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The journey of siddhartha as told by herman hesse


Culture 'Siddhartha' - A Journey to the East? Hermann Hesse, one of the great German authors and poets of the 20th century is widely researched today in Asia.

  • The beauty of this book lies in the simplicity of the language;
  • Vasudeva leaves the river and leaves Siddhartha with the sole job of ferrying people across it;
  • Morris, translator's preface 1998.

Little wonder that the ongoing celebrations for his 125th birth anniversary were kicked off in India. A must-read while growing up?

  • Hopefully it is something very, very positive;
  • He is a man who refuses to learn from others no matter how learned or holy someone may be;
  • The book details the story of Siddhartha, the young and brilliant son of a Brahmin in ancient India;
  • He seeks the true nature of the self.

Last November as Germany's Herman Hesse Year kicked off, a group of 40 Germans from the author's hometown of Calw made their way to the tiny village of Talasseri in Kerala on the picturesque Malabar coast of India. The trip was a fitting one, considering the land of 1 billion had long fascinated Hesse and provided the setting for Siddhartha, one of his most famous books.

But the trip was telling for another reason. In contrast to Germany, where the Nobel prize winner's work has been criticized as "poetically sentimental" and "anachronistic", Hesse's books are a virtual hit in India and the rest of Asia.

Siddhartha: A journey of self-discovery

Siddhartha was even filmed in 1972 in India featuring Indian actors. Fascination with India A major reason for Hesse's popularity is the overpowering legacy left him by his grandfather Hermann Gundert 1814-1893who spent 23 years in southern India as a linguist and missionary Dr. Hesse himself admitted in his autobiographies that he admired, feared and revered his grandfather who spoke more than 30 languages, had studied eastern religions and mythology and lived and mingled with people of other races, beliefs and customs.

Frenz, who was part of the delegation that kicked off the Hesse festival last year in southern India says that the amount of research devoted to Hermann Hesse and the number of German literature students in India seeking to do a doctoral thesis on Hesse is startling in contrast to the author's homeland.

In India or not?

  1. The trip was a fitting one, considering the land of 1 billion had long fascinated Hesse and provided the setting for Siddhartha, one of his most famous books. Painfully hungry, Siddhartha looks for food.
  2. Vasudeva allows Siddhartha to live with him and work as his apprentice. In 1971, a surrealistic adaptation as a musical Western was released as Zachariah.
  3. Vasudeva finds her and brings her into the hut. Do words tend to enhance or limit wisdom?
  4. Why is seeing Siddhartha just as good for Kamala as seeing Gautama? Finally, back to an ascetic life, but one that embraces the world and everything in it as special and unique.
  5. Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery 1973 A well-known Dutch mystery writer describes with wry humor his serious attempts to learn and refine his spiritual practices under the direction of an enigmatic, cantankerous Zen master.

Most references to this time report on Hesse being disappointed and disillusioned by India. Siddharthathe journey of a young Brahman which was loosely based on the story of Buddha, was written after the author returned to Europe in 1919 and eventually published it in 1922.

Siddhartha Reader’s Guide

But others, like Dr. Frenz, believe Hesse never made it to India. It might help to explain why both Eastern and Western critics attacked the book as too simplistic and romantic. Hesse's treatment of the country and main character, they say, reflects his simple understanding of Indian and Buddhism religious traditions. The judgements have been meted out to Hesse's other works by German literary critics.

In the year of Hesse's death in 1962, the former culture editor at the respected weekly "Die Zeit", Rudolf Walter Leonhardt said, "Hesse's works can't really fascinate anybody anymore".

Timeless themes and perspectives The judgement seems at odds with works that have been translated into 60 languages, with over a 100 million copies sold world-wide. More than 75 million of those were sold outside of Germany. Which perhaps explains why Siddhartha, with its distinctly eastern flavour and character draws more readers in Calcutta India than Munich.