Siddhartha Chapter 2 Summary

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
In Chapter Two of Siddhartha, Siddhartha and Govinda come to the conclusion that they may not be cut out to live as Samanas, but find another spiritual path that offers some hope.

Quick Review of Chapter One

As we start Chapter Two of Siddhartha, quite a bit has already happened in Chapter One. We are introduced to Siddhartha, a member of the Brahmin caste whose life should be spent praying and trying to find enlightenment. However, the prayers and rituals required of him do absolutely nothing to further his quest. He hears about a group known as the Samanas who reject all earthly possessions, and Chapter Two joins Siddhartha and his childhood best friend Govinda with the Samanas.

Self-Denial

A crucial element of living with the Samanas involves denying one's senses. After all, this world isn't really that important, so by focusing on the impulses that one receives from this world, one is stuck in an endless cycle of caring about things that simply don't matter. Or, as described in the text, 'The world tasted bitter. Life was torture.'

Needless to say, not exactly a happy outlook.

However, at the end of this suffering, there is a pretty powerful promise, or so the Samanas tell Siddhartha. By the time that the Self, the entity that wants all of these things and this stuff, finally gets fed up and dies, what is left is the true meaning of a person, and an easy route to enlightenment.

Not Working

There's just one problem. It's not working at all for Siddhartha. While Govinda is still hopeful of what could happen, Siddhartha isn't having any of it. In fact, he is quite pointed about the fact that he thinks that the past three years have been a waste of time: 'I could have learned more quickly and by simpler means. In every tavern of that part of a town where the whorehouses are, my friend, among carters and gamblers I could have learned it.'

Siddhartha goes on to point out that their teachers have been doing this for decades and still not found enlightenment. Therefore, what should make them think that they will be able to find it by the end of their lives? Eventually, Govinda realizes that it isn't working for him either. Luckily, there may be a solution on the horizon.

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