How does Siddhartha finally reach enlightenment?

After his experiences with the Brahmins, the Samanas, Gotama, and the childlike people of Kamala’s town, Siddhartha returns to the river and Vasudeva, the ferryman, to find peace. He spends years working alongside Vasudeva but struggles to cope with his son’s rejection of him. With Vasudeva’s help, however, Siddhartha comes to realize that his son needs to find his own path in life, just as he has. They listen to the river together, and as Siddhartha hears the thousands of voices of the river blend together, he finally understands and embraces the oneness of the universe.

What does the river symbolize?

The river serves as a powerful symbol of the oneness of the universe, or the sense that all aspects of life equally contribute to a singular and eternal kind of divine perfection. Rather than viewing the world through a binary lens, understanding the river as an entity which is simultaneously always changing and always constant allows Siddhartha to find unity and harmony within his own spirit. The river, which Hesse often personifies in order to reflect its emotional impact, helps Siddhartha connect with both nature and humanity while also emphasizing the timelessness of human existence.

Why does Vasudeva leave Siddhartha at the end of the novel?

Once he has helped Siddhartha hear the voices of the river that enable him to achieve enlightenment, Vasudeva announces that he will leave and go into the forests, or “into the oneness.” Although Hesse offers little explanation of this choice, the fact that the name Vasudeva also refers to the human incarnation of Vishnu, a Hindu god, suggests that the ferryman can move on once he has helped Siddhartha achieve inner peace. Vasudeva becomes reintegrated into the oneness of the universe from which he came, leaving Siddhartha to guide the next wanderer on their journey to enlightenment.