Siddhartha By Herman Hesse

Ethan Hopkins

The privilege of ancient India's nobility did not satisfy Siddhartha. He, the son of a Brahmin renounces his position on a quest for enlightenment. His adventures take him to unlikely places as he dips in and out of civilization, even receiving teachings from the Exalted Buddha himself. Siddhartha's journey of self-discovery makes him many a friend including the courtesan, Kamala, a wise ferryman by the name of Vasudeva, and a merchant who attempts to teach Siddhartha the art of commerce, Kamaswami.  

Above is the cover of the original English translation.

Image Source: From Wikipedia

Read Introduction

Introduction by Robert A.F. Thurman read by Ethan Hopkins.


Siddhartha is a short and sweet novel written in 1922 by later Nobel Prize-winning author Hermann Hesse, it was published in the United States in 1951 and was one of the most read novels of the 20th century. Siddhartha offers a brief, yet intelligently written and introspective adventure about the pursuit of wisdom that is higher than humanity. What keeps the book interesting is that Siddhartha does not stay in the same walk of life for very long as he is constantly in pursuit of meaning, this allows us to see how his wisdom benefits him in different situations. For a book of it's size (118 pages) the side characters are fleshed out rather well and are each given time with Siddhartha during which we can pick up their different personalities. Siddhartha accomplishes in it's time limit what many books hope to do, containing some deep moments during which Siddhartha questions his own existence and whether he should prolong his life and reach toward Nirvana, or end it all and submit to Samsara. I would heartily recommend Siddhartha as it's depth of content relative to it's length is well worth your time.

"Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it."

What this quote from Siddhartha means to me is that wisdom is not something that you can pick up and learn, rather, you start with some and over time you accumulate more and more. On the contrary, knowledge is something that people can learn instantly, but is not necessarily as applicable other than on the factual level.

Above is the Barnes & Noble Classics version of the novel, which is the version I read.

Image source:

India, The Setting of Siddhartha

Image Source: Wikipedia

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