On the surface we can interpret Gandhi as pointing out how such a law is problematic on a physical and real level. Many people were left blind and without hands. And in a society where every eye and hand was valuable in helping ensure survival of families and communities, everyone suffered.
On a higher level though there is a metaphorical blindness that provides additional depth to Gandhi's statement. Ever heard the expressions; "blind with rage", "blind fury", and "blinded by jealousy"? The immutable Jack Burton of "Big Trouble in Little China" says in his opening monologue,
Like I told my last wife, I says, 'Honey, I never drive faster than I can see, besides that, it's all in the reflexes.' Each of these sayings describe a situation where people's emotions drive them faster than they can see. Faster than they can see everything their actions will do. Faster than they can see the ramifications their philosophies would have if widely adopted by society. They are truly blind because cannot see the ramifications beyond their immediate selves.
And therein lies the problem of "an eye for an eye". While meant to be a fertile ground to teach the ramifications of your actions with personal experience, it is nourishing to weeds of selfishness born from seeds of jealousy.
You see, though a useful task-master for emerging societies, such vindictive and forced equality in the name of justice is not the most excellent way. And Gandhi was not the first to discover its shortcomings. For about the past two millenniums, many moral leaders have taught a higher law. A law that supersedes equality? Well yes and no. 'Yes' in that it is a law that supersedes the "eye for an eye" accounting of equality, but it does not replace the spirit and meaning of equality.
From Christ to Buddha, a code has distilled in the echelons of societies all over the world that describes a justice that achieves more opportunity and more civility. These morals seek to directly remedy and reduce the causes of violence; rage, jealousy, fury, etc... Again from Jack Burton's opening monologue,
Just listen to the old pork chop express and take his advice on a dark and stormy night, all right? When some wild-eyed eight foot tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against a bar room wall and looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you 'have you paid your dues?', well you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye and you remember what ol' Jack Burton says at a time like that: 'have you paid your dues, Jack?' Yes sir, the check's in the mail.
I fear in the expectation of dues owed by society from selfish individuals that we are seeing a degradation back to ideals of, "an eye for an eye" in all of its blind and selfish ugliness. Its darkest manifestation is in the contemporary battle cry of social homogenization "they have it so we should too", left in and of itself as the lone justification of government intervention.
If you look at the civil rights movement, you'll notice that its leaders went to great lengths to do more than simply argue "they have it so we should too" because its over-simplification was dangerous. In such a distilled form, unbuffered and undiluted, it had the capacity of abolishing distinctions made for anyone. Common examples of good distinctions at risk are: I'm not allowed to park in handicap parking spots without being handicapped, and I'm not allowed to drive a car until I'm 16, and so forth.
One need only look at recent history to observe how the term 'discrimination' has gone from being an appreciation of diversity and difference (i.e. a person with discriminating tastes) to being an epithet of moral corruption. Another example comes in the unspoken core and intangible moral support of Jello Biafra's observation of social lament, "give me convenience or give me death".
Civil Rights leaders strategically targeted their arguments to show that the differences in treatment based on the distinction of their skin color was unjustified, not that distinction itself was the enemy. They argued that they were inherently entitled privileges and rights that society robbed them of because of that benign trait. They convinced a nation that society was robbing from them what nature had entitled them to. And as "the Creator['s]" entitlement is what the Declaration of Independence is based on and accepted so overwhelmingly they had a great case.
But, it was a low bar to traverse under. Many noted how demeaning it was even have to point out that they had written languages, freedom, shared water sources, etc., before the white man came and told them they couldn't. Many decided to get militant and fight rather than demean themselves to that level. Those that did pass under the bar are held in honor and respect for their efforts.
It was their faith in their independent entitlement that won the day as the power of their argument proved stronger than force. It compelled the populous North (already freed from the economic need for slave labor) to fight for their freedom politically then militarily. Later the 14th Amendment was popularly ratified. And even before the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v Virginia, anti-miscegeny laws were already being shot down by the voters in state after state.
They didn't fight against "prejudice" and "discrimination" as indictments against any form of distinction as the eye-for-an-eye social homogenization requires. Their distinction -- skin color and lineage -- was presented to the court of public opinion to be judged if it was worthy of the discriminatory treatment they received. The court of public opinion ruled that these were benign traits that had no bearing on their entitlement.
And not coincidentally this is what James Madison postulated in Federalist Papers #51 where he argued that preserving distinction protects rights. It is a far more powerful an argument to preserve distinction than appeal to the ease and simplicity of enforced social homogenization. In this case protecting the distinction of minority interests, was something that was in everyones minority interests. Homogenization, as one might achieve by arguing "they have it so we should to", was precarious and would wind up oppressing minorities in driving out their distinctiveness as a horrible boogey-man.
Note how Christ replaced the pronouncement of equality, "an eye for an eye", with "do unto others as you would have done to you". Its really the lesson one learns under the law of "an eye for an eye". But Christ's pronouncement of equality is popularly referred to as "The Golden Rule" and not "The Golden Law". It not easy to code and enforceable like "an eye for an eye". It is an unenforceable code of individual morality that replaces blindness with personal insight.
And it is with faith in "The Golden Rule" as an understandable replacement to the harsher pronouncement of equality that Madison makes his remarks. The following is directly from Federalist #15. See how Madison's faith is not only in the rule, but in its inherent compulsion of the populous to enforce it.
It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens.
As I understand Madison, it is in the protection and distinction of peculiar interests of each minority that give the republic the drive to protect minorities. And collective cobbling of interests for "of the society itself;" (e.g. the push to do away with distinction merely for the sake of equality through homogenization) "...is but a precarious security; because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties."
If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority -- that is, of the society itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable.
The first method prevails in all governments possessing an hereditary or self-appointed authority. This, at best, is but a precarious security; because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties. The second method will be exemplified in the federal republic of the United States.
Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.
So by preserving distinction we are preserving the rights of the minorities. But if one can show independent claim, then they can show that the distinction itself is "of the society itself;" and should be done away by. That, my friends, is just what the civil rights activists of the '60s did.
Let me state this in sound-bite form even though it pales in comparison to what has been offered by Christ and Gandhi already...
Preserving distinction protects the minority, enforcing equality through homogenization threatens it.