Siddhartha Chapter 3 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

The third chapter of 'Siddhartha' finds our main character continuing his journey to understanding and enlightenment. Along the way, he parts with someone very important to him. Read on to find out what happens.

A Search for Self

Who am I? What is my purpose in life? How can I live a more meaningful and fulfilling life? These days, you might be able Google those questions, but in Siddhartha's time, you had to travel to enlightened people and speak with them. In Chapter 3, Siddhartha and his buddy, Govinda, head off to find the wise Gotama to see if they can get some answers to life's mysteries.

Finding Gotama

In the beginning of Chapter 3, entitled ''Gotama'', Govinda and Siddhartha are on a journey to find Gotama, whom they have heard is the enlightened Buddha. Along the way, they ask where they can find Gotama, and their quest leads them toward a town called Savathi. When they get to Savathi, they beg for food at the first house they see. The woman inside offers them something to eat and Siddhartha asks if she knows where they can find Gotama. She directs them to a garden and tells them that it ''is where the exalted one dwells.''

Govinda and Siddhartha are excited and ask the woman if she has ever seen Gotama. She tells them, ''Many times I have seen him, the exalted one. On many days, I have seen him, walking through the alleys in silence, wearing his yellow cloak.'' Govinda wants to hear more, but Siddhartha convinces him that it is best to head off to the garden so they can wait through the night for Gotama.

When the two men wake up, they are astounded to see many followers of Gotama Buddha in the garden. Siddhartha looks around at the men and quickly spots Gotama, even though many of the men are dressed in the same yellow robe. On the way to town to ask for alms with the group, Siddhartha distinguishes Gotama Buddha from the others because ''The Buddha went on his way, modestly and deep in his thoughts, his calm face was neither happy nor sad, it seemed to smile quietly and inwardly.'' He had a different demeanor than the other monks.

Govinda Joins the Ranks

Siddhartha does not feel as much curiosity towards Gotama's teachings as Govinda does. However, when he looks at the Buddha, he observes ''This man, this Buddha was truthful down to the gesture of his last finger.'' He decides that he loves this man and wants to hear what he has to say. They listen to his teachings, which focus on suffering and how to escape it. At the end of the day, Govinda asks to be accepted into Gotama's fold. He is accepted.

Siddhartha and Govinda Say Their Goodbyes

Siddhartha does not ask to be accepted into the group and Govinda wants to know why. Instead of explaining, Siddhartha wishes his friend luck. He tells him that he has been waiting for a long time for Govinda to take a step out on his own. Govinda cries because he realizes that he and his friend will be parting ways in the morning. They lie down and remain awake for a long time, with Govinda asking again and again why Siddhartha does not want to join him. Siddhartha only replies that the teachings are very good and cannot find any fault in them.

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