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by Hermann Hesse


Character Analysis

Come to the Dark Side... There's Tons of Cash

This guy is basically the Monopoly Man of ancient India. He's Donald Trump on a good hair day. He's greed personified. And Siddhartha, who's chasing enlightenment and truth, decides to... emulate him?

Kamaswami is the wealthy merchant with whom Siddhartha works after discarding the life of a Samana. Kamaswami embodies the qualities that Siddhartha despises as a Samana: Kamaswami is obsessed with wealth and is troubled by petty, everyday problems:

Siddhartha thanked and accepted, and lived in the dealers house from now on. Clothes were brought to him, and shoes, and every day, a servant prepared a bath for him. Twice a day, a plentiful meal was served, but Siddhartha only ate once a day, and ate neither meat nor did he drink wine. Kamaswami told him about his trade, showed him the merchandise and storage-rooms, showed him calculations. Siddhartha got to know many new things, he heard a lot and spoke little. And thinking of Kamala's words, he was never subservient to the merchant, forced him to treat him as an equal, yes even more than an equal. Kamaswami conducted his business with care and often with passion, but Siddhartha looked upon all of this as if it was a game, the rules of which he tried hard to learn precisely, but the contents of which did not touch his heart. (6.25)

When Siddhartha first begins working for Kamaswami, there is a noticeable contrast between the two. As Siddhartha begins to lose his sense of spirituality, however, he becomes increasingly like Kamaswami. Oops. That ain't great for enlightenment.

Kamaswami Timeline