Like a lot of blind men feeling a great elephant.
Buddhism.–The proverb alludes to a celebrated fable in the Avadânas, about a number of blind men who tried to decide the form of an elephant by feeling the animal. One, feeling the leg, declared the elephant to be like a tree; another, feeling the trunk only, declared the elephant to be like a serpent; a third, who felt only the side, said that the elephant was like a wall; a fourth, grasping the tail, said that the elephant was like a rope, etc.]
“Even gaki are a multitude (or, ‘population’).” This is a popular saying used in a variety of ways. The ordinary meaning is to the effect that no matter how poor or miserable the individuals composing a multitude, they collectively represent a respectable force. Jocosely the saying is sometimes used of a crowd of wretched or tired-looking people,–sometimes of an assembly of weak boys desiring to make some demonstration,–sometimes of a miserable-looking company of soldiers. Among the lowest classes of the people it is not uncommon to call a deformed or greedy person a “gaki.”