We see so much of inter-religious and intra-religious disharmony, misunderstanding and communal tension in the world today. More than 130 years ago Sri Ramakrishna explained the reasons for this malady through a beautiful parable.
Four blind men went out to see an elephant. One blind man touched the leg of the elephant and said that the elephant is like a pillar. Second one touched the trunk of the elephant and said that the elephant is like a thick club. Then the third one touched the belly of the elephant and said that the elephant is like a big jar. The fourth one touched the ear of the elephant and said that the elephant is like a big winnowing basket. Thus they began to discuss hotly among themselves about the shape of the elephant.
A passerby seeing them quarreling thus said, “What is it that you are quarreling about?” The blind men narrated to him everything and requested him to arbitrate.
He said, “None of you have seen the elephant completely. The elephant is not like a pillar, but its leg is like a pillar. The elephant is not like a winnowing basket, but its ear is like a winnowing basket. It is not like a club, but its trunk is like a club. Similarly, the elephant is not like a big jar, but its belly is so. The elephant is the combination of these i.e. legs, ears, trunk, belly and so on.”
Drawing inference from the above story Sri Ramakrishna would say that in the same manner those who quarrel about the nature of God have only a partial understanding of the reality and all the quarrels and differences are because of this incomplete knowledge. That is why he would always say, “As many faiths so many paths”.