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M. S. Thirumalai
Life History of Buddha as Reflected in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha
J . Santhosh Priyaa
A Historical Novel
The novel Siddhartha written by Hermann Hesse, a German writer and Nobel Prize winner, mirrors the life of Buddha. Hesse opines that the core of man's existence is to unfold himself and to be himself, through the protagonist Siddhartha. According to M.H. Abrahms, "The historical novel not only takes its setting and some character and events from history, but makes the historical events and issue crucial for the central character"(194).
In the novel, Siddhartha, a Brahmin's son, who wants to be enlightened meets Buddha and His preaching helps him to take a right path to achieve his goal. A parallel is drawn between the Buddha's disciple and Siddhartha's friend Govinda.
The plot of Siddhartha was sketched from the incidents in Buddha's life. Hesse has added the pads of creativity to mould the character Siddhartha. Before renunciation, Buddha's name was "Siddhartha". When the etymology indicates that in Sanskrit, 'Siddha' means 'attained'; 'artha' means 'wealth' or 'meaning'. It refers to the "one who had attained his goal" (Misra 116).
As the success of a man lies in his achievement and as the central figure desires to attain Nirvana like Buddha did at a young age, Hesse named his hero as Siddhartha. Though Siddhartha had a healthy and happy childhood, "… restless thoughts came flowing to him from the river" (Siddhartha 5).
Slowly it is revealed to the reader that the quest for the self is intrinsic in Siddhartha. So he opted to live a detached life in the forest with the ascetics called Samanas. He mastered the art of ejaculating the Self. As he was unable to find something worthy, he quit the life of a Samana too. After conversing with Buddha at Jetavana grove, he decided not to follow any doctrine so as to achieve Self-Realization and to seek salvation in his own way like the Buddha. He plunged into the ecstasy of Samsara for a period of twenty years. Later he gave up pleasures and returned to Vasudeva, a ferryman and spent his time for the next twenty years by the river. Finally he got illuminated and then began illuminate his friend Govinda.
The historical Buddha was a prince and his childhood was happy. As soon as he realized the impermanency of life through disease and death, he renounced his parents, wife and son and went in search of the Ultimate Truth. He found out that ultimate nirvana was to be obtained through his own efforts, not through the practice of any ritual or learning under the tutelage of ascetics. He attained Nirvana under the "Bothi" tree. He preached the Four Noble Truth and Eight Fold Path.
Our protagonist Siddhartha's father compares Siddhartha as "the prince among Brahmins" (Siddhartha 4), who had a happy childhood. He rebelled against the ritualistic Brahminical approach. Siddhartha forsook Kamala when she was pregnant. He realized his folly of indulging in Samsara under the mango tree. He realized Truth from the river.
The Structure of the Novel
The novel is divided into two parts. The first part consists of four chapters. The second part consists of eight chapters. This structure represents the Four Noble Truth as the first part and the Eight Fold Path as the second part.
This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.
The Influence of First Language Grammar (L1) on the English Language (L2) Writing of Tamil School Students: A Case Study from Malaysia | Economic Hardship and Emotional Humiliation in Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable | Effects of Using Urdu Dictionary as a Teaching Tool for Teaching Urdu in Urdu Language Classroom in Pakistan | Acoustic Correlates of Stress in Mizo, a Tonal Language | Racism and the American Dream in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men | Stimulating Language Strategies through Thinking - Help for Slow Learners | Masses as the True Makers of History - Analysis of the Play The Trial of Dedan Mimathi | Personal and Labour Market Environment Factors in English for Employability: A Case Study of KSA | A Study of the Reported Language Skill Development Strategies of the Student Teachers in Pakistan | Strategies for Communication Skills Development | Schema in Learning | Achieving Professional Goals: Use of a Mixed Discourse in Interviews | The Reality in Langston Hughes' Poems | Techniques to Teach Vocabulary to Regional Medium Students | Life History of Buddha as Reflected in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha | Technique as Voyage of Discovery: A Study of the Techniques in Dante's Paradiso | Some Gaps in the Current Studies of Reading in Second/Foreign Language Learning | Unmasking Student Competence: Using Computers to Teach Writing | Feminist Literary Criticism | Amy Tan and Chinese American Literature | An Acoustic Analysis of Glottal Fricative [h] at Word Medial and Final Positions:
A Comparison between Regular and Non-regular Urdu Speakers of Pakistan | Teaching Writing Skills | Self-esteem of Institutionalised Elderly Women in Coimbatore - A Case History | An Assessment on Women's Work Participation and Economic Equality | Economics of Crime : A Comparative Analysis of the Socio-Economic Conditions of Convicted Female and Male Criminality in Selected Prisons in Tamil Nadu | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF APRIL 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of April 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
J. Santhosh Priyaa
Department of English
P.S.G.R. Krishnammal College for Women
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