निरन्तरं स्वयंज्योतिरणिमानमखण्डितम् ॥ १७ ॥
kevalaṁ prakṛteḥ param
At that time the soul can see himself to be transcendental to material existence and always self-effulgent, never fragmented, although very minute in size.
In the state of pure consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one can see himself as a minute particle nondifferent from the Supreme Lord. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the jīva, or the individual soul, is eternally part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Just as the sun’s rays are minute particles of the brilliant constitution of the sun, so a living entity is a minute particle of the Supreme Spirit. The individual soul and the Supreme Lord are not separated as in material differentiation. The individual soul is a particle from the very beginning. One should not think that because the individual soul is a particle, it is fragmented from the whole spirit. Māyāvāda philosophy enunciates that the whole spirit exists, but a part of it, which is called the jīva, is entrapped by illusion. This philosophy, however, is unacceptable because spirit cannot be divided like a fragment of matter. That part, the jīva, is eternally a part. As long as the Supreme Spirit exists, His part and parcel also exists. As long as the sun exists, the molecules of the sun’s rays also exist.
The jīva particle is estimated in the Vedic literature to be one ten-thousandth the size of the upper portion of a hair. It is therefore infinitesimal. The Supreme Spirit is infinite, but the living entity, or the individual soul, is infinitesimal, although it is not different in quality from the Supreme Spirit. Two words in this verse are to be particularly noted. One is nirantaram, which means “nondifferent,” or “of the same quality.” The individual soul is also expressed here as aṇimānam. Aṇimānam means “infinitesimal.” The Supreme Spirit is all-pervading, but the very small spirit is the individual soul. Akhaṇḍitam means not exactly “fragmented” but “constitutionally always infinitesimal.” No one can separate the molecular parts of the sunshine from the sun, but at the same time the molecular part of the sunshine is not as expansive as the sun itself. Similarly, the living entity, by his constitutional position, is qualitatively the same as the Supreme Spirit, but he is infinitesimal.