Stories have been used to illustrate important ideas in different cultures for thousands of years, with some of the same stories appearing in more than one culture.  This story comes from the Vedic tradition and was told by Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Swami, the guru of the guru of my guru (spiritual teacher).

Drawing by Navie

The Blind Men & the Elephant

A group of blind men heard of a strange animal called an ‘elephant’ from some elderly people. Naturally they had a very strong urge to have first-hand experience of such an animal via the sense of touch. Walking sticks in hand, the blind persons arrived at the elephant stable in the royal palace, and requested the elephant keepers to permit them to touch the elephant’s different limbs.

Some of them got up on the elephant’s back with the assistance of the elephant keepers, some touched the trunk of the elephant, others touched its tail, and some felt its legs.

The blind person who touched the trunk of the elephant decided it must be some sort of large serpent. The one who touched the legs assumed that it was some pillar-like creature. Another who touched its ears, believed it to be something like a large fan, and the one who touched its belly concluded the animal must be like a big drum.

Thus, none of the blind persons, collectively or individually, fully understood the elephant.

The Meaning of the Story

Those who arrive at their own conclusion about the constitutional form of the Supreme Person by applying their materialistic knowledge and methods — so-called mundane education or objective observation — also suffer from such an imperfect and concocted conception of the truth.


Charley aka Caitanya das



  1. Thank you for your truths and wise words ,Charles. Not to change the subject. But I think I was led to change subject because I was thinking of contacting you because I just picked up a guitar that has me stumped and there you are in my emails . It is a Decalamania parlor guitar with silver metal flake fret board. I have not been able to find any thing like it. It looks to me like it from the 30’s . I will send pics. I would appreciate any information that you may have. As always thanks for your time. Namaste, Guy

    1. Hi Guy, This is a Regal guitar. If you google “Regal Stencil Guitar” in google images you will see more examples of this guitar. !925 or early 1930’s depending on the source.

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story and lesson. It reminds me of the story about when the railroad was constructed and three men perceived different things about the train according to their own understandings. It seems that everyone has very different views of the truth including myself. I always appreciate being reminded of my own imperfections.

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