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Truth, Perception and Six Blind Men

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

The old Indian fable about '6 blind men and the elephant' is often taught to every child. It provides a vital and important lesson of differentiating between fact and perception, caused by our limited understanding.

The fable goes like this.


The fable goes like this.

Once upon a time, six blind people who lived in a village heard from some villagers that there was an elephant in the village that day.

The blind men had no idea what an elephant was and naturally curious. So a kind villager took them to where the elephant stood.

Blind people often learn about the world by depending a lot on their sense of touch. So they went forth to touch the magnificent creature.

The first man, touched the side of the elephant, he said, “It is like a wall”.

The second man, when touched the tusk and proclaimed 'An elephant is strong and smooth, just like a spear'.

Six blind men seeking to know an elephant

The third man,, touched the trunk of the elephant, exclaimed, “It is like a snake”.

The fourth man, grabbed the leg of the elephant. and shouted, “It is like a tree”.

The fifth man, happened to feel the huge ear of the elephant, and said, "An elephant is like a fan".

The sixth man, touched the tail of the elephant, and opined, “The creature is like a rope”.

Six men with six opinions born out of their own perception and experience, began to argue and have never stopped since. Each claiming himself as right and others as wrong.

So it is with humanity and with religion, science and life in every sphere. We touch or are touched by a little thing and we foolishly begin to believe we know the whole.

My father Sardar Man Singh ji, often shut down an argument by admitting, "You are right, but I am not wrong", and I only understood this great truth when he narrated this fable to me.

We all have our perceptions but none has the truth.



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