Dialectical Spiritualism: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Part 2

BY: SUN STAFF - 3.7 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 not very clear about the utilization of power, but he concluded that power results from self-control. According to him, no one has ever attained the level of the superman.

Srila Prabhupada: You cannot do anything without power. Power is required for Krsna's service, not for sense gratification. One who can act according to this principle is a superman. Generally, people use power for their own sense gratification, and therefore it is not easy to find anyone on the level of the superman.

Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche claims that because the Ubermensch subjugates his own passions, he is beyond good and evil and not subject to mundane dualities.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because the superman acts on behalf of God, he is transcendental. At the beginning of Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna was thinking like an ordinary person in his reluctance to kill his kinsmen. From the material point of view, nonviolence is a good qualification. Arjuna was excusing the others, although they had insulted him and his wife and usurped his kingdom. He pleaded on their behalf before Lord Krsna, arguing that it would be better to let them enjoy his kingdom. "I am not going to fight." Materially, this appears very laudable, but spiritually it is not, because Krsna wanted him to fight. Finally, Arjuna carried out Krsna's order and fought. Clearly, this kind of fighting was not for personal aggrandizement, but for the service of Krsna. By using his power for the service of the Lord, Arjuna became a superman.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning religion, Nietzsche felt that because Christ's own disciples misunderstood him, Christianity as such never existed. "The last Christian died on the cross," he wrote. Although Christ was totally pure and free from all resentment and envy, Christianity has had envy and resentment as its focal point from its very beginning, even though it calls itself the religion of love. Thus Nietzsche proclaimed, "God is dead," in the sense that the God of the Christian religion is dead.

Srila Prabhupada: If you create an artificial god, it is better that he is dead so that he cannot inflict more injuries.

Hayagriva dasa: Then it is better to have no conception of God than a bad conception?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, better. But Christ was the embodiment of tolerance. There is no doubt about this.

Hayagriva dasa: It is not that Nietzsche criticizes Christ himself, but his followers.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, actually we can see that the Christians hate the Jews because the Jews crucified Christ. They even utilize the symbol of the cross to remind people that the Jews crucified him. Even in the churches there are pictures of Lord Jesus, with thorns on his head, being forced to carry his cross. In this way, the people are reminded of all the troubles that the Jews gave to Christ. Emphasizing Christ on the cross is a way of prolonging resentment against the Jews. But the fact is that Christ had many other activities, which are not brought into prominence. Actually, it is very painful for a devotee to see his master being crucified. Even though Christ was crucified, that scene in his life should not be emphasized.

Hayagriva dasa: Neitzsche considered Buddhism and Hinduism superior to Christianity, but he disliked the nihilism of the Buddhists and the caste system of the Hindus, especially the Hindu treatment of the untouchables.

Srila Prabhupada: That is a later concoction by the caste Hindus. The true Vedic religion does not speak of untouchables. Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself demonstrated His system by accepting so-called untouchables like Haridasa Thakura, who was born in a Mohammedan family. Although Haridasa Thakura was not accepted by Hindu society, Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally indicated that he was most exalted. Haridasa Thakura would not enter the temple of Lord Jagannatha because he did not want to create commotion, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself came to see Haridasa Thakura every day. It is a basic principle in the Vedic religion that we should not be envious of anyone. Krsna Himself says in Bhagavad-gita:

mam hi partha vyapasritya 
ye pi syuh papa-yonayah 
striyo vaisyas tatha sudras 
te'pi yanti param gatim

"0 son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth — women, vaisyas [merchants], as well as sudras [workers] — can approach the supreme destination." (Bg. 9.32) Despite birth in a lower family, if one is a devotee, he is eligible to practice Krsna consciousness and return to God, provided the necessary spiritual qualifications are there.

Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche believed that by stressing the transcendental world, a person would come to resent this world. He therefore personally rejected all formal religions.

Srila Prabhupada: This material world is described as a place of suffering. Abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino'rjuna. "From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery, wherein repeated birth and death take place." (Bg. 8.16) We do not know whether Nietzsche realized this or not, but if one really understands the soul, he can realize that this material world is a place of suffering. Being part and parcel of God, the soul has the same qualities possessed by God. God is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, eternal, full of knowledge and bliss, and He is eternally enjoying Himself in the company of His associates. The living entities have the same nature, but in material life, eternity, knowledge, and bliss are absent. It is therefore better that we learn to detest material existence and try to give it up. Pararh drstva nivartate (Bg. 2.59). The Vedas advise us to understand the spiritual world and try to return there. Tamasi ma jyotir gama. The spiritual world is the kingdom of light, and this material world is the kingdom of darkness. The sooner we learn to avoid the world of darkness and return to the kingdom of light, the better it is.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust