Visiting the Rajah six blind men, upon entering the palace courtyard, encounter an elephant for the first time. Examining the elephant with their hands, each describes it according to the part he is touching. One says "the elephant is like a tree" (the leg), and another: "the elephant is like a rope" (the tail), a wall (it's side), and so on. The blind men soon begin to argue loudly in their disagreement over the nature of the elephant. The Rajah, awakened by the commotion comes to his balcony and informs the blind men that they are only examining a part, and that they must examine the whole animal to know what an elephant is like.
Though the fable is useless in revealing any truth about God, or religions for that matter, it does inadvertently reveal some truth about the person who would use it to that end. This can be seen by considering the positions and attributes of the players and who they represent. There are the blind men arguing in the court yard; they represent religions. There is the elephant who silently stands there being large; he represents God. And there's the sleeping Rajah who is elevated above the fray, and of course, can see all. He's not suppose to represent anybody, but he ends up representing the relativist.
The thrust of the fable is suppose to draw our attention to the blind men because of their closed-minded, and stubborn refusal to accept all religions as equally valid. But I'd like to divert the reader's attention away from the blind men and toward the person using the fable to make his relativistic point. As one listens to the story, the first question that should be asked is: who does the story teller most relate to? The answer of course is not those dogmatic blind and intolerant religious people arguing down in the courtyard; but rather the reasonable and seeing Rajah standing in his elevated balcony. This is the very reason the fable fails in making it's point. No person has ever escaped the bounds of our existence to be in a position from which religions can be objectively observed as they seek God. So claiming to be wise, they become fools. This is also the reason the fable makes it's unintended point: that those who think all religions are valid are the real narrow-minded blind men. They are blind to the fact that if differing religions disagree, only one can ultimately be true; they are narrow-minded in their lack of willingness to consider the possibility that any one can be true, and true to the exclusion of all others. It also reveals their utter ignorance on matters of religion, and their hypocrisy in the fact that though they themselves are blind, they accuse others of being so.
It has been said that ideals have consequences, and I would add that as of late, so do worldviews. In part 2 I will discuss the dangerous consequences for society of the real narrow mindedness illustrated by the Rajah.