The book, Hesse's ninth novel, was written in German, in a simple, yet powerful and lyrical, style. It was first published in 1922, after Hesse had spent some time in India in the 1910s. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s.
"Siddhartha" means "he who has attained his goals" or "every wish fulfilled". The Buddha's name, before his renunciation, was Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha. The main character of Siddhartha in the book is not the same person as the Buddha, who in the book goes by the name "Gotama".
Experience is the aggregate of conscious events experienced by a human in life – it connotes participation, learning and perhaps knowledge. Understanding is comprehension and internalization. In Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, experience is shown as the best way to approach understanding of reality and attain enlightenment – Hesse’s crafting of Siddhartha’s journey shows that understanding is attained not through scholastic, mind-dependent methods, nor through immersing oneself in the carnal pleasures of the world and the accompanying pain of samsara; however, it is the totality of these experiences that allow Siddhartha to attain understanding.