Siddhartha Questions and Answers
by Hermann Hesse

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Please help me analyze the role of teachers in Siddartha: What are their roles in the novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse? 

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Hesse's Siddhartha, teachers have two roles. They have an expected role and a realized role. Siddhartha, beginning with the ascetics, expects the holy teachers will teach him the deeper meanings of life. He wants to attain true Brahman, true blissfulness and the pristine source of absolution from sin.

did [his father] live in blissfulness, did he have peace, was he not also just a searching man, a thirsty man? ... Why did he, the irreproachable one, have to wash off sins every day, strive for a cleansing every day,

What Siddhartha realizes is that each system, each teacher misses understanding the path to true unity of all things just as surely as other teachers also miss it. As a result, Siddhartha rejects teachers saying that enlightenment can never come to a person through teachers. Each person must find their own enlightenment through their own holy practices [which limits those who can find enlightenment to those who have the time to seek enlightenment continually].

You have found salvation from death. It has come to you ... through thoughts, through meditation, through realizations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! ...—nobody will obtain salvation by means of teachings!

Siddhartha then turns to the river to let the river be his teacher and to find wisdom and life within the unity of the river since its water cycle demonstrates the cycles and unities within living.


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