We are reading Siddhartha because it is a story about life as a Hindu. We are currently studying Hinduism because it is a major world religion and one of the oldest. The story also connects with Buddhism. The main character, Siddhartha experiments with Buddhism and discusses its elements.
2. Why did Siddhartha choose to leave his comfortable life behind?
Siddhartha left home because he wanted to discover the truth behind life and better understand the circle of birth and death. He was full of discontent with his life and his goal was to achieve greater enlightenment. He felt he had already gained all the wisdom the Brahman’s could give him “…the wise Brahmans had already revealed to him that most and best of their wisdom.” (Hesse loc 27). In the novel it describes Siddhartha as having an eternal thirst for this knowledge.
3. Why did Siddhartha choose not to follow Buddha? What, in contrast to the historical Siddhartha Guatama (the Buddha), did he reject in doing so?
Siddhartha realized that he could not learn anything from the Buddha’s teachings and that he must achieve enlightenment from his own experiences. He realized that previously in his life he has been “fleeing from himself” and now he decides to reject other’s teachings and become his own teacher.
4. What roles do Kamala and Kamaswami play in Siddhartha’s life?
Kamala and Kamaswami play an important role in Siddhartha’s path. Kamala teaches Siddhartha the ways to love and introduces him to the material world. Through this experience he realizes the material world is not enough to satisfy him. Also Kamala and Siddhartha have a child together, who ends up leaving him after Kamala’s death and “helps” Siddhartha achieve greater understanding. Kamala also introduces Siddhartha to Kamaswami, a merchant, and begins to work for him. Kamaswami and Siddhartha are very different (at first) and Siddhartha does not appreciate the business world as Kamaswami does. Towards the end of his material life Siddhartha “becomes” Kamaswami. Both of these characters help Siddhartha along the way by influencing his thoughts and life.
5. How did Siddhartha come to the conclusion he reaches in the chapter late in the book called “Om” (this may be different in other translations)