Many years ago six blind men lived near each other in a village in India.
The other villagers supported and helped the old men their whole lives. The men would hear stories of the worlds wonders and could only imagine what it looked like.
What piqued the men’s interest most was what an elephant looked like. They were told elephants could trample forests, carry huge burdens, and frighten all people with loud trumpet calls.
The men began arguing all the time about elephants.
“An elephant must be a powerful giant,” said one of the them.
“My brother you are mistaken,” said the second, “An elephant is graceful and gentle if princesses are able to ride on their backs.”
“Both of you are wrong,” the third man said, “I’ve heard elephants can pierce a man’s heart with its horn.”
“How blind you all are!” Proclaimed the fourth man. “An elephant is just like a large cow.”
“An elephant must be a magical being,” said the fifth man. “The Princess is able to travel safely throughout the kingdom on it.”
“You fools!” Declared the sixth man. “Elephants don’t exist at all. We are victims of a cruel joke.”
They quarreled and each had different ideas of what an elephant is. The other villagers grew tired of them arguing so they arranged a time for them to meet the Princesse’s elephant. They put their hands on each others backs and were led by a young village boy.
When they reached the palace they were greeted by an old village friend who now worked as a gardener at the palace. Their friend led them to the courtyard where an elephant stood. The blind men were led to the elephant, each touching it to find out what it is.
The first blind man to speak had reached out and touched the side of the elephant. “An elephant is smooth like a wall!”
The second put his hand out touching the elephant’s trunk. “An elephant is like a big snake.”
The third touched the elephant’s tusk. “I knew it!” He said. “This beast is sharp and smooth like a spear.”
The fourth reached out and touched the elephant’s legs. “This is simply a giant cow.”
The fifth touched the elephant’s ear. “An elephant is a large fan or a magic carpet that can fly.”
The sixth reached out and touched the elephant’s tail. “You all have lost your senses! Even a blind man can sense that this is nothing more than a piece of rope.”
After they each felt part of the elephant they began to argue again, until they were shouting at each other saying their description of the elephant was the truth.
“Stop shouting!” Yelled the angry Princess approaching them. “How can you all be so certain you’re right?”
The blind men knew the Princess to be very wise, so they said nothing at all.
“The elephant is a large animal,” she said kindly. “You each only touched one part. Maybe if you put the parts together you will see the truth. I must now finish my meditation,” she said before walking away.
“She is right,” one of the blind men said, “We must put all the parts together to truly learn the truth. Let’s discuss this on our way home.”
The boy led the men home, one man put his hand on the boy’s shoulder, then each blind man succeeded in putting their hand on the man in front of them, walking home together.