The primary significance of Govinda in the novel as a secondary character is his attaining Nirvana, a growth similar to Siddhartha's, but delayed somewhat because of his function as Siddhartha's "shadow." Govinda is slower to realize that Nirvana does not come after years of study and learning; in contrast, Siddhartha seems already to know this when Govinda joins Gotama Buddha. Their parting at that strategic point serves to reinforce the importance of direct, firsthand experience when they reunite at the river. Govinda has come the way of Siddhartha, but on his own — not as a disciple or as a follower of Siddhartha. Govinda's attaining the transcendent beatific smile and union with the river of life is, therefore, his own. Most important, he has accomplished this in the only way one can — independently.