August 2, 2022 Akshanth Gunda

Oppenhiemer and Gita

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On this day, next year, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” will hit the theatres. During the climax of the movie, if you see Cillian Murphy (who plays the protagonist in the movie) in Lord Krishna’s avatar, don’t be surprised. Read on to know why.

The world-renowned theoretical physicist, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was an avid reader and especially he showed very keen interest in Sanskrit literature. If stories are to be believed, he had a large collection of original books written in Sanskrit.

Among the books, Bhagavad Gita was the one that particularly drew his interest towards the metaphorical representation of the real world.

On July 16, 1945, at precisely 5:30 am, the first child of the “Manhattan Project” named “Trinity” was tested at a site located 210 miles south of Los Alamos, New Mexico, on the plains of the Alamogordo Bombing Range.

A plutonium device was detonated on top of a 100 feet high tower, releasing 18.6 kilotons of power that instantly vaporized the tower, sent searing heat across the desert, and turned the surrounding asphalt and sand into green glass.

While the moment marked the start of the Atomic Age, the director of the Manhattan Project, Dr. Oppenheimer, was humming a shloka from Bhagavad Gita.

“Kaalo asmi loka kshaya kritpraviddho” (Chapter 11 shloka 32)

20 years after this defining moment in human civilization, Dr. Oppenheimer, in a television interview said – “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed (immediately after the nuclear explosion), a few people cried. Most people were silent.”.

“I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince (Arjuna) that he should do his duty, and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form, and says: “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”. ”

Though Dr. Oppenheimer envisioned himself as Lord Krishna at the Trinity test site, Krishna would probably not have been worshiped by millions around the world had he not realised the great responsibilities that comes with great power.

 

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