SIDDHARTHA by Hermann Hesse
THE SON OF THE BRAHMAN
In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near the
boats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig tree
is where Siddhartha grew up, the handsome son of the Brahman, the young
falcon, together with his friend Govinda, son of a Brahman. The sun
tanned his light shoulders by the banks of the river when bathing,
performing the sacred ablutions, the sacred offerings. In the mango
grove, shade poured into his black eyes, when playing as a boy, when
his mother sang, when the sacred offerings were made, when his father,
the scholar, taught him, when the wise men talked. For a long time,
Siddhartha had been partaking in the discussions of the wise men,
practising debate with Govinda, practising with Govinda the art of
reflection, the service of meditation. He already knew how to speak the
Om silently, the word of words, to speak it silently into himself while
inhaling, to speak it silently out of himself while exhaling, with all
the concentration of his soul, the forehead surrounded by the glow of
the clear-thinking spirit. He already knew to feel Atman in the depths
of his being, indestructible, one with the universe.
Joy leapt in his father's heart for his son who was quick to learn,
thirsty for knowledge; he saw him growing up to become great wise man
and priest, a prince among the Brahmans.
Bliss leapt in his mother's breast when she saw him, when she saw him
walking, when she saw him sit down and get up, Siddhartha, strong,
handsome, he who was walking on slender legs, greeting her with perfect
Love touched the hearts of the Brahmans' young daughters when
Siddhartha walked through the lanes of the town with the luminous
forehead, with the eye of a king, with his slim hips.
But more than all the others he was loved by Govinda, his friend, the
son of a Brahman. He loved Siddhartha's eye and sweet voice, he loved
his walk and the perfect decency of his movements, he loved everything
Siddhartha did and said and what he loved most was his spirit, his
transcendent, fiery thoughts, his ardent will, his high calling.
Govinda knew: he would not become a common Brahman, not a lazy official
in charge of offerings; not a greedy merchant with magic spells; not a
vain, vacuous speaker; not a mean, deceitful priest; and also not a
decent, stupid sheep in the herd of the many. No, and he, Govinda, as
well did not want to become one of those, not one of those tens of
thousands of Brahmans. He wanted to follow Siddhartha, the beloved,
the splendid. And in days to come, when Siddhartha would become a god,
when he would join the glorious, then Govinda wanted to follow him as
his friend, his companion, his servant, his spear-carrier, his shadow.
Siddhartha was thus loved by everyone. He was a source of joy for
everybody, he was a delight for them all.
But he, Siddhartha, was not a source of joy for himself, he found no
delight in himself. Walking the rosy paths of the fig tree garden,
sitting in the bluish shade of the grove of contemplation, washing his
limbs daily in the bath of repentance, sacrificing in the dim shade of
the mango forest, his gestures of perfect decency, everyone's love and
joy, he still lacked all joy in his heart. Dreams and restless thoughts
came into his mind, flowing from the water of the river, sparkling from
the stars of the night, melting from the beams of the sun, dreams came
to him and a restlessness of the soul, fuming from the sacrifices,
breathing forth from the verses of the Rig-Veda, being infused into him,
drop by drop, from the teachings of the old Brahmans.
Siddhartha had started to nurse discontent in himself, he had started
to feel that the love of his father and the love of his mother, and also
the love of his friend, Govinda, would not bring him joy for ever and
ever, would not nurse him, feed him, satisfy him. He had started to
suspect that his venerable father and his other teachers, that the wise
Brahmans had already revealed to him the most and best of their wisdom,
that they had already filled his expecting vessel with their richness,
and the vessel was not full, the spirit was not content, the soul was
not calm, the heart was not satisfied. The ablutions were good, but
they were water, they did not wash off the sin, they did not heal the
spirit's thirst, they did not relieve the fear in his heart. The
sacrifices and the invocation of the gods were excellent--but was that
all? Did the sacrifices give a happy fortune? And what about the gods?
Was it really Prajapati who had created the world? Was it not the
Atman, He, the only one, the singular one?