Friday, March 4, 2011

Blind men and the Elephant - अन्ध-गज न्यायः

Blind men and the Elephant

andha-gaja nyāyaḥ
अन्ध-गज न्यायः

This popular nyāya has traveled the world over. Several blind men are feeling an elephant and describing their truths. While the one touching the trunk thought of it as a banana tree trunk, one touching the ears thought of it as a large hand fan, one touching the legs thought of it as a pillar. The one touching the stomach imagined it to be a wall and the one touching the tail said it was a snake. They all were correct, but only partially. And even if they combined their truths together, they would never succeed in getting the whole truth. It was not a wall and a snake and a fan and a pillar. It was an elephant.


If you look at the human body, it is made of various systems like the circulatory, respiratory, skeleton etc. but the body is more than just these systems. And you are more than just the body or your title and position. Get the big picture. The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

We usually have only partial truth, even though it appears to be absolute. Others have their own. The big picture is very important to understand the complete truth. People see according to their own capability.


Leaders need to be able to see the big picture and pass on the vision. A true leader is one in whom the team trusts enough to buy in his or her vision, even if they do not see it thus. When the leader sees an elephant, the team sees it as well, in the eyes of the leader – beyond their wall, pillar, snake and fan.

Keep the big picture in mind.



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and now the language aspects -

अन्ध-गज न्यायः = andha-gaja nyāyaḥ

andha = blind.
gaja = elephant.

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