Siddhartha Questions and Answers
by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha book cover
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In the book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, how does Kamala's songbird symbolize Siddhartha's time in the essential world?  

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It's helpful to understand that a good translation of the "Kama" of "Kamala" is desire, especially in the context of sensual desire. In fact, Kamala is a name of the Hindu goddess of desire. The time Siddhartha spends with Kamala is a submersion into the realm of the senses. Keeping this meaning in mind is very helpful in having a fuller understanding of Kamala and Kamala's bird and the book as a whole.

The songbird could be understood as representing Siddhartha's soul or inner voice, urging him to take a certain path over another one. Siddhartha viscerally and thoroughly learns that complete immersion in the sensory world, to the exclusion of subtler dimensions of life, has a profoundly deadening effect upon him, ultimately inspiring him to commit suicide. The songbird kept in a golden cage is a lesson that even the finest aspects of physical life are nowhere sufficient for the total health and well-being of the soul. Through the death of the bird, Hesse is communicating that a golden...

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