Men are NOT to be measured by Inches!!! (Post No.2833)

short 3

Article written by London swaminathan


Date: 23 May 2016


Post No. 2833


Time uploaded in London :–   18-14


( Thanks for the Pictures)




(for old articles go to OR


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Among the Indian Prime Minsters Lal Bahadur Shastri was the shortest one; but he was the greatest among Prime Ministers belonging to Congress Party. All others have earned a bad name one way or other. But yet there are some wrong views about the short people all over the world.

The English proverbs are as follows:

Short folk are soon angry

Short folk’s heart is soon at their mouth.

A little pot is soon hot.

As sore fight wrens as cranes (meaning is ‘a small person, when provoked, will fight as ardently as anyone else)


In Tamil they say you can trust a Kallan/thief but not a Kullan/short fellow. We can’t find any rhyme or reason in the above sayings.


It is pity that small persons are given the role of comedians, jesters and clowns in films and circuses. Sanskrit Neeti Shastras (Law Books) say that short fellows, dwarfs, hunch backs, handicapped should be appointed at the harems.


But there some good things about short people as well:

A little body often harbours a great soul

Men are not to be measured by Inches

The best things come in small packages.


In Indian languages we have a proverb saying ‘Murti/figure may be small, but Keerti/fame is great.


Tamil Poet Tiruvalluvar praises short people

“Do not despise men for their forms; there are men like the axle pin of a big rolling car”(Tirukkural 667)


It is not wise to belittle men of small size, for they may perform great actions. It is quite often extremely unwise to judge persons, because of an unimposing appearance or unimpressive external form, as Rajaji would say, because many of these men possess great strength of mind and action. Appearances tend to deceive. The classic story of David and Goliath in the Bible is relevant, says Dr S M Diaz in his Tirukkural commentary.


Famous Tamil poetess Avvaiyar says in ‘Vakkundam’:-

“ Look at the sea; it is vast but the water is not drinkable. But a small spring on the shore may give drinkable water. So don’t despise the form. The flower of aloe plant may be big. But smaller flower Makizam Pu gives more fragrant smell.

Another poet says in Araneri:-

Don’t be arrogant thinking that you are better qualified than others. Even a small umbrella can blot (can make a shadow under) the sun. Even learned men may be humbled by the words of less learned; so don’t be arrogant.


Vamana (dwarf) Avatar

One of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu was a small form. The Vamana (dwarf) avatar which first appeared as a short person took a great form expanding from earth to sky known as Trivikrama (striding to the three worlds). So Hindus compare a clever but short person to Vamana.

Agastya was called as a dwarf or a short saint; but he was praised sky high in Hindu literature.


Jonathan Swift copied Tamil folk tale

In the famous political satire Gulliver’s Travels the Lilliputians were very small. Gulliver and Lilliputians do lot of funny things. But this story exists in South Indian folk tales in a different form. Also in the Rig Veda as Valakhilyas/thumb sized ascetics.

The story is as follows:-

A couple gave birth to child after a long time in their married life. But the child measured only the size of a thumb. He was called Master Thumb. Their parents were very much worried about his size. Wherever he was taken people looked at him and made embarrassing comments. One day a gang of thieves saw Mr.Thumb and abducted him so that they can use him for their criminal activities.


That night he was taken to a business man’s house who was the richest person in the town. They asked Mr Thumb to slip through the gate and get the keys from the businessman who was fast asleep. Mr Thumb, though short, was very intelligent. He stole the key from the businessman and came back to the gate and asked the thieves their next plan. They told him to open the chest and get all the jewellery out. Now Mr Thumb decided to trick them.


As instructed he went in and opened the chest and took some jewellery but pretended like a stupid boy. He shouted in high pitch, “Oh, fellows! do you want the big necklace and or the small necklace?”. They hushed him and said bring whatever you can bring. He went inside the room and shouted again, do you want the big diamond or small diamond ring? Now the business man was woken up by his screeching voice. He alerted his watchmen and chased the thieves with his dogs and caught them. When he came to know that Mr Thumb was the one who helped him to catch the thieves he and his family was given a big cash reward. They lived happily ever after.


This is a Tamil story with lot of mischiefs and pranks done by Master Thumb. I have cut the story short. Stories like Valakhilyas and Mr Thumb must have inspired Swift to write the novel. We have other dwarf stories in the Western Literature. Probably they were their own creations.

My previous article

 Valakhilyas: 60,000 thumb-sized ascetics who protect Humanity; posted on 31 December 2011





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