For some characters in Siddhartha, time doesn’t exist. After listening to the river, Siddhartha’s biggest insight is that time is an illusion, and that life is not a continuum of events, but instead omnipresent. Eternity springs from the world’s unity. Understanding the past and the future as part of the present is a major component of achieving enlightenment.
Govinda’s sense of spiritual urgency and desperation in the last chapter of the novel results from his limited understanding of time.