Book review – Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

How do you review a book like Siddhartha?!
How do you capture the essence of the river!?
How do you find the words to describe such a reading experience?!
One that takes the reader through a spiritual journey, an adventure both humbling and uplifting! Both sobering and maddening. The narrative is engaging, enticing with its simple and seamless flow, shorn of adornments or wordy distractions.
It draws you into a stirring and enchanting journey of self-discovery that commences when Siddhartha as a young Brahmin boy, self-assured, confident, brilliant and intelligent, questions the limitations of knowledge and its offerings and leaves home with his childhood friend on a quest. A quest to quench his spiritual thirst, to appease a growing soul hunger that has rendered him restless and discontent. It sets him on a journey where he crosses paths with individuals in various stages of spiritual evolution. As he transitions from his living and learning with the Samanas to indulging in the Sansara, he feels confidently equipped with his ability to “think, wait and fast”, skills he gained and honed to perfection during his stay with the former. Abilities that he believes contribute to his success even as he plunges into worldly pleasures including detached love, trade, friendship, ego rush and trappings of fine living. Soon the restlessness returns and he follows the call of his soul, traversing to another phase. Faced with a situation that presents love and parental responsibility, he not only embraces it but surrenders to it completely with no holds barred before finding his way back to his inner path again.
By the time his exquisite journey nears its end or the beginning, he is exposed to a multitude of situations, enriching life experiences that expand his insight and perception, infusing him with wisdom.
So does he succeed in attaining enlightenment or is it singularity, for want of a better term?
Read to partake in the delectable journey and find out. This is a book I suspect I will re-read more than once in the future and possibly interpret it at least a shade differently every time.

Note: If you find that the tone of the starting lines of this review bears an uncanny resemblance to the song ‘Maria’ from the Sound of Music…you would be absolutely right. After my gaze swept over the last line, and I took a deep breath and closed this book along with my eyes, to attempt and pause my thoughts and reflect…for some reason this song tip-toed from the recesses of my memory right into my consciousness, to play in a loop.

1 Comment

  1. It’s many years since I read Hesse ; his writing is very impressive because he is constantly trying to get to the bottom of things. That is what Buddhism tries to to do but for me the great snag is its reliance on karma which assumes the universe is moral just as humans are.

    Liked by 1 person

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