Why Oppenheimer Read the Bhagavad-gita when the First Atomic Bomb Exploded


Jason Gregory – TRANSCEND Media Service

19 Jul 2023

In this episode of Enlightenment Today, I will explain the meaning of the famous line from the Bhagavad Gita that Oppenheimer remembered when the first atomic bomb exploded.

Oppenheimer’s rendition of the verse as ‘I am death’ was, in fact, a misinterpretation–(see text below). — TMS Editor

Chapter 11: The Universal Form – Text 32

sri-bhagavan uvaca
kalo ‘smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddho
lokan samahartum iha pravrttah
rte ‘pi tvam na bhavisyanti sarve
ye ‘vasthitah pratyanikesu yodhah
The Blessed Lord [Krishna] said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [Arjuna and his brothers, the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.
Although Arjuna knew that Krsna was his friend and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was nonetheless puzzled by the various forms exhibited by Krsna. Therefore he asked further about the actual mission of this devastating force. It is written in the Vedas that the Supreme Truth destroys everything, even Brahma. Yasya brahme ca ksatram ca ubhe bhavata odanah/mrtyur yasyopasecanam ka ittha veda yatra sah. Eventually all the brahmanas, ksatriyas and everyone else are devoured by the Supreme. This form of the Supreme Lord is an all-devouring giant, and here Krsna presents Himself in that form of all-devouring time. Except for a few Pandavas, everyone who was present in that battlefield would be devoured by Him.
Arjuna was not in favor of the fight, and he thought it was better not to fight; then there would be no frustration. In reply, the Lord is saying that even if he did not fight, every one of them would be destroyed, for that is His plan. If he stopped fighting, they would die in another way. Death cannot be checked, even if he did not fight. In fact, they were already dead. Time is destruction, and all manifestations are to be vanquished by the desire of the Supreme Lord. That is the law of nature.
From: ‘Bhagavad-gita As It Is’ translated from Sanskrit by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness-ISKCON.
Submitted by TRANSCEND Member Satoshi Ashikaga

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Aug 2023.

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