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1001 Stories Collection

The Six Blind Men and the Elephant

1001 thesixblindmenandtheelephant
Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from India

Asia Animals Fables
1001 , Audio , Text

A fable with many possible meanings.

Story

When an elephant arrives in their village, the six blind men are all curious to know what he is like. The gather round and each touches a part of him and believes that he has the answer.

Why we chose it

This was one of the stories chosen by Geraldine McCaughrean for our World Stories project in 2015. Children enjoy discussing the possible morals of the story.

Where it came from

The earliest known versions of this parable (a story with a moral) can be traced back to Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts. The story is used to show how our understanding of the truth is limited by our experience, or to illustrate that there are many sides to the same story.

Where it went next

The tale has become a popular analogy in many different cultures and disciplines, from philosophy to science. It has consequently been told and re-told in many different ways. The most famous version is a poem written in the nineteenth century by John Godfrey Saxe.

Associated stories

Plato, the Ancient Greek philosopher, told a story with a similar message in his best known work Republic (375 BC). The author Idris Shah adapted the tale in his book of stories The Dermis Probe (1970) in which the blind men were replaced with scientists, each looking at the elephant under a close-up lens.

Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from India

Asia Animals Fables
1001 , Audio , Text

Story Resources

  • The Six Blind Men and the Elephant story text PDF (35.833 KB)
    Download