I-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 7

Topic 7 - The person of the size of a thumb is Brahman

Sutra 1,3.24

शब्दादेव प्रमितः ॥ २४ ॥

śabdādeva pramitaḥ || 24 ||

śabdāt—From the word; eva—itself; pramitaḥ—measured.

24. From the very word (‘Lord’ by which it is referred to in the text) (the being) measured (by the size of the thumb is Brahman).

We read in the Kaṭha vallī 'The Person of the size of a thumb stands in the middle of the Self, as lord of the past and the future, and henceforward fears no more'; 'That Person of the size of a thumb is like a light without smoke,' etc. (Ka. Up. II, 4, 1; 13). And 'The Person not larger than a thumb, the inner Self, is always settled in the heart of men' (Ka. Up. II, 6, 17). A doubt here arises whether the being measured by the extent of a span be the individual soul or the highest Self.--The Pūrvapakshin maintains the former view; for, he says, another scriptural text also declares the individual soul to have that measure, 'the ruler of the vital airs moves through his own works, of the size of a thumb, brilliant like the sun, endowed with purposes and egoity' (Svet. Up. V, 7; 8). Moreover, the highest Self is not anywhere else, not even for the purpose of meditation, represented as having the size of a thumb. It thus being determined that the being of the length of a thumb is the individual Self, we understand the term 'Lord,' which is applied to it, as meaning that it is the Lord of the body, the sense-organs, the objects and the instruments of fruition.--Of this view the Sūtra disposes, maintaining that the being a thumb long can be none but the highest Self, just on account of that term. For lordship over all things past and future cannot possibly belong to the individual Self, which is under the power of karman.--But how can the highest Self be said to have the measure of a thumb?--On this point the next Sūtra satisfies us.

Sutra 1,3.25

हृद्यपेक्षया तु मनुष्याधिकारत्वात् ॥ २५ ॥

hṛdyapekṣayā tu manuṣyādhikāratvāt || 25 ||

hṛdi-apekṣayā—With reference to the heart; tu—but; manuṣya-adhikāratvāt—man (alone) being entitled.

25. But with reference to (the space in) the heart (the Highest Brahman is said to be of the size of a thumb); (and because) man alone is entitled (to the study of the Vedas).

In so far as the highest Self abides, for the purpose of devout meditation, in the heart of the devotee-- which heart is of the measure of a thumb--it may itself be viewed as having the measure of a thumb. The individual soul also can be said to have the measure of a thumb only in so far as dwelling within the heart; for scripture directly states that its real size is that of the point of a goad, i.e. minute. And as men only are capable of devout meditation, and hence alone have a claim on scripture, the fact that the hearts of other living creatures also, such as donkeys, horses, snakes, etc., have the same size, cannot give rise to any objection.--The discussion of this matter will be completed later on.