Book: "Siddhartha - an Indian Tale" by Hermann Hesse

‘Siddhartha - an Indian Tale’ is the first book that I read in a single sitting! More than anything else, I surprised myself by doing so. I don’t remember reading so intensely in many years. Definitely not since I graduated (or as they often called in India - ‘passed out’) from college in 2010. Last time I read like this was when I had laid my hands on a Harry Potter book.

Why did I pick up this book?

One of the reasons to pick up this book was my interest in knowing about Buddhist philosophy. I don’t know what’s caused this sudden interest in me to know more and understand various philosophies like the Hindu philosophy, Buddhist philosophy and Jain philosophy. I read “The Vedas and Upanishads for Children” and “The Gita for Children”, both written by Roopa Pai, between December 2018 and now. And my hunger for such philosophical books has only increased. Contrary to being considered as an excuse to fight among each other, I find religions and their preachings to be a way of life; a means to an end, not the end in itself.

Another, and more important than the earlier one, reason I picked up the book was the author’s background as I read on his biography page on The Noble Prize website. Hermann Hesse was a German author who was deeply influenced by Indian and Chinese philosophies:

Of the Western philosophers, I have been influenced most by Plato, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche as well as the historian Jacob Burckhardt. But they did not influence me as much as Indian and, later, Chinese philosophy.

I’m a beginner in reading and more so when it comes to the philosophical stuff. I don’t think I understand it all but, you gotta start somewhere, don’t you? 😉

For reasons unknown, I always wanted to read The Gita. Roopa Pai’s book was perfect for my taste since I wanted to start easy. Roopa Pai’s books made me feel like exploring more of Indian philosophy than looking towards Western counterparts.

Lastly, this book was listed as a “Fiction”. I read a series of fiction books on Shiva called Shiva Trilogy which I found really interesting. So, from the name of this book, I expected some sort of fiction story around Gautam Buddha.

And thus, I start reading “Siddhartha”!

What did I love about the book?

I loved a lot many things in this short book. And since I have never read Buddha’s biography, this was a great fiction with quite a few twists and turns along the way!

Having read Buddha’s quotes (since the Internet, newspapers, etc. quote his preachings from time to time), I could find those quotes amidst the story. That was fun. Reading a purely philosophical book versus reading a fiction that encompasses the philosophy are two quite different things. To me, personally, the latter is more effective at conveying the crux than the former.

The language of this book felt lucid and beautiful. Long sentences and a poetic style (I could be wrong about this one) without actual poems made this book even more amazing to read. This book has piqued my interest in reading more of Hermann Hesse’s books.

A number of times I could relate things with my own life/behaviour. It made me think at more places than one. It made me think more than I thought it would. It made me feel like taking stock of things as they are and figure out what I need to change. To me, this is the joy of reading. Even a small book can make one pause, think, reflect and change for good.

Crap, I sound like an idiot to me.

A personal takeaway

“Siddhartha” and “Man’s Search for Meaning” which I finished just a couple of days back, made me feel like I should take life less seriously and not fight too much against the fate but rather enjoy things and give my best at everything and in every moment. Easier said than done!

That’s it

In this post, I sound more philosophical than I am. That’s not intentional. It’s probably just a side-effect of reading two amazing books in the past few days. However, I do feel like reading “Siddhartha” once again before I pick up another book. Maybe take a day’s break before picking up another book after reading “Siddhartha” again, and reflect on the things once again.

All right, that’s enough philosophical torture from an earthling. Until next time… 😉