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Chapters 3-5 Answers (Siddhartha)

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    1.      Describe the Buddha’s appearance and character, his speech, his manner of instructing.  He looks like all the other Samanas, but he has a very subtle smile and an aura of peace about him.  He is very soft spoken and soothing when he talks.  To teach, he sits under a banyan tree and talks about life and his experiences to those who are eager to listen.  


    2.      Why do Govinda and Siddhartha part?   Govinda wishes to stay and learn from the Buddha.  Siddhartha realizes that he cannot be taught how to understand himself—he must explore life and come to understand who he is on his own terms. 


    3.      Examine the conversation between Buddha and Siddhartha.  How are their beliefs similar and different?  Any similarities between this conversation and the conversation between Siddhartha and his father?  Siddhartha believes that the Buddha is very wise, and he respects him.  They share the basic Hindu beliefs of Brahmins and Samanas, but Siddhartha doesn’t believe that any individual can teach another how to find inner peace.  Just as in the conversation with his father, Siddhartha respectfully tells the Buddha that he is very wise and that he has learned much from being in his presence, but he quietly explains that he must seek knowledge of himself some other place.


    4.    What is the connection between Siddhartha’s loss of Govinda as his shadow and his discovery of himself?  Siddhartha is sad to lose his friend, but he must be free to explore the world on his own.  As long as Govinda is his “shadow,” Siddhartha must constantly consider someone else—something that pulls him away from his true self.  Without Govinda hanging over him, Siddhartha is free to experience the world on his own.


    1.      Examine carefully Siddhartha’s statement about what he has learned.  What is your reaction to his beliefs? 


    2.      What is the cause of his smile?  His awakening?  How is he changed?  He is seeing the world as if for the first time.  He is coming to understand that he was “blinded” to various aspects of the world because as a Samana his focus was always on meditating and shutting out the world.  He seems to be more open to the things around him.


    3.      What is the “snake in his path?”  What change does this discussion lead to?  Trace the changes in feeling as he goes through this process of thinking.  The “snake in his path” is the realization that for the first time in his life he does not have a planned direction.  He is no longer a Brahmin or a Samana, and in a sense, no longer a Brahmin’s son.  He realizes that he cannot return to his father’s house—he is not who he once was, so he can no longer live that life.  As he considers where he came from and where his path may take him, he seems to become more carefree, more open to possibilities that the world has to offer.  He seems eager to explore and learn new things.



    1.      Discuss how Siddhartha views the world after his decision to leave Buddha.  It’s as if he sees the world for the first time.  Everything appears fresh, new, and beautiful to him.  He is eager to explore it.


    2.      Describe Siddhartha’s dream.  Siddhartha dreams that he sees Govinda, standing in his yellow Samana’s robe.  Gradually, Govinda changes into a beautiful young woman.  Siddhartha lies down beside her and nurses from her breast.  This dream appears to represent Siddhartha’s longing to have a friend; he is lonely.  He will never again have a friend like Govinda, but he needs someone to be close to, to nurture him.  This dream could also foreshadow his relationship with Kamala.


    3.      What wisdom does Siddhartha learn from the ferryman?  What is symbolized by his river crossing?  That the river can bring peace—it has for the ferryman.  The crossing symbolizes Siddhartha’s transition from Samana to city dweller.


    4.      Why does Kamala attract him?  Describe his method of courtship.  What does he expect to learn from Kamala?  What skills and knowledge do they share with each other?  Kamala is very beautiful, and she has a mysterious smile.  He speaks to Kamala and composes a poem for her.  He relies on his ability to think, fast, and wait in order to court her.  He wants to learn the secrets of physical love.  She teaches him how to give and receive pleasure; he teaches her patience.

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