Dialectical Spiritualism: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Part 3

BY: SUN STAFF - 7.7 2017

Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche was greatly influenced by the ancient Greeks, and he was astounded that out of so few men, so many great individuals emerged. He believed that mankind ought to be constantly striving to produce such great men, men who conquer their evil instincts, and he considered this to be mankind's only duty.

Srila Prabhupada: Everyone is trying to be a great man, but one's greatness is accepted when he becomes God realized. The word veda means "knowledge," and a person is great when he is conversant with the lessons of the Vedas. The object of knowledge, as described in Bhagavad-gita, is God, or the self.

Since the individual is part and parcel of God, one is self-realized whether he realizes himself or God. There are different methods for self-realization, which is difficult. However, if one realizes God, he automatically realizes himself. If the sun is out, we can see everything very clearly. In the Vedas, it is said, jasmin vijfiate sarvam eva vijnatam bhavanti. By understanding God, we understand all other things and automatically become jolly. Brahmabhutah prasannatma (Bg. 18.54). The word prasannatma means "jolly." Samah sarvesu bhutesu (Bg. 18.54). At that time, we can see that everyone is exactly like ourselves, because everyone is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. At this point, service of the Lord begins, and we attain the platform of knowledge, bliss, and eternity.

Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche emphatically states that there has never been a superman. "All too similar are men to each other," he writes. "Verily, even the greatest found I all too human." Nor does the superman evolve in the Darwinian sense. The Ubermensch is a possibility at present if man uses all of his spiritual and physical energies. But how is the superman possible without an object for his spiritual energies?

Srila Prabhupada: We become supermen if we engage in the service of the Supreme Person. The Supreme Being is a person, and the superman is also a person. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam (Katha-upanisad 2.2. 13). God is the chief amongst all personalities. The superman has no other business than carrying out the orders of the Supreme Being.

anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama

"Uttama bhakti, or unalloyed devotion unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, involves the rendering of devotional service in a way that is favorable to the Lord. This devotional service should be free from any extraneous motive and devoid of fruitive karma, impersonal jhana, and all other selfish desires." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11) Krsna comes to make everyone a superman. He therefore orders, sarvadharman parityajya mam ekarn saranam vraja. "Just give up everything and surrender to Me." (Bg. 18.66) Unless we are supermen, we cannot understand this instruction. If we can surrender to Krsna, we are supermen.

bahunam janmanam ante 
jnanavan mam prapadyate 
vasudevah sarvam iti 
sa mahatma sudurlabhah

"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." (Bg. 7.19) The ordinary man thinks, "I have my independence and can do something myself. Why should I surrender?" However, as soon as he realizes that his only duty is to surrender to Krsna, and that he has no other duty in this material world, he becomes the superman. This consciousness is attained after many, many births.

Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche would reject dependence on anything exterior to the superman himself. That is, he would reject props. But isn't it impossible for a man to elevate himself to that platform independent of the Supreme Lord?

Srila Prabhupada: Of course, and therefore Krsna says, "Depend upon Me." You have to be dependent, and if you do not depend on Krsna, you have to depend on the dictations of maya, illusion. There are many philosophers and politicians dependent on others, or dependent on their own whimsical ideas, but we should depend on the perfect instructions of God. The fact is that every living being is dependent; he cannot be independent. If he voluntarily depends on the instructions of God, he becomes the superman.

Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche's superman seems to resemble the hatha-yogl who elevates himself seemingly independent of God.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, seemingly. As soon as a hatha-yogi gets some extraordinary mystic powers, he thinks that he has become God. This is another mistake, because no one can become God. To some extent, a yogi may attain some mystical powers by practice, or by the favor of the Lord, but these powers are not sufficient to enable him to become God. There are many who think that through meditation, or hatha-yoga, it is possible to become equal to God, but this is another illusion, another dictation of maya. Maya is always saying, "Why depend on God? You can become God yourself."

Hayagriva dasa: Independence seems to be central to Nietzsche's philosophy. In a sense, his superman is somewhat like Hiranyakasipu, who made the demigods tremble to see his austerities.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and ultimately he was outwitted by the Supreme Himself. It is not good to struggle for material power and control over others. If one becomes a servant of God, he becomes the superman automatically and acquires many subordinate followers. One does not have to undergo severe austerities to control others. Everything can be mastered in one stroke. As soon as you become a devout servant of God, many people will follow you. Separate endeavor is not required.

Hayagriva dasa: And what of sense control?

Srila Prabhupada: Control of the senses is automatically there.

yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana 
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah 
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna 
manor athenasati dhavato bahih

"All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge, and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga, or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord's external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?" (Bhag. 5.18.12) If one becomes a devotee of the Supreme Lord, he controls his senses and many other living entities. But he never thinks that he has become God or the actual controller. Rather, he receives his power automatically.