Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse follows the spiritual journey of self-discovery of a man named Siddhartha during the time of the Gautama Buddha. The book was originally written in German, in a simple, lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s.
The word Siddhartha is made up of two Sanskrit words which together mean "he who has found meaning (of existence)" or "he who has attained his goals".
The story takes place in ancient India. Siddhartha, the son of a Brahmin, decides to leave behind his home in the hopes of gaining spiritual illumination by becoming an ascetic wandering beggar of the Samanas. Joined by his best friend Govinda, Siddhartha fasts, becomes homeless, renounces all personal possessions, and intensely meditates, eventually seeking and personally speaking with Gautam, the famous Buddha, or Enlightened One. Afterward, both Siddhartha and Govinda acknowledge the elegance of the Buddha's teachings. Although Govinda hastily joins the Buddha's order, Siddhartha does not follow, claiming that the Buddha's philosophy, though supremely wise, does not account for the necessarily distinct experiences of each person. He argues that the individual seeks an absolutely unique and personal meaning that cannot be presented to him by a teacher; he thus resolves to carry on his quest alone.