New Delhi, July 25, 2023: Hindus are upset at the disrespectful handling of highly venerated ancient Hindu scripture “The Bhagavad Gita” in the film “Oppenheimer”, released on July 21.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged director Christopher Nolan and Universal Pictures to edit the scenes around references to Hindu text, depicting it appropriately and in a dignified manner in Oppenheimer. Inappropriate usage of Hindu scriptures or deities or symbols or concepts or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees and belittled Hinduism.
We understand and appreciate theoretical physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer’s profound interest in and acquaintance of Hindu texts and his learning of Sanskrit to read the original works (who was reportedly deeply impressed by their wisdom); but Christopher Nolan and Universal Pictures should have shown some maturity in their treatment of the holy scripture; Rajan Zed emphasizes.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted.
Rajan Zed further said that Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing could be painful for the followers, Zed stated; and added that insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols.
Hindus welcomed Hollywood to immerse in Hinduism, but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols just to further its agenda. Hollywood was welcome to make movies about Bhagavad-Gita (or other scriptures) or Lord Krishna (or other deities), but the final product should be appropriate and respectful; Zed pointed out.
Rajan Zed suggested that Hollywood executives should be sent for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of audiences and communities when creating new products. If makers of “Oppenheimer” or other Hollywood executives needed any expertise on Hinduism related issues, he or other Hindu scholars would gladly provide the resources, Zed added.