Siddhartha is a 1922 novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of self-discovery of a man named Siddhartha during the time of the Gautama Buddha. The book, Hesse’s ninth novel, was written in German, in a simple, lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s. Hesse dedicated the first part of it to Romain Rolland and the second part to Wilhelm Gundert, his cousin.

The word Siddhartha is made up of two words in Sanskrit language, siddha (achieved) + artha (what was searched for), which together means “he who has found meaning (of existence)” or “he who has attained his goals”. In fact, the Buddha’s own name, before his renunciation, was Siddhartha Gautama, Prince of Kapilavastu. In this book, the Buddha is referred to as “Gotama”.

In Hesse’s novel, experience, the totality of conscious events of a human life, is shown as the best way to approach understanding of reality and attain enlightenment⁠—⁠Hesse’s crafting of Siddhartha’s journey shows that understanding is attained not through intellectual methods, nor through immersing oneself in the carnal pleasures of the world and the accompanying pain of samsara; rather, it is the completeness of these experiences that allows Siddhartha to attain understanding.

“I just read Siddhartha, which was recommended to me by a friend,” says Emma Watson in an interview.

“Love this book,” says Bryan Johnson in Tim ferriss’s podcast; The Rags to Riches Philosopher: Bryan Johnson’s Path to $800 Million (#81)

Naval Ravikant recommends reading this book and says, “so good that it may as well be non-fiction.” 

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