Oppenheimer Bhagavad Gita Quote in the Movie “Oppenheimer”

With the glow of the Oscars still shining I thought I would post the following

As he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, a piece of Hindu scripture…the Gita chapter 11 ran through the mind of Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” (Chapter 11 verse 32). It is, perhaps, the most well-known line from the Bhagavad-Gita, but also the most misunderstood. Anyone who has heard or studied with davidji, knows his favorite verse from the Gita is Chapter 2 verse 47 through verse 49. If you look at these sections, you realize that Oppenheimer quote is out of context and leads to the misunderstanding.

Krishna had explained to Arjuna the concept of “dharma” or doing one’s duty in Chapter 2 verse 47:” You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction. Later in the chapter he goes on: This equanimity is yoga. (actual Sanskrit is Yogasta Karu Karmani another translation “Established in the present take action”)

Action is far inferior to the yoga of insight, Arjuna. Pitiful are those who, acting, are attached to their action’s fruits.The wise man lets go of all results, whether good or bad, and is focused on the action alone. Yoga is skill in actions.Below is a discussion I found on the internet after first hearing the Oppenheimer quote. I apologize for not noting the author, however his “take” seems right on if you consider both Chapters.“In Hinduism, which has a non-linear concept of time, the great god is not only involved in the creation, but also the dissolution. In verse thirty-two, Krishna speaks the line brought to global attention by Oppenheimer. “The quotation ‘Now I am becomedeath, the destroyer of worlds’, is literally the world-destroying time,” explains Thompson, adding that Oppenheimer’s Sanskrit teacher chose to translate “world-destroying time” as “death”, a common interpretation. Its meaning is simple: irrespective of what Arjuna does, everything is in the hands of the divine.”Arjuna is a soldier, he has a duty to light. Krishna not Arjuna will determine who lives and who dies and Arjuna should neither mourn nor rejoice over what fate has in store, but should be sublimely unattached to such results,” says Thompson. “And ultimately the most important thing is he should be devoted to Krishna. His faith will save Arjuna’s soul.” But Oppenheimer, seemingly, was never able to achieve this peace. “In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatements can quite extinguish,” he said two years after the Trinity explosion, “the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”

Also, if you look at the second sentence of Chapter 11verse 32 and the follow verse you can see the direct connection better Chapter 2 verse 47 through 49 and Chapter 11 verses 32 & 33.Chapter 11 verse 32: The Supreme Lord said: I am mighty Time, the source of destruction that comes forth to annihilate the worlds. Even without your participation, the warriors arrayed in the opposing army shall cease to exist.

Chapter11 verse 33 “Therefore, arise and attain honor! Conquer your foes and enjoy prosperous rulership. These warriors stand already slain by Me, and you will only be an instrument of My work, O expert archer.

Maybe Krishna’s admonition is appropriate for Oppenheimer: “Pitiful are those who, acting, are attached to their action’s fruits”.

Yogasta Karu Karmani! Estabish Yourself in the Present then take Action!

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