The Technique for Universal Love
Back to Godhead January/February 2017
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Lecture given in New York City on January 6, 1967
We can love everyone and everything only when we love God and know Him as He is.
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” – Bhagavad-gita 10.8
“I am the origin of everything.” “Everything” includes the universe. Whatever you can imagine, that comes within the category of everything. So if Krishna is the source of everything, if you love Krishna then you love the universe. Actually that is so. If you love your father, then you love your brother. If you love your country, then you love your countrymen.
I am from India. So I am in a foreign country. If I see a gentleman from India, naturally I ask, “Oh, you come from India? Which part of India are you from?” Why the attraction for that person? I love him because I love India and he happens to be Indian.
Love begins from the origin. If you love your body, then you love your finger. If you are careless of your body, your health, then you don’t care for your finger.
Therefore Bhagavad-gita (10.8) says, iti matva bhajante mam. When one has understood the fact very nicely, scientifically, that God is the origin of all emanations, then by loving God he loves everything in the universe. If you think, “God is something manufactured by my imagination,” then you cannot love the universe or God. You have to understand the position of God. In your Bible it is said, “God said, ‘Let there be creation,’ so there was creation.” Creation is the universe. God created this universe. If you love God, then you love the universe.
That is done automatically. If I say, “I love my body” – everyone loves his body – that does not mean I do not love my finger.
The Transformed Hunter
There is a nice example of how a God-conscious person loves everything. In Sanskrit a hunter is called vyadha. A vyadha was hunting in the forest and half-killing animals, such as boars, deer, and many others. The sage Narada was passing along the road, and he saw the suffering animals.
“These half-dead animals are flapping. Who has harmed them in that way, half-dead? Why not fully kill them?”
He went to the vyadha and asked, “Why are you doing this business? Better to kill them so that they may not suffer. What you are doing is a great sinful act.”
The hunter replied, “Oh, I do not know what is sinful or pious. My father has taught me this business. So I am doing this.”
Narada explained to him, “It is not a very good business. You had better do another business for your livelihood. Simply half-killing – better to kill them. But that is also not very good.”
“Then I am committing sins?”
“Yes, you are committing sins.” “Then if I give up this business, how shall I eat, how shall I earn my living?”
“All right,” Narada said, “I shall give you your necessities of life. I shall supply you. Give up this business.”
Narada initiated the hunter into spiritual life, and the hunter went to a sacred place to execute spiritual practices.
When villagers understood that a vyadha, a hunter, had become a great saint, they brought him offerings of rice, flowers, fruits, and so on. And he executed his devotional service according to Narada’s instructions.
After some time, Narada wanted to show that devotee to his friend Parvata Muni. As they were arriving, the former hunter went forward to receive them. While going, he was very careful that even an ant may not be killed on the path. So he was jumping. Whenever there was an ant, he was jumping.
Narada inquired, “While you were coming here, why were you jumping?”
“Sir, there were so many ants. How can I kill an ant?”
Just see. The same man who without any kindness was half-killing so many animals has become kind even to the ants.
This is universal love. As soon as you become Krishna conscious, as soon as you become God conscious, then your real, ideal, universal consciousness develops. Otherwise it is all simply word jugglery. There are so many doctrines of universal love, universal friendship, fraternity, but people are fighting and killing because there is no God consciousness. If you are after universal love, then how can you maintain regular slaughterhouses? How can you think that an American gentleman or lady is your countryman and not a cow, and not a goat, not a serpent? Where is your universal idea?
Unless there is development of God consciousness, universal ideas are nonsense. They are all false, a jugglery of words.
The first business is to understand your identity, God’s identity, and your relationship with God, and to reform your actions in line with that understanding. Then there can be universal brotherhood. Otherwise it is simply a jugglery of words.
If you are thinking in a universal way, how can you give protection to a human being born in America and send a cow to the slaughterhouse? What is your reason?
Guest: This would be a personal love.
Prabhupada: Universal means all. You have to love everyone.
Guest: If I don’t love the cow as equally as I love a child, then it is a personal love because I’m defining qualifications.
Prabhupada: But how can you avoid this “personal”?
Guest: Because to love the child only, I have to exclude other things, meaning the cow.
Prabhupada: But when you love, how can you avoid a person? What do you mean by love? In the universe there are so many men, animals, plants, beasts, and birds, and so many things. So we have to love everyone. That is universal. You cannot discriminate, “Oh, this is not universal, and this is universal.” Universal means all-inclusive. You have to love everyone. That is universal.
Guest: If I don’t do that, then I have a love with limitations, and this is false.
Prabhupada: No. Not limitation. The point is, if you love the root, then you love everything. If you pour water on the root of the tree, then the branches, the flowers, the leaves, the fruits, and everything is nourished. You have to know the technique – how to love the whole. If somebody is loving the tree by putting water on every leaf, every branch, every flower, then he is spoiling his time. An intelligent man pours one bucketful of water on the root. Oh, it is distributed. If without knowledge of the root you want to love the branches, that is foolishness. You love your body. Why do you supply your food to the stomach? Why not to the eyes, to the ears, to the nose? Why not individually to every finger, every hand, every part, every hair? No. As soon as you put the foodstuff into the stomach, the energy is at once distributed everywhere. Similarly, universal love means to love God.
People do not know the technique. This man, this hunter, loved God, and he became a lover of the ant automatically. There was no need of separate education. “Love this ant, love this cow, love this tree, love this country, love this man, love the white man, the black man, this man . . .” No. As soon as you love God, and you understand what God is, then you love everything.
In the Bhagavad-gita (14.4) it is said,
murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir
aham bija-pradah pita
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” People are accepting Bhagavad-gita as something Indian or Hindu, but actually it is not. It is universal. Krishna says that there are many forms of living entities. There are 8,400,000 different types of bodies. “And all of them are My sons.” So if you love Krishna, then you love the white man, you love the American, you love the European, you love the Indian, you love the cow, you love the dog, you love the serpent – everything.
You have to know the techniques. Simply by theoretical knowledge you cannot make any improvement. And these are practical examples. Because there is no love for God at the present moment, all this nonsense universal love, fraternity, is going to hell. Therefore we are interested in this Krishna consciousness movement. You have to change your consciousness, make it full with Krishna or God. Then everything will be all right.