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Hermann Hesse

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THE SON OF THE BRAHMANIn the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near theboats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig treeis where Siddhartha grew up, the handsome son of the Brahman, the youngfalcon, togetherMoreTHE SON OF THE BRAHMANIn the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near theboats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig treeis where Siddhartha grew up, the handsome son of the Brahman, the youngfalcon, together with his friend Govinda, son of a Brahman. The suntanned his light shoulders by the banks of the river when bathing,performing the sacred ablutions, the sacred offerings. In the mangogrove, shade poured into his black eyes, when playing as a boy, whenhis mother sang, when the sacred offerings were made, when his father,the scholar, taught him, when the wise men talked. For a long time,Siddhartha had been partaking in the discussions of the wise men,practising debate with Govinda, practising with Govinda the art ofreflection, the service of meditation. He already knew how to speak theOm silently, the word of words, to speak it silently into himself whileinhaling, to speak it silently out of himself while exhaling, with allthe concentration of his soul, the forehead surrounded by the glow ofthe clear-thinking spirit. He already knew to feel Atman in the depthsof his being, indestructible, one with the universe.Joy leapt in his fathers heart for his son who was quick to learn,thirsty for knowledge- he saw him growing up to become great wise manand priest, a prince among the Brahmans.Bliss leapt in his mothers breast when she saw him, when she saw himwalking, when she saw him sit down and get up, Siddhartha, strong,handsome, he who was walking on slender legs, greeting her with perfectrespect.Love touched the hearts of the Brahmans young daughters whenSiddhartha walked through the lanes of the town with the luminousforehead, with the eye of a king, with his slim hips.But more than all the others he was loved by Govinda, his friend, theson of a Brahman. He loved Siddharthas eye and sweet voice, he lovedhis walk and the perfect decency of his movements, he loved everythingSiddhartha did and said and what he loved most was his spirit, histranscendent, fiery thoughts, his ardent will, his high calling.Govinda knew: he would not become a common Brahman, not a lazy officialin charge of offerings- not a greedy merchant with magic spells- not avain, vacuous speaker- not a mean, deceitful priest- and also not adecent, stupid sheep in the herd of the many. No, and he, Govinda, aswell did not want to become one of those, not one of those tens ofthousands of Brahmans. He wanted to follow Siddhartha, the beloved,the splendid. And in days to come, when Siddhartha would become a god,when he would join the glorious, then Govinda wanted to follow him ashis friend, his companion, his servant, his spear-carrier, his shadow.Siddhartha was thus loved by everyone. He was a source of joy foreverybody, he was a delight for them all.But he, Siddhartha, was not a source of joy for himself, he found nodelight in himself. Walking the rosy paths of the fig tree garden,sitting in the bluish shade of the grove of contemplation, washing hislimbs daily in the bath of repentance, sacrificing in the dim shade ofthe mango forest, his gestures of perfect decency, everyones love andjoy, he still lacked all joy in his heart. Dreams and restless thoughtscame into his mind, flowing from the water of the river, sparkling fromthe stars of the night, melting from the beams of the sun, dreams cameto him and a restlessness of the soul, fuming from the sacrifices,breathing forth from the verses of the Rig-Veda, being infused into him,drop by drop, from the teachings of the old Brahmans.Siddhartha had started to nurse discontent in himself, he had startedto feel that the love of his father and the love of his mother, and alsothe love of his friend, Govinda, would not bring him joy for ever andever, would not nurse him, feed him, satisfy him. He had started tosuspect that his venerable father and his other teachers, that the wiseBrahmans had already revealed to him the most and best of their wisdom,that they had already filled his expecting vessel with their richness,and the vessel was not full, the spirit was not content, the soul wasnot calm, the heart was not satisfied. The ablutions were good, butthey were water, they did not wash off the sin, they did not heal thespirits thirst, they did not relieve the fear in his heart. Thesacrifices and the invocation of the gods were excellent--but was thatall? Did the sacrifices give a happy fortune? And what about the gods?Was it really Prajapati who had created the world? Was it not theAtman, He, the only one, the singular one?