Sunday, December 5, 2010


Siddhartha, a young man, lives with his father, friend (Govinda) and other Brahmin (scolars/priests) somewhere in ancient India. Though Siddhartha performs all the rituals and follows everything his religion says for attaining happiness and peace, he feels dissatisfied.
Not much later, a group of acetic monks called Samanas comes to town and Siddhartha feels that he would learn more from them than from the Brahmin. So he coaxes his father to let him and Govinda travel with the Samanas and his . The Samanas teach him that to achieve happiness he must reject physical desire and lose your “Self.” By fasting and meditating he no longer resembles the boy he used to be.
Siddhartha quickly realizes that all the fasting and meditation is only a temporary means to losing one’s self, so he and Govinda leave to find Gotama, the Illustrious One. Siddhartha speaks with Gotama and figures that there is no way to teach enlightenment; that it must be experienced, so he must find his own way to enlightenment and not follow a teacher.
Siddhartha finds a friendly ferryman, content with a simple life. The ferryman takes him across a river, and Siddhartha finds his way to a city where he is infatuated by a beautiful courtesan named Kamala. He convinces her to teach him the ways of love, but only if he proves that he can fit in with the material world, so she sets him up with a job with a merchant, Kamaswami. Years pass as Siddhartha leads a life of debauchery with gambling, sex and drinking.
When Siddhartha is around his mid-life, he realizes that the material life he is leading is slowly killing him, so he leaves Kamaswami, Kamala and his empty life without warning. Siddhartha wanders to a river and considers suicide, but instead falls asleep. Govinda passes by with his fellow Buddhist monks and does not realize the sleeping man is Siddhartha but still watches over him to protect him from snakes. Siddhartha wakes up and greets his old friend, but both of them must be on their way.
Siddhartha seeks out the ferryman that took him across the river earlier and finds him. His name is Vasuveda and he tells Siddhartha that he attained inner peace by studying the river. He allows Siddhartha to live and work beside him. Siddhartha studies the river and is able to contemplate the unity of the world and hears the river speak the word Om, a Brahmin word of peace.
Years later, Kamala and the son she had with Siddhartha are making a voyage to Gotama, who is now dying. Kamala gets bitten by a snake and although Vasuveda and Siddhartha tried to save her, she dies. At her deathbed she confesses that her son is Siddhartha’s.
Siddhartha tries to console his son, but the son is disrespectful and eventually runs away to the city. Siddhartha goes after him, but realizes that his son must do this to find his own enlightenment.
Siddhartha meditates by the river for many years and has a revelation on how everything is a cycle in life. Vasuveda realizes that he has nothing left to teach Siddhartha and retires to the forest, leaving Siddhartha to be the ferryman.
Many years pass, and Govinda finds Siddhartha’s river while in search of a wise man that someone had told him about. Govinda realizes that he is talking to Siddhartha and that Siddhartha has attained enlightenment. Govinda asks Siddhartha to tell him everything he knows, but Siddhartha explains how enlightenment cannot be explained verbally because words do not do enlightenment justice. Instead Siddhartha tells Govinda to kiss him on the forehead, and when Govinda does, Siddhartha’s wisdom and experience of unity is communicated to Govinda.

Discussion Questions:
1) Do you think Siddhartha's lived his life to the fullest (carpe diem, anyone)?

2) Do you think what happened between Siddhartha and his son was karma for what Siddhartha did to his father?

7 comments:

Freddy B. 7-8 said...

1. Siddhartha did live life to the fullest, as he followed his heart throughout his life.
2. Yes, and the fact that the boy may have inherited Siddhartha's rebellious side.

Hannah J. 7-8 said...

1. while Siddatha did live his life to the fullest, it all seems like it was accidental and not the possible transendentalism/ romanticism that you seem to be hinting at. instead of aspiring to live his life to the fullest and suck the marrow out of life it seemes like he is merely floating around not really sure what to do.
2.it does seem like karma that his son ran away

Spencer P. 1-2 said...

1. I believe that Siddhartha did live his life the fullest. He did what he thought was right and followed his heart throughout his entire life. He sucked the marrow out of life without chocking on the bone.
2. I do think it is karma that his son ran away because Siddhartha gave his father trouble when he was young.

AnaleeL7-8 said...

1. Sidartha did live his life to the fullest because he did what he wanted to do not caring about what he was expected to do.

Natesa W. 7-8 said...

1. Siddhartha lived his life to the fullest. He tried many different things in his life and lived them all well.
2. I don't think it was karma, i think that it was just life. His son had to figure out his own life.

Brandon M. 1-2 said...

1. Yeah, I'd say that he "suck"sessfully sucked the marrow out of life. After all, he lived life at both extremes: 1. fasting and meditating and 2. drinking and sex. If that is not living life to the fullest, I don't know what is.

2. In a novel such as this, I could easily see karma being the cause for something. Yes, it was certainly the illustrious force of karma.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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