Siddhartha

Siddhartha Character Analysis

is the protagonist, searching for enlightenment. He starts out as the most talented Brahmin’s son, and loved by all, but he is discontented and doesn’t trust in the teaching. He wishes to join a group of wandering, homeless samanas, in an ascetic life of fasting and thinking, and this begins his journey as a pilgrim, searching for his own brand of enlightenment and spiritual wisdom. With each stage of his journey, he goes through trials and doubts himself. He learns to dismiss physical needs with the samanas and then to indulge in them in the material life of the merchants, and through these two extremes, he comes back to the river and the spiritual home of the ferryman, where he gains the most important piece of knowledge of his life – the world is a river, always beginning, always ending, always whole. This wholeness tells Siddhartha of his own story, and teaches him to love even his hardest trials and his own ego. As Siddhartha reaches his ultimate wisdom, his son enters his life and provides him with a legacy and a knowledge of blind love. Siddhartha, finally understanding his life’s journey and the nature of the world, reaches the serene smile of enlightenment. He shows that contentment will only be found by taking one’s own path through life.

Siddhartha Quotes in Siddhartha

The Siddhartha quotes below are all either spoken by Siddhartha or refer to Siddhartha. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Siddhartha published in 1999.
Part One, Chapter 1 – The Brahmin's Son Quotes

He had begun to sense that his venerable father and his other teachers, that the wise Brahmins, had already imparted to him the bulk and the best of their knowledge, that they had already poured their fullness into his waiting vessel, and the vessel was not full, his mind was not contented…

Related Characters: Siddhartha, Siddhartha’s father
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part One, Chapter 2 – Among the Samanas Quotes

Siddhartha had a goal, a single one: to become empty – empty of thirst, empty of desire, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow.

Related Characters: Siddhartha
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I do not desire to walk on water,” said Siddhartha. “Let old samanas content themselves with such tricks.”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Govinda
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part One, Chapter 3 – Gautama Quotes

I have never seen anyone gaze and smile like that, sit and stride like that, he thought. Truly, I wish I could gaze and smile, sit and stride like that, so free, so venerable, so concealed, so open, so childlike and mysterious.

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Gautama
Related Symbols: The Smile
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part One, Chapter 4 – Awakening Quotes

He looked around as if seeing the world for the first time. Beautiful was the world, colorful was the world, bizarre and enigmatic was the world! There was blue, there was yellow, there was green. Sky flowed and river, forest jutted and mountain: everything beautiful, everything enigmatic and magical. And in the midst of it he, Siddhartha, the awakening man, was on the way to himself.

Related Characters: Siddhartha
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 5 – Kamala Quotes

“He is like Govinda,” he thought, smiling. “All the people I meet on my path are like Govinda. All are thankful, although they themselves have the right to be thanked. All are subservient, all want to be friends, like to obey, think little. People are children.”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Govinda
Page Number: 46-47
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Why should I fear a samana, a foolish samana from the forest, who comes from the jackals and does not yet know what a woman is?”

Related Characters: Kamala (speaker), Siddhartha
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Siddhartha
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 6 – Among the Child People Quotes

Siddhartha replied: “Stop scolding, dear friend! Scolding has never achieved anything. If there has been a loss, then let me bear the burden. I am very content with this trip. I have met all sorts of people, a Brahmin has become my friend, children have ridden on my lap, farmers have shown me their fields. No one took me for a merchant.”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Siddhartha, Kamaswami
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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At times he heard, deep in his breast, a soft and dying voice that admonished softly, lamented softly, barely audible. Then for an hour he was aware that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing all sorts of things that were merely a game, that he was cheerful, granted, and sometimes felt joy, but that a real life was flowing past him and not touching him.

Related Characters: Siddhartha
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 7 – Samsara Quotes

Like a veil, like a thin mist, weariness descended on Siddhartha, slowly, a bit denser each day, a bit dimmer each month, a bit heavier each year. A new garment grows old with time, loses its lovely color with time, gets stains, gets wrinkles, frays out at the hems, starts showing awkward, threadbare areas.

Related Characters: Siddhartha
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 8 – By the River Quotes

With a twisted face he stared into the water, saw his face reflected, and he spat at it. In deep fatigue, he loosened his arm from the tree trunk and turned slightly in order to plunge in a sheer drop, to go under at last. Closing his eyes, he leaned toward death.

Related Characters: Siddhartha
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Where,” he asked his heart, “where do you get this merriment? Does it come from that long, fine sleep, that did me so much good? Or from the word ‘om’ that I uttered? Or was it that I ran away, that my flight is completed, that I am finally free again and standing under the sky like a child?”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Siddhartha
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 9 – The Ferryman Quotes

He learned incessantly from the river. Above all, it taught him how to listen, to listen with a silent heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinion.

Related Characters: Siddhartha
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 10 – The Son Quotes

“Can I part with him?” he asked softly, embarrassed. “Give me more time, dear friend! Look, I am fighting for him, I am wooing his heart, I want to capture it with love and friendly patience. Let the river speak to him too someday; he too is called.”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Siddhartha, Vasudeva, Young Siddhartha
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

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He felt deep love in his heart for the runaway. It was like a wound; and he also felt that the wound was not for wallowing, that it must become a blossom and shine.

Related Characters: Siddhartha, Young Siddhartha
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 11 – Om Quotes

Radiant was Vasudeva’s smile, it hovered, luminous, over all the wrinkles in his old face just as the om hovered over all the voices of the river. Bright shone his smile when he looked at his friend, and bright now glowed the very same smile on Siddhartha’s face.

Related Characters: Siddhartha, Vasudeva
Related Symbols: The Smile, The River
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part Two, Chapter 12 – Govinda Quotes

“I have found a thought, Govinda, that you will again take as a joke or as folly, but it is my best thought. This is it: The opposite of every truth is just as true!”

Related Characters: Siddhartha (speaker), Siddhartha, Govinda
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

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He no longer saw his friend Siddhartha’s face; instead he saw other faces, many, a long row, a streaming river of faces, hundreds, thousands, which all came and faded and yet seemed all to be there at once, which kept changing and being renewed, and yet which all were Siddhartha.

Related Characters: Siddhartha, Govinda
Related Symbols: The Smile
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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Siddhartha Character Timeline in Siddhartha

The timeline below shows where the character Siddhartha appears in Siddhartha. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One, Chapter 1 – The Brahmin's Son
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Theme Icon
Siddhartha is brought up in a beautiful riverside home, the son of a Brahmin, and lives... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
But Siddhartha’s most loyal love comes from Govinda, who admires all of his qualities and his high... (full context)
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But despite all the love that he sees in the hearts of others, Siddhartha does not bring happiness to himself. He goes about his daily offerings and meditations with... (full context)
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Siddhartha begins to question the offerings and the gods that he has been taught to accept... (full context)
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Siddhartha knows, from insightful, inspiring verses written by Brahmins that they are in possession of true... (full context)
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Siddhartha meditates with Govinda and recites a verse about the soul being an arrow and the... (full context)
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Govinda, realizing that this is the moment when Siddhartha’s path will separate from his, worriedly asks him whether his father will allow the decision.... (full context)
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Siddhartha’s father is troubled and restless that night and gets out of bed, but sees Siddhartha... (full context)
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Standing for so many hours has made Siddhartha’s body shake, but his resolve is strong and the Brahmin knows that his son is... (full context)
Part One, Chapter 2 – Among the Samanas
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That evening, Siddhartha and Govinda approach the samanas and are accepted to join them. They give away their... (full context)
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Through the dry and rainy seasons, Siddhartha suffers the pain of burning and freezing, and sores from walking, but he withstands everything,... (full context)
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Siddhartha asks Govinda, who has been living this painful samana life along with him, whether he... (full context)
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On another occasion, Siddhartha questions if they are really approaching higher knowledge or whether they are going round in... (full context)
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Govinda doesn’t understand how Siddhartha could say such things. It terrifies him to doubt everything he has valued as holy.... (full context)
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After three years leading the samana life, a rumor reaches Siddhartha and Govinda of a Sublime teacher, called Gautama, the Buddha, who had also wandered through... (full context)
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...to the samanas in the forest too. But the rumors are colored equally with doubt. Siddhartha distrusts the idea of teaching, but Govinda wishes more than anything to hear the Sublime... (full context)
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Siddhartha tells the eldest samana that he and Govinda plan to leave and the samana is... (full context)
Part One, Chapter 3 – Gautama
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...Savathi, Gautama and his disciples are worshipped. He is given a grove called Jetavana. When Siddhartha and Govinda arrive in the town, they ask their host where to find the Buddha... (full context)
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Excited, Govinda wants to hear more but Siddhartha pushes them on to the grove, which they soon realize with their own eyes to... (full context)
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Like the Buddha, these monks go into the town to beg. This is where Siddhartha first sees the Buddha and points him out to Govinda. He looks much the same... (full context)
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Siddhartha and Govinda plan not to eat anything that day. They observe the Buddha taking a... (full context)
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...Govinda asks to be accepted into the Buddha’s fellowship. He is accepted and goes to Siddhartha to ask why he hasn’t also committed to the teaching. Siddhartha tells Govinda, with honest... (full context)
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That night, Govinda continues to question Siddhartha about the fault he sees in the teaching. Siddhartha reassures him that of course the... (full context)
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The Buddha accepts this, but Siddhartha wishes to say something else. He expresses his extreme admiration for what the Buddha has... (full context)
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The Buddha wishes the best for Siddhartha but he questions his plan. He asks Siddhartha to contemplate whether the hundreds of monks... (full context)
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The Buddha’s peaceful smile is unwavering. He warns Siddhartha to be careful of his own cleverness. Then he goes smiling away. Siddhartha recognizes the... (full context)
Part One, Chapter 4 – Awakening
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As he leaves the Buddha and Govinda, Siddhartha feels that he is leaving his old life. He muses deeply in this feeling, as... (full context)
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Siddhartha asks himself what he had found lacking in teaching, and he decides that it is... (full context)
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Siddhartha suddenly feels awakened. He is filled with purpose. He declares that he will no longer... (full context)
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Again Siddhartha pauses. He realizes that, though he had intended on leaving the samana life and going... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 5 – Kamala
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Now Siddhartha sees the beauty of the natural world all around him. It had always been there... (full context)
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Along this path, Siddhartha remembers everything about his journey so far, and every word he spoke to the Buddha... (full context)
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Siddhartha sleeps along the way in a ferryman’s hut by the river and has a dream... (full context)
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The next day, Siddhartha gets a ride with the ferryman across the river and the ferryman tells him about... (full context)
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Next Siddhartha comes to a village, where a group of children run shyly from him. And outside... (full context)
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Siddhartha approaches the town, longing to be around people. He sees a trail of men and... (full context)
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In the town, Siddhartha sleeps in the streets and on the riverbank. He befriends a barber, and has his... (full context)
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...had a samana come to her before, though she has received many sons of Brahmins. Siddhartha says that he learns quickly and has gone through many trials. Kamala tells him that... (full context)
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Siddhartha next asks Kamala why she is not afraid of a rough samana entering her house.... (full context)
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Siddhartha also promises to come back with the rich clothes that Kamala requested, but doesn’t know... (full context)
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Siddhartha praises Kamala for her kissing and she explains that her knowledge of love has gotten... (full context)
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The next day, Siddhartha visits Kamala in her town house and she informs him that things are already looking... (full context)
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Kamala reminds Siddhartha that he has her to thank for his good fortune too. Siddhartha replies that he... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 6 – Among the Child People
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The next day, Siddhartha meets Kamaswami in his big house. Kamaswami asks Siddhartha why he has left scholarship and... (full context)
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This doesn’t seem like much to Kamaswami, but Siddhartha explains that from fasting, he has learned to laugh at and rise above hunger. This... (full context)
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Soon Siddhartha is helping the merchant with his transactions, but he is focused on his pursuit of... (full context)
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Though Siddhartha is a peer in Kamaswami’s house and seems to have a lucky touch with business... (full context)
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Siddhartha goes to make a transaction at a rice plantation, but misses the opportunity and spends... (full context)
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Siddhartha continues to confuse and anger Kamaswami. He refuses to eat Kamaswami’s bread, never sympathizes with... (full context)
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As much as Kamaswami is dissatisfied by Siddhartha, Siddhartha also does not find any joy in business. He loves the lives of the... (full context)
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Siddhartha invites every kind of company into the house, treating rich tradesmen and poor peddlers exactly... (full context)
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But Siddhartha keeps learning the art of love from Kamala, and her friendship warms him. She seems... (full context)
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...love games – fighting and tricking each other in a battle-like display. Kamala admits that Siddhartha is the best lover she has known and that she wishes to have his child... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 7 – Samsara
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Siddhartha had lived a worldly life for a while and had learned about things like lust... (full context)
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...things that he learned from the Brahmins and Gautama and the samanas have stayed with Siddhartha but others have as good as disappeared. His thinking has slowed but his senses have... (full context)
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As Siddhartha grows more anxious, he envies the child people, because they still have something that he... (full context)
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The vices of the town have captured Siddhartha, and now the need for property and money keeps him in a cycle that seems... (full context)
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One night, Siddhartha spends the evening with Kamala and she asks all about the Buddha and wishes one... (full context)
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That night, when Siddhartha falls asleep for a moment, he has a dream, in which Kamala’s pet song bird... (full context)
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Siddhartha replays the path of his life and thinks about his moments of genuine happiness. These... (full context)
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Siddhartha feels something die within him. He sits contemplating in the grove, and considers how he... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 8 – By the River
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Siddhartha wanders into the forest knowing that he can never go back, and feeling that the... (full context)
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Siddhartha leans on the branch of a tree and watches the flow of the water and... (full context)
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After this moment of realization, Siddhartha falls into a deep sleep by the river. As he awakens, he feels that years... (full context)
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Then Siddhartha notices a yellow-robed man sitting near him. At first, he thinks the man is a... (full context)
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Siddhartha thanks Govinda and, as they part, calls him by his name. Siddhartha explains how he... (full context)
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Siddhartha reminds Govinda that the world is ephemeral. Outward identities are passed through as one passes... (full context)
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Siddhartha is suddenly very hungry, and laughs at the memory of reciting his three skills to... (full context)
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Siddhartha goes through the twists and turns of his life, from a Brahmin’s son to a... (full context)
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Siddhartha muses on where this happiness has come from, whether from the word ‘om’ or the... (full context)
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Siddhartha keeps pondering and wonders, if it is not the song bird that died, what part... (full context)
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Siddhartha knows that he had been right, he couldn’t have been taught any more. He had... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 9 – The Ferryman
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Siddhartha knows he wants to stay by the river, and resolves to find the ferryman who... (full context)
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Siddhartha suffers greatly with hunger but he carries on and gets to the river and sees... (full context)
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Siddhartha does not wish any longer to be judged for these clothes. He offers them to... (full context)
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Siddhartha watches Vasudeva row with admiration for his calm strength and focus. He remembers the fondness... (full context)
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Vasudeva listens carefully. Listening is the ferryman’s great virtue. Siddhartha feels that Vasudeva is absorbing all that he is telling him, without judgment, and when... (full context)
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Siddhartha accepts and praises Vasudeva for his ability to listen, hoping to learn it from him... (full context)
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Siddhartha lives with Vasudeva and learns all the skills of ferrying and fixing the boat. But... (full context)
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On another occasion, Siddhartha asks the ferryman if it is true that the river is all voices, each woman,... (full context)
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...is mortally ill and will soon die his final human death and pass into glory. Siddhartha reflects on the great voice of this teacher, and remembers him fondly. He remembers his... (full context)
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...is Kamala, who is also on a pilgrimage to visit the dying Buddha. Since knowing Siddhartha, Kamala has given up the life of a courtesan to be a supporter of the... (full context)
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...and bites her. They try to go on towards the river but Kamala collapses. Young Siddhartha is distraught. Luckily, Vasudeva hears Kamala’s cry and comes to her and carries her to... (full context)
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Siddhartha and Vasudeva try to look after Kamala, giving her a healing potion, but she is... (full context)
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Young Siddhartha is afraid for his mother and Siddhartha tries to comfort his son. He remembers a... (full context)
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Siddhartha watches Kamala’s pale face, now old and without the color of the fig that he... (full context)
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Early in the morning, Vasudeva comes out and Siddhartha tells him that he has been reflecting, listening to the river tells him about oneness.... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 10 – The Son
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Young Siddhartha, full of grief, attends his mother’s funeral. He lives in the ferryman’s hut but will... (full context)
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But, as time goes on, Siddhartha, expecting his son to come round and learn to love him, is disappointed. Young Siddhartha... (full context)
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Siddhartha doesn’t feel ready to part with his son. He asks for more time. He believes... (full context)
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Siddhartha is saddened and ashamed but when Vasudeva suggests that the boy should be brought back... (full context)
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Vasudeva had never spoken so much at once. Siddhartha thinks restlessly about it. He knows Vasudeva is right, but his love is stronger than... (full context)
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Looking at his boy’s face, Siddhartha remembers what Kamala once said to him. She told him that he couldn’t love, and... (full context)
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Young Siddhartha goes on abusing his father, humiliating him and sulking. Nothing about Siddhartha can influence the... (full context)
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Siddhartha is anxious for the child’s safety and begs that they make a raft and follow... (full context)
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...that has been abandoned. Vasudeva takes an axe with them, because he suspects that young Siddhartha may have destroyed their oar to make a point. Sure enough when they get to... (full context)
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Siddhartha still wants to see his son. He arrives at the grove that used to belong... (full context)
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Siddhartha, as he had learned from the river, sits and waits and tries to listen to... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 11 – Om
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The wound brought on by the loss of his son hurts Siddhartha for a good while. He sees the families that cross the river in a different... (full context)
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Siddhartha has gradually learned what real wisdom is and he is even more drawn to Vasudeva,... (full context)
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Siddhartha goes back to the hut, wanting to open his heart to Vasudeva, the great listener.... (full context)
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Siddhartha stops thinking about his wound and the presence of Vasudeva fills him up. Vasudeva’s transformation... (full context)
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Visions appear to Siddhartha as he watches, the faces of his lonely son and lonely father, and himself. The... (full context)
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Siddhartha listens and now he utterly absorbs everything. He listens perfectly. The voices are indistinguishable, angry,... (full context)
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Siddhartha’s suffering has stopped. He knows divine, perfect knowledge. Vasudeva sees that Siddhartha has this knowledge... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 12 – Govinda
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...old ferryman, and asks him if he is also a seeker of the right path. Siddhartha wonders why this old disciple still calls himself a seeker, but Govinda replies that he... (full context)
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Govinda asks Siddhartha for a word of advice. Siddhartha doesn’t know what he can say to the Venerable... (full context)
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In the morning, Govinda wishes to know one last thing before he goes, whether Siddhartha has any teaching, any bit of knowledge, that he looks to for guidance. Siddhartha reminds... (full context)
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Siddhartha comes to his best thought. He tells Govinda that “the opposite of every truth is... (full context)
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...it is possible to remove time. This is why everything seems good and right to Siddhartha. He has learned to agree with the world in its totality. Siddhartha then uses a... (full context)
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Unsatisfied by the pettiness of these words, Siddhartha stops there. He explains that he used the stone to show how he loves things,... (full context)
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Siddhartha tells Govinda that he has come to see love as the most important thing now.... (full context)
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Govinda thanks Siddhartha for his thoughts. He doesn’t understand but wishes him well. To himself, Govinda reflects that... (full context)
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...that he can understand, to take with him when they part for the last time. Siddhartha smiles still. Govinda’s face is full of angst and seeking. Siddhartha tells him to come... (full context)