Siddhartha is a young man on a long quest in search of the ultimate answer to the enigma of a man’s role on this earth. Through his travels, he finds love, friendship, pain, and identity. He finds the true meaning behind them the hard way, but that is the best way to learn them.
He starts out by finding friendship with his buddy, Govinda. They have been friends ever since their childhood. There are really close, like each other’s shadow. They have traveled and lived most of their life together. Govinda was a very loyal friend. ‘Govinda, his friend, the Brahmin’s son, loved him more than anybody else. He loved Siddhartha’s eyes and clear voice. He loved the way he walked, his complete grace of movement; he loved everything that Siddhartha did and said, and above all he loved his intellect, his fine ardent thoughts, his strong will, his high vocation. Govinda knew that [Siddhartha] would not become an ordinary Brahmin, a lazy sacrificial official, an avaricious dealer in magic sayings, a conceited worthless orator, a wicked sly priest, or just a good stupid sheep amongst a large herd. No, and he, Govinda, did not want to become any of these, not a Brahmin like ten thousand others of their kind. He wanted to follow Siddhartha, the beloved, the magnificent. And if he ever became a god, if he ever entered the All-Radiant, the Govinda wanted to follow him as a friend, his companion, his servant, his lance bearer, his shadow.’; (2)
He finds the sensuality of love from the beautiful Kamala. She teaches him everything that he knows about love. She is his first experience with a woman. ‘He learned many things from her wise red lips. Her smooth gentle hand taught him many things. He, who was still a boy as regards love and was inclined to plunge to the depths of it blindly and insatiably, was taught by her that love cannot have pleasure without giving it, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every single part of the body has its secret which can give pleasure to one who can understand.’; (53-54) Once he has discovered love, he decides that it isn’t the right path for him then leaves. Later, he discovers that while playing the game if love, he had planted the seed for a son, before he left.
The pains in life are taught through his son. He tries really hard to deal with his spoiled son, but cannot overcome this. ‘He had considered himself rich and happy when the boy had come to him, but as time passed and the boy remained unfriendly and sulky, when he proved arrogant and defiant, when he would do no work, when he showed no respect to the old people and robbed Vasudeva’s fruit trees, Siddhartha began to realize that no happiness and peace had come to him with his son, only sorrow and trouble.’; (96) Even though Siddhartha doesn’t have much, his son deprives all his hopes and dreams of fatherhood. Siddhartha then begins to understand what it probably felt like to his father when he left.
Siddhartha goes to the river to find his identity. The river speaks to him and he listens to what it has to say. He had come a long ways back to the river. ‘He looked lovingly into the flowing water, into the transparent green, into the crystal lines of its wonderful design. He saw bright pearls rise from the depths, bubbles swimming on the mirror, sky blue reflected in them. The river looked at him with a thousand eyes – green, white, crystal, sky blue. How he loved this river, how it enchanted him, how grateful he was to it! In his heart he heard the newly awakened voice speak, and it said to him: ‘Love this river, stay by it, learn from it.”; (82)
He learns that you cannot learn from or teach to others, but have to learn from and teach yourself. ‘Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.’; (115) The many symbols in life hasn’t been taught to him, but has only been revealed by him. His journey is only beginning.