, the son of a Brahmin, a Hindu Priest, and his best friend,
, have grown up
learning the ways of the Brahmins. Everyone in their village loves Siddhartha. But although he
brings joy to everyone's life, Siddhartha feels little joy himself. He is troubled by restless dreams
and begins to suspect that he has learned all that his father and the other Brahmins can teach him.
Siddhartha's search for a new path leads him to seek out and join the ascetic Samanas. As a
faithful friend and kindred spirit, Govinda accompanies him.
As Samanas, the pair of friends relinquish all of their possessions and practice mortification of
the flesh, especially through fasting. Siddhartha sought out pain because when pain looses its
power over one's body, the Self fades into oblivion and peace is attained. But while pain soon
becomes a memory, peace does not come. Ultimately, Siddhartha reasons that one cannot really
learn anything from teachers or the doctrines they espouse. The knowledge he seek lies within, in
Atman, the element of the divine within him.
Three years after joining the Samanas, Siddhartha and Govinda hear rumors of a great man,
Goatama, the Illustrious, the Buddha, who wanders the country preaching the way to
enlightenment. Siddhartha and Govinda travel to Savathi, where they discover that the Buddha is
staying in Jetavana, in the garden of Anathapindika. The two men hear Gotama's sermon, after
which Govinda announces his intention to join in Goatama's discipleship. Siddhartha commends
Govinda for his decision, but refuses to join himself.
The next day, Govinda takes his monk's robe and bids Siddhartha a sad farewell. As Siddhartha is
leaving, he runs into Goatama in the woods. Despite his awe, Siddhartha gathers the courage to
speak to the Buddha. Siddhartha compliments the theoretical coherence of Gotama's worldview,
the ultimate unity of creation and the incessant chain of causes and effects, but argues that
Goatama's doctrine of salvation, the transcendence of causation, calls into question the
consistency of his position. Goatama responds that he does not seek to explain the world but to
achieve salvation from suffering. Judging it by the former standard is inappropriate. Siddhartha
says he must find salvation on his own, and the Buddha wishes him well in his quest.