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Siddartha - A poem of India (English version)
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Multilanguage eBook,enhanced by the "Babylonia Hyperlink System"
curated by Yamada Tadayoshi for "Babylonia Project"
"Babylonia Project" is the literary series we created to appeal to the palate of all those who, like us, are book enthusiasts and language lovers. Our wide, constantly expanding catalogue consists of a fantastic selection of treasured classics, all crafted in a precious multilanguage eBook edition. You'll be able to start from the English, French, Spanish, Italian, or German version of the book (depending on available languages), and after that you can quickly switch to another language, simply by clicking on the buttons at the beginning of each chapter (or through on your eBook index). With a "Babylonia Project" eBook you will be able to compare translations, learn words and phrases in new languages, and you will understand more about all the poetry and beauty behind how literary adaptations are made. All of this while you enjoy the best literary classics of all time: Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Alexandre Dumas, Oscar Wilde and many more. Improve your language and literary skills while unveiling a dark mystery in the forest on the other side of the world, or while solving a crime scene in the Victorian London: Babylonia Project is here to guide you through your next adventure!
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“The person who doesn’t read lives only one life. The reader lives 5,000. Reading is immortality backwards.”(Umberto Eco)
Dedicated to my revered friend, Romain Rolland
In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank where the boats were, in the shade of the forest of shala trees, in the shade of the fig tree, this is where Siddhartha grew up, the brahmin’s most handsome son, the young falcon, alongside his friend Govinda, the brahmin’s son. His pale shoulders were bronzed by the sunshine on the river bank, when he was bathing, when performing ceremonious ablutions, when making holy sacrifices. Shadow flowed into his dark eyes in the mango groves, when playing boyish games, when his mother sang, when he talked with the wise ones. Siddhartha spent many hours in conversation with the wise ones, he practised his skills of rhetoric with Govinda, practised the art of thought with Govinda, in order to achieve mystic contemplation. He was already able to utter the holy word, Om, in silence, the word of words, in silence to utter it and draw it in with his breath, in silence to utter it and send it out with his breath, his mind collected, his brow surrounded with the light of the clear-thinking soul. He was already able to understand, in his innermost being, the nature of Atman, indestructible, at one with the universe.
Joy sprang up in his father’s heart when he saw his son, the learned one, the one with a thirst for knowledge, joy sprang up when he foretold that he would grow into a wise man and a priest, a prince among the brahmins.
Bliss sprang up in his mother’s breast when she saw her son, when she saw him walk, when she saw him sit down and stand up, Siddhartha, the strong one, the handsome one, walking on his slender legs, when, with perfect decorum, he her offered her his greetings.
Love was stirred in the hearts of the brahmins’ daughters when they saw Siddhartha walk through the streets of the town, his luminous brow, the eyes of a king, his narrow hips.
But the one who loved him more than all the others was Govinda, his friend, the brahmin’s son. He loved Siddhartha’s eyes and his noble voice, he loved his walk and the perfect grace of his movements, he loved everything that Siddhartha did or said, and most of all he loved his soul, his lofty and fiery thoughts, the bright glow of his will, his lofty vocation. Govinda knew that Siddhartha would never become a mediocre brahmin, no lazy officiator of sacrifices, no greedy peddler of magic spells, no rhetorician of vain and empty speech, no sly or malevolent priest, and also never become a good but stupid sheep in the flock of many. No, and he too, Govinda, had no wish to become one such, not one of those brahmans that are numbered in their thousands. He wanted to be a follower of Siddhartha, the beloved, the noble. And if Siddhartha ever became a god, if he ever went to join the luminous ones, then Govinda would follow him, as his friend, as his companion, as his servant, as his spear carrier, his shadow.
Everyone loved Siddhartha in the same way. To everyone he brought joy.
To himself, though, Siddhartha did not bring joy. Wandering between the roses in the fig garden, sitting in the bluish shade in the grove of contemplation, washing his limbs in his daily act of atonement, performing sacrifice in the dark shade of the mango wood, all his movements as they should be, loved by all, joy to all, he nonetheless carried no joy in his own heart. Tears came to him, restless thoughts came to him from the water of the river as it flowed, from the stars of the night as they sparkled, from the rays of the Sun as they blazed, dreams came to him and a restlessness of the soul, from the smoke of his sacrifices, from the verses of the Rig Veda as he breathed them, from the teachings of the ancient brahmins as they seeped into him.
Siddhartha had begun to nurture discontent in himself. He had begun to feel that his father’s love, and his mother’s love, and the love of his friend, Govinda, would not always and for all time bring him happiness, calm him, satisfy him, be enough for him. He had begun to see that his venerable father and his other teachers, the wise brahmins, had already given him almost all of their wisdom, all the best of their wisdom, that their fullness had already been poured into his vessel, receptive and ready to accept it, and that the vessel was not full, the spirit was not satisfied, the soul was not quieted, the heart was not at peace. The washings were good, but they were water, they did not wash sins away, they did not assuage the thirst of the soul, they did not dispel the pain of the heart. Most important of all were the sacrifices and the call of the gods - but was that all? Did the sacrifices bring happiness? And how did the gods feel about that? Was it really Prajapati who had created the world? Was it not Atman, him, the only one, the all-in-one? Were the gods not forms that had been created like you and me, subject to time, mortal? So was it good to make sacrifice to the gods, was it proper, was it a meaningful and elevated act? Whom else would you make sacrifice to, whom else should you offer your veneration to other than Him, the one and only, Atman? And where was Atman to be found, where did He live, where did His eternal heart beat, where else but in the Self, in the Deepest, in the Indestructible that every man carried in himself? But where, where was this Self, this Deepest, this Ultimate? It was not made of flesh and bone, it was not thought or consciousness, that is was the wisest men taught. Where, where was it then? To pierce through to the Self, to me, to Atman - was there any other way worth seeking out? But no-one showed him this way, no-one knew it, not his father, not his teachers or the wise men, not the sacred songs of sacrifice! They knew everything, the brahmins and their holy books, knew everything, they had made great efforts into everything and into more than everything, the creation of the world, the origins of speech, food, breathing in and breathing out, the hierarchy of sins, the acts of the gods - their knowledge was boundless - but was it worth knowing all of this when there was one single thing they did not know, the thing of highest importance, the only thing of importance?
It was true that many verses in the holy scriptures, magnificent verses such as the Upanishads of the Samaveda, spoke of this deepest and ultimate thing. “Your soul is the entire world,” was written there, and it was written that man in his sleep, deep sleep, enters into his deepest part and lives in Atman. Great wisdom was written in these verses, all the knowledge of the wisest was collected here and presented in words of magic, as pure as the honey collected from the bees. No, the enormous amount of knowledge here, assembled and preserved through countless generations of wise brahmins, was not to be under-valued. - but where were the brahmins, where were the priests, where were the wise men and the penitents who had succeeded not only in learning this deepest wisdom but in living it? Where was the gifted one who, by his magic, would draw the essence of Atman out of its sleep and make it alert, something that was alive in its coming and going, in word and deed? Siddhartha knew many venerable brahmins, most of all he knew his father, the pure one, the learned one, the most venerable of all. His father was an admirable man, quiet and noble in his manner, pure his life, wise his words, in his brow lived fine and noble thoughts - but even he, who had so much knowledge; Did he live in holiness, was he at peace, was he, too, not just another seeker, just another thirsty one? Did he not, over and again, need to go to the well to assuage his thirst, did he not need to make sacrifice, read books and debate his beliefs with the brahmins? Why did he, the immaculate one, need to wash his sins away every day, strive to become pure every day, every day again and again? Was Atman not a part of him, did the source not flow into his heart? The source of all things had to be found, the source within us all, it had to be taken into ourselves! All else was mere seeking, mere straying from the path, mere delusion.
These were the thoughts of Siddhartha, this was his thirst, this was his sorrow.
He would often recite the words from one of the Chandogya Upanishads: “Forsooth, the name of Brahman is Satyam - forsooth, he who knows such things goeth daily into the world of Heaven.” The world of Heaven often seemed near to him, but he had never quite been able to reach it, never been able to quench the ultimate thirst. And from all the wise men he knew, even from the wisest of all, whose teachings he enjoyed, there was not one who ever had quite reached it, the world of Heaven, which would have quenched the ultimate thirst for him.
“Govinda,” said Siddhartha to his friend, “Govinda, dear friend, come with me under the banyan tree, we have to nurture our skill of contemplation.”
They went to the Banyan tree, they sat down beneath it, Siddhartha here and, twenty paces away, sat Govinda. As he sat down in preparedness to utter the word ‘Om,’ Siddhartha repeatedly muttered the verse:
After they had practised contemplation for their usual length of time Govinda stood. The evening had come, it was time to wash in preparation for the evening. He called out Siddhartha’s name. Siddhartha gave no answer. Siddhartha sat deep in contemplation, his eyes were fixed on a greatly distant object, the tip of his tongue protruded slightly from between his teeth, he seemed not to be breathing. So he sat, engrossed in contemplation, his mind fixed on Om, his soul as the arrow sent out to Brahman.
One day samanas came through the town where Siddhartha lived, travelling ascetics, three men wizened and close to death, neither old nor young, their shoulders were bloody and dusty, they were nearly naked and they were scorched by the sun, an air of loneliness about them, alien to this world and the enemy of the world, strangers, emaciated jackals in the empire of man. The odour of quiet suffering blew in from behind them, of service that destroyed, of pitiless loss of self.
That evening, after their hour of contemplation, Siddhartha said to Govinda, “Tomorrow morning, my friend, Siddhartha will go to the samanas. He will become a samana.”
When Govinda heard these words and saw the unshakable resolution in his friend’s face he turned pale. Siddhartha could no more be dissuaded from his course than the arrow speeding from the bow. Just as soon as he saw this, Govinda knew that this was where it started, Siddhartha would now go on his way, now his destiny would begin to grow, and with Siddhartha’s destiny so would Govinda’s. And he became as pale as a dried banana skin.
Oh, Siddhartha,” he exclaimed, “will your father allow that?”
Siddhartha looked back at him as one who was awakening. With the speed of an arrow he saw the fear, saw the resignation in Govinda’s soul.
“Oh, Govinda,” he said gently, “let us not waste words. Tomorrow, at the break of day, I will embark on the life of a samana. Let us talk no more about it.”
Siddhartha went into the room where his father sat on a raffia mat and stood behind him until his father could feel that he was there. The brahmin said, “Is that you, Siddhartha? Say what it is you have come to tell me.”
Siddhartha answered, “If you will allow it, father, I have come to tell you that I have been called on to leave your house in the morning and to go among the ascetics. It is my vocation to become a samana. I hope my father will not be opposed to this.”
The brahmin was silent, and remained silent so long that, before the silence in the room came to an end, the stars outside the little window had moved across the sky and formed new shapes. His son remained there, speechless and immobile, his arms crossed, the father sat there on the mat, speechless and immobile, while the stars made their way across the sky. Finally, Siddhartha’s father spoke. “It is not seemly for a brahmin to speak loud and angry words, but my heart is moved to oppose this. I do not want to hear this request from your mouth a second time.”
Slowly, the brahmin got to his feet, Siddhartha stood in silence, his arms crossed.
“What are you waiting for?” his father asked.
Siddhartha said, “You know what I am waiting for.”
Displeased, his father left the room, displeased he went to his bed and lay himself down.
An hour passed, as no sleep came to his eyes, the brahmin stood up, paced to and fro, left the house. He looked in through the little window of the room, there he saw Siddhartha standing, his arms crossed, unchanged. His upper clothing shone palely. Unease in his heart, Siddhartha’s father went back to his bed.
Another hour passed, as no sleep came to his eyes, the brahmin stood up again, paced to and fro, went to the front of the house, saw that the moon had risen. He looked in through the little window of the room, there he saw Siddhartha standing, resolute, his arms crossed, moonlight reflecting from his bare legs. With worry in his heart, Siddhartha’s father went back to his bed.
He came again after an hour, and came again after two hours, looked in at the little window, saw Siddhartha standing there, in the moonlight, in the starlight, in the darkness. He came again hour after hour, in silence, looked into the room, saw the resolute one standing there, it filled his heart with anger, filled his heart with anxiety, filled his heart with doubts, filled it with sorrow.
And in the last hour of the night, before the day began, he went back again, entered the room, saw the young man standing there. He seemed great to him, and like a stranger.
“Siddhartha,” he said, “what is it you are waiting for?”
“You know what I am waiting for.”
“Will you persist in standing like this and waiting until day comes, midday comes, evening comes?”
“I will stand and wait.”
“You will become tired, Siddhartha.”
“I will become tired.”
“You will fall asleep, Siddhartha.”
“I will not fall asleep.”
“You will die, Siddhartha.”
“I will die.”
“And would you rather die than do as your father tells you?”
“Siddhartha has always done as his father has told him.”
“So will you give up this idea?”
“Siddhartha will do as his father says.”
The first rays of daylight fell into the room. The brahmin saw that Siddhartha’s knees were trembling slightly. He saw no tremble in Siddhartha’s face, his eyes fixed on the far distance. Then his father realised that Siddhartha was no longer with him in his native country, that he had already left him.
His father touched Siddhartha’s shoulder.
“You will go into the woods and become a samana,” he said. “If you find holiness in the woods come and teach me about holiness. If you find disappointment come back and we can make sacrifices to the gods together again. Now go and kiss your mother, tell her where you’re going. For me, it is time now to go down to the river and start the first washing of the day.”
He took his hand off his son’s shoulder and went out. Siddhartha staggered to one side as he tried to walk. He forced his limbs to do as he wanted, bowed to his father and went to his mother to do as his father had told him.
The town, in the light of early morning, was still quiet as Siddhartha walked out of it, moving slowly on his stiff legs. As he passed the last hut a shadow rose from where it had been crouching and approached the pilgrim - Govinda.
“You have come,” said Siddhartha with a smile.
“I have come,” said Govinda.
They reached the samanas that evening, the emaciated samanas, and offered them their company and their obedience. They were accepted.
Siddhartha had given his coat to a poor brahmin on the way there. All he wore now were his loin cloth and an earth coloured, untailored cloak. He ate just once a day and never had cooked food. He fasted for fifteen days. He fasted for twenty-eight days. The flesh disappeared from his limbs and his cheeks. Feverish dreams flickered from his bulging eyes, the nails grew long on his desiccated fingers, a dry, unkempt beard. When he encountered a woman his eyes became icy; his mouth twitched with contempt when he entered a town and saw the people in their fine clothes. He saw businessmen doing business, he saw noblemen go hunting, he saw the bereaved grieving for their dead, whores offering their bodies, doctors taking care of the sick, priests saying when to sow crops, lovers loving, mothers feeding their babies - and none of this was worth a glance from him, all was lies, everything stank, everything stank of lies, everything made a pretence of good sense and happiness and beauty, all was in decay and none could see it. The world tasted bitter. Life was a torment.
Siddhartha had but one objective: to empty himself, to empty himself of thirst, of desire, of dreams, empty himself of joy and sorrow. To die away from himself, to no longer be himself, to find peace by emptying his own heart, to stand open to the miracle by alienating his own thoughts, that was his objective. Once the whole of his self had been overcome and destroyed, once every need and every drive of his heart was silent, that was when the ultimate had to wake, the deepest part of his being, that which is no longer the self, the great secret.
Siddhartha stood silent in the vertical glare of the Sun, aglow with pain, aglow with thirst, and he stood there till he no longer felt pain nor thirst. He stood silent in the time of rains with the water flowing from his hair onto his icy cold shoulders, over his icy cold hips and legs, and the penitent remained standing there till his shoulders and his legs no longer felt icy cold, till they became silent, till they were at peace. He crouched silent in the thorny bushes, blood dropping from his burning skin, pus dropping from his wounds, and Siddhartha remained rigid, remained motionless, till the blood no longer flowed, till the thorns no longer pierced his skin, till nothing more burned him.
Siddhartha sat up straight and learned to control his breath, learned to need little air, learned to stop his breath. He learned, starting with his breath, to still the beats of his heart, learned to reduce the beats of his heart till they became fewer and then till there were almost none.
Siddhartha was taught by the eldest of the samanas, he trained in losing the self, he trained in contemplation, learned new samana rules. A heron flew out of the bamboo forest - and Siddhartha took the heron into his soul, he flew over the woods and mountains, he was a heron, he ate fish, he hungered as a heron hungers, he spoke the heron language, he died the death of a heron. A dead jackal lay on the sand by the water, and Siddhartha’s soul slipped into the corpse, he was entirely a jackal, he lay on the shore, he bloated with gas, he stank, he decayed, he was torn apart by hyenas, he lost his skin to the vultures, he became a skeleton, became dust, blew in the wind that crossed the meadows. And Siddhartha’s soul came back to him, died, decayed, crumbled, it had tasted the dark inebriation of the circle of life, again endured thirst like the hunter in the wasteland where the circle of life might be left behind, where cause and effect ended, where eternity without pain began. He brought death to his senses, brought death to his memory, slipped out of his own self and into a thousand alien forms, he was an animal, was carrion, was stone, was wood, was water, and each time found himself ever more aware, light of sun or moon, became again himself, swang in the circle, felt thirst, overcame the thirst, felt the thirst anew.
Among the samanas Siddhartha learned many things, he learned many ways to leave his self behind. He learned the way of self-alienation by pain, by voluntary suffering and how to overcome pain, hunger, thirst, fatigue. He travelled on the way of self-alienation by meditation, by removing from his thoughts any sense that he was perceiving what presented itself to him. This he learned, and he learned many other ways to travel, he left his self behind a thousand times, he persisted in the not-self for hours, for days. But although these ways led him away from his self they always, at the end, led him back to it. Siddhartha fled from his self a thousand times, spent time in nothingness, in the animal, in a stone, but he was never able to prevent his return, the hour of his return was not avoidable, and he would find himself, once again, in the light of the sun or the moon, in shade or in rain, and Siddhartha and his self were there once again, once again the suffering of the circle of life was placed upon him.
At his side lived Govinda, his shadow, travelling the same road, undergoing the same trials. They seldom spoke to each other, only when it was needed for their service and their exercises. At times they would go together to the villages in order to beg for food for themselves and their teachers.
“What do you think, Govinda,” Siddhartha once asked him as they were on their way to beg. “Do you think we have made any progress? Have we reached any of our targets?”
Govinda answered, “We have learned things, and we continue to learn. You will be a great samana, Siddhartha. You have learned every exercise very quickly, and the old samanas have been amazed at you. One day, Siddhartha, you will be a holy man.”
Siddhartha said, “That is not how I see it, my friend. All that I have learned so far I could have learned much faster and much easier in any bar where the whores are, my friend, among all the cheats and the gamblers.”
Govinda said, “That is what you say, my friend, but you know that Siddhartha is not some cattle driver, and that a samana is not some drunkard. The drunk can numb his senses, he can find escape and rest for a short time, but then he comes back from his stupor and finds that all is as it was before. He makes himself no wiser, he has gathered no knowledge any sort, he has climbed not one step higher.”
Siddhartha smiled and said, “I don’t know, I’ve never been a drunkard. But I do know that in all my exercises and contemplations I have only ever found a brief respite from suffering, and remained just as far away from wisdom and liberation as a child in its mother’s womb. I do know that, Govinda, I do know that.”
Another time, when Siddhartha and Govinda came out of the woods together and down to the village to beg for food for their brothers and teachers, Siddhartha began to speak and said, “What about now, Govinda, do you think we are on the right path? Are we getting any closer to knowledge? Are we getting any closer to liberation? Or are we just going round in circles - we, who are trying to escape the circle of life?”
Govinda said, “We have learnt many things, Siddhartha, and there is still a lot more to learn. We are not going round in circles, we are mounting higher, the circle is a spiral, we have already climbed up many steps.”
Siddhartha answered, “How old do you think our eldest samana is, our venerable teacher?”
Govinda said, “He must be about sixty, our eldest samana.”
And Siddhartha, “He has reached the age of sixty, and he still has not reached Nirvana. He will be seventy, and then eighty, and you and me, we will become old in the same way and we will do our exercises, and we will fast, and we will meditate. But we will never reach Nirvana, he will not, we will not. Govinda, of all the samanas that there are, I do not think any one of them is likely to reach Nirvana. We find consolation, we find respite from pain, we learn the skills with which we deceive ourselves. But that which is essential, the way of ways, that is what we are not finding.”
“Do not utter such shocking words, Siddhartha!” said Govinda. “We are among so many learned men, so many brahmins, so many strict and venerable samanas, so many seekers, so many who strive with such effort, so many holy men; how could it be that none of these finds the way of ways?”
But Siddhartha replied in a voice that was sad as much as it was mocking, a gentle voice, a somewhat sad voice, somewhat mocking, “Soon now, Govinda, your friend will be leaving the way of the samanas along which he has travelled so far with you. I suffer from thirst, Govinda, and my thirst has not become any the less on this long way of the samanas. I have always been thirsty for knowledge, always been full of questions. I questioned the brahmins year after year, I sought knowledge in the holy vedas year after year, and I put questions to the pious samanas year after year. Perhaps, Govinda, it would have been just as good, just as clever and just as healing to go and put questions to the rhinoceros birds or the chimpanzees. I have taken much time to learn this, Govinda, and I am still not at the end of it, I have learned that learning is impossible! I believe that in fact there is nothing in anything that we could call ‘learning.’ There is only a kind of knowledge that is everywhere, my friend, and that is Atman. Atman is in me and in everything else that has existence. And so now I am beginning to believe that this knowledge has no worse enemy than the pursuit of knowledge, than learning.”
At this, Govinda stopped walking, raised his hands and said, “Siddhartha, please do not make your friend anxious with talk like this! What you are saying really does make me anxious in my heart. Think what you are saying; where would that leave the holiness of prayer, where would that leave the dignity of being a brahmin, where would that leave the holiness of the samanas if it were as you say, if it were not possible ever to learn?! Siddhartha, where would that leave anything on Earth that is holy or valuable or venerable?!”
Govinda quietly muttered a verse, a verse from one of the Upanishads:
The purest soul that deeply thinks and sinks itself in Atman, His blessed heart will have no words to tell it to the world.
Siddhartha, though, remained silent. He thought about the words that Govinda had just said to him, he thought about the words to their end.
Yes, he thought as he stood there with his head lowered, what would be left of all the things that seem holy to us? What would remain? What would be preserved? And he shook his head.
At an earlier time, when the two young men had lived with the samanas, and performed their exercises together for about three years, there came to them through many ways and turnings a message, a rumour, saying; One has appeared that will be called Gotama, the noble one, the buddha. He will have overcome the pain of the world in himself and brought the wheel of rebirth to a halt. With his followers he travels through the land, teaching as he goes, without property, without a home, without a wife, wearing the yellow garb of an ascetic but with joy on his brow, a holy man, and brahmans and princes bow their knee to him and become his pupils.
This legend, this rumour, this folk tale sounded out, raised itself like a scent far and wide, brahmins spoke of it in the cities, samanas spoke of it in the woods, the name of Gotama, the buddha, was repeated over and again in the ears of the young, in the good and in the evil, in praise and in contempt.
As when the plague is raging through a country and a rumour arises that somewhere there is a man, a wise man, a knowledgeable man whose word and whose breath alone is enough to heal anyone afflicted with it, when this rumour spreads through the land and all are talking of it, many believe it, many doubt it, but many set themselves straight on the road to seek out this wise man who can help them, so it was with the fragrant rumour of Gotama, the buddha, the wise man from the line of the sakyas. He possessed, so the believers said, the highest enlightenment, he remembered his previous lives, he had attained nirvana and would never more come back to the cycle of rebirth, never more submerge in the dark waters that carried the forms of the lower world. Many things majestic and incredible were reported of him, he had performed miracles, had overcome the Devil, had spoken with the gods. His enemies, however, and those who did not believe, said that this Gotama was a vain seducer, he spent his days in comfort, despised the acts of sacrifice, was without learning and performed neither exercise nor self-castigation.
Sweet was this legend of the buddha, magical was the aroma of these rumours. Diseased was the world, hard to bear was life - and look, there appeared to flow water from a new spring, a call of good news seemed to be heard, reassuring, mild, and full of noble promises. Everywhere that the rumour of the buddha was heard, in every part of the lands of India, the young men listened, felt longing, felt hope, and every pilgrim or stranger who came to the sons of brahmins in the towns and villages with news of him, the noble one, the sakyamuni, was welcome.
This legend even penetrated into the woods where the samanas lived, even to Siddhartha, even to Govinda, slowly, drop by drop, each drop laden with hope, each drop laden with doubt. They seldom spoke of it, as the eldest of the samanas was no friend of this legend. He had been taught that anyone who seemed to be a buddha had first become an ascetic and lived in the woods, and only then returned to the world of comfort and gaiety, and he had no faith in this Gotama at all.
“Siddhartha,” said Govinda to his friend one day. “I was in the village today and a brahman invited me into his house, and in his house was a brahmin’s son from Magadha who had seen this buddha with his own eyes and listened to his teachings. At that, the very breath in my lungs truly caused me pain and I thought: I too would like, both of us, Siddhartha and I, would like to experience these teachings, to learn from the mouth of one who had attained perfection! Tell me, my friend, should we not go and learn from the mouth of this buddha himself?”
Siddhartha answered, “Oh, Govinda, I had always thought Govinda would stay with the samanas, it was always my belief that it was his objective to live to the age of sixty or seventy and always practise the arts and exercises that the samanas display. But look at me now, I did not know Govinda well enough, I knew little of his heart. But now, dear friend, now you want to set out on a new path and go there, where the buddha spreads his teachings.”
Govinda answered, “You like to laugh at me. I hope you always keep laughing, Siddhartha! But do you not also feel the desire to hear these teachings rising within you, the wish to hear what is said? And did you not once say to me that you would not stay for long among the samanas to follow their way?”
At this Siddhartha laughed, in his way of laughing that took on a shadow of sorrow and a shadow of mockery, and said, “Quite right, Govinda, what you say is quite right, you have remembered it rightly. But maybe you should also remember something else you heard from me, that I had become tired and mistrustful of teachings and learning, and that my beliefs have little faith in the words that come to us from teachers. But anyway, my friend, I am willing to come and hear these teachings - even though, in my heart, I think we have already tasted the best fruits of them.”
Govinda answered, “Your readiness brings joy to my heart. But tell me, how can that be possible? How could the teachings of Gotama have given us their best fruits even before we have tasted them?”
Siddhartha answered, “Let us enjoy these fruits and wait to see what happens, Govinda! But we can already be thankful to Gotama in that his fruits are calling us away from the samanas! Perhaps he has other fruit to offer, and better fruit my friend. Let us keep peace in our hearts and wait to see if this is so.”
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