Rating: 4 out of 5

Author: Hermann Hesse

Year: 1981

Publisher: Bantam Classics

ISBN: 0553208845

The best thing about Siddhartha is that its a very small book — I’m not sure I would have been able to digest a much longer book of similar “density”. There are lot of ideas packed into the 150 or so pages. Herman Hesse is a Nobel Laureate in Literature, so naturally my expectations going into the book were high. But what really intrigued me about the book was that two of my friends who had read the book highly recommended it saying that “it evoked emotions that they could not put down in words”.

True enough. Siddhartha is a book about a young Brahmin’s life, as he tries to find enlightenment. Its a book about life and the many questions that all of us keep thinking about but never dare to ask ourselves. What is the purpose of our lives? What is true happiness? How does one find peace — complete and final, devoid of any desires or attachments. And so on.

Needless to add, the book can be a little disillusionary. And perhaps inspiring, depending on your point of view. But no matter what your stand is, it certainly is thought provoking. Different people may take away different things from the book. Personally, the book just reinforced my belief that spiritual growth is a very personal concept. It can not be taught — no one can teach you to be free. Someone else’s “teachings” may help you get there, but eventually we have to find the way ourselves, convince ourselves, believe ourselves. Furthermore, no one person’s teachings will ever be perfect or complete or be “the” solution — each one of us has to find our own paths.

Highly recommended.

One comment

  1. kowsik

    Try reading “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham for a ‘similar’ story that we can identify more with. It’s a long, but captivating, novel that is set in England in the pre-world-war times. The similarity with Siddhartha is restricted to the novel being about the life of one person, and the writer’s fascination with India (Ramana Maharshi in Maugham’s case).

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