Throughout the novel, Siddhartha, by Herrmann Hesse, the main character, set in ancient India, goes through many struggles in the pursuit for happiness and peace within himself. From experiencing many ways of life in an attempt to find the best way to let go of his selfish tendencies, to becoming a rich merchant and losing who he is, Siddhartha struggles for many decades on what is important and life.
As a young Brahmin, Siddhartha was raised to meditate and wait many long years in pursuit of enlightenment.
In dismay with the fact that many wait for decades to achieve this, and how many die without ever reaching it, Siddhartha leaves his family and his fate for a new life as a Samana in the woods. The Samana people believe in letting go of physical desires in pursuit of internal peace and enlightenment. Here, Siddhartha learns that some of the most beneficial things he can do in life is “I can think.
I can wait. I can fast. (Hesse 52)” By incorporating these methods, Siddhartha is successfully able to see life apart from his body and become one with nature. Disappointingly, though, Siddhartha is not pleased with his life as a Samana. The life is, too, full of waiting years for enlightenment, with no guarantee of reaching one’s goal. After Siddhartha leaves the Samanas, he and his best friend Govinda decide to make a pilgrimage to see the great speaker, Gotima the Buddha, also known as the Illustrious One.
Many young people travel towards the man with the hopes of hearing his teachings from his own mouth.
He is known widely for being wise and enlightened, and using his knowledge to lead others on the same pursuit. While Siddhartha gains knowledge by making this trip, he is not satisfied, and after a talk with the Illustrious One himself, decides to end his pursuit for enlightenment and peace, and go on his own path. He leaves his friend, past, and goals to wander and find what makes him happy. While he struggles along the way, and loses his true purpose after being seduced by money and possessions as a rich merchant, he is able to move past this and find light in a river he traveled along, where he finally becomes a ferryman, and allows the river to teach him all he needs to know.
Conclusively, the novel, Siddhartha, is a story of self-discovery, the pursuit for happiness, and finding peace within one’s self. After following the traditions of those around him for most of his early life, Siddhartha realizes that this life will do him no good. Waiting for enlightenment is not something he wishes his life to consist of, so he leaves. By making this difficult choice, he is able to open the door to many new experiences, new loves, new ideas, and finally a new life of happiness and peace, without having to give anything up for it, or waiting around for something that may never come.