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Indian Culture and Background


Indian Culture and Background A few essentials for studying Siddhartha A Bit About the Author Author - Hermann Hesse Herman Hesse was born in 1877 in Germany. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Indian Culture and Background

Indian Culture and Background
  • A few essentials for studying Siddhartha

A Bit About the Author
Author - Hermann Hesse
  • Herman Hesse was born in 1877 in Germany. He
    was brought up in a Lutheran household where it
    was assumed he would study for the ministry. His
    parents both served as missionaries in India.
  • He learned about Indian culture through their
    experiences, and pursued an interest in Eastern
    religion and philosophies later in life.

Author Hermann Hesse
  • As a teenager, Hermann Hesse was expelled
    from the seminary to which his father had sent
    him. He struggled to complete school and educated
    himself while working in bookstore. He cultivated
    a special interest in Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • In 1922, at age 35, he began writing Siddhartha,
    the story of an Indian youths search for the
    meaning of life. During this time, Hesse became a
    patient of psycho-analsyt Carl Jung. His writing
    reflects many of Jungs ideas on the conscious
    and unconscious mind including his theories on

Author Hermann Hesse
  • Hesse also wrote the novels Demian and
    Steppenwolf. These works combined his interest
    in spiritual quests with the political and social
    develop-ments in Germany in the early 20th
  • In 1946, Hesse was awarded in the Nobel Prize
    in literature. He lived out his life in
    Switzerland during World War II and died there in

Introduction to Siddhartha
Translation and Publication
  • Siddhartha was published in 1922 in Germany
    and translated for publication in the US in 1951.
  • The English translation gained true popularity
    in the 1960s with young counter-culture move-
  • ments that embraced
  • Eastern philosophies.

Title Translation - Siddhartha
  • Siddhartha is made up of two words in the
    Sanskrit language
  • siddha achieved
  • artha meaning or wealth
  • Together, the words mean he who has found
    meaning or existence.

Character Connections
  • The spiritual founder of Buddhism was known as
    Prince Siddhartha Gautama before his renunciation
    of social hierarchies.
  • The young protagonist in Hermann Hesses novel is
    known as Siddhartha. He is also the son of a
    wealthy Brahmin family.
  • The main character should NOT
  • be confused with the spiritual leader!
  • They are two different people who
  • appear separately in the novel.

Setting in Siddhartha
  • The story is set in ancient India around 500
    BC during the rise of Buddhism.
  • This was a time of great change in ancient
    India. Many age-old philosophies were being
    challenged. Additionally, a new spiritual leader
    was offering a hopeful alternative to those
    living within the bounds of the traditional caste

Ancient Indian Society
  • Some research suggests that Indo-Aryan invaders
    established a long-standing social stratification
    in India. Records of the caste system date back
    to the Vedic Period (300 BCE).
  • Certain Hindu scriptures describe a caste system
    for organizing society but never endorse
    discrimination based on caste.
  • Traditionally, an individuals
  • caste defined occupation,
  • diet, social interaction, and
  • style of dress.

Indian Caste System
  • Brahmins / Priests - intellectual and spiritual
    leaders (Siddhartha)
  • Kshatriya / Warriors and aristocrats - protectors
    of society
  • Vaishyas / Merchants, farmers,
  • artisans - skilled producers
  • Shundras / unskilled labor
  • Untouchables - outside of caste
  • system

Caste in Siddhartha
  • The storys protagonist, Siddhartha is the oldest
    son in a wealthy Brahmin family.
  • As a member of this priestly class, young
    Siddhartha was supposed to follow in his fathers
    footsteps as a spiritual leader. He was expected
    to practice the rites and rituals of Hinduism
  • His social status was closely linked to his
    fathers religion, and he questioned both.

Religion in Siddhartha
  • Siddhartha combines the beliefs of both
    traditional Hinduism and early Buddhism.
  • Siddhartha, the protagonist, studies both
  • Thus, it is important to know a few concepts
    related to both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Concepts in Hinduism
Early Hinduism
  • Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions in the
    Indian sub-continent and has no single founder.
  • Today, the religion has over one billion
    adherents who study a wide range of sacred texts,

Sacred Texts in Hinduism
  • The Vedas The oldest scriptures in Hinduism
    recorded in Sanskrit, includes The Rig Veda, Sama
    Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda
  • The Upanishads philosophical texts passed down
    by oral tradition associate with Vedas
  • Mahabharata and Ramayana Sanskrit epics that
    relate Hindu history. The Mahabharata includes
    the Bhagavad Gita (lessons of Lord Krishna)

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Hindusim and Castes
  • Many sacred texts in Hinduism recognize the
    traditional caste system as a divine order in
    which upward social mobility is only achieved
    through reincarnation, or rebirth.
  • Collected karma (actions)
    influences your atmans
    (souls) position in next life.

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Hindu Rituals
  • Traditionally, in order to achieve good karma
    every household must perform many ablutions
  • Critics of Hinduism said sacrifices were too
    great and rituals too tedious only those in
    higher castes could improve their position
  • The poor were offered
  • alternative to this tradition
  • with Buddhism.

Concepts in Hinduism
  • Hindu concepts of god, spirituality, etc. vary
    widely with each particular tradition or
    philosophy. Siddharthas family practiced a form
    of Vedic Hinduism. Here are a few useful terms
    from that tradition (see your glossary for more)
  • Atman the true soul, or self, of a person
  • Brahman, the supreme spirit or truth. Most want
    to find a connection between this universal
    spirit and self. (Do not confuse this term with
    Brahmin caste.)

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Concepts in Hinduism
  • Samsara The cycle of life, death, and rebirth
    connected to reincarnation. The wheel of life is
    a symbols for this process.
  • Moksha state of true understanding and freedom
    from samsara (known in some traditions as

Concepts in Hinduism
  • Meditation - a mental discipline by which one
    attempts to get beyond the conditioned,
    "thinking" mind into a deeper state of awareness.
    This is one method for achieving enlightenment.
  • Om a highly symbolic
  • sound made to focus and
  • guide religious meditation.
  • Each syllable (a-u-m) takes
  • on a specific meaning in
  • Sanskrit and represents
  • a universal element.

From Hinduism to Buddhism
From Hinduism to Buddhism
  • Around 500 BC, Buddhism was a new philosophy
    founded by a Buddha, a man who had reached
    enlightenment by his own means.
  • This Buddha had new ideas
  • about reaching enlightenment
  • and was seen as a savior by
  • many for his views on the
  • caste system.

Buddhism Basics
  • Buddha means awakened one or enlightened
  • Buddhism is a set of beliefs based on the
    teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known
    as Buddha. He is referred to as Gotama in
    Hesses novel.
  • The teachings of Buddha focused on ethical
    conduct, rejection of worldly matters, and
    meditation as a means to true wisdom and

Siddhartha Gotamas Life
  • According to recorded stories, priests told
    Gotamas father that he would either be a
    powerful ruler or an enlightened teacher.
    Because his father wanted him to be a leader, he
    confined young Gotama to the palace and prevented
    him from experiencing the outside world.
    However, as Gotama grew older, he venture outside
    the palace walls and viewed The Four Sights that
    made him aware of human suffering (old age,
    disease, death, renunciation).

Siddhartha Gotamas Life
  • These four sights made Gotama long to find an
    end to suffering. At the age of 29, he leaves
    his family and spends the next six years
    searching for a solution to suffering. He sought
    out spiritual masters and even joined a group of
    ascetics who practice self-denial.

More Terms
  • Asceticism the practice of denying the
    physical self through fasting and starvation to
    discover spiritual truths
  • Samana a wandering ascetic monk of any
    tradition (Hindu or Buddhist)

Siddhartha Gotamas Life
  • Reflecting on the experiences of his life,
    still, Siddhartha found no answer. He knew that
    luxury and indulgence could not keep suffering
    away, nor could the extreme denial of asceticism.
    He needed a middle path. He left the company of
    the ascetics, and traveling some distance, found
    a Bodhi tree and sat down beneath its branches.
    He closed his eyes.

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Siddhartha Gotamas Life
  • He turned all of his attention within. As he
    moved deeper and deeper into himself, he began to
    see the truth of existence. He saw that all life
    was connected. Nirvana was revealed. At this
    moment, in the here and now, Siddhartha became
    the Buddha, enlightened one. He was
    transformed. He went on to teach others of the
    Four Noble Truths and to encourage them to seek
    Nirvana for themselves.

Images of Buddha
Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)
  • As we begin to read Siddhartha, pay attention to
    the similarities and differences between
    Siddharthas journey and Buddhas journey.
  • Let the meditation begin!
  • Ommmm. . .
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