In Siddhartha, what lessons do the Samanas teach Siddhartha?

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While Siddhartha was among the samanas, he learnt the ascetic way of life, whereby he was able to achieve a higher level of self discipline and abstinence from worldly pleasures. He gave away his clothes and dressed in the loin clothes like the samanas. He was then exposed to extreme whether both hot and cold seasons and he suffered the pain due to these conditions but he persevered until he overcame the harsh situation. He developed the ability to perform deep meditation where he was able to detach himself from both senses and memories. However his goal was to achieve Nirvana but he believed the samanas would not offer him much help on his ultimate quest. On informing the eldest samana of his departure he performed a feat that he acquired from the samanas and he was able to hypnotize the elder samana successfully.

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Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is about a young man who, growing up as privileged person, feels a discontent with the lifestyle of his family and with his potential future. Although he could live the life of the upper class if he wished, he decides to go off with his friend Govinda in search of meaning. This search will take him down several roads and on several philosophical journeys.

Early in the story he joins a group called the Samanas. Samanas are Buddhists who are learning how to live according to the Buddhist philosophy. Their philosophy, at least as it is presented in the novel, requires its adherents give up most worldly pursuits and desires. The novel describes Siddhartha’s learning this way:

Instructed by the oldest of the Samanas, Siddhartha practised self-denial, practised meditation, according to new Samana rules.

While that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, Hesse does give some vivid examples of what Siddhartha did during this process:

 A dead jackal was lying on the sandy bank, and Siddhartha's soul slipped inside the body, was the dead jackal, lay on the banks, got bloated, stank, decayed, was dismembered by hyaenas, was skinned by vultures, turned into a skeleton, turned to dust, was blown across the fields. And Siddhartha's soul returned, had died, had decayed, was scattered as dust, had tasted the gloomy intoxication of the cycle, awaited in new thirst like a hunter in the gap, where he could escape from the cycle, where the end of the causes, where an eternity without suffering began.

Though Siddhartha stayed with the Samanas for several years and became very accomplished and even met Gotama, the perfected one, he still felt something missing and decided to leave the Samanas and head off on his own.

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