Siddhartha Questions and Answers
by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha book cover
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Siddhartha learns much from both Kamaswami and Kamala. How does he view his interactions with both individuals? What value—if any—does he place on these lessons?

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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.”

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mkcapen1 | Student

Siddhartha learns from the merchant Kamaswami that all men take and give, but that a merchant is no different.  He takes and in return gives a product or service.  He invites Siddhartha to live with him and treats him as an equal.  Siddhartha had learned from Kamala not to allow himself to be treated any less than as an equal and never acted subservient before the merchant.  The merchant taught him all aspects of his business and Siddhartha learned them as if it were a game.

Kamala was the first to teach Siddhartha of the value and beauty of love.  He learned from her that he could not expect to receive pleasure unless he gave pleasure no matter if it was a touch or a caress.  He learned the value and the meaning of the life in which he was living and the moments he had spent with her were precious.  He also learned that he should stay with a woman after making love an not leave her alone.