Dialectical Spiritualism: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

BY: SUN STAFF - 18.4 2017

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

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

Syamasundara dasa: Hegel sought to synthesize other philosophies to arrive at the truth, and in so doing, he concluded that everything that exists is reason; what is real is rational, and what is rational is real.

Srila Prabhupada: This means that he wanted to arrive at the Absolute in whom there is no duality. That is Krsna. Krsna says:

paritranaya sadhunam 
vinasaya ca duskrtam 
sambhavami yuge yuge

"In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I appear Myself millennium after millennium." (Bg. 4.8) He comes to earth to protect the devotees and kill the demons. Although He actually did this, we should not think that He is partial. When He killed the great demon Putana, for instance, Putana attained a position like Krsna's mother Yasoda. Because Krsna is Absolute, there is no difference between His loving Yasoda and killing Putana. Whatever He does is good: be it killing or loving. The two opposites are reconciled in Him. The Sanskrit word for this is viruddartha sambandha.

Syamasundara dasa: Hegel saw that his predecessors had become so increasingly abstract in trying to find out the nature of substance, that they had reduced substance to nothingness.

Srila Prabhupada: This was due to ignorance. That is called virasa.

When one cannot understand the nature or form of God through speculation, out of frustration he says, "Oh, there is no God."

Syamasundara dasa: Hegel's predecessors analyzed an object into smaller and smaller parts until they arrived at a nonentity.

Srila Prabhupada: The fact is that the Absolute cannot be divided into parts. In Bhagavad-gita it is stated:

nainam chindanti sastrani 
nainam dahati pavakah 
na cainarn kledayanty apo 
na sosayati marutah

"The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind." (Bg. 2.23) It is possible to cut a material thing into pieces, but it is impossible to divide a spiritual being. A spiritual being is inexhaustible. The Mayavadis think that since the Absolute is all-pervading, He has no form, but this is incorrect. The Absolute can maintain His form as He is and yet expand Himself. Krsna says, mayd tatam idafn sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina. "By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded." (Bg. 9.4) Krsna has three features: brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate (Bhag. 1.2.11) — the impersonal, localized, and personal. Unless we come to understand this science, it is very difficult to know the forms of the Absolute Truth. One who is incompetent, who has a poor fund of knowledge, concludes that the Absolute Truth is nirakara, void, but this is not so.

Syamasundara dasa: Hegel wanted to reverse the trend from abstraction to concretion. He believed that every phenomenal object has its relationship with the whole, which is reality. To understand reality, we must examine all objects and relate them to the whole and to each other.

Srila Prabhupada: That is our process. The whole is Krsna, and everything is related to Krsna. Because we see everything related to Krsna, we do not artificially renounce anything, but try to utilize everything in the service of Krsna. Although the Mayavadi philosophers say that everything is Brahman, their process is neti-neti: "Not this, not that." In this way, the Mayavadis say that Krsna and His worship are also maya. Our philosophy is that everything is a manifestation of Krsna's energy; the energy and the energetic are one. Narada explained:

idarn hi visvam bhagavan ivetaro 
yato jagat-sthana-nirodha-sambhavah 
tad dhi svayam veda bhavams tathapi te 
pradesa-matram bhavatah pradarsitam

"The Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only has this cosmic manifestation emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation. Your good self knows all about this. I have given only a synopsis." (Bhag. 1.5.20) The whole universe is Bhagavan, Krsna, but it appears to be separate. How it is not separate can be understood through Krsna consciousness. Ordinary men think of Krsna and non-Krsna, but there is no non-Krsna. That is illusion. Everything is Krsna.

Syamasundara dasa: For Hegel, nothing can be separated from the spiritual whole because everything is related to it. For Kant, phenomenon is the mode in which things-in-themselves represent themselves to the individual.

Srila Prabhupada: It is explained in Bhagavad-gita that Krsna has two energies: the spiritual and the material. His spiritual energy is described as superior, and His material energy as inferior. These designations are given for our consideration because we cannot understand otherwise, but the fact is that there is only one energy: the superior spiritual energy. When this spiritual energy is covered by ignorance, it is called material energy. The sky is naturally clear, and we can normally see the sun, but when there are clouds, we cannot see it. Still, the sun is there. When we cannot see Krsna or understand Him, we experience what is called the material energy. The fact is that there is nothing material because everything is Krsna.