Summary and Analysis Part 2: Om



This sequence begins with the wound motif and traces Siddhartha's recovery from the sickness he felt because of his son. Its primary material concerns the sense of simultaneity and unity within Siddhartha, expressed by the river's utterance of OM. It ends with Siddhartha's succeeding Vasudeva as the ferryman of the river.

Still suffering from his wound, Siddhartha hears the sublime laugh of the river. He sees his face reflected in the river and he recognizes his father in it, thereby effecting a unity with his father, who also experienced Siddhartha's "wound." Siddhartha's solitary meditation beside the river is broken by a compelling desire to go to Vasudeva, to confess his wound and its source to Vasudeva, and to disclose his guilt feelings. Vasudeva, the sublime listener whose very presence is transcendent, becomes like the river itself; Siddhartha's baring his soul to him has the effect of bathing his wound in the river. Vasudeva tells Siddhartha that, even though he has heard the ten thousand voices of the river and its laugh, he will hear yet something more from it. Siddhartha then sees many pictures and hears a voice of sorrow in the river. As he watches and listens, the text moves into a beautiful lyric passage embodying the liquid, eternal feel of the river itself. Siddhartha now feels that he has completely mastered the art of listening as he listens further and hears the voices of the river coalesce into perfection: OM. Following this experience, he sees Vasudeva's smile and realizes that his wound has healed.

Back to Top