Siddhartha First Part
by Hermann Hesse

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The Son of the Brahmin

SIDDHARTHA, the handsome son of the Brahmin, the young falcon, grew up together with his friend Govinda, the Brahmin's son, in the shadow of the house, in the sun of the riverbank near the boats, in the shadow of the sala forest, and in the shadow of the fig trees. The sun tanned his fair shoulders on the riverbank while he bathed, during the holy cleansing, at the holy sacrifices. Shadows flowed into his black eyes in the mango grove, during the boyish games, when his mother sang, at the holy sacrifices, during the teaching of his father the scholar, and when speaking with the wise ones. For a long time Siddhartha had taken part in the wise ones' discussions; he had practiced word-wrestling with Govinda, had practiced the art of contemplation and the duty of meditation with Govinda. He already understood how to speak the “Om” silently, that word of words, how to speak it silently in his inner being as he inhaled, how to pronounce it silently out of himself as he exhaled, how to do so with his whole soul while his forehead was enveloped by the radiance of the clear-thinking mind. He already understood how to recognize Atman within this inner essence of his that was indestructible and one with the universe.

Joy sprang up in his father's heart over the son who was so apt to learn and so thirsty after knowledge; he saw growing within him a great sage and priest, a prince among the Brahmins.

Delight welled up in his mother's heart when she saw him taking long strides, saw him sitting down and standing up: Siddhartha the strong and handsome, who strode upon lean legs and who greeted her with impeccable manners.

All the young daughters of the Brahmins felt love stirring within their hearts when Siddhartha walked through the side-streets of the city with a beaming face, a lean physique, and a royal look in his eyes.

Govinda, the Brahmin's son, however, loved him more than all of these. He loved the eye of Siddhartha and his sweet voice, his gait and the perfection of his movements; he loved everything that Siddhartha did and said, and above all he loved Siddhartha's mind, his sublime and fiery thoughts, his blazing will, and Siddhartha's high calling. Govinda knew that this would be no ordinary Brahmin, no lazy official presiding over the sacrifices, no money-grubbing merchant hawking magic trinkets, no vain and vacuous speaker, no wicked and lying priest, and also not a good-hearted but dim-witted sheep in the plebian herds. Govinda didn't want to be such a person either, didn't want to be a Brahmin like all the ten thousand other Brahmins. He wanted to follow Siddhartha, who was beloved and majestic. When Siddhartha first became a god, when he entered into the radiance, then Govinda wanted to follow him as his friend, his escort, his servant, his spear-carrier, and his shadow.

In this manner, everyone loved Siddhartha. He brought everyone joy; he pleased everyone.

However, Siddhartha didn't bring himself joy; he didn't please himself. He strolled on the rosy paths of the fig gardens, sat in the blue shadows of the grove of meditation, washed his limbs daily in baths of atonement, and sacrificed in the deep shadows of the mango forest. Everyone loved him; he was joyous to them, and yet he carried no joy in his own heart. Dreams and restless thoughts came flowing to him out of the river's water, twinkled to him from the stars of the night, melted out of the sunbeams. Dreams and anxiety came billowing out of the sacrificial smoke, whispering from the verses of the Rig-Veda, or trickling out of the old Brahmin's teachings.

Siddhartha had started to cultivate the seed of discontent within himself. He had started to feel as if his father's love, his mother's love, and the love of his friend Govinda wouldn't make him happy forever, wouldn't bring him peace, satisfy him, and be sufficient for all time. He had started to suspect that his illustrious father, his other teachers, and the wise Brahmins had shared the majority and the best of their...

(The entire section is 10,588 words.)