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Siddhartha Chapter 5 Summary

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
The first section of part two of ''Siddhartha'' finds our protagonist ready to approach life in a very different way from how he has spent the last several years.

Review of Part One

When you start reading the first part of Part Two (also known as Chapter Five) of Siddhartha, it is easy to get lost in the poetic text at the beginning, with its abundant language describing the beauty of nature, and forget the last four chapters! Because of this, let's take a moment to review. Siddhartha is born into a wealthy family that performs rituals in hope of finding Enlightenment. Siddhartha finds them unfulfilling, so he and his best friend Govinda go live with the Samanas for three years instead. That doesn't help them find Enlightenment, so Govinda joins up with Buddha while Siddhartha resolves to find his own way.

Crossing the River

When Siddhartha finally returns from a long appreciation of all the natural beauty that he has ignored for so long, he finds himself on a river bank. He takes the ferry across the river but has no way of paying. However, the ferryman doesn't seem to care. After all, he is sure that Siddhartha will return. 'I have learned from the river: everything is coming back!' he explains. 'You too, Samana, will come back. Now farewell!' With that, Siddhartha moves away from the river and into town.

Seeing Kamala

Siddhartha is looking rough at this point, to put it mildly. After all, he has spent three years as a traveling mystic, and has had little chance to groom himself beyond basic hygiene. He walks into town and encounters a woman, at which point he realizes that perhaps the whole idea of ignoring women in favor of mysticism has been a poor one. He cleans himself up and, the next day, encounters another woman: Kamala, a beautiful courtesan. He wants to learn all there is about love and sex from her, and she can't help but laugh: 'Never before this has happened to me, my friend, that a Samana from the forest came to me and wanted to learn from me!' She agrees to teach him, but only on one condition.

Setting a Goal

Kamala lets Siddhartha know that if he is to be successful in the world of love, he has to look the part. Unfortunately for Siddhartha, a tired loin cloth will not do. As such, she sends him off to make money. They run through his skill set, trying to find something that will enable him to be useful. His first few offers seem rather unhelpful: 'I can think. I can wait. I can fast.' Finally, they realize that because Siddhartha can read and write, he could indeed be useful to a local businessman named Kamaswami.

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