Discover a surprising connection as we peek into the lives of 7 international celebrities who have been profoundly influenced by the Bhagavad Gita. This article unveils the personal stories and reflections of well-known figures who, despite their global fame, draw inspiration from this ancient Indian scripture. From Hollywood to the music industry, these celebrities share how the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita have impacted their lives. Get ready to explore a different side of these stars, beyond the glitz and glamour, as we uncover the spiritual and philosophical influences that shape their worldview.
The Bhagavad Gita, a widely respected scripture, has served as a life guide, influencing numerous thinkers, philosophers, and artists. Penned in Sanskrit, this 700-verse narrative is part of the Mahabharata epic, featuring a dialogue between Arjuna, the Pandava prince, and Krishna, his charioteer and guide—an avatar of the Hindu lord Vishnu. Exploring topics like karma, the connection between individual and universal self, the nature of god, and the concept of dharma (justice and righteousness), the scripture has sparked various philosophical and theological discussions, shaping diverse theories along the way.
During a recent interview, Cillian Murphy, known for his role in Peaky Blinders, shared that he read the Bhagavad Gita to prepare for his lead role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. He expressed, “I did read the Bhagavad Gita in preparation, and I thought it was an absolutely beautiful text, very inspiring.” While many Indians find the ideologies of this Hindu text influential in their lives, several Western personalities, like Murphy, have also discovered the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as a guiding force in shaping their thoughts and lifestyles.
The Enigma of J. Robert Oppenheimer: Father of the Atomic Bomb
While studying Hindu philosophy, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist and architect of the atomic bomb, delved into the Bhagavad Gita in its original Sanskrit form, having learned the language in 1933. The text significantly influenced his life ideologies. In 1945, during the inaugural nuclear bomb explosion known as the “trinity test” in New Mexico, Oppenheimer famously said, “Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
The Legacy of Barack Obama: Former President of the United States
Barack Obama, the former President of the United States, has shared that India holds a special place in his life. In his book “A Promise Land,” Obama reflects on his childhood in Indonesia, where he listened to the epic Hindu tales of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. On his first visit to the US, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted him a copy of the Gita during a 2014 White House dinner. Obama has expressed his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of non-violence.
From Bel-Air Royalty to Global Stardom: Will Smith’s Journey
Will Smith, during his promotional tour in India for the movie “Bright,” expressed profound influence from Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. In an interview, he declared, “I love the history. I am 90 percent through the Bhagavad Gita. To be reading that and to be here… my inner Arjuna is being channelled.” In a widely-shared video clip, the two-time Oscar nominee and Grammy award-winning actor proudly displays his copy of the Hindu scripture, extensively marked with a yellow highlighter.
Sitar Strings and Spiritual Quest: George Harrison of The Beatles
The Beatles’ lead guitarist, George Harrison, delved into Hinduism and journeyed to India in 1966 to learn sitar from Pandit Ravishankar. After multiple visits, he embraced Hinduism, drawing inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita’s teachings. In 1973, his song “The Lord Loves The One” was influenced by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement. The album artwork for “Living In The Material World” replicated a painting from a Bhagavad Gita edition published by Prabhupada.
Astronaut Sunita Williams: Exploring the Cosmos with Pioneering Spirit
In 2013, when astronaut Sunita Williams journeyed into space, her personal belongings included a Ganesha idol, samosas, a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanishad. When questioned about her choice, Williams explained that these items served as a source of inspiration, reminding her of her identity and roots. She expressed that the books provided enlightenment about her actions and their purpose, offering a valuable perspective on life. According to Williams, reading about Arjuna’s challenges in the Bhagavad Gita helped put her own life into context.
Philip Glass: Crafting Timeless Harmonies in Modern Composition
Renowned American composer and pianist Philip Glass, recognized as a major influence in 20th-century music, created the opera “Satyagraha” in 1979. Drawing inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s life, the opera features Sanskrit verses from the Bhagavad Gita, sung during the performance. Glass envisioned Gandhi reflecting on these verses during his South African years.
The Wolverine Saga: Hugh Jackman’s Iconic Portrayal of the Marvel Mutant
The Australian actor, famous for his powerful on-screen roles, has shared his spiritual journey, revealing how the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita profoundly impacted him. In a 2014 interview, he discussed delving into Vedic literature and traditions, finding resonance in the timeless teachings that align with his quest for truth and understanding mortality. The actor expressed that the philosophies and concepts from these sources felt right and natural to him.