Rasib Mehmood, Shaheen Khan, and Kainat Zafar

Dr Rasib Mehmood is teaching at the International Islamic University, Islamabad, and serving as a research supervisor at the Foundation University, Islamabad.

Dr Shaheen Khan is Advisor Learning Innovation at the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Islamabad.

Ms Kainat Zafar is teaching at Bahria University Islamabad.

DOI: http://DOI Number

Keywords: Siddhartha, Gautama Buddha, German writer,  Eastern followers, Westernize, visionary, divine powers, reason, experience, superstitious reverence, epistemological claims, postcolonial world, implications


Siddhartha, a novel written in 1992 by a German author Herman Hesse, is an appropriation and re-telling of the Gautama Buddha’s story of enlightenment in a much simplified manner. The novel has mystified its readers and critics everywhere in the world. This is because Gautama Buddha’s life history has been appropriated by a German writer in ways that not only personalise and naturalise what the Eastern followers of Gautama Buddha might consider ‘revelation’ but also Westernise it to a great extent. The East considers the Buddha as a visionary religious leader with divine powers, but Hesse has shown him as a modern man who validated his own experience, observation, and analysis over others and tradition. So Hesse’s Siddhartha is a triumph of ‘reason’ and ‘experience’ over superstitious reverence for the supernatural. This view or perception of the Buddha has implications for the epistemological claims of the postcolonial world. This paper aims to explore, argue, and establish the hidden implications of Hesse’s Siddhartha for the postcolonial world we inhabit.

First Published

June 25, 2017

How to Cite

Rasib Mehmood, Shaheen Khan, and Kainat Zafar,“Appropriation and Fictionalisation of Buddha’s Life by the West,” Regional Studies 35, no.3 (Summer 2017): 25-36, https://regionalstudies.com.pk/wp/article/appropriation-and-fictionalisation-of-buddhas-life-by-the-west/


Volume 35, Issue 3