Siddhartha belongs to a socially and intellectually "superior" class of people, the Brahmins. However, he chooses to discard their teachings. He rejects the idea of being a disciple of the Buddha. He decides to pursue his spiritual journey to explore the essence of life. He has a series of encounters with many people, and each one of them teaches him something of value.
Kamala, the courtesan, teaches Siddhartha the art of sensual love. She teaches him that one can buy, beg or get love, but one cannot steal it. Siddhartha meets a merchant, Kamaswami, with Kamala's help. Kamaswami teaches him the skills of trade and commerce. As Siddhartha indulges in the pursuits of love and wealth, he loses sight of his quest. After several years, he outgrows his love for Kamala. He grows weary of material success and suffers from "the soul sickness of the rich." He rediscovers his desire for spiritual growth and decides to break free from worldly pursuits.
As Siddhartha reflects, the stages of his life are like “the old skin that leaves the serpent.”