ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Explained: Is the 'Oppenheimer' Sex Scene Really 'Waging War' on Hinduism?

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

Published
Explainers
5 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage among Hindus over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita, the holy scripture of Hindus, during an intimate scene between Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh.

As per reports, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur has asked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) officials to remove the "now objectionable" sequence from the film. Uday Mahurkar, an information commissioner, has also accused the film of "waging war" on Hinduism.

So, what's the controversy all about? What was the Bhagavad Gita reference used in the film? And why has it caused an uproar among Indians? Here's all you need to know:

Explained: Is the 'Oppenheimer' Sex Scene Really 'Waging War' on Hinduism?

  1. 1. The Bhagavad Gita Reference in 'Oppenheimer'

    The sex scene in question takes place soon after Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and his lover Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh) have their meeting at a Communist Party event in 1936.

    • During the intimate scene, Tatlock pauses to take a look at a book on Oppenheimer's shelf.

    • Despite the fact that the book is written in Sanskrit, she takes it down from the shelf and asks Oppenheimer to read from it as they resume sexual intercourse.

    Without naming the scripture, Murphy reads a verse from the book and says, "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" – a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, which Oppenheimer reportedly recalled in a television interview when the first nuclear bomb was detonated.

    However, the R-rated sex scene appears in the film way before the atomic bomb is created. But why?

    • In Nolan's film, Tatlock's involvement with Oppenheimer has a significant influence on his life after she dies by suicide in 1944 as a result of mental depression.

    • In the later sequences, Oppenheimer speculates that Tatlock's continued affection for him, even after his marriage, could have worsened her depression.

    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

    Florence Pugh and Cillian Murphy in a still from Oppenheimer.

    (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

    • Nolan draws a direct relation between Oppenheimer's remorse about Tatlock's passing and the guilt he later felt for his role in developing the atomic bomb.

    • The sex scene is able to link Oppenheimer and Tatlock's romance to his passionate and catastrophic love for the atomic bomb by juxtaposing their first amorous meeting with the statement.

    • It draws similarities between their intense desire and its devastating end to portray how significant and purposeful the sex scene is to Oppenheimer in the film.

    • Nolan cleverly uses Oppenheimer's most famous remark about the bomb to draw that connection during a sex scene with Tatlock.

    Expand
  2. 2. J Robert Oppenheimer's Disputed Interpretation of Bhagavad Gita

    Although Oppenheimer was deeply fascinated with Hinduism and its teachings, his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita has often been a subject of discussion. Some argue that the physicist's interpretation of the Holy text was, in fact, a bit flawed.

    The sacred verse that Oppenheimer famously recited after the success of the Trinity Test in 1945 comes from Chapter 11 and Verse 32 of the Bhagavad Gita. It says:

    “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One… I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer takes inspiration from the 2005 biographical book called 'American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer', authored by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin.

    In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Kai Bird addressed Oppenheimer's disputed interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita and revealed:

    “And that famous line that he used to describe what he thought when he saw the Trinity explosion – ‘I am death, destroyer of the world’ – some Sanskrit scholars, as I understand it, think that the more accurate translation would be ‘I am Time, destroyer of worlds’. He is a quantum physicist, so he is trying to understand time and space, and these are issues that the Gita sort of addresses on some level.”
    Kai Bird
    Expand
  3. 3. 'Waging a War on the Hindu Community': Official

    The intimate scene in Oppenheimer has drawn flak from several Hindu nationalists and right-wing ministers in India.

    Uday Mahurkar, a senior government official at the Central Information Commission and founder of the Save Culture, Save India Foundation, wrote an open letter to Nolan, alleging that his film "almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces".

    The letter, a copy of which was posted on Twitter, further read, "This is a direct assault on the religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus. It amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community".

    Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu organisation, accused Nolan's film of being an attempt to "launch an attack" on the Hindu community and demanded the controversial sex scene be cut.

    "The makers should apologise to the Hindu community all over the world whose sentiments have been badly hurt," Vinod Bansal, a spokesman for VHP, told the news agency AFP.
    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

    Anurag Thakur has demanded that the controversial sex scene be removed from Oppenheimer.

    (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

    According to a report by The Indian Express, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur also raised his objection over the sex scene.

    Thakur has reportedly questioned the CBFC's nod to the Hollywood film and demanded that the controversial scene be removed from it.

    Expand
  4. 4. Boycott Calls and Hashtag Campaigns For 'Oppenheimer'

    Nolan's biographical drama was released in India on 21 July and opened to great reviews, with a total domestic box office collection of over Rs 55.75 crore so far. However, the reference to the sacred book in a sex scene has now sparked mixed reactions on the internet, particularly from Hindus, who find it potentially blasphemous.

    • While some people are offended by the use of the Bhagavad Gita during the intimate scene, others are defending the scene, arguing that the characters in the film don't view it as holy.

    • A certain section on the internet contests that the inclusion of the Hindu scripture was unnecessary and historically inaccurate.

    • Hashtags such as #BoycottOppenheimer and #RespectHinduCulture also started trending on Twitter following the controversy.

    Here's how Twitter reacted:

    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
    Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

    Despite all the uproar surrounding the sex scene in Oppenheimer, the makers are yet to react to the controversy and take a call on whether the objectionable scene will be removed from the Indian version of the film or not.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

The Bhagavad Gita Reference in 'Oppenheimer'

The sex scene in question takes place soon after Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and his lover Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh) have their meeting at a Communist Party event in 1936.

  • During the intimate scene, Tatlock pauses to take a look at a book on Oppenheimer's shelf.

  • Despite the fact that the book is written in Sanskrit, she takes it down from the shelf and asks Oppenheimer to read from it as they resume sexual intercourse.

Without naming the scripture, Murphy reads a verse from the book and says, "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" – a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, which Oppenheimer reportedly recalled in a television interview when the first nuclear bomb was detonated.

However, the R-rated sex scene appears in the film way before the atomic bomb is created. But why?

  • In Nolan's film, Tatlock's involvement with Oppenheimer has a significant influence on his life after she dies by suicide in 1944 as a result of mental depression.

  • In the later sequences, Oppenheimer speculates that Tatlock's continued affection for him, even after his marriage, could have worsened her depression.

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

Florence Pugh and Cillian Murphy in a still from Oppenheimer.

(Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

  • Nolan draws a direct relation between Oppenheimer's remorse about Tatlock's passing and the guilt he later felt for his role in developing the atomic bomb.

  • The sex scene is able to link Oppenheimer and Tatlock's romance to his passionate and catastrophic love for the atomic bomb by juxtaposing their first amorous meeting with the statement.

  • It draws similarities between their intense desire and its devastating end to portray how significant and purposeful the sex scene is to Oppenheimer in the film.

  • Nolan cleverly uses Oppenheimer's most famous remark about the bomb to draw that connection during a sex scene with Tatlock.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

J Robert Oppenheimer's Disputed Interpretation of Bhagavad Gita

Although Oppenheimer was deeply fascinated with Hinduism and its teachings, his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita has often been a subject of discussion. Some argue that the physicist's interpretation of the Holy text was, in fact, a bit flawed.

The sacred verse that Oppenheimer famously recited after the success of the Trinity Test in 1945 comes from Chapter 11 and Verse 32 of the Bhagavad Gita. It says:

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One… I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer takes inspiration from the 2005 biographical book called 'American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer', authored by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Kai Bird addressed Oppenheimer's disputed interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita and revealed:

“And that famous line that he used to describe what he thought when he saw the Trinity explosion – ‘I am death, destroyer of the world’ – some Sanskrit scholars, as I understand it, think that the more accurate translation would be ‘I am Time, destroyer of worlds’. He is a quantum physicist, so he is trying to understand time and space, and these are issues that the Gita sort of addresses on some level.”
Kai Bird
0

'Waging a War on the Hindu Community': Official

The intimate scene in Oppenheimer has drawn flak from several Hindu nationalists and right-wing ministers in India.

Uday Mahurkar, a senior government official at the Central Information Commission and founder of the Save Culture, Save India Foundation, wrote an open letter to Nolan, alleging that his film "almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces".

The letter, a copy of which was posted on Twitter, further read, "This is a direct assault on the religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus. It amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community".

Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu organisation, accused Nolan's film of being an attempt to "launch an attack" on the Hindu community and demanded the controversial sex scene be cut.

"The makers should apologise to the Hindu community all over the world whose sentiments have been badly hurt," Vinod Bansal, a spokesman for VHP, told the news agency AFP.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

Anurag Thakur has demanded that the controversial sex scene be removed from Oppenheimer.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

According to a report by The Indian Express, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur also raised his objection over the sex scene.

Thakur has reportedly questioned the CBFC's nod to the Hollywood film and demanded that the controversial scene be removed from it.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Boycott Calls and Hashtag Campaigns For 'Oppenheimer'

Nolan's biographical drama was released in India on 21 July and opened to great reviews, with a total domestic box office collection of over Rs 55.75 crore so far. However, the reference to the sacred book in a sex scene has now sparked mixed reactions on the internet, particularly from Hindus, who find it potentially blasphemous.

  • While some people are offended by the use of the Bhagavad Gita during the intimate scene, others are defending the scene, arguing that the characters in the film don't view it as holy.

  • A certain section on the internet contests that the inclusion of the Hindu scripture was unnecessary and historically inaccurate.

  • Hashtags such as #BoycottOppenheimer and #RespectHinduCulture also started trending on Twitter following the controversy.

Here's how Twitter reacted:

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has sparked outrage over its reference to the Bhagavad Gita during a sex scene.

Despite all the uproar surrounding the sex scene in Oppenheimer, the makers are yet to react to the controversy and take a call on whether the objectionable scene will be removed from the Indian version of the film or not.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from explainers

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×