Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "You've got to vote for someone. It's a shame, but it's got to be done."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 7

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 15 ratings
    • 20 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 7
    Previous Chapter

    For a long time, Siddhartha had lived the life of the world and of lust,
    though without being a part of it. His senses, which he had killed off
    in hot years as a Samana, had awoken again, he had tasted riches, had
    tasted lust, had tasted power; nevertheless he had still remained in his
    heart for a long time a Samana; Kamala, being smart, had realized this
    quite right. It was still the art of thinking, of waiting, of fasting,
    which guided his life; still the people of the world, the childlike
    people, had remained alien to him as he was alien to them.

    Years passed by; surrounded by the good life, Siddhartha hardly felt
    them fading away. He had become rich, for quite a while he possessed a
    house of his own and his own servants, and a garden before the city by
    the river. The people liked him, they came to him, whenever they needed
    money or advice, but there was nobody close to him, except Kamala.

    That high, bright state of being awake, which he had experienced that
    one time at the height of his youth, in those days after Gotama's
    sermon, after the separation from Govinda, that tense expectation, that
    proud state of standing alone without teachings and without teachers,
    that supple willingness to listen to the divine voice in his own heart,
    hat slowly become a memory, had been fleeting; distant and quiet, the
    holy source murmured, which used to be near, which used to murmur within
    himself. Nevertheless, many things he had learned from the Samanas, he
    had learned from Gotama, he had learned from his father the Brahman,
    had remained within him for a long time afterwards: moderate living,
    joy of thinking, hours of meditation, secret knowledge of the self,
    of his eternal entity, which is neither body nor consciousness. Many
    a part of this he still had, but one part after another had been
    submerged and had gathered dust. Just as a potter's wheel, once it has
    been set in motion, will keep on turning for a long time and only slowly
    lose its vigour and come to a stop, thus Siddhartha's soul had kept on
    turning the wheel of asceticism, the wheel of thinking, the wheel of
    differentiation for a long time, still turning, but it turned slowly and
    hesitantly and was close to coming to a standstill. Slowly, like
    humidity entering the dying stem of a tree, filling it slowly and
    making it rot, the world and sloth had entered Siddhartha's soul,
    slowly it filled his soul, made it heavy, made it tired, put it to
    sleep. On the other hand, his senses had become alive, there was much
    they had learned, much they had experienced.

    Siddhartha had learned to trade, to use his power over people, to enjoy
    himself with a woman, he had learned to wear beautiful clothes, to give
    orders to servants, to bathe in perfumed waters. He had learned to eat
    tenderly and carefully prepared food, even fish, even meat and poultry,
    spices and sweets, and to drink wine, which causes sloth and
    forgetfulness. He had learned to play with dice and on a chess-board,
    to watch dancing girls, to have himself carried about in a sedan-chair,
    to sleep on a soft bed. But still he had felt different from and
    superior to the others; always he had watched them with some mockery,
    some mocking disdain, with the same disdain which a Samana constantly
    feels for the people of the world. When Kamaswami was ailing, when he
    was annoyed, when he felt insulted, when he was vexed by his worries as
    a merchant, Siddhartha had always watched it with mockery. Just slowly
    and imperceptibly, as the harvest seasons and rainy seasons passed by,
    his mockery had become more tired, his superiority had become more
    quiet. Just slowly, among his growing riches, Siddhartha had assumed
    something of the childlike people's ways for himself, something of their
    childlikeness and of their fearfulness. And yet, he envied them, envied
    them just the more, the more similar he became to them. He envied them
    for the one thing that was missing from him and that they had, the
    importance they were able to attach to their lives, the amount of
    passion in their joys and fears, the fearful but sweet happiness of
    being constantly in love. These people were all of the time in love
    with themselves, with women, with their children, with honours or money,
    with plans or hopes. But he did not learn this from them, this out of
    all things, this joy of a child and this foolishness of a child; he
    learned from them out of all things the unpleasant ones, which he
    himself despised. It happened more and more often that, in the morning
    after having had company the night before, he stayed in bed for a long
    time, felt unable to think and tired. It happened that he became angry
    and impatient, when Kamaswami bored him with his worries. It happened
    that he laughed just too loud, when he lost a game of dice. His face
    was still smarter and more spiritual than others, but it rarely laughed,
    and assumed, one after another, those features which are so often
    found in the faces of rich people, those features of discontent, of
    sickliness, of ill-humour, of sloth, of a lack of love. Slowly the
    disease of the soul, which rich people have, grabbed hold of him.

    Like a veil, like a thin mist, tiredness came over Siddhartha, slowly,
    getting a bit denser every day, a bit murkier every month, a bit heavier
    every year. As a new dress becomes old in time, loses its beautiful
    colour in time, gets stains, gets wrinkles, gets worn off at the seams,
    and starts to show threadbare spots here and there, thus Siddhartha's
    new life, which he had started after his separation from Govinda, had
    grown old, lost colour and splendour as the years passed by, was
    gathering wrinkles and stains, and hidden at bottom, already showing its
    ugliness here and there, disappointment and disgust were waiting.
    Siddhartha did not notice it. He only noticed that this bright and
    reliable voice inside of him, which had awoken in him at that time and
    had ever guided him in his best times, had become silent.

    He had been captured by the world, by lust, covetousness, sloth, and
    finally also by that vice which ha had used to despise and mock the
    most as the most foolish one of all vices: greed. Property,
    possessions, and riches also had finally captured him; they were no
    longer a game and trifles to him, had become a shackle and a burden.
    On a strange and devious way, Siddhartha had gotten into this final and
    most base of all dependencies, by means of the game of dice. It was
    since that time, when he had stopped being a Samana in his heart, that
    Siddhartha began to play the game for money and precious things, which
    he at other times only joined with a smile and casually as a custom of
    the childlike people, with an increasing rage and passion. He was a
    feared gambler, few dared to take him on, so high and audacious were his
    stakes. He played the game due to a pain of his heart, losing and
    wasting his wretched money in the game brought him an angry joy, in no
    other way he could demonstrate his disdain for wealth, the merchants'
    false god, more clearly and more mockingly. Thus he gambled with high
    stakes and mercilessly, hating himself, mocking himself, won thousands,
    threw away thousands, lost money, lost jewelry, lost a house in the
    country, won again, lost again. That fear, that terrible and petrifying
    fear, which he felt while he was rolling the dice, while he was worried
    about losing high stakes, that fear he loved and sought to always renew
    it, always increase it, always get it to a slightly higher level, for in
    this feeling alone he still felt something like happiness, something
    like a intoxication, something like an elevated form of life in the
    midst of his saturated, lukewarm, dull life.

    And after each big loss, his mind was set on new riches, pursued the
    trade more zealously, forced his debtors more strictly to pay, because
    he wanted to continue gambling, he wanted to continue squandering,
    continue demonstrating his disdain of wealth. Siddhartha lost his
    calmness when losses occurred, lost his patience when he was not payed
    on time, lost his kindness towards beggars, lost his disposition for
    giving away and loaning money to those who petitioned him. He, who
    gambled away tens of thousands at one roll of the dice and laughed at
    it, became more strict and more petty in his business, occasionally
    dreaming at night about money! And whenever he woke up from this ugly
    spell, whenever he found his face in the mirror at the bedroom's wall to
    have aged and become more ugly, whenever embarrassment and disgust came
    over him, he continued fleeing, fleeing into a new game, fleeing into a
    numbing of his mind brought on by sex, by wine, and from there he fled
    back into the urge to pile up and obtain possessions. In this pointless
    cycle he ran, growing tired, growing old, growing ill.

    Then the time came when a dream warned him. He had spend the hours of
    the evening with Kamala, in her beautiful pleasure-garden. They had
    been sitting under the trees, talking, and Kamala had said thoughtful
    words, words behind which a sadness and tiredness lay hidden. She had
    asked him to tell her about Gotama, and could not hear enough of him,
    how clear his eyes, how still and beautiful his mouth, how kind his
    smile, how peaceful his walk had been. For a long time, he had to tell
    her about the exalted Buddha, and Kamala had sighed and had said: "One
    day, perhaps soon, I'll also follow that Buddha. I'll give him my
    pleasure-garden for a gift and take my refuge in his teachings." But
    after this, she had aroused him, and had tied him to her in the act
    of making love with painful fervour, biting and in tears, as if, once
    more, she wanted to squeeze the last sweet drop out of this vain,
    fleeting pleasure. Never before, it had become so strangely clear to
    Siddhartha, how closely lust was akin to death. Then he had lain by
    her side, and Kamala's face had been close to him, and under her eyes
    and next to the corners of her mouth he had, as clearly as never before,
    read a fearful inscription, an inscription of small lines, of slight
    grooves, an inscription reminiscent of autumn and old age, just as
    Siddhartha himself, who was only in his forties, had already noticed,
    here and there, gray hairs among his black ones. Tiredness was written
    on Kamala's beautiful face, tiredness from walking a long path, which
    has no happy destination, tiredness and the beginning of withering,
    and concealed, still unsaid, perhaps not even conscious anxiety: fear of
    old age, fear of the autumn, fear of having to die. With a sigh, he had
    bid his farewell to her, the soul full of reluctance, and full of
    concealed anxiety.

    Then, Siddhartha had spent the night in his house with dancing girls
    and wine, had acted as if he was superior to them towards the
    fellow-members of his caste, though this was no longer true, had drunk
    much wine and gone to bed a long time after midnight, being tired and
    yet excited, close to weeping and despair, and had for a long time
    sought to sleep in vain, his heart full of misery which he thought he
    could not bear any longer, full of a disgust which he felt penetrating
    his entire body like the lukewarm, repulsive taste of the wine, the
    just too sweet, dull music, the just too soft smile of the dancing
    girls, the just too sweet scent of their hair and breasts. But more
    than by anything else, he was disgusted by himself, by his perfumed
    hair, by the smell of wine from his mouth, by the flabby tiredness and
    listlessness of his skin. Like when someone, who has eaten and drunk
    far too much, vomits it back up again with agonising pain and is
    nevertheless glad about the relief, thus this sleepless man wished to
    free himself of these pleasures, these habits and all of this pointless
    life and himself, in an immense burst of disgust. Not until the light
    of the morning and the beginning of the first activities in the street
    before his city-house, he had slightly fallen asleep, had found for a
    few moments a half unconsciousness, a hint of sleep. In those moments,
    he had a dream:

    Kamala owned a small, rare singing bird in a golden cage. Of this bird,
    he dreamt. He dreamt: this bird had become mute, who at other times
    always used to sing in the morning, and since this arose his attention,
    he stepped in front of the cage and looked inside; there the small bird
    was dead and lay stiff on the ground. He took it out, weighed it for a
    moment in his hand, and then threw it away, out in the street, and in
    the same moment, he felt terribly shocked, and his heart hurt, as if he
    had thrown away from himself all value and everything good by throwing
    out this dead bird.

    Starting up from this dream, he felt encompassed by a deep sadness.
    Worthless, so it seemed to him, worthless and pointless was the way he
    had been going through life; nothing which was alive, nothing which was
    is some way delicious or worth keeping he had left in his hands. Alone
    he stood there and empty like a castaway on the shore.

    With a gloomy mind, Siddhartha went to the pleasure-garden he owned,
    locked the gate, sat down under a mango-tree, felt death in his heart
    and horror in his chest, sat and sensed how everything died in him,
    withered in him, came to an end in him. By and by, he gathered his
    thoughts, and in his mind, he once again went the entire path of his
    life, starting with the first days he could remember. When was there
    ever a time when he had experienced happiness, felt a true bliss? Oh
    yes, several times he had experienced such a thing. In his years as a
    boy, he has had a taste of it, when he had obtained praise from the
    Brahmans, he had felt it in his heart: "There is a path in front of
    the one who has distinguished himself in the recitation

    {It seems to me, as if there are a few words missing from
    the German text, which I can only guess. My guess is, that
    it should read: Ein Weg liegt vor dem, der sich im Hersagen
    der heiligen Verse, ...}

    of the holy verses, in the dispute with the learned ones, as an
    assistant in the offerings." Then, he had felt it in his heart: "There
    is a path in front of you, you are destined for, the gods are awaiting
    you." And again, as a young man, when the ever rising, upward fleeing,
    goal of all thinking had ripped him out of and up from the multitude of
    those seeking the same goal, when he wrestled in pain for the purpose of
    Brahman, when every obtained knowledge only kindled new thirst in him,
    then again he had, in the midst of the thirst, in the midst of the pain
    felt this very same thing: "Go on! Go on! You are called upon!" He
    had heard this voice when he had left his home and had chosen the life
    of a Samana, and again when he had gone away from the Samanas to that
    perfected one, and also when he had gone away from him to the uncertain.
    For how long had he not heard this voice any more, for how long had he
    reached no height any more, how even and dull was the manner in which
    his path had passed through life, for many long years, without a high
    goal, without thirst, without elevation, content with small lustful
    pleasures and yet never satisfied! For all of these many years, without
    knowing it himself, he had tried hard and longed to become a man like
    those many, like those children, and in all this, his life had been
    much more miserable and poorer than theirs, and their goals were not
    his, nor their worries; after all, that entire world of the
    Kamaswami-people had only been a game to him, a dance he would watch, a
    comedy. Only Kamala had been dear, had been valuable to him--but was
    she still thus? Did he still need her, or she him? Did they not play
    a game without an ending? Was it necessary to live for this? No, it
    was not necessary! The name of this game was Sansara, a game for
    children, a game which was perhaps enjoyable to play once, twice, ten
    times--but for ever and ever over again?

    Then, Siddhartha knew that the game was over, that he could not play it
    any more. Shivers ran over his body, inside of him, so he felt,
    something had died.

    That entire day, he sat under the mango-tree, thinking of his father,
    thinking of Govinda, thinking of Gotama. Did he have to leave them to
    become a Kamaswami? He still sat there, when the night had fallen.
    When, looking up, he caught sight of the stars, he thought: "Here I'm
    sitting under my mango-tree, in my pleasure-garden." He smiled a little
    --was it really necessary, was it right, was it not as foolish game,
    that he owned a mango-tree, that he owned a garden?

    He also put an end to this, this also died in him. He rose, bid his
    farewell to the mango-tree, his farewell to the pleasure-garden. Since
    he had been without food this day, he felt strong hunger, and thought
    of his house in the city, of his chamber and bed, of the table with the
    meals on it. He smiled tiredly, shook himself, and bid his farewell to
    these things.

    In the same hour of the night, Siddhartha left his garden, left the
    city, and never came back. For a long time, Kamaswami had people look
    for him, thinking that he had fallen into the hands of robbers. Kamala
    had no one look for him. When she was told that Siddhartha had
    disappeared, she was not astonished. Did she not always expect it? Was
    he not a Samana, a man who was at home nowhere, a pilgrim? And most of
    all, she had felt this the last time they had been together, and she was
    happy, in spite of all the pain of the loss, that she had pulled him so
    affectionately to her heart for this last time, that she had felt one
    more time to be so completely possessed and penetrated by him.

    When she received the first news of Siddhartha's disappearance, she went
    to the window, where she held a rare singing bird captive in a golden
    cage. She opened the door of the cage, took the bird out and let it
    fly. For a long time, she gazed after it, the flying bird. From this
    day on, she received no more visitors and kept her house locked. But
    after some time, she became aware that she was pregnant from the last
    time she was together with Siddhartha.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 7
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Hermann Hesse essay and need some advice, post your Hermann Hesse essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?