upon Kamala, now a Buddhist convert crossing the river with their son. She dies after being bitten by a snake across the river and Siddhartha resolves to bring up his son without leaving any stone unturned. The pampered teenager finds it difficult to adjust at the poor boatman's house and flees. Siddhartha is enraged but consoled by the boatman that just like him the boy will return to the river very much like Siddhartha in his earlier years. Soon, Siddhartha recognizes the power of the river and finds all the answers he had been seeking all these years. This brings about peace to him and his life fulfilled.

As Siddhartha grows old, he is visited by his friend Govinda. Not recognizing his friend, Govinda seeks the help of Siddhartha. Siddhartha takes him by the river and explains his philosophy. As Govinda gets ready to leave, Siddhartha requests him to kiss his forehead and bid him good bye. When Govinda complies, he sees visions of Vasudeva and Siddhartha by the river and experiences the same feeling when Siddhartha's gained enlightenment.

Siddhartha's character has a few similarities with Buddha's life but diverges on quite a few aspects including his teachings.