Who was Vasudeva's mother

Hermann Hesse

NikuDorostkar, Christophe Sauseng (2001)

Characteristics of the main characters

Siddhartha is the son of a brahmin and stands out for his otherness. "He loved Siddhartha's eye and lovely voice, he loved his walk and the perfect decency of his movements, he loved everything that Siddhartha did and said, and most of all he loved his spirit, his lofty fiery thoughts, his ardent will, his lofty calling.“So Siddhartha is an exception even in the select community of the Bramahnen, but is unhappy with his situation because he does not feel close to enlightenment and truth.


Govinda is Siddhartha's companion and friend. He is not as critical as Siddhartha, but sees his inferiority. He finds his own way with Gotama and joins him. For Siddhartha, Govinda also represents a kind of mirror image - on the way to knowledge he is repeatedly used as a criterion for Siddhartha's progress on his life path.


The ferryman Vasudeva is a simple man who shows Siddhartha the way to enlightenment. "You will learn, "said Vasudeva," but not from me. The river taught me to listen, and you will learn from it too. He knows everything, the river, everything can be learned from him. See, you have already learned from water that it is good to strive downward, to sink, to seek depth. The rich and distinguished Siddhartha becomes a rowing servant, the learned Brahmin Siddhartha becomes a ferryman: This too was told to you by the river. You will learn the other from him too.Vasudeva also expressly states that he is not a man of words.


Kamalais a whore who initially makes the world of normal people accessible to Siddhartha, but who ultimately tells him that he has remained a Samana after all. “You are the best lover,” she said thoughtfully, “that I have seen. You are stronger than others, more flexible, more willing. You learned my art well, Siddhartha. One day, when I'm older, I want you to have a child. And yet, dear, you have remained a Samana, yet you do not love me, you do not love anyone. Isn't that so? "


Gotama, or the Buddha: This fictional character is based on the historical character Siddhartha Gotama, the founder of Buddhism. Although Siddhartha does not follow Gotama like Govinda, Gotama represents the model of Siddhartha. Gotama symbolizes Siddhartha's striving for perfection, Gotama here takes on the role of the redeemed who has passed into nirvana. The two Samanas only recognized him by the perfection of his calm, by the stillness of his figure, in which there was no searching, no wanting, no imitation, no effort to be recognized, only light and peace. "


Siddhartha's son lives by the river with his father and Vasudeva after his mother Kamala dies from a snakebite. The boy - stubborn and proud like his father - refuses to live with the two old ferrymen and leaves his father like Siddhartha himself once did. The unrequited love for his son represents Siddhartha's last hurdle on the way to enlightenment.



The growing Siddhartha is no longer satisfied with the usual sacrifices to gods, atonement and immersion. He becomes aware that his thirst for knowledge can no longer be satisfied and that he must therefore go his own way:

Siddhartha had started to nurture dissatisfaction. He had begun to feel that the love of his father, and the love of his mother, and also the love of his friend, Govindas, would not always make him happy, nurse him, satisfy him, be enough. He had begun to suspect that his venerable father and his other teachers, that the wise Brahmins had already told him most and best of their wisdom, that they had already poured their abundance into his waiting vessel, and the vessel was not full The mind was not satisfied, the soul was not calm, the heart was not stilled. The ablutions were good, but they were water, they did not wash away sin, they did not heal the thirst of the spirit, they did not relieve the anguish of the heart. Excellent were the sacrifices and the invocation of the gods - but was that all? Did the victims bring happiness? And what about the gods? Was it really Prajapati who created the world? Wasn't it Atman, He, the only one, the only one? [] And where was the Atman to be found, where did he live, where did his eternal heart beat, where other than in one's own ego, in the innermost, in the indestructible that everyone carried within himself? But where, where was this I, this innermost, this last? "  „You had to find it, the original source in your own self, you had to have it! Everything else was searching, was a detour, was astray.

Siddhartha urges his father to allow him to go to the Samanas for the Source in your own self to be found among those pilgrim ascetics. Reluctantly, the father has to grant his son's request after a sleepless night, after Siddhartha stood in protest and waited one night in his father's room for permission.

Govinda decides to join the Samanas together with his friend Siddhartha, and so they both leave their hometown on the same day.


Siddhartha and Govinda obediently walk for three years Way of the Samanas, they fast, move around, learn to immerse themselves according to Samana rules, until they are as thin, emaciated, penniless and without clothes as the selfless ascetics are. Siddhartha had one goal in mind, one goal: to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of desire, empty of dream, empty of joy and sorrow. To die away from himself, to no longer be me, to find peace with an emptied heart, to be open to miracles in devoid of self-thinking, that was his goal. When all I was overcome and died, when every addiction and every urge was silent in the heart, then the last thing had to awaken, the innermost part of the being, which is no longer me, the great secret.

However, Siddhartha only succeeds for a short time in leaving his ego; he notices that at the end of the Self-denial always have to return to his ego. He realizes that the Samanatum teaches only one kind of intoxication, which like any intoxication has an end. In addition, Siddhartha understands, "[] that you can't learn anything. There is only one knowledge, that is everywhere, that is Atman, that is in me and in you and in every being. This knowledge has no worse enemy than the will to know than learning.“After Siddhartha has convinced himself that he cannot learn anything from the Samanas either and that the wisest Samana cannot show him the way to nirvana, he decides to leave the Samanas again.


Siddhartha and his friend Govinda learn of the existence of a man named Gotamawho, according to a legend, brought the wheel of rebirths to a standstill and thus reached nirvana. That exalted one, the buddha, I have achieved peace and highest knowledge and I am attracting a crowd of young monks who want to hear his teaching from him. Knowing that even the Buddha's teaching cannot redeem him, Siddhartha nevertheless accepts the requests of his friend Govinda, and so the two of them make a pilgrimage from the Samanas forest to the city of Savathi, where the Lord Buddha preaches his teaching.

Arriving in the garden of Anathapindika, Siddhartha recognizes the Buddha immediately, although at first glance he did not seem to differ in any way from the hundreds of monks: “The Buddha went his way modestly and lost in thought, his still face was neither happy nor sad, it seemed to smile softly inward. With a hidden smile, quiet, calm, not unlike a healthy child, the Buddha walked, wore the robe and set his foot like all his monks, according to precise instructions. But his face and step, his quietly lowered gaze, his quietly hanging hand, and every finger on his quietly hanging hand spoke peace, spoke perfection, did not seek, did not imitate, breathed gently in an imperishable calm, in an imperishable light , an inviolable peace. "

However, as expected, Siddhartha does not find the way to salvation in the Buddha's teaching either and fears that the Buddha's community will only simulate an apparent peace for him. "I did not doubt for a moment that you are Buddha, that you have reached the goal [] it came to you from your own search [] it did not come to you through teaching, no one was given salvation through teaching. "

But Govinda has already found refuge in the teaching of the sublime, with tears he has to accept the farewell to his best friend who has accompanied him all his life.

Meanwhile, Siddhartha decides to start his life from scratch, he no longer wants to be released from his ego, but to get to know it better. He not only discovers the importance of himself and his environment, but also begins to enjoy the beauty of nature.


Siddhartha, who resolves to only listen to his own innermost voice, reaches a larger city. In front of the city he is in a grove on one Courtesan named Kamala attentive. Enchanted by her beauty, he resolves to win that girl's heart in order to the art of love to learn from her. In an initial conversation with her, Siddhartha learns that he needs three things to achieve this goal: clothes, shoes and, above all, money.

So that Siddhartha can get to these three things as quickly as possible, Kamala enables him to do an apprenticeship with a rich but older businessman named Kamaswami. However, Siddhartha must become more than his servant, Siddhartha should become his equal and equal, otherwise Kamala would spurn him.

The clever and patient Siddhartha learns the trade of the businessman quickly, but without passion. Siddhartha soon achieved his goals, he is rich and a lover of the beautiful Kamala. His curiosity, however, is never about business, but about townspeople. Siddhartha discovers that these people behave like children: They only play, play with money, power, lust and love. Nevertheless, Siddhartha falls under the burden of Child people: He becomes impatient, greedy, sluggish, and yet he envies "[] about the one thing that he lacked and what they had, about the importance they were able to attribute to their life, about the passion of their joys and fears, about the anxious but sweet happiness of their eternal love. These people were always in love with themselves, with women, with their children, with honor or money, with plans or hopes. But he did not learn this from them, especially not from them, this joy of children and childhood folly; he learned from them only the unpleasant things that he himself despised.

In order to let go of these vices, Siddhartha pulls himself up again to leave Kamala and another phase of life behind. However, he leaves Kamala without knowing that he has made her pregnant.


Siddhartha goes on a hike again and reaches the river that he once passed with the help of a ferryman to get to the city that he is now about to leave again. When he arrived at the river bank, he sat down at the trunk of a coconut tree and thought about whether he should throw himself into the river to put an end to his miserable, aimless and senseless life. But suddenly Siddhartha wakes up hearing the sacred "Om", the sound of perfection. In Siddhartha the forgotten divine rises in a flash, but from tiredness he falls asleep on the trunk of the coconut tree. After his sleep, Siddhartha became aware once more that what he had experienced so far was not in vain, although all this knowledge was imparted to him in his youth, because he had to experience it himself.

The awakened Siddhartha decides to go on living with the ferryman who put him across the river. Even then, Siddhartha noticed the peace, the Ferryman Vasudeva has had, a peace that apparently arises with the harmony of the river. Siddhartha learns to listen from Vasudeva and his river. For hours, days and months, Siddhartha listens to the rush of the river until he has grasped the unity of the river and all life and understands, "[…]that there is no time when the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at the same time, and that for him there is only present, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future.“

Siddhartha soon becomes aware that Vasudeva has also found eternal peace and that he himself is not far from redemption, perfection.


When the sublime Buddha Gotama dies, many people make a pilgrimage to him to see the death of the redeemed. Kamala, Siddhartha's former lover, also sets off with her son. However, during the journey, not far from the Siddharthas and Vasudevas rivers, she is bitten by a poisonous snake. Siddhartha and Vasudeva come to her and her son's help, but Kamala dies that same night. Siddhartha, who first hears about his offspring, tries to look after his son with love. However, he not only coped with the death of his mother with difficulty, but also the environment and love of the two older ferrymen. For this reason, the boy decides to flee to his hometown. Siddhartha cannot accept his son's outburst, although he knows that he himself left his father in a similar way to go his own way. But as Siddhartha gradually overcomes this long-burning wound, "[] the knowledge, the knowledge of what actually is wisdom, what is the goal of his long search. It was nothing but a willingness of the soul, an ability, a secret art, to be able to think the thought of unity, feel and breathe in, every moment, in the middle of life. Slowly this blossomed in him, radiated from Vasudeva's old child's face: harmony, knowledge of the eternal perfection of the world, smile, unity.“   

Siddhartha achieves this harmony when, together with Vasudeva, he hears the "Om", the perfection, from the voices of the river: "Vasudeva's smile shone brightly, over all the wrinkles of his old face it floated brilliantly, like the Om floated over all the voices of the river. His smile shone brightly when he looked at his friend, and now the same smile shone brightly on Siddhartha's face as well. His wound bloomed, his sorrow shone, his I had flowed into unity.“

Govinda, who comes to visit his old friend, notices that Siddhartha is now complete like the exalted Buddha once was. He has to admit that he has not yet found redemption himself and that he cannot understand Siddhartha's way there. "Govinda bowed deeply, tears, of which he knew nothing, ran down his old face, like a fire the feeling of the deepest love, the humble adoration burned in his heart. He bowed deeply to the ground before the motionless man, whose smile reminded him of everything that he had ever loved in his life, that which had ever been dear and sacred to him in his life.




Hermann Hesse intervenes in his novel Siddhartha the legend of the well-known Buddha Siddhartha Gotama, who finds salvation by stopping the wheel of eternal rebirths and thus entering nirvana. Hesse's early encounter with Indian culture is of course particularly reflected in his narrative, but Hesse adapts the imprecisely handed down legend to his subject matter and uses it as a medium for his narration.


Hesse addresses almost all of his novelshuman self-discovery, in Siddhartha However, the concept of becoming oneself plays a particularly important role. The reason for this is, among other things, the strong influence of C.G. Jung, with whom Hesse took advantage of psychotherapy in 1921. Between the writing of the first and the second part of Siddhartha Hesse finds himself in a crisis with almost a year and a half of unproductiveness, which prompts him to let Jung treat him. The parallels between Hesse's thematization of self-discovery and the complex psychology of C.G. Boys are clearly recognizable: what Hesse calls the search for one's own self, Jung calls it The path of salvation to individuation, nevertheless, both mean the same thing: man's striving for unit with oneself in self-realization.


The fictional character Siddhartha has to go a long and sometimes sorrowful way to get to the essence of this unit discovered: "Slowly blossomed, slowly the realization matured in Siddhartha, the knowledge of what actually was wisdom, what was the goal of his long search. It was nothing but a readiness of the soul, an ability, a secret art, every moment, in the middle of life, the thought of unit think that you can feel and breathe the oneness.Slowly this blossomed in him, shone on him from Vasudeva's old child face: harmony, knowledge of the eternal perfection of the world, smile, unit. ”“ And everything together, all voices, all goals, all yearning, all suffering, all pleasure, all good and bad, everything together was the world, everything together was the flow of events, was the music of life. And when Siddhartha listened attentively to this river, to this thousand-part song, when he did not listen to the suffering or to some kind of laughter, when he did not tie his soul to any voice and enter it with his ego, but heard everyone, the whole thing unit heard, then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of a single word, that was Om: the perfection.

At the end of this path, for Siddhartha, there is perfection, redemption, nirvana, eternal peace: "His wound bloomed, his sorrow shone, his I had flowed into unity.“  


In spite of everything, Siddhartha seems to reject the general Buddhist dogma, in that he does not see knowledge but all-embracing love as the most important thing: "The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always changes a little when you pronounce it, a little falsified, a little foolish - yes, and that is also very good and I like it very much, I also very much agree with that, that what is a person's treasure and wisdom always sounds like foolishness to another. [] Love, O Govinda, seems to me to be the main thing of everything. "

By affirming love, a really Christian value, Hesse connects the different philosophies and religions, he underlines what they have in common.


On the way to redemption, however, Siddhartha has to make many detours: In order to find the original source of his ego, he leaves his venerable parental home, but with the Samanas Siddhartha only learns to kill his ego for a short time; in the perfect Buddha he discovers that wisdom is not mediate, but only knowledge; with Kamala Siddhartha succumbs to worldly vices, only with Vasudeva he learns the essence of unity again: "My life was indeed strange, he thought, it had taken strange detours. As a boy I only dealt with gods and sacrifices. As a youth I only dealt with asceticism, with thinking and contemplation, was looking for Brahman, and worshiped the eternal in the Atman. As a young man I followed penitents, lived in the forest, suffered heat and frost, learned to starve, taught my body to die. Then I met wonderfully in the teaching of the great Buddha, I felt knowledge of the unity of the world circling in me like my own blood. But I also had to get away from Buddha and the great knowledge. I went and learned to love lust from Kamala, learned the trade from Kamaswami, piled up money, wasted money, learned to love my stomach, learned to flatter my senses. I had to spend many years losing my spirit, unlearning how to think again, forgetting unity. Isn't it as if I slowly and in great detours have turned a man into a child, and a thinker into a child person? And yet this way has been very good, and yet the bird in my chest did not die. But what a way it was! I have had to go through so much stupidity, so much vice, so much error, so much disgust and disappointment, just to be a child again and to be able to start again. But it was right, my heart says yes to it, my eyes laugh at it. I had to experience despair, I had to sink down to the most foolish of all thoughts, to the thought of suicide, in order to be able to experience grace, to hear Om again, to be able to sleep properly again and to be able to wake up properly. I had to become a gate in order to find Atman within me again. I had to sin in order to live again.   


Background and history

 Hermann Hesse has been exposed to Far Eastern influences from childhood, and his grandfather has already studied Indology. The seal Siddhartha Hesse also undertakes a longer trip to India. It was only eight years later that Hesse decided to write about it. He begins with notes and various more profound studies. The first fair copy was finished in 1921. After a long break at C.G. Jung, which he spent with further studies and meditation exercises, he finished his work, which was first published by Fischer Verlag in 1922.

The life of Siddhartha Gautama

The life stories of the two, the historical and the fictional Siddhartha, seem to be almost identical. From 560 - 480 BC Gautama Siddhartha lives carefree at his parents' court. He becomes aware of the transience of life through forbidden excursions on which he is confronted with illness, death and asceticism. He leaves his parents' court overnight and immediately afterwards joins the ascetic monks, who, however, cannot offer him the way to truth, to enlightenment. He is leaving her too. Gautama attains enlightenment in meditation, which brings him the honorary name Buddha (= the enlightened one). Now he knows how to get rid of earthly suffering. Gautama rejects any extreme path (asceticism / abundance) and says that only the middle path can lead to enlightenment.




Siddhartha was first published in 1922 by S. Fischer Verlag in Berlin. The novel is divided into two parts, the first containing four and the second eight titled chapters. Hesse's narrative, which is the subtitle An Indian seal and is written in an authoritative narrative style, connects Hesse's recurring themes (e.g. Individuation) with Buddhist thought. Hesse manages to express complex life philosophies in clear and simple language and to captivate the reader with this power of language.


Literary-historical classification

Hermann Hesse is one of the most important German-speaking epics (novels, short stories) of the first half of the 20th century and has it among other things his novels Siddhartha and The steppe wolf Thanks to the fact that it is one of the most widely read European authors in the USA and Japan and is read almost everywhere in the world. The fact that Siddhartha was not only published in millions in India itself, but was also translated into twelve different Indian dialects, proves the authenticity of his portrayal of Buddhist thought.

Om: an acoustic meditation aid, a so-called "mantra" (syllables and sounds full of cosmic energy); e.g .: "Om": "Path to Allness"

2001 N.D.