The Blind Men and the Elephant

the blind men and the elephantThis children’s story is based on a religious parable from India. It tells how six blind men come across an elephant for the first time and try to decide what it must look like by using their sense of touch. Each comes up with different idea, as they all put their hands on a different part.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Elementary level Simplified English story which are not in our 800 word list are: , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

The parable is generally thought to be of Jain or Buddhist origins, but versions also appear in Sufi Muslim and Hindu writings. The story was introduced to Western audiences thanks to a poem of the same name by the American poet John Godfrey Saxe. We have included a link to this above for anyone who is interested.

50 famous storiesOur source for the story was a book called Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin (1841-1925). Baldwin was a self-educated teacher who at one time was estimated to have written or edited over half of the school books then in use in the United States. The book was first published in 1896, and can be downloaded as an e-book from Project Gutenberg here or as an audiobook from Librivox here.


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blind(adj: blind, blinder, blindest) Not able to see. She is blind in one eye. 2000

elephant(n: elephant pl elephants) A very large gray animal with thick skin, a long nose [called a trunk] and two long teeth that come out of the side of its mouth [called tusks]. 4000

fool(n: fool pl fools) A person who does not have a good sense or judgment; a stupid or silly person.
(v: fool, fools, fooled, fooling) 1. To speak or act in a playful way. Stop fooling about! 2. To trick or deceive. She fooled me with her story. 2000

sharp(adj: sharp, sharper, sharpest) 1. Having a thin edge that is able to cut things or a fine point that is able to make a hole in things. (แหลมคม) 2. [of changes in direction] Sudden and quick. A sharp turn. (ทันทีทันใด) 3. [of speaking] In an angry or unpleasant way. A sharp voice. (รุนแรง) 4. [of a sound] Loud, short, and sudden. (เสียดแทง) 2000

smooth(adj: smooth, smoother, smoothest) Having an even surface; not rough. Her skin is as smooth as silk. (เรียบ) 3000

spear(n: spear pl spears) A weapon that has a long straight handle and a sharp point. (หอก) 5000

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