Influence of Indian religio-philosophical thoughts in Hermann Hesse’S SIDDHARTHA
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Hermann Hesse is one of the Western minds who have come very close to eastern way of looking at thing. Perhaps there is no other man of his quality who understands the east better. - Osho, Rajneesh (Books 32) For me Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha represents something which is indefinable, uncategorizable; something impenetrable part of our human condition. This novel represents something which lies in the innermost depth of our being; something so intimate yet unknown to its core. This sense of mystery with its everlasting familiarity is the core tenet of our human condition. One of the reason for which I see Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is a unique literary piece because it is one of those rare books in which this core tenet of our human condition is successfully being depicted by its author. I view Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha” in equal footing with Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathrustra and Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. Though all these three novels are being expressed in different manners by these three writers, this notion of mystery with its everlasting familiarity” is the common theme which keeps these novels in equal footing. This notion of mystery with its everlasting familiarity may seem contradictory or in its subtle version paradoxical to us. This seeming is quite natural as we live in an age where we train our mind only to see the contradictory aspect of things in place of the unitary aspect. Jiddu Krishnamurti -the great Indian sage of 20th century in his famous book Flight of the Eagle says that-“The great experiences of life can only be expressed through paradoxes” (Eagle 62). Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse can be seen as a book of paradoxes because it is written in a manner; in a language which will be obviously seem paradoxical to us as our mind is so accustomed thoughts, rationality and logic; or to tell simply ‘Linear way of thinking’. We live in an age where we put too much emphasis on thoughts, logic and rationality. We live in an age where almost every one of us possess a blind faith on the power of thought and knowledge. In a domain Alam 2 where thoughts, knowledge and rationality reigns supreme it is natural that very few people will be aware of the limit of thoughts and rationality. The great eastern thinker and Philosopher D.T Suzuki was among these very few people. In his book Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism Suzuki expresses the limit of thoughts and rationality in the following manner- Thought creates things by slicing up reality into small bits that it can easily grasp. Thus when you are think-ing you are thing-ing. Thought does not report things, it distorts reality to create things, and as Bergson noted, "In so doing it allows what is the very essence of the real to escape." Thus to the extent we actually imagine a world of discrete and separate things, conceptions have become perceptions, and we have in this manner populated our universe with nothing but ghosts. (Outlines 85) In the autobiographical book The Journey to the East a new term has been introduced by Hermann Hesse. The new term is- Philosia: the love of seeing. Sia means ‘to see’, Philo means ‘love’ (Osho, Books 96). In the term –“Philosophy” sophy means ‘thinking’. So philosophy means ‘love of thinking’. So this ‘Love of seeing’ and ‘Love of thinking’ are the fundamental tenets which characterizes both Eastern and Western civilisations (way of being) consecutively. In the book Vigyan Bhairavi Tantra the great Indian mystic and thinker Bhagwan Rajneesh also known Osho says-“We cannot translate the word ‘philosophy’ into any Indian language. Our term is Darshan. It means seeing. Not thinking, but seeing” (Tantra 62). So we can see a kinship in the views of D.T Suzuki, Osho and Hermann Hesse. For me this view is very successfully articulated and expressed by Heman Hesse in his novel Siddhartha. Western way of thinking is obessesed with departmentalization and categorization. Anything or any experience which goes beyond a certain parameter of linearity or limitation of perception it labels them as such and such. As a result we have science, philosophy and religion. The way it is Alam 3 departmentalized and labeled give us the notion that these experiences are isolated entities and only exist within a context of conflict and chance. Hermann Hesse being a man of west also possesses these western tendencies to a certain degrees and they are very much visible in his novels. But the thing that astonishes me again and again is the fact of his awareness of the limitation of these tendencies. This fact of awareness is again and again consciously reflected in Siddhartha. For this reason I see this book as the epitome of those kinds of books which try to capture eastern essence in western language and sensibilities. Saying all of this, I would like to clarify regarding my task in this thesis paper. In this paper my task can be divided in four main parts- 1. Showing and critically analysing the influence of important eastern ideas and concepts in this novel. 2. Critically analysing the similarities among the plot and characters of novel which counterparts can be found in eastern myths and historical events 3. Seeing the seed and place of western sensibilities in the eastern way of looking at things as it is being depicted in this book. 4. Tracing the autobiographical elements of Hermann Hesse’s life in this novel.