Essay on River in Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

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River in "Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse

The river is a source of knowledge. It symbolises a teacher, a guru, one who knows and is aware of this knowledge and who imparts it to those who seek knowledge from it. In Herman Hesse’s novella Siddhartha, the protagonist Siddhartha is deeply mystified by the secrets and puzzles of the river. He seeks to unravel and them and gain knowledge from the river in order to achieve his goal of attaining nirvana, enlightenment. He is helped in his course by a ferryman Vasudeva, who has lived all his life close to the river, transporting people from one side to the other. He too has learnt a lot from the river. He helps Siddhartha in understanding the river and at instances, clarifies his doubt.
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Siddhartha recounts his life to him which
Vasudeva listens with intense concentration and attention. Vasudeva tells him “The river has taught……..the other thing too”. Vasudeva, being quite experienced about the river, tells Siddhartha that he will definitely learn much from the river. He says that Siddhartha had already learnt one thing about the river that it is good to seek, to go into depth and this was very good. Vasudeva says “The river knows everything” on pg 170. The river is a universal source of knowledge and it would impart knowledge to Siddhartha since he whished to seek knowledge from it. It would also teach him how to attain nirvana, that which he was so eager to attain.

In the end, after searching so much for nirvana, after living through so much, Siddhartha attains salvation in front of the river. Vasudeva helps him to listen deeply to the river after Siddhartha tells him everything, all that he felt, all his wounds, all his sins. Hesse says
“His wound was healing……..belonging to the unity of all things” on pg
199. Here, Hesse says that Siddhartha had finally attained nirvana, he had attained his goal, and he had merged his Self into everything.
Siddhartha had become a very simple soul, a soul that was everything and not just one thing. Siddhartha’s final step in attaining enlightenment was listening to the river. This shows that the river was the
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