“The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.21)
Friend1: Do you know any people that are liked by everyone?
Friend2: Liked or just not disliked?
Friend1: Someone who is popular. If you were to search for someone who didn’t like them, you would have a difficult time.
Friend2: Absolutely. I mean, not you of course. I think pretty much everyone hates you.
Friend1: [laughs] That was good.
Friend2: Where is this coming from? Trying to become more popular?
Friend1: I read that one of the qualities of a devotee is that he has no enemies. I’m trying to understand how that could be.
Friend2: There is the example of King Yudhishthira. One of his names is ajata-shatru. This means “a person whose enemy was never born.”
Friend1: I was going to bring him up. I’ve heard that name before.
Friend1: There is that saying, though, which contradicts what we’re talking about. “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Friend2: Right, that makes sense.
Friend2: Exactly. Activities in sense gratification never bring full satisfaction. It’s like stoking a fire. You think you’re extinguishing the fire of desire, but actually you’re just making it worse.
Friend1: I would think this is especially applicable to children. If you keep giving them stuff, you’ll spoil them. They won’t appreciate you more, either, because the one time that you can’t deliver they will become extremely agitated.
Friend2: That’s true. Still, the saying you referenced is of a different nature, I think.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: Pleasing people and having no enemies are two different things. There are things that you do to create enemies. For instance, if I want to take something that rightfully belongs to you, that creates enmity. If I view you as an enemy, then right there I’ve automatically created one.
Friend1: So you’re saying that the eldest Pandava brother never acted in a way that would create an enemy?
Friend2: There you go. He was sinless. It makes sense considering that he was the son of Dharma, or righteousness.
Friend1: I could see people being confused here. Yudhishthira is ajata-shatru, and yet he is known for being victorious in one of the greatest wars of all-time.
Friend2: He never viewed anyone as his enemy. He did not think, “This person is my rival. I hate that person.” In fact, he was quite remorseful after the war, even though he had done nothing wrong. He and his side were defending righteousness. It was their duty as members of the kshatriya order.
Friend1: I’m assuming the same applies to devotees in general. They don’t view anyone as their enemy.
Friend2: That is the qualification to strive for. It’s difficult to acquire. So many people get in our way. There are many obstacles in life. The adhibhautika miseries are there; coming from other living entities. It’s not easy to tolerate. Through wisdom, from progression in purification of consciousness, we begin to see that there is no reason to have enemies. Everyone is in the same struggle. Even if we have to quarrel with someone in order to accomplish a task, we shouldn’t harbor ill will going forward.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: The Supreme Lord Krishna is ajata-shatru as well. Even though He fights demons like Ravana and Hiranyakashipu, it doesn’t mean that He hates these guys forever.
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
He is neutral towards everyone. He gives special favor to the devotees, since they serve Him.
Yudhishthira never an enemy to see,
How could this possibly be?
Ajata-shatru, in this world never born,
But fought in war of many bodies torn.
Devotees acting in friendly ways towards all,
Never another their mortal enemy to call.
Like with Krishna with an equal eye viewing.
And friendly when souls service to Him renewing.