Analysis of Robert Oppenheimer's Bhagavad Gita Quote

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Destroyer of Worlds “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, 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 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.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.” -Robert Oppenheimer (“Father of the Atomic Bomb”) After the first successful test of the world’s first atomic bomb Robert Oppenheimer said this quote, offering his thoughts on the situation. Oppenheimer primarily states that the “world would not be the same” to emphasize the fact that now that such a bomb of this caliber has been created there is no going back. To emphasize that from this point on, things would never again be the same. The successful test had grave implications for both the immediate future and the long term. Oppenheimer uses the cumulative sentence of “A few people laughed, a few people cried…” to relate the variety of emotions felt after the test. But Oppenheimer states that “most people were silent”, indicating that of the variety of emotions experienced after the test, the main one was a feeling of solemnity, and perhaps reverent awe of the power of the atomic bomb. To particularize the notion that the U.S., with this obtained technology, was dangerously powerful, Oppenheimer alludes to a story in ancient Hindu scripture where two armies are gathered to oppose each other and prince Arjuna, leader of one of the armies, witnesses Vishnu’s cosmic multi-armed form. By alluding to this story in the Bhagavad Gita, Oppenheimer suggests that the U.S. has in a sense become Vishnu, and is capable of unspeakable power. Finally Oppenheimer suggests that with the variety of

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