The Bhagavad Gita And The Library Of Babel

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Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges was removed from the origin of The Bhagavad-Gita by thousands of years and miles, yet his works bear remarkable similarities to The Gita’s teachings. Specifically, Borges’ short stories, “The Immortal” and “The Library of Babel,” reflect and parallel the teachings of the sacred Hindu text, The Bhagavad-Gita, namely, its assertion that desire creates suffering and inhibits the pursuit of knowledge, and its perspective that divinity and spirituality can be found through language.
One of the core concepts of The Bhagavad-Gita is the belief that desire begets suffering. This is exemplified in The Gita, when Lord Krishna states, “since he knows that discipline / means unbinding the bonds of suffering, he should
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In The Gita when Lord Krishna reveals his true form to Arjuna he states, “of words, I am the eternal syllable, OM” (10.25) he then goes on to proclaim, “I am the vowel a of the syllabary, / the pairing of words in a compound” (10.29) Lord Krishna’s equation of himself to letters, syllables and words demonstrates the presence of his divinity within language. Additionally, his comparison of himself to all aspects and units of language, letter, word, compound etc. highlights how completely he and his sacredness are embedded in language. Beyond these direct comparisons, the use of the adjective “eternal,” with its connotation of grandeur and the infinite, to describe the syllable OM, highlights the sacred and everlasting nature of language. The Gita’s ideas surrounding the presence of the sacred in language are demonstrated in “The Library of Babel” when the narrator proclaims, “There is no syllable that one can speak that is not filled with tenderness and terror, that is not, in one of those languages, the mighty name of god” (117). Borges’ use of the adjectives, “tenderness and terror,” two deeply moving and emotional concepts, demonstrates the strength and power of words, as well as their ability to touch people in a meaningful way. By expanding on this definition and relating syllables to “the mighty name of god,” Borges further reinforces the power of language and incorporates the same presence of divinity as described in The Gita. Moreover, the phrase “no syllable” further parallels The Gita by demonstrating the totality and universality of the presence of the sacred in language. Overall, Borges description of the Library of Babel and the nature and significance of the works contained therein bear remarkable similarities to Lord Krishna’s description of himself and his all-encompassing presence in

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