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How is Siddhartha described by his friend Govinda in Siddhartha?

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tayyy | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 16, 2010 at 8:18 AM via web

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How is Siddhartha described by his friend Govinda in Siddhartha?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 16, 2010 at 10:03 PM (Answer #1)

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In Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, Govinda is Siddhartha's shadow, his foil, doppelganger, and sub-eiron (Agroikoi: "straight man"). He is a sidekick: the Sancho Panza to Siddhartha's Don Quixote.  More, he is Siddhartha's faithful disciple: but he must learn to follow his own path instead of his master's.

Early in the novella, Govinda says:

Often I have thought: will Govinda ever take a step without me, from his own conviction? Now, you are a man and have chosen your own path.

And then, speaking against the gamblers, Govinda says:

Siddhartha is putting me on. How could you have
learned meditation, holding your breath, insensitivity against hunger and pain there among these wretched people?

By this, it is clear that Govinda buys into the caste system more than Siddhartha, who associates with the lower castes freely.

Later, Govinda is described thusly:

At this, Govinda stopped on the path, rose his hands, and spoke: "If you, Siddhartha, only would not bother your friend with this kind of talk! Truly, you words stir up fear in my heart. And just consider: what would become of the sanctity of prayer, what of the venerability of the Brahmans' caste, what of the holiness of the Samanas, if it was as you say, if there was no learning?! What, oh Siddhartha, what would
then become of all of this what is holy, what is precious, what is venerable on earth?!"

Finally, Govinda will kiss Siddhartha's forehead and attain enlightenment.  So says Enotes:

It is through this kiss and not through Siddhartha's teaching that Govinda finally attains union with the universal, eternal essence.

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