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Comparative Study of Siddhartha (Hesse) and A Hero of Our Time (Lermontov) - Essay Example

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Ramakrishna Surampudi 23 May 2011 Siddhartha versus Pechorin The attempt to draw an analogy between Gautama Buddha Siddhartha and Pechorin is amusing on the face of it for a simple reason: the two characters are so different that a parallel between them is seemingly ridiculous…
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Comparative Study of Siddhartha (Hesse) and A Hero of Our Time (Lermontov)
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Download file to see previous pages A closer look at the two characters, however, makes several interesting revelations. Siddhartha was born a prince. But he was not happy with what he was and what he saw in the world around him [He was a source of joy for everybody, he was a delight for them all. But, he, Siddhartha, was not a source of joy for himself, he found no delight in himself (Hesse 4)]. He saw no meaning in the traditions and rituals of Hinduism and the Vedic culture, the only religion in India at that time. The curiosity to find the meaning and purpose of human existence made him restless. The same restlessness, radicalism, cynicism and scorn for the existing institutions characterize Pechorin. His flaws not withstanding, it must be said that Pechorin, much like the Buddha, was self-aware and self-absorbed [Pechorin: “Mine is an unfortunate disposition; whether it is the result of my upbringing or whether it is innate – I know not.” (Chapter IX)]. When the world tends to call Siddhartha a saint and Pechorin a nihilist, it indicates that the points where the two began their journeys were close though the points where they ended up might be poles apart. That was bound to be despite a high level of awareness because of the difference where their centers lied. Pechorin was self-centered and Siddhartha was other-centered [Siddhartha: “Once every desire and every urge was silent in the heart, then the ultimate part of me had to awake, the innermost of my being, which is no longer my self, the great secret.” (10)]. One advocated the conscious destruction of desire while the other believed in deliberately destroying the people who came in the way of his fulfillment of desires. Again, for both, these ends were more important than life itself. One of the prescriptions of the Indian asceticism was to starve the body so that the craving for worldly things would gradually be vanquished. Siddhartha had a correction to make. Though he was against overindulgence, his notion was that a tired, inactive body and mind cannot prepare themselves for liberation or salvation unless the basic needs are fulfilled. This is in close proximity to the essence of Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation in which he gives physiological needs the importance that is due to them, but only to that extent. From this perspective, Pechorin has striking clarity as to what the basic needs of humans are. He declares without mincing words that power and lust are fundamental for happiness [Pechorin: “Ambition is nothing more nor less than a thirst for power. To be the cause of suffering and joy to another – without in the least possessing any definite right to be so – isn’t that the sweetest food for our pride? And what is happiness? Satisfied pride.” (Chapter VIII)]. One thing that can be established beyond doubt is that the characters under study were quite different from the rest because of their attitude. At a time when everyone else was content with the way things happened, they were bored with them and begged to differ. This boredom made them set out on their journeys of exploration. They reacted to the events of life in a unique way. Both were unable to identify themselves with their contemporaries. They did not just want to live life but sought to feel life, to experience it. Siddhartha’s renunciation was as much motivated from this desperation as Pechorin’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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