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Siddhartha: Knowledge Vs. Wisdom

Uploaded by Gotskillz on Feb 22, 2004

Knowledge or Wisdom

In Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, the protagonist, Siddhartha, endures a wearisome quest for Nirvana. All his life, Siddhartha had been told to refrain from allowing the six Ripus to besiege him, with their lustful features. Although very knowledgeable, Siddhartha does not feel fulfilled and wishes to enter Maya to become one with his Atman. He believes that enlightenment can only be attained through experience, rather than through the words of others. Hesse suggests that knowledge is communicable, but wisdom must be gained from experience. Hesse conveys this message through figurative language, foils, allusions, and symbols.
Hesse’s theme in regards to knowledge only being communicable, and that true wisdom can only be acquired from trial and error, is evident in the figurative language that he uses so eloquently. Shortly after Siddhartha embraces the enduring Samanas, he realizes that completely denying the six Ripus is folly and will not break the endless cycle of Samsara. In one instance, Siddhartha tells his close friend, Govinda, that the methods of the Samanas are merely “tricks with which we deceive ourselves” (Page 16). This metaphor makes reference to the Samana’s great will to tolerate great pain and suffering. It is apparent that Siddhartha no longer wants to live the life of a vagabond, because he believes that self-mutilation will get him no closer to Nirvana. After his departure from the Samanas, Siddhartha’s quest brings him to the Jetavana grove, which is home to the Buddha. Siddhartha is mystified by the Buddha’s words, which carried to his listeners “like a star in the heavens,” (Page 23). Hesse uses a lofty simile to describe the holiness and incredible influence of the Buddha’s words, to make it all the more surprising that Siddhartha rejects the teachings. According to Siddhartha, he could never accept the wondrous words of the Buddha because he believes that self discovery can only come through experience. “The world was sick,” (Page 17) with the new promises of the Buddha, and yet they could not sway the judgment of the young Brahmin. Hesse continues to engrave Siddhartha’s conviction that Nirvana is only reachable by way of experience, using personification. Once again, Hesse applies personification, only this time to the river. Vasudeva informs Siddhartha that “the river has taught” (Page 86) him to listen, giving the river a human characteristic. By experiencing and understanding the ever changing river, Siddhartha can finally become one with...

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Uploaded by:   Gotskillz

Date:   02/22/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,183 words)

Views:   30017

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