We currently exist in a world hemmed with electronic media and information technology that affords no queries or space for any quests whatsoever. The world, bereft of any spiritual values, with technological avant-gardism has sped us unconsciously into a world of wares and expenses. The enquiries that met the intellectuals of the past about the problems of the flesh and spirit have been left apart as groundless and inappropriate for the youth of the contemporary world. There is, in such a situation, no space for spiritual experience and satiation. In such a scenario, this paper’s aim to attempt a re-reading of Hermann Hesse’s has great relevance as it holds forth myriad values for our present sensitive ecology. The magnificent, yet unrequited questions it set forth certainly problematize the concerns of the present era.
The text is a chronicle that offers a genuine quest for peace and human compassion. It is a classic that proffer unmediated narration and unbiased lucidity of vision. Hesse’s Siddhartha is a distinctive individual, a delicate soul who represents the seeking cognizance of the West and the empathetic soul of the East. Suffering is universal, but its reception and response drastically differ. Siddhartha could not accept the teachings of Buddha for Buddha’s sole aim was salvation from suffering. He did not attempt to interpret or explain the world. For Siddhartha, the answer lay elsewhere and he was infinitely moving in search of it. Nothing, not even conversing with the Illustrious One could quench his thirst. Towards the end he returns to the river and there he could discern his self.
The story opens with a plain comprehensive line that leads the reader into the narrative and sets the tone for what is to follow. The nature and its appealing aroma invite the reader and the tone suggests a sense of spiritual quest that encompasses the whole episode:
In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda. The sun browned his slender shoulders on the river bank, while bathing at the holy ablutions, at the holy sacrifices. (Siddhartha 3)
The fundamental worth of sunshine and the riverbank gives the narrative the frame of an allegory that makes the text open and distinct. The river is as important as the protagonist and Siddhartha’s wandering can be equated with that of the river. It is by the side of the river that his meditations achieve transparency and accuracy:
But he learned more from the river than Vasudeva could teach him. He learned from it continually. Above all he learned from it how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgement, without options. (87)
Siddhartha is the centre of attention and all others including nature are seen from his perspective. The author has taken every care to maintain a suitable distance...