Practically all elastic single crystals are anisotropic, which calls for an appropriate universal measure to quantify the extent of anisotropy. A review of the existing anisotropy measures in the literature leads to a conclusion that they lack universality in the sense that they are nonunique and ignore contributions from the bulk part of the elastic stiffness (or compliance) tensor. Proceeding from extremal principles of elasticity, we introduce a new universal anisotropy index that overcomes the above limitations. Furthermore, we establish special relationships between the proposed anisotropy index and the existing anisotropy measures for special cases. A new elastic anisotropy diagram is constructed for over 100 different crystals (from cubic through triclinic), demonstrating that the proposed anisotropy measure is applicable to all types of elastic single crystals, and thus fills an important void in the existing literature.