By Swami Harshananda
Vitasti literally means ‘span’.
Vitasti as per Upaniṣad
Vitasti seems to be a standard measure of length from the oldest times. It is described as the twelve aṅgulas.
Vitasti as per Architecture
Works on architecture and iconography have defined vitasti as the measurement of a span, the length between the tips of the thumb and the little finger when stretched. When this length is divided into twelve equal parts, each part is called as an aṅgula. Aṅgula is also the width of a finger. It is about three-fourths of an inch.
- Mahānārāyana Upaniṣad 13.7
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore