For J. Robert Oppenheimer, the subject of Christopher Nolan’s biopic of the nuclear physicist regarded as the ‘Father of the Atomic Bomb, the Bhagavad Gita was a spiritual crutch, although his belief has been overshadowed by the scene in the film where he’s seen reading out the holy scripture in between having se* with his wife Kitty.
Even his translation of a seminal verse of the Gita, which was first red-flagged by historian James A. Hijiya in ‘The Gita of J. Robert Oppenheimer’, has been questioned by the author and mythologist Devdutt Pattnaik.
Nonetheless, Oppenheimer, who was raised in a non-observant Jewish family of New York, would unfailingly turn to the Gita and quote from it on many occasions. Oppenheimer’s copy of ‘Bhagavad-Gita’, translated by Arthur W. Ryder, according to Patty Templeton of the US National Security Research Center, is part of the collections at the Bradbury Science Museum in the Los Alamos Laboratory.
The physicist’s handwritten initials appear in the upper right corner of the front endpapers. The time-worn book is just one of two of his personal items that the Lab owns, according to Templeton, the other being his office chair.
Oppenheimer wanted to read the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ in the original Sanskrit, as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, before his time at Los Alamos, he sat in on Sanskrit classes with Ryder, who …read more
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