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Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2022, 5(16); doi: 10.25236/AJHSS.2022.051605.

Secular Life and Samsara: Symbolic Significance of the River Image in Siddhartha—An Indian Tale


Caixin Yang1, Jiasiyi Zeng2

Corresponding Author:
Caixin Yang

1School of Languages, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, Shanghai, China

2School of Humanities, University of Bologna, Rimini, Italy


Born in the 1870s, Hermann Hesse is one of the most influential writers in the history of European literature and even world literature. The characteristics of Hesse’s works are different from those of other European writers. He was good at deeply integrating religious culture into his works and using religious images to express his philosophical thoughts. As the masterpiece which best expresses Hesse’s religious thought, Siddhartha——An Indian Tale, after its publication in Germany in 1922, has set off a cultural upsurge. The whole book tells a story of Siddhartha, a nobleman of Brahman, after leaving his hometown and going through hardships, pursues selfhood and the supreme doctrine of Brahmanism. In the book, the image “river” appears many times along with the turning point of the Siddhartha’s life, bearing the symbolic significance of secular life and samsara. Literature image of river is the basis of this paper. From the perspective of religious culture, by searching the relevant papers at home and abroad and combining with the relevant religious scriptures, mapping the symbolic significance of the river image in the book to the different religious texts, finally symbolic significance of the river image in the book is found. Also, this paper carries on the deep analysis to the image. This paper not only pays attention to the surface meaning of the image, but also analyzes the symbolic significance of “river” in the novel by combining the characters, the plot and religious culture together.


Siddhartha——An Indian Tale; River image; Symbolic significance; Religious culture; Hermann Hesse

Cite This Paper

Caixin Yang, Jiasiyi Zeng. Secular Life and Samsara: Symbolic Significance of the River Image in Siddhartha—An Indian Tale. Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences (2022) Vol. 5, Issue 16: 32-37. https://doi.org/10.25236/AJHSS.2022.051605.


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