How J. Robert Oppenheimer Was Influenced by the Bhagavad Gita

Jul 11, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: LitHub (by Alok A. Khorana).

My mother read the Bhagavad Gita every day as part of her morning rituals. Belonging to the last generation of Indians born into colonialism, she had trained as a clinical psychologist but learned Sanskrit both at home and in college. Modernity had begun but not yet broken millennia-old chains of generational transmission of indigenous knowledge.

Each morning, in her little prayer nook, she would quietly read two to three verses in the original Sanskrit, making her way through all seven hundred over the course of a year or so. When complete, she would go back to the beginning, cycling over and over for as long as I ever knew her.

I did not study the text with her during her lifetime. (The memory of this angsty adolescent rebellion still makes my heart sting in shame.) Yet, almost by osmosis, I absorbed the story and the lessons of the Gita through my childhood growing up in 1970s/1980s India. Like most Indian children, I knew the Gita as part of the epic Mahabharata appearing at the beginning of the Great War between two groups of warring cousins, scions of a storied dynasty.

Read the full story here

Join the Discussion