The Upanishadic texts reiterate the existence of a purusha (being) of the size of the thumb (angustha matram) enshrined in the interiors of the heart (hridaye guhaayaam - Cave of the Heart) of a human being. On these lines, one of the principal Upanishads, the Katha Upanishad in 2nd Valli 1.12-13 shruti lays down,
"The self (purusha), who is of the size of a thumb (angustha), resides in the body.
The self who is the size of a thumb is a light (jyoti) without smoke."
Certain other Upanishads describe the purusha to be of a golden (hiranmaya) hue and the purursha as a golden being (hiranmaya purusha). The purusha is seated inside the cave of the human heart. As per Hindu religious beliefs, the heart is identified as the abode of divinity within the body. In Gita, Lord Krishna enunciated that he stays within heart of each human being.
This "being" dwelling inside the heart has been equated with the jiva or the self which carries the consciousness and a meta-physical body (prakriti), also termed as the karana sharira. The karana sharira has most transcendental existence and accumulates the experiences of the physical, earthly life. This 'jiva' is a spark of divinity, and its place in the body is the heart region.
As per Sri Aurobindo, the angustha purusha is made up of elements of chaitya (chetna), i.e. the angustha purusha is a being existing at the psychic (Chetas) sphere. Sri Aurobindo mentions that behind the ordinary chakra of the human heart region, inside a deep cave nihite guhayam as described by the Upanishads, is the center where a divine spark is present. This thumb-sized purusha is the bird in the twin-bird analogy of the Rigveda and Sankhya (dvau suparna sayuja sakhaya) which actually gets involved in the prakriti and suffers and/or enjoys the fruits of its Karma.
As per Upanishads, the hiranmaya angustha purusha embodies the karana sharira. This hiranmaya angustha purusha is the vehicle of transmigration of soul among births.
The visualizations regarding the size of the 'self' has been of great significance in the Upansihads. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad in V. 5.6.1 and the Chandogya Upanishad in V.3.14.3 maintain the size of the self to be equalt to a seed. The Shatapata Brahmana, V.10.6.3, mentions that the self:
...in the interior of my heart, is as tiny like a rice or barley or millet seed and golden like a smokeless light (or flame).
These differential conceptualizations regarding the size of the self by the principal Upanishads themselves clearly indicates that the 'angustha purusha' is only a philosophical tool to elucidate the concept of 'jiva' and 'jivatma'.
The angustha purusha is indestructible and resplendent and is contra-distinct from the purusha of the Purusha sukta. The angustha purusha is individualistic jivaatma while the primeval purursha of the purusha sukta is the collective paramatma.
- Purusha sukta
- Hindu deities
- Hindu idealism
- Hindu mythology