Siddhartha The Heros Journey
Siddhartha Essay: The Hero’s Journey
In many novels, the protagonist partakes in a journey also known as the hero’s journey. In the novel Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha represents the protagonist setting out on that quest or hero’s journey. Siddhartha’s quest is about finding spiritual enlightenment and it follows the format of a hero’s journey.
In the beginning of a hero’s journey, there is always a call to adventure. The call to adventure is the point in the protagonist’s life when they first realize that everything in their life is going to change. Young Siddhartha grows up in the world of Brahmins and has already mastered all the rituals and wisdom of the Brahmin religion; but despite all of his spiritual influence with the Brahmins, Siddhartha feels that the meaning of life is still out there and he has yet to discover it. He realizes that the Brahmins’ practices do not fulfill him in the way they should and he should have questioned their methods long before. Thus e takes his first step on the journey to enlightenment, deciding to follow the path of wandering priests, known as the Samanas. The Samana believe they can achieve enlightenment through rejection of the body and physical desire, or asceticism. In the hero’s journey, many times when there is a call to adventure, the protagonist rejects or ignores it. This is known as refusal of the call. In Siddhartha’s story I don’t believe this took place because when he decided to follow a different path than that of his father and the Brahmin’s wishes, he did not think twice and he was not going to change his mind about it. One thing I do believe that Siddhartha possesses is a supernatural aid. In a hero’s journey, when the protagonist commits to his quest, consciously, or unconsciously, his guide or magical helper becomes known. I believe that Siddhartha’s supernatural aid lies in Govinda because from the start, Govinda never doubts Siddhartha and is always by his side. When Govinda knows Siddhartha is going to take his first step into the world by following the Samanas, he knows that he too must follow Siddhartha into his new life outside the village, and Siddhartha is happy to have him. This is the beginning of their quest to find the true understanding of Om.
The next thing Siddhartha must face is his journey is a step in the hero’s journey known as the belly of the whale. The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. I believe that Siddhartha’s belly of the whale stage occurs during the time he is with the Samanas. During this period, Siddhartha and Govinda have quickly adapted the lifestyle of the Samanas. The Samanas believe that to reach true enlightenment, the only way it can be achieved is when the inner-self is destroyed completely. As Siddhartha spends more and more time practicing with the Samanas, his only goal is to be completely void of everything. He feels that his only way of discovering Om is to eliminate his inner self by giving up all desires including happiness, passions, dreams, and the pleasures of the world around him. He begins to direct all of his ascetic practices towards this goal. He believes that once he as destroyed every part of his soul, he will then realize and reach true enlightenment. This is not only Siddhartha’s lowest point in the novel as he loses all contact with humans and is detached completely from his life, but it is also the point where he seems to be transitioning between worlds and selves. As Siddhartha becomes the oldest Samanas’ protÃ©gÃ©, he comes to conclude that destroying his soul and his will to survive will not in anyway lead him down the path to enlightenment and if he continues to follow the Samanas’ teachings, he will not achieve the ultimate Nirvana he covets. He is then excited to hear of news that Gotama or Buddha has come. Although Siddhartha has now lost faith in his teachers, from the Brahmins to the Samanas, he believes that they should seek out the Buddha’s teachings. Before they leave, Siddhartha proves to the oldest Samana that he has attained a higher spirituality by hypnotizing him. It is not until after he blesses them, do Siddhartha and Govinda leave to find Gotama’s campground.
The part in the hero’s journey, the meeting of the goddess, occurs when Siddhartha experiences his “awakening.” The meeting of the goddess represents the point in adventure when the protagonist experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his mother. I believe this occurs is Siddhartha’s quest when he leaves Gotama’s grove and realizes that he no longer needs teaching and teachers to teach him. He realizes that he truly understand that the discovery of true enlightenment must come from inside himself. He feels like he has been born again and is just beginning to see the beauty of the world and he sees the meaning of Om is all around him. He sees that he must rely only on himself if he wishes to be enlightened. At first he wants to return home to his father but decides against it because looking to the past for answers will not help him for the future. He knows he is completely alone for once in his life and he does not know where he is going to end up. Siddhartha will not realize it now, but this whole “awakening” has brought him closer to the goal he seeks and that is enlightenment.
The next stage in our hero’s journey is woman as the temptress. The woman as the temptress in Siddhartha’s quest lies in the meeting of Kamala. The temptations in this part of the journey are apparent when he meets the beautiful and elegant Kamala and he realizes that he cannot resist her temptations. From Kamala, Siddhartha yearns to be taught the art of love and even though he has rejected his spiritual teachers, Kamala is a different kind of teacher; one who is a teacher of desire. Siddhartha begins to transform himself to fit into the world among people and a world of materialism. When Kamala introduces Siddhartha to Kamaswami, a wealthy businessman, he is also experiencing the woman as temptress phase. As he learns more and more about the ways of normal people, he realizes that the people in the material world are imprisoned within it and they cannot see any other world without money and possessions. Although he tries to avoid becoming like the rest of the people, Siddhartha soon becomes wealthy businessman and begins to become obsessed with money, food, gambling, expensive clothing, and the nightlife of the city. He begins to realize what he has become and finds that his inner-spirit has disappeared within him. As he sees that his time when Kamaswami and Kamala has led him astray from his quest for enlightenment, he realizes it is time to move on. If he does not then he will not be able to achieve true enlightenment. Siddhartha then decides to leave the city and does not tell anyone that he has left.
After he has left the city, Siddhartha drifts into a miserable, depressed state. He goes and sits under the mango tree in the little grove. He begins to think about what he has gone through and what he has experienced in the real world. When he thinks about how he has acted he becomes nauseated with himself. While he thinks about the past, he also thinks about committing suicide to escape his body forever. This brings Siddhartha to the next stage in his quest known as the atonement with the father. This is the part in the hero’s journey where the protagonist must confront and be initiated b whatever holds the ultimate power in his life. This is also the center point of the journey. When he leads himself to the river and thinks about letting himself fall into the water, this is a way that Siddhartha will transform himself so a new part or being of him can come into place. This is when he hears “Om” emanating from the river. This brings Siddhartha to yet another phase within the hero’s journey called the apotheosis. This is the part in his quest where Siddhartha is reborn into a new spirit, one where he moves beyond a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. When this happens, Siddhartha has finally reached the attainment of true enlightenment. After Siddhartha hears “Om” come from the river, he falls asleep. The sleep represents the apotheosis period of rest, peace, and fulfillment that Siddhartha needs in order to complete his journey. Siddhartha’s deep sleep and hearing of Om also represent an understanding of the balance between denial and gratification of the self.
The final stage in the hero’s journey and also for Siddhartha is the ultimate boon. The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. This is what the protagonist went on the journey to receive. For Siddhartha this comes after he realizes that he has to let his son go on his own so he can embark on his own search for enlightenment. Siddhartha then realizes that in order to achieve enlightenment, he must give up the things he loves. Vasudeva helps Siddhartha to realize this. Siddhartha knows now that love has been the biggest obstacle on his quest for enlightenment. He also realizes that he must listen to the voices in the river and that his “self” is made up of all the voices put together. Vasudeva has helped Siddhartha reach the enlightened side of the river and now Siddhartha must take his place as the guide to enlightenment. When Govinda reaches the river, Siddhartha helps him realize the true enlightenment within his self and therefore his hero’s journey comes to an end.
At the end of Siddhartha’s journey