Geoffrey Ashton: Amor Fati and the Aesthetics of Liberation in the Bhagavad Gītā: A Nietzschean Reading of Bhakti Yoga in the Post-Theophany Chapters

​Do 19/03/2015



If one of Krsna’s basic concerns in the Bhagavad Gītā is to get Arjuna to act according to his kṣatriya dharma (warrior duty), then what could be his rationale in revealing his divine form in Chapter 11 – particularly given that the events it discloses re-enact the terror that stifle Arjuna’s will to act in the first place? Furthermore, what, if anything, does the path of devotion (bhakti yoga) have to do with Arjuna’s recovery from this second crisis of will in the Gītā? This paper argues that Kṛṣṇa reveals the impending destruction of the world (through the theophany) in order to help Arjuna to love a potentially repellent fate with Nietzschean-like, “yes-saying pathos”. The paper focuses upon the post-theophany chapters, which clarify the architecture of circumstance (prakṛti) à la the theistic metaphysics of the early Sāṃkhya doctrine. It then situates bhakti yoga in this philosophical context, arguing that devotion to Krsna helps Arjuna to re-embody not just his limited physical body, but his entire situation qua empathic identification with the cosmic body of Krsna. Finally, the paper links bhakti yoga, Sāṃkhya metaphysics, and the theophany by way of Nietzsche’s formulation of “amor fati”. In brief, bhakti yoga is a kind of amor fati that enables Arjuna to love the body of life as his own in full awareness that his love will not modify his fate.

Geoffrey Ashton: Assistenzprofessor an der Universität of Colorado, USA.