At the end of the novel, when Siddhartha has finally achieved the Enlightenment he has been so desperately searching for, Siddhartha invites Govinda to kiss him on the forehead. As Govinda does this, he "sees" the many different lives of Siddhartha stretching back through the ages. He sees Siddhartha as various types of animals and various types of humans, but all of them bear the unmistakable mark of Siddhartha. Note how this experience is described:
And all these forms and faces rested, flowed, reproduced, swam past and merged into each other, and over them all there was continually something thin, unreal and yet existing, stretched across like thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, shell, form or mask of water--and this mask was Siddhartha's smiling face with Govinda touched with his lips at that moment.
Govinda therefore is given a kind of vision which enables him to see the many different lives of Siddhartha on his endless journey or rebirth as he tries to attain Enlightenment. These lives come a symbol of the transitory nature of man and also point towards the belief of reincarnation, as Siddhartha's essence is shown never to die.