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April - June 2023

अन्धपङ्गुन्यायः|| Andhapangunyaya

It is unanimously recognized that Sanskrit language is the oldest of all languages. The Vedic scriptures are proof enough that this divine language has been prevailing in the world from time immemorial. The vast amount of knowledge was contained in Vedic scriptures through Sutras (aphorisms). Now, just as these Sutras (aphorisms) are intimately connected with the intellect, the popular sayings (proverbs) of a language are closely associated with the mind. These proverbs contain profound ideas relating to the domain of mind and as such, are quickly absorbed by a layman. Nyayas perform exactly the same function.


अन्धपङ्गुन्याय: or पङ्ग्वन्धन्यायः is a maxim of the lame man and the blind man. The story goes something like this. Once a blind man and a lame man came together accidentally. Both of them could not move about independently as the blind man was unable to see and the lame could not walk. They thought of a solution. The blind man took the lame man on his shoulder who could guide him and show him the proper path. With the co-operation of both of them, they were able to reach their destined place.

Different versions of the story are found in literatures of different parts of world. “The Blind Man and the Lame” is a fable that recounts how two individuals collaborate in an effort to overcome their respective disabilities.

There is also a story in the Hitopadesha, a book of morals in Sanskrit, dated 8th Century A.D. A similar tale also appears in Panchatantra.

While visual representations were common in Europe from the 16th century, literary fables incorporating the theme only began to emerge during the 18th century and the story was mistakenly claimed to be one of Aesop’s Fables. Interestingly, the gist of the story has been adapted in literature as well as paintings and statues by artists in different parts of the world.

Even though not quoted in Ayurvedic texts in direct form, अन्धपङ्गुन्याय: is found in various philosophical texts such as Tantravartika, Shankarabhashyam, Nyayamanjari and Sankhyakarika.

This maxim is traced to 5th Century B.C. to a book by Īśvara Kṛṣṇa called ‘Sāṁkhyakārikā’ and the verse goes like this:

पुरुषस्य दर्शनार्थे कैवल्यार्थं तथा प्रधानस्य |

पङ्ग्वन्धवदुभयोरपि संयोगस्तत्कृतः सर्गः ||

(For the exhibition of nature to the Spirit and for the emancipation of the Spirit, there is conjunction between the Spirit and Nature like the union between lame and the blind; from this conjunction proceeds creation.)

‘Prakriti’ is ‘Trigunatmika’ as it contains three attributes viz. sattva, rajas and tamas. On the other hand, ‘Purusha’ is ‘Trigunatita’ or ‘Nirguna’ or it does not contain any attributes. As Prakriti and Purusha are contrary in nature, they cannot produce any factor independently whereas when they are united, the creation will commence. Hence, the initiation of evolutionary process is best illustrated by अन्धपङ्गुन्याय:.

There is yet another dimension to this Nyaya. The Nyaya also underlines a subtle point that there cannot be union between two different things without some mutual need and this expectation is not possible without the relation of the helped and the helper. The substance is mutual co-operation with a view to overcome each other’s weakness and utilize strength for achieving the object desired. Any effort to gain undue advantage by one at the cost of another shall surely result in disaster.

The maxim also demonstrates how teamwork and complementary strengths help everyone succeed. However, proper placement of individual with different qualities (strength) in the team is necessary. Identification of strength is essential. This may be by team members themselves or an outsider; such an outsider could be the team leader who utilizes the strengths of team members realizing that there is no single individual who is of no use in this world.

It is aptly described in one of the Sanskrit subhashit:

अमन्त्रम् अक्षरं नास्ति नास्ति मूलमनौषधम् ।
अयोग्यः पुरुषो नास्ति योजकस्तत्र दुर्लभः ।।

There is no letter in the script that is not a mantra, a chanting, a principle; what we need is a Pandit, a scholar to pronounce it. There is no root / plant without medicinal value; what we need is a doctor to diagnose it. There is none in this world who is ineligible, inefficient, and ineffective; what we need is a MANAGER who manifests it.

In commercial world, a strong leader identifies individual strengths and weakness and distributes responsibilities in such manner that deficiency of core competency is overcome by union of mutual strengths. The whole effort is to make sure that both the team and individual benefits from the exercise. History is replete with such examples of leaders who have successfully employed strengths of their team members to achieve maximum mutual gain.

The small set of words अन्धपङ्गुन्यायः contains much knowledge relevant even today.