The novel Siddhartha takes place in ancient India, around the time of the Buddha in six century BC. In the first part of the novel Siddhartha lives in comfort as the son of a wealthy Brahmin. In India a Brahmin's life comes with privilege and wealth that Siddhartha feels is in the way of finding peace and enlightenment. He goes against his father’s wishes and decides to give up all of his comfort and worldly possessions to find enlightenment. Siddhartha decides to go into the forest and become a Samana. Siddhartha leaves his home and begins to wander walking through India. Siddhartha gives away his clothes. He only has a loincloth and a crude cloak to wear. He never cooks food, and eats only once a day in the beginning. He discovers poverty, death, disease and pain as he wanders away from his wealthy upbringing. He has been sheltered from since birth from the pain of poverty in India all around him. He discovers that life is suffering. Siddhartha fasts for weeks at a time and lives without any possessions. He begs for food along the way.


After three years in the middle of the book he decides to reenter the world and live in a city. We meets a beautiful prostitute named Kamala. Siddhartha begins working in a business for Kamaswami. He started working in his business so he could bring money to Kamala. He then surrounds himself with material possessions, but he finds that they do not make him happy or enlightened. Siddhartha once again leaves all of his possessions behind to become a ferryman's apprentice. By the end of the book he has learned that the river can teach him enlightenment and fulfillment. By the end of the book he is a ferryman, and he has found inner peace, not from other people, but looking inside himself.