“‘ … in every truth the opposite is equally true…. Everything that is thought and expressed in words is one-sided, only half the truth; it all lacks totality, completeness, unity… But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided. Never is a man or a deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana; never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner’” (Hesse 115). Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha follows the life of Siddhartha on his quest to attain Nirvana. Beginning as a young man, Siddhartha leaves his Buddhist home to begin the Eightfold Path in hopes of reaching Nirvana, the final stage of Buddhism. He sets off to join Govinda in the forest, where he practices asceticism with the Samanas. After discovering that he will not reach his goal by residing with the Samanas, he chooses to depart and sets off towards the river where he experiences a spiritual rebirth. Siddhartha then practices Hedonism during his time with Kamala and Kamaswami. Hesse demonstrates the similarities between various philosophies by incorporating various beliefs into Siddhartha’s journey, including Buddhism in Siddhartha’s search for Nirvana, Christianity as Siddhartha regains innocence before practicing Hedonism, and Jungianism in the appearance of Siddhartha’s dreams in his life.
Buddhism is the most evident religion in Hesse’s novel as it is the main religion that Siddhartha practices. Asceticism and Hedonism are two major ideas of Buddhism, and Siddhartha attempts to exercise both of these ideas. When