Study Guide

Siddhartha Chapter 3

By Hermann Hesse

Chapter 3

  • Siddhartha and Govinda arrive in a Jetavana grove, which is the happening spot for Gotama Buddha.
  • They spend the night; in the morning they find that a massive crowd has gathered to hear the Buddha speak. Siddhartha and Govinda are immediately able to identify the Buddha (he’s the godly one) among the crowd of Yellow-Robed Men. There are a lot of Yellow-Robed Men.
  • The Buddha appears endlessly peaceful, light, quiet, and contented.
  • Although Siddhartha feels there is little new information he can learn from the Buddha’s teachings, he intently studies the Buddha’s behavior.
  • The Buddha teaches all the usual stuff, including the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold path. Govinda asks to be accepted into his community of followers.
  • Govinda is accepted and urges Siddhartha to join him.
  • While Siddhartha recognizes the Buddha’s holiness, he believes enlightenment must be experienced, not taught.
  • The two men stop in the woods to speak with the Buddha.
  • Siddhartha admires the Buddha’s teaching that the world is a complete, unbroken chain of cause and effect. However, he doesn’t understand the doctrine of salvation and escape from the world if in fact the world is eternally one.
  • The Buddha admits the flaw, but reminds Siddhartha that the goal of his teachings is to relieve suffering, not to describe the universe.
  • Siddhartha argues the impossibility of reaching enlightenment via others’ teachings. Enlightenment, Siddhartha says, is something a man must do alone.
  • The Buddha smiles and departs.