Friday, 28 November 2014

The Journey to the East by Herman Hesse

The novel, written by Herman Hesse in 1932 is  certainly about a spiritual journey.The protagonist is invited on an expedition with the League.The League is a secret society whose members include Paul Klee , Mozart, Pythagoras,Don Quixote,Plato , Baudelaire and other famous characters.The East was the Home of Light,where they hoped to find  the spiritual renewal.The League is a mystical structure,representing the spiritual community through which one gains happiness.
                    One day , the protagonist loses vision as also faith in the League and in his fellow brothers.This happens when a  servant called Leo disappears .Leo is the central character in the book.Leo is a servant who later turns out to be the President of the League.Leo  describes the Law of Service:"He who wishes to live long  must serve, but he who wishes to rule does not live long" After a conversation with Leo about "the law of service" ,the protagonist says his words"left me with a feeling  that this Leo knew all kinds of things ,that he perhaps knew more than us ,who were ostensibly his employers".
                           Time passes and the protagonist  finds out about Leo:"We already have a Leo.Andreas Leo,69a,Seilergraben."This is the "proper Leo but Leo apparently does not remember the protagonist..The latter becomes so frustrated by this that he writes a long letter to Leo.The upshot of this is that  he is taken to the League and finds out that Leo is in fact  the President.
                         The East is a metaphor, not Asia:"We not only wandered through space, but also through Time.We moved towards the East , but we also travelled into the Middle Ages and the Golden Age.
               Leo , the servant is the real leader , and he binds the League with his  service , humility and devotion .The moment he disappears, the  group disintegrates.Hesse  introduced the concept of servant leadership through the character of Leo, which Greenleaf  later developed and enlarged , and wrote many books on  servant leadership. Willingness and ability to serve others   and to  remain humble , define  the essence of true leadership. Just to  understand this single important  truth, you must read this multi-layered book of  93 pages.I will read this book  at least once more.


  1. Servant Leadership...this is something very new in its context.
    Tho we have such examples in our own Raja Janak and Bheeshm Pitamah.
    you encourage love for reading, sir.

    1. Thank you , Lalita.One more example of Servant Leader from India was Vivekanand.