July 23, 2013

Book review : Siddhartha

Siddharth (book by Hermann Hesse ISBN : 978-81-7234-368-2) is not a story of fiction, it is a story, compiled in parts, of different truths in different parts.
It is not about Gautam Buddha, as the name initially gave an indication to me, but about a different path to the same state. As a learner in the realm of science, I can appreciate this story in a very different manner. Which reminds me of Prof. Suchitra Mathur's class on 'Criticism & Appreciation of Literature' where I think I imbibed a very important lesson, no review is ever right or wrong, for every review is unique & thus in itself complete. The review reflects the understanding of the text by the critic, not the book itself. I have only begun to understand Siddhartha & hence my review may not reflect the book, but it is not supposed to, either.
What I have said above would make more sense if you have ever gone through interactive literature. Where, you can input a name & the character takes up that name, & you can make the choices for the character & the story changes as the different 'names' make different choices. This book is about one such character name, called Siddhartha. This is not a usual story of spirituality, not your regular, go into the woods or to the Himalayas, meditate, recite holy chants, bathe in the Ganga, 'wash' your sins & achieve Nirvana, it is quite the contrary. (personal note : I do not think it makes a wee bit of difference to achieving Nirvana, but I will keep to myself for another post or a discussion in person)
This is a book of lust, passion, friendship, worldly belongings & most importantly, the flight from them. It does not begin as such, but is such, nonetheless. It begins as most stories begin, in an isolated village, among the Brahmans, the well of knowledge (& arrogance), the search for spirituality, the distractions & finally the self-revelation.
To some parts of the story, I feel so empathic that I had almost replaced reading Siddhartha with Sambhav, so diverse is the text.
Surprisingly, I just realised, this story is not at all about religion, but talks about atheism, rather neo-atheism aka atheism 2.0 that I had talked about in a earlier post, (will update the link when I find it) which is spiritual atheism. Siddhartha as a character emphasises the need to not follow a pre-defined path so that you can find a new path. A new path to the same final state, Nirvana. Oh, but the story's 'plot' has its roots in Hinduism/Buddhism & is easier to understand if you have a glimpse into either religion. 
Siddhartha, as a character emphasises that it's not just the end that is important, but also the means of how have you reached it, though he does not preach a path or say one is better than the another, but quite the contrary, everyone must find his or her own path. You can be guided in the direction, but achieve long-lasting peace, Nirvan, you must follow your own path. It is the very experience of the path that makes the peace long-lasting, perhaps.
There is still much that I have not covered in the review. I may come back & edit the  review as understanding dawns.

As usual, the book was recommended by Kruti Munot.

Edit : The boom has been so beautifully  written & translated that while reading it, you do not even realise that the book has even translated from German language!


  1. Retesting mobile comments

  2. Nice review! I like how everybody who's read the book has a different understanding of it.
    I want to see a post on "I do not think it makes a wee bit of difference to achieving Nirvana, but I will keep to myself for another post" :D

  3. Thanks!
    Now I am waiting for your review to Siddhartha before I make any edits.

  4. *for you to review Siddhartha.

  5. Must re-read before I make an attempt!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.