The Metaphor of Blindness

Blindness is a blessing; blindness is a curse. It is physical; it is a psychological passion the intensity of which is proportionate to the loss or gain, happiness or misery, peace or war, creation or destruction, divine or human. In all situations, blindness becomes a metaphor. When our reason is clouded by mad senseless passion for anything, excessive love, we are blinded to unbounded pitfalls and falls. When our desires and cravings touch and respect the boundaries of rationality and teach us calm and poise and patience, our physical blindness turns a blessing that gives out the best that becomes the radiant ornamental of glorious literature. 

Homer was blind; Oedipus blinded himself; Milton became blind; Satan was blind in his pride and ambition and hatred against God; Gloucestor and Edgar are also seen blind in King Lear; Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello,Coriolanus and Brutus were blinded by their own eloquently mad passion that had its root insubtle revenge, vaulting ambition, provoked and misplaced jealousy, political unsophistication and senseless egoism. Surdas was blind; Ravinder Jain is blind; Dhritrashtra was blind; Kandhari chose to be blind by bandaging her eyes; Shakuni was blind and he blinded Duryodhana…I remember having seen many physically blind people finding their way through life, and then, I had hardly any idea of what blindness is. 

Now when I can see its ugliness and beauty and realize how I suffered immensely and gained profoundly in ugliness and beauty and look around to see much more infected. In moments of self-introspection, I feel that this is also a richly interesting area wherein we see “God’s plenty” and our own level of sensitivity endears us to what we see, feel and experience. It elevates our spirits enhancing our experiential knowledge far beyond our conceptual and intellectual knowledge.

It is equally fascinating to learn the lexical, linguistic and grammatical usage of blind. Once we have enriched ourselves with this wide variety, the joy of discovery merges into ourdelightful learning. 

The word blind is used as a verb, adjective, noun and adverb. It not only means simply lacking sight or vision or foresight, intellectual perception or discernment or unable to appreciate circumstance etc. or reckless or drunk……but it has some compounded or idiomatic or phraseological constructions also such as blind force, blind effort, blind ditch, blind alley, roller blind, fly blind, bake blind, blind spot, blind stamping, swear blind, blind faith, blind trust, blind following, turn a blind eye; similarly, blind used with prepositions conveys different meanings such as blind to, blind of, blind with etc. There is blind coal, blind corner and blind turn. However, in the most ordinary usage in our everyday work-a-day life, our blindness costs a lot. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to use oursight, insight, far-sight or fore-sight, with a calm and poised mind failing which our paths of life shall be accident-prone. We may not be justified in holding persons and pressures, men and matters responsible for the accidental mess. So caution and wisdom demand the use of a little sight to safeguard our happiness and it may mean disagreement or displeasure.

In the greatest Indian epic, The Mahabharata, the metaphor of blindness has been used so deftly and with such a masterly skill that its richness of variety and diversity of its implication and application simply stun us. Kaurvas brought upon themselves not only total ruin but also ignominy and effacement in their blindness. They were all blinded by their ignoble passion of hatred, jealousy and malice for the Pandvas. These base passions had been sowed, spread and scattered by Shakuni provoking and igniting these degrading, debasing, disgusting and devastating passions and prejudices, wrath and vulturous ambitions of supremacy and self-destructive revenge-all uncontrollable and bind to the abysmal darkness. Kandhari understood the annihilating role played by her brother, Shakuni, in misguiding, mis-educating and misleading her son, Duryodhana and she expressed her serious concern with what had been going on in the palace but Dhritrashtra, blind inside-out, would be pained at the warnings and revelations. Shakuni played a subtle game of cheating and deception, intrigues, conspiracy; the immediate success in the games maddened their happiness and  inflamed their eagerness for the fulfillment of dark irrationalities. This not only darkened but also further deepened their blindness to truth and Divine Justice. Even the failure of their heinous crimes against the Pandvas and the severe losses in the war field failed to awaken them.

Dhritrashtra was born blind. Kandhari chose to be blind by bandaging her eyes, less out of the blind dutifulness and respect to her husband, more perhaps out of unconscious knowledge of not being a witness to the disastrous tragic fall out of the blindness of all in her family and around her. Shakuni was blinded by his total hatred for the Pandvas and he invented and conceived every tact of the intellect to engulf everybody in his venomous snares, Duryodhana being his easy tool as he was blinded by his towering ambition to be the supreme ruler of Hasthinapur fed and flamed byShakuni. So Shakuni devised every cunning, conceit, conspiracy, intrigue to turn every loss into a gain, every defeat into a victory. He didn’t let anyone see the hidden and conspicuous irony in all that was happening as a consequence of which the Pandvas not only emerged safer but stronger and stronger preparing for the establishment of the Kingdom of the Good, the Noble and the Virtuous. Moreover, the heart-rending and poignant, and also horrible sights of the heaps of defeats, deaths and destruction in the camp of Kaurvas aggravated by blind hatred, jealousy and revengefulness exasperated and frustrated Dhritrashtra as there was none now to carry on the campaign of hatred, ruin and wreckage in his camp. He must accept in all humbleness his razed and humbled blindness and blind filial love and over-zealous ambition! It is the peak of irony that even after the death of his hundred sons and other kith and kin, he wanted to kill Bhima in his embrace when the Pandvas went to seek his blessings. How blind!

Today, filthy decline and degeneration and chaotic mess around us in our daily life can be clearly and fairly traced to large scale deliberate blindness and callousness to consequences of what wrongs we do consciously. When shall we learn to see to save the present from becoming the unpardonable future? 


More by :  Prof. R. K. Bhushan

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Views: 3878      Comments: 1

Comment Wonderful academic, analytical approach to 'blindness' , sir.But the visually handicapped in life go through hell, though they heroically, stoically face the grim realities of life.Kindly think of how Prof K.R Srinivasa Iyengar might have felt when cruel fate made him 'blind' [ the way the term was used repeatedly in the article] from writing and reading , his greatest passions in life.Yet, he managed to dictate and compose immortal works of abiding charm . If one door is closed, God opens another automatically.The ability to look within and look around with sympathy matters most in life.Thanks again for a good academically well researched article, Sir. Best regards.

chandra mouli
20-Sep-2011 02:07 AM

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