Kamala is the beautiful and wealthy courtesan whom Siddartha approaches as he seeks to expand his understanding of the self by awakening his worldly senses. Believing that an individual must be equally in touch with their mind and body to achieve enlightenment, Siddhartha asks Kamala to instruct him in love, a sensation of which his previous life as an ascetic deprived him. For him, she represents the epitome of worldliness as she seems to emphasize her physical attractiveness and ostentatious lifestyle above all else. Kamala is aware of how desirable she is among the men of the city, and the value she places on wealth emerges as she explains to Siddartha that he must have “pretty clothes” and “lots of money” to be with her. Despite Kamala’s alluring qualities, however, she does not function as an archetypal temptress character. Rather than using her beauty to distract Siddartha from his quest, her sensuality actually supports his goal of discovering his own senses. Their relationship allows him to experience the realities of living a worldly life, a lesson which ultimately shows him that following his sensual desires alone cannot bring him to enlightenment. 

For as much as Kamala teaches Siddhartha about love, his past experiences and search for inner peace also influence the way she sees the world. She may initially mock Siddhartha’s Samana background, but as they spend more time together, his contemplative nature allows her to consider her own sense of self. The fact that Kamala smiles when she points out Siddhartha’s tendency to express Samanan thoughts suggests that she respects this side of him even though it prevents him from truly loving her. Through both his dedication to his quest and discussions of spirituality, Kamala learns that a deeper, more meaningful life exists beyond the superficial materialism of the city. Siddhartha ultimately guides Kamala on her own spiritual path as she becomes a follower of Gotama in his absence, a shift which reflects the mutually beneficial nature of their relationship. 

Despite the fact that Siddhartha eventually leaves the city and the worldly life he built there, Kamala continues to play a critical role in his journey to enlightenment by providing him with a son. The struggle between father and son emerges as the final obstacle with which Siddhartha must contend in order to achieve enlightenment, and Kamala’s death ultimately makes this tension possible by bringing them together. Although Hesse sacrifices her character in order to give Siddhartha the chance to reach his goal, he does allow Kamala to find peace in her final moments. She may not be able to meet the dying Buddha as she had hoped, but reuniting with a wiser and more enlightened Siddhartha gives her the spiritual fulfillment to which she aspired.