Kamala Feraco Search for Human Potential 17 October 2011 Siddhartha “Kamala” begins with Siddhartha heading for the river, marveling at the sight of the very things which had always lain within his vision yet never been seen for what they were He resolves to see the beauty in things, and to gain experience for himself Now that he has forsaken teachings, it’s the only kind of educator he can tolerate Siddhartha “Both thought and senses were fine things, behind both of them lay hidden the last meaning; it was worthwhile listening to them both, to play with both, neither to despise nor overrate either of them, but to listen intently to both voices. He would only strive after whatever the inward voice commanded him, not tarry anywhere but where the voice advised him…To obey no other external command, only the voice, to be prepared – that was good, that was necessary. Nothing else was necessary.” Be careful! To follow the inner voice is good…as long as your inner voice doesn’t betray you Siddhartha’s has been good to him Siddhartha Notice he controls himself when he meets the River Girl If Kamala symbolizes desire and passion, she does so while mixed with intelligence The River Girl, on the other hand, represents wanton lust – unfocused fire that’s only enjoyable in the here and now, the ultimate form of suffering-causing desire One cannot live as children do and hope to reach enlightenment; one cannot follow one’s impulses blindly and not be blinded by them Siddhartha Notice he controls himself when he meets the River Girl If Kamala symbolizes desire and passion, she does so while mixed with intelligence The River Girl, on the other hand, represents wanton lust – unfocused fire that’s only enjoyable in the here and now, the ultimate form of suffering-causing desire One cannot live as children do and hope to reach enlightenment; one cannot follow one’s impulses blindly and not be blinded by them Siddhartha Thus Siddhartha sizes up the River Girl and quickly casts her aside, choosing to pursue Kamala (the adult version of desire and passion: controlled, thoughtful, studied, and technical) instead He can resist desire, but decides to become its student instead Whether this is ultimately a mistake is something you should consider while writing your essay! Siddhartha Kamala isn’t a prostitute – really, there’s nothing in Western culture that’s analogous to the powerful, respected role she plays here – but she represents a central problem: the conflation of desire with love Desire is one of love’s components, but it’s not an adequate substitute Kamala herself bears this out, as she forms an emotional bond with Siddhartha (albeit one that’s insufficiently reciprocated) Siddhartha Kamala’s also noteworthy because she essentially goes toeto-toe with Siddhartha in their initial conversation Few others hold themselves as Siddhartha’s equal, and this piques his interest Soon, he’s switching around his identity – his hair, his clothes, etc. – and she’s intrigued not just by his single-mindedness, but by his ability to read and write (marketable skills in the town) Siddhartha Success is within Siddhartha’s grasp, as shown by the kiss Kamala gives him Now he just needs to take it, and he tells her he intends to in his “stone through the water” speech; he’s essentially made his own luck thus far because he knows how to “think, wait, and fast” These are, of course, the three skills he’ll forget by the time he reaches middle age (the “Samsara” chapter) Siddhartha The kiss Kamala gives transmits pleasure, but not love; it’s an incomplete thing As Kamala says, her kiss is “the reason [she is] not lacking in clothes, shoes, bangles, and other pretty things”: she’s mastered one aspect of the material world, and in return she’s been granted access to the rest of it It’s the immaterial world that poses the challenge – a challenge that Kamala ultimately proves she isn’t ready to handle Siddhartha Right now, Siddhartha just needs to master the material world to win her heart – and for that, he’ll have Kamaswami “Soon I will be a merchant and have money and all those things which you value…May my glance always please you, may good fortune always come to me from you!” Siddhartha The Govinda dream – one of the odder parts of the text – marks the way everything Siddhartha has ever known has already subtly begun changing He’s no longer as opposed to the sensory world (maya! desire!) as he once was Note, however, that he’s still in control – he’s a long way from losing himself in these things Siddhartha Here, as elsewhere, there’s a rudimentary recognition of the interconnectedness of everything – “it tasted of woman and man, of sun and forest, of animal and flower, of every fruit, of every pleasure” As for why it’s Govinda in the dream (besides the fact that he’s the most powerful figure in Siddhartha’s life), there’s a foreshadowing justification Siddhartha will “nurse” Govinda’s quest for enlightenment someday, just as Govinda will midwife his rebirth in “By the River” Siddhartha Another important character, Vasudeva, first appears here as well, although he’s four chapters away from receiving a name He hints that one can learn everything by studying the river, and tells Siddhartha that “everything comes back. You, too, will come back.” Will we? Siddhartha Siddhartha fundamentally misjudges Vasudeva when he compares him to Govinda, and in turn all of the others: “All are subservient, all wish to be my friend, to obey and to think little. People are children.” It’s one of the most egregious misreads he could have possibly made, and it conveniently indicates just how little Siddhartha really understands at this point of his life…which is fine. Progress awaits!