Siddhartha Themes

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The Search for the Meaning of Life

Hesse's works are largely confessional and autobiographical and deal with questions of "Weltanschauung," of a philosophy of life. Typically, as in Siddhartha, the individual's search for truth and identity through what Hesse called the "inward journey" is draped around the plot. Siddhartha, the obedient son of a rich Brahman, awakens one day to the realization that his life is empty and that his soul is not satisfied by his devotion to duty and strict observances of religious ordinances. He leaves home with his friend Govinda to begin his journey. First, he becomes an ascetic mendicant, but fasting and physical deprivation do not bring him closer to peace. Subsequently, he speaks with Gotama Buddha, who has attained the blissful state of Nirvana. Siddhartha realizes that he cannot accept the Buddhist doctrine of salvation from suffering or learn through the Buddha's teaching. He must...

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This section contains 1,220 words
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Siddhartha from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.