Siddhartha

The River Symbol Icon
It is when Siddhartha first visits the river that he realizes the spiritual power of natural things and this begins his own special journey into understanding the material world and the connections between all things. Each time he comes back to the river, it marks a new stage in his enlightenment. The first time he comes back, it is with great unease from living a rich life in town, and he desires to drown himself, but the river responds, sending him the word ‘om’ and showing him his own reflection. He seeks the ferryman, who shows him the power of listening. The ferryman has learned his wisdom from the river and it speaks to him in many voices. As Siddhartha learns to hear these voices and sees the visions of the river, he comes closer to contentment and greater natural wisdom. Eventually, after he has grieved to see his son refuse to live a ferryman’s life with him, Siddhartha learns the nature of eternity and wholeness from the river.

The River Quotes in Siddhartha

The Siddhartha quotes below all refer to the symbol of The River. 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 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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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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The River Symbol Timeline in Siddhartha

The timeline below shows where the symbol The River appears in Siddhartha. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One, Chapter 4 – Awakening
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Theme Icon
...own pupil. In this revelation, the world appears new to Siddhartha. The colors of the river and the forest seem to him pure in a way that they never seemed under... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 5 – Kamala
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
The next day, Siddhartha gets a ride with the ferryman across the river and the ferryman tells him about his love for the river, how he listens to... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 8 – By the River
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
...but to end himself and give his body to the crocodiles and creatures of the river. He sees his reflection and spits at it. He lowers himself closer to the surface,... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
...but he is not sad, he laughs, and is happy to compare himself with the river, going cheerfully downhill. He remembers that he almost drowned in the same river, but the... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 9 – The Ferryman
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Theme Icon
Siddhartha knows he wants to stay by the river, and resolves to find the ferryman who had showed him kindness before. He thinks this... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
...comes to the most recent chapter of his story, about finding the ‘om’ by the river, the ferryman listens so carefully that he closes his eyes. Vasudeva is very pleased to... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Theme Icon
...all the skills of ferrying and fixing the boat. But he learns most from the river, about how to listen with an open heart. Vasudeva is a man of few words,... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
On another occasion, Siddhartha asks the ferryman if it is true that the river is all voices, each woman, man and creature. Vasudeva says that it is true and... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
The travelers that crossed the river felt this special spirit emanating from the ferrymen and often found themselves opening up to... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 10 – The Son
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
...the city and did not leave it willfully, like Siddhartha did. Vasudeva has asked the river about it and the river has laughed at them. He urges Siddhartha to listen to... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Theme Icon
...succumb to the town’s pleasures. The ferryman smiles and tells Siddhartha to trust in the river. What can one do to save someone from the world, what can one teach him?... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
Siddhartha, as he had learned from the river, sits and waits and tries to listen to his inner voice. He speaks the ‘om’... (full context)
Part Two, Chapter 11 – Om
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
...his son. He takes the boat out, but all of a sudden he hears the river laughing at him. He peers into the water and sees his reflection and in it,... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
...Siddhartha feels that it is no longer Vasudeva, that the man has transformed into the river itself, and eternity itself. (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
...story, Vasudeva sits silently, radiating love for his friend. He suggests they listen to the river together. (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
...the faces of his lonely son and lonely father, and himself. The voice of the river is lamenting and determined. Vasudeva urges Siddhartha to keep listening and listen better. The images... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
Truth and Illusion Theme Icon
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Theme Icon
...voices are indistinguishable, angry, loving, dying, all the same. He sees the world as a river, the wholeness of the river is the wholeness of the world, and now the voice... (full context)
The Path to Spiritual Enlightenment Theme Icon
Nature and the Spirit Theme Icon
Direction and Indirection Theme Icon
...He knows divine, perfect knowledge. Vasudeva sees that Siddhartha has this knowledge thanks to the river and happily he tells Siddhartha that he has been waiting for this moment, and now... (full context)