An Evaluation Of Hesse’s Portrayal Of India’s Caste System

1322 words - 5 pages

In his novel Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse used the story of a young Indian Brahmin searching for insight to explore different means of achieving inner peace. Siddhartha attempted to use both asceticism and the life of the wealthy to experience illumination. He fluctuated from rich to poor multiple times before he reached enlightenment. However, Hesse did not always accurately portray the most essential piece of Indian culture—the Caste System—perhaps because he wanted to appeal to a western audience that had little knowledge of the system. Siddhartha, who lived in the Indian Caste of priests, would not have been able to move between social ranks in the manner Hesse portrayed.

The first contradiction of the Caste System arose when Siddhartha left the priestly class of Brahmins to join the shramanas. As a Brahmin, Siddhartha would not have even wanted, much less be permitted, to join the lower ascetics. Siddhartha’s father granted permission for his son to join a lower class, an unlikely scenario in the strict norms established by the Indian Caste System. The father told Siddhartha, “‘you will go off into the forest and become a shramana. If you find happiness in the forest, come back and teach me happiness. If it’s disappointment you find, then come back and we shall again make sacrifices to the gods together. Now go and kiss your mother, and tell her where you’re going’” (Hesse 10). A man who had spent hundreds of lifetimes building up good karma did not want to throw it away by joining the ranks of those who were now paying for their previous lives of sin and corruption. When Siddhartha began his life as a shramana, “he wore only a loincloth and an unstitched, earth-colored shawl. He ate only once a day and never cooked food…the flesh fell away from his cheeks and thighs…the nails got long on his fingers, and from his chin grew a dry, scruffy beard” (11). In the time the novel took place, a Brahmin did not subject himself to those burdens because he had already struggled for illumination and earned the privileges associated with the priestly Caste. By living previous lives full of virtue, Siddhartha was on the threshold of unity with Brahman and would not have risked plummeting to the bottom to start all over again on a whim of how to achieve enlightenment. The notion of a Brahmin lowering himself to a less valuable social rank ran completely contrary to the Caste System.

The second contradiction in the novel came when Siddhartha ascended from a shramana to a merchant. In this part of the novel, Hesse achieved accuracy in portraying the Caste System, but still included the inaccuracy of interaction between Castes. When Siddhartha noticed Kamala in her pleasure garden, “he saw a very bright, very tender, very intelligent face, a bright red mouth like a fig newly broke open, eyebrows that had been trained and painted into lofty arches, dark eyes, intelligent and alert, a pale long neck emerging from a green and gold mantle, and pale...

Find Another Essay On An Evaluation of Hesse’s Portrayal of India’s Caste System

The Caste System of Ancient India

678 words - 3 pages -economy in ancient India, but it was also a very important factor for their religion. The link between the Caste system and Hinduism is undoubtedly solid. Hinduism’s core is the circle of life and reincarnation, the rebirth into the next life which is determined by the person’s actions in the previous one (Dutt, 2000, p. 59). These believes tie effortlessly into the Caste system, if an individual was committed to living life according to the

An evaluation of property tax system in Malaysia

1663 words - 7 pages (Lewis, 2003). Property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property which the owner is required to pay. In Malaysia, the assessment rates are charged according to the provision of Local Government Act 1976. This provision empowers the local authority to collect assessment rates according to the area of jurisdiction. The property tax is based on market value for the state of Johor and annual value for the rest of states in Malaysia

Impact Of British Colonialism on the Indian Caste System

2930 words - 12 pages The caste system in India is elaborately structured to have an Indian touch to it, clearly distinguishing it from social structures worldwide. Caste is a word often used to describe a cluster of people who have a specific rank in the society. Each caste system is elaborately crafted to suit the needs of the society and they vary from group to group; each has its own rules and customs. Different chaste systems are planned in a

Reinforcement of the Caste System in The Bhagavad Gita

968 words - 4 pages In The Bhagavad Gita there are many references to the caste system, or Varnas. It explains the way men and women of ancient India should act and behave according to Hinduism. Throughout the book there are many examples of the things Hindus are expected to do. These pieces of advice range from anything to the jobs certain people have to the way they are allowed to dress. The Varna is one of the earliest known mentions of a caste system, where

Mass incarceration of African Americans, The Revised Caste System

2070 words - 9 pages slavery, whites created Whites in the southern states enacted the Black Codes. Black Codes were thought to uphold a social caste system, reflecting the racial hierarchy of slavery. Slavery was abolished, however it still serves as a form of punishment for those found guilty of a crime. In the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) lies a description of the policy: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the

Analysis of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha

724 words - 3 pages book was originally wrote in German but it was translated into English. Siddhartha was Hesse’s ninth book. It was published in Germany in 1922 but then published in 1951 in the United States, but it didn’t really become popular and influential until the 1960s. Hesse dedicated the book to his wife Ninon, after her to Romain Rolland, and Wilhelm Gundert. The reason Hesse wrote Siddhartha was because he wanted to learn more about the concepts of

Evaluation of an Advertisement

1065 words - 4 pages Evaluation of an Advertisement Advertising is to persuade people to buy their product or in this case encouraging people to send money to help its charity. However to persuade people isn't that easy, you have to use the correct wording, and things such as power of three, alliteration in order to persuade that customer/person. In this advertisement many of these things are used. They really make you want to send a

An Evaluation of Body Image

1790 words - 8 pages for the younger audience, for example Clueless, Mean Girls, and American Pie promotes that popularity, beauty, dieting and sexiness are preferred amongst teenagers. Harriger & Thompson, 2012) There are very few movies that provide a positive message and portrayal real women. An example would be the movie Real Women Have Curves and the reality show House of Curves. Harriger & Thompson, 2012) Although, those productions have a positive influence

The Importance of Sacrifice in Hesse’s Siddhartha

1000 words - 4 pages portrayed throughout the novel Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. In it, the protagonist Siddhartha overcomes a number of emotional and physical sacrifices until he finally accomplishes absolute enlightenment as his journey comes to an end. At the start of the novel, Siddhartha, a young man and the son of the Brahmin, decides that the society to which his family belongs does not provide all the teachings necessary to achieve enlightenment. For this reason

An Evaluation of American Justice

780 words - 4 pages While living in a country that has the highest number of documented incarceration in the world, I have come to realize the large impact the American prison system has on not just the culture and criminal attitude of the nation, but from as economical factor as well. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics states that 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S federal state prisons as well as country jails by the end of 2011. But an additional

An Evaluation of Ryan Air

4283 words - 17 pages scratch. This is distinguished from growth by acquisition or merger, which involves an outside firm. The method of organic growth seems to be the most suited method of implementation for the options stated above. The benefits of this method are:-Cost Spread-Choice of Location-Latest Technology-No Inappropriate Cultural HistoryTask B-Evaluation of Strategic ProposalsFigure 8: A Framework for the Evaluation and Selection of StrategiesSource: ARU

Similar Essays

The History Of Caste System In India

973 words - 4 pages ." YouTube. YouTube, 07 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. Chan, Cheryl. "'We Are Zero': Immigrant Says She Can’t Escape Sting of India’s Caste System, Even In Canada." National Post News. N.p., 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. Drake Alex, and Mamie Hall. "The Caste System and Ancient Indian Society." Lecture. Youtube. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. . Heinz, Carolyn Brown. "8b. The Caste System."

Exploring The Hindu Caste System Of India

2803 words - 11 pages life. As Jeffrey Hays, a researcher of the India Caste System explains, “this system endures more for economic reasons than religious ones.” On the contrary, some people view it as the most detailed and specific attempt in human history to establish complete discrimination “as a sign principal in public bounds.” Sociologists consider the caste system as a representation of daily life: spiritual affirmation, the conservation of social order by an

The Effects Of The Indian Caste System

1120 words - 4 pages Dating all the way back to 1200 BCE, social classes have helped define India’s politics, religion, and its society. The name of the system that the Indians used to classify social classes was the caste system, a way to classify people into ranks, called varnas. There are four ranks that were created in order to classify the people: at the top were the Brahmans, then the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and finally the Shudras. The Rig Vedas states that

Caste System, The Scourge Of Indian Civilization

2818 words - 11 pages Caste system has been the scourge of Indian civilization and culture. The battle against this oppressive and inhuman is older than even some of the great religions of the world. The first warrior to wage against this system was probably Gautam Buddha who waged the war against this inhuman system in 6th century B.C. No doubt, Buddha was able to put some dents in the system, but after the Nirvana of Buddha, the system once again rose like a