Siddhartha Chapter 1 Summary

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

During the first chapter, 'The Son of the Brahman' of 'Siddhartha' by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha's father's dreams for his son are dashed by Siddhartha's decision to leave home.

Siddhartha's Background

Chapter One of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, entitled The Son of the Brahman, is an introduction to Siddhartha and his adoring friend, Govinda. Siddhartha's childhood prepares him to be a great leader, but his dissatisfaction over the limits of his religious education pushes him to seek enlightenment outside of his community. Let's learn more about Siddhartha's decision to leave home.

Great Things are Expected from Siddhartha

Consider the person in high school who was 'Most Likely to Succeed.' In his community, this was Siddhartha. Siddhartha and his best friend, Govinda, are sons of Brahman, or Hindu priests. Throughout his childhood, Siddhartha emerges as a leader. His good looks, intelligence, and gentle mannerisms led those around him to believe that he will someday achieve greatness. 'Siddhartha was thus loved by everyone. He was a source of joy for everybody, he was a delight for them all.'

Siddhartha Feels Discontented

Have you ever felt like there was more to life than what your parents or grandparents taught you? Siddhartha begins to feel dissatisfied with the religious teachings in his community. '… 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.' Siddhartha believes that he has already learned all that he can from the Brahmans. In his opinion, the Brahmans did an excellent job of performing rituals and teaching from the holy books, but Siddhartha feels that all of these things are insufficient as they do '… not wash off the sin, they did not heal the spirit's thirst, they did not relieve the fear in his heart.'

Siddhartha Wants to Become a Samana

One day after meditating with Govinda, Siddhartha tells his friend that he will be leaving in the morning to become a Samana. Samana are Buddhist holy men who seek purity. Govinda's first thought is that Siddhartha's father will never allow it, but Siddhartha dismisses him. When Siddhartha goes to his father to tell him his plans, Siddhartha's father has a hard time keeping his temper. After a long silence, he tells Siddhartha never to ask that again.

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