Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hindu obscurantism?

On TV yesterday, I saw a panel discussion involving Dina Nath Batra whose books claim that ancient Hindus had knowledge of television, stem cell research etc. Karan Thapar was asking his guests whether there was any historical basis for these views. The historians on the panel scoffed at the suggestion and Thapar himself was ridiculing Batra's contentions.

This morning, I stumbled across a quote from Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb at a website about aspects of Hinduism:
While he was giving a lecture at Rochester University, during the question and answer period a student asked a question to which Oppenheimer gave a strangely qualified answer:
Student: “Was the bomb exploded at Alamogordo during the Manhattan Project the first one to be detonated?
Dr. Oppenheimer: “Well — yes. In modern times, of course.
Some people suggest that Oppenheimer was referring to the Brahmāstra weapon mentioned in the Mahabharata.The appreciation didn’t stop there. So much so he always gave the book (Bhagavad Gita) as a present to his friends and kept a copy on the shelf closest to his desk.
As is well known, watching the first ever atomic explosion at Los Alamos  in the Nevada desert, Oppenheimer was moved to quote from the Viswaroopa scene of the Gita, Brighter than a thousand suns, the splendour that is me. As the mushroom cloud reached its peak and the enormity of the destruction it wrought became evident, Oppenheimer was reminder of another line from the Gita, I am become death, destroyer of all worlds. 

Let I should be misunderstood, this is not an endorsement of Batra's works, I am not qualified to speak on the subject. I give the quote from Oppenheimer as it is of more than passing interest. 


Anonymous said...

Please check if the quote is really from the Scientist

Anonymous said...

Do you mean to say that Mahabharatha, Brahmasatram are all factual than being just epic stories?

And just because Oppenheimer quoted Gita, could it be considered authentic that ancient hindus knew things?

btw, there was not such term as 'Hindu' when Brahmastram, Gita, Mahabharatha was written. Such a term came into vogue only during the last 1000 years.

T T Ram Mohan said...

Anonymous 1, I have come across the quote from Oppenheimer at more than one place on the Net.

Anonymous 2: Alas, as I said in my post, I am not qualified to pronounce on these matters. I came across the quote when I was reading up about Oppenheimer-it so happened that the controversy over Batra happened to be in the news at the time.


Anonymous said...

Without participating in debate of how much can be ascribed to "ancient" India - I would like to make a point that -

Even if, for a moment we believe that "Brahmastra" did exist in real, and that all innovations somewhere had Indian genesis at roots - Why is it that in "MODERN" India, we don't see many inventions & ideas coming up - why is that we have largest population but least noble nominees or awards - why are patents registered to so called Hindus (Indians) are near to negligible - did the "Ancient" India skipped to pass on the "Knowledge" to "Modern" India? If mythology & rituals can be passed on from one generation to another, what happened to "scientific" knowledge?