Vastu Architecture, Harmonious Habitat and National Growth
The article “Vastu Architecture, Harmonious Habitat and National Growth” has been written by Arun Naik for 5th National Convention and Exposition – “Housing for All” which is being organized by NAREDCO on 11-13 March 2005 at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003.
The author has a copyright on the said article, and no part of the article may be reproduced either in print or electronic form without the explicit permission of the author.
This paper focuses on the untapped potential of Vastu architecture for creating harmonious habitat and a strong nation.
Housing would acquire an abbreviated and truncated meaning if it is interpreted as providing merely a shelter. A house is much more than a shelter and a roof over one’s head – it is a home, a structure which the ancient Indian architecture saw as an organic entity which can be a catalytic factor in growth and stability in life, a space which embraces us, sustains our peace and happiness, offers us comfort and shelter, and become the pivot for our physical, mental and spiritual growth.
Sri Aurobindo wrote:
“Indian sacred architecture of whatever date, style or dedication goes back to something timelessly ancient and now outside India almost wholly lost, something which belongs to the past, and yet it goes forward too, though this the rationalistic mind will not easily admit, to something which will return upon us and is already beginning to return, something which belongs to the future.”
– Sri Aurobindo, The Renaissance in India
Vãstu: Traditional Indian Architecture
Vãstu Shãstra is an ancient Indian system of designing and construction. It aims at establishing a dynamic balance between Form and Energy so that harmonious conditions are created for the inhabitants. The Masters of Vãstu Architecture studied the subtle yet extremely powerful forces of the Universe, their movements, currents, attributes and their effect on all facets of human life. Equipped with this knowledge they used their profound insight to formulate architectural rules aimed at designing such building which would be in harmony with the natural forces, their flows and frequencies, and that any work done in those building would manifest as riches, peace, and prosperity. These rules cover all aspects of housing from selection of the site to final construction of the building, are valid even today and continue to produce positive results.
Vãstu buildings have harmonious energies. They promote stability, prosperity, happiness, and mental peace for the occupants and owners. For Vãstu any building is an altar raised to the Divine Self, a house of the Cosmic Spirit, an appeal and aspiration to the Infinite.
Vãstu goes beyond designing and architecture. At a higher level it deals with the subtle effect of the design on the environment and people by taking into consideration the radiations from Sun, other planets and various ground field forces. Its aim is not merely to design beautiful and comfortable buildings, rather it aims at designing such buildings which can have a positive influence on the happiness, prosperity and well being of the residents.
The Vedic and the Agamic traditions have always held that the microcosm is but a reflection of the macrocosm. A dwelling is an ecological unit, a microcosm which reflects the macrocosm, it is influenced by the same elements, and it follows the same rules. The principles of Vãstu architecture are the applied aspect of this philosophy, a highly refined method of creating a living space which is a miniature replica of the cosmos as perceived by the Vedas. Vãstu Architecture is about emulating the attributes of the Cosmic Space, about bringing the divine sentinels of Cosmic Directions into our homes, about creating Harmony by creating a living environment where the forces of nature are balanced and at peace with each other.
The guidelines and rules of Vãstu Shãstra have been laid down clearly in several ancient texts, but the principles upon which they have been formulated are steeped deep into mystical Indian philosophy of Vedas, Yoga and Tantra. It may be speculated, however, based upon several observations, that these principles are deeply connected to the cosmic rays of the sun, the movement of Earth, and geomagnetism
The Antiquity of Vãstu Tradition
No irrational tradition can survive indefinitely. The survival of Vãstu for several centuries is a testimony to its authenticity and practical utility. The earliest reference to Vãstu is found in Rgveda where the sage offers a prayer to ‘Vastoshpati’, the Lord of Vãstu, for protection, happiness and prosperity. (Annexure A).
The earliest application of Vãstu Shãstra may be said to be in the construction of ceremonial alters for Vedic rituals. Shulbhsutra – the Vedic geometry was used to calculate and design these alters. Numerous passages of Katyayan, Baudhayana and Apastambha Shulbha deal with the size of sacrificial altars and their method of construction. The Shrautasutras, Grihyasutras and Dharmasutras contain detailed instructions for performing the vedic rites and the associated architectural aspects, like the construction of the vedi and selection of the place for performing the rites.
It is difficult to pinpoint the historicity of Indian traditions because of their oral origin. These traditions have given more importance to the core teachings rather than to their historical records. Consequently, little is known about the age of the treatise and the personal lives of the authors.
Notwithstanding these problems, the richness of the building and design tradition of Vãstu cannot be denied. Matsyapurana mentions the names of 18 sages who are said to have established the science of Vãstu. These sages have been revered in history as seekers of truth and unravellers of the mysteries of the universe. (Annexure B).
Though a major part of the Vedic literature is lost, a good number of Vãstu texts survive. Some of the more important and established Vãstu texts are listed in Annexure C.
the fundamental Principle of Vãstu Architecture
Vãstu Shãstra has a strong similarity to the principles of Yoga. Just as the Prana flows freely through the body of a yogi, so is a Vãstu house designed to allow free flow of Prana within. The geometric centre of the plot is equated with the human naval, the NE is the head, and the SW is the base. The left side of the plot is the Pingala nerve or the carrier of Solar Prana, and the right side is the Ida nerve or the carrier of Chandra Prana. The centre of the plot has the highest concentration of energy. It is therefore called the Bramhasthan and no construction is encouraged on this spot.
The right – Ida- side supports all creative and life promoting activities, and the left – Pingala – side supports all heavy, difficult, and worldly activities. A Vãstu architect plans more open area and light construction on Ida side and heavy construction on Pingala side. This maintains a dynamic equilibrium of energy in the structure, for any serious disequilibrium will manifest as disharmony in life.
For example, disequilibrium in a house will cause mental tension, chronic illness, emotional unrest, financial problems, distrust and misunderstandings with family members, separation, or even a loss of life.
Disequilibrium in an office will cause low sales, reduced profits, problems with enforcement agencies, low staff retentivity, litigations, shortfall in targets and missed deadlines.
A disequilibrium in a factory causes losses, mechanical problems, breakdowns, loss of production, severe financial problems, labour troubles, fire, burglary, penalties, personal and family problems, accidents, and in extreme cases, fatal accidents.
Vãstu Shãstra also firmly believes that each building – whether it is a house, a godown, a factory, or an office – is an organic whole where indiscriminate extensions, alterations or mutilations should not be carried out.
The Highest Benefit of a Vãstu shelter
Our Earth is a living planet. It breaths, vibrates and sustains life. But it is also exposed to a constant pressure from a multitude of forces of vast magnitudes which put the Earth’s Life Force constantly under stress. Some of the harmful forces are listed below.
Geopathic Stress and Telluleric Lines
Geopathic Stress is caused when the natural vibrations of the Earth are disturbed. This happens mainly by narrow paths of running water about 200 to 300 feet below ground, certain mineral concentrations, fault lines and underground cavities. Under normal conditions Earth emits natural beneficiary waves of 7.83 Hz frequency usually called Alpha waves. This phenomenon has been confirmed by NASA. A geopathic stress causes a change in the frequency of these waves.
Telluleric Lines are grid-like lines which cover the entire surface of the earth. The two famous lines are the Hartmann’s grid and Curry’s field. The crossing points of these lines are found to be detrimental to health, especially when intersecting with underground water veins.
The most common effect of Geopathic stress and Telluleric lines on human life is seen as susceptibility to cancer, asthma, heart problems, miscarriages, long term mental illness, low response to medical treatment, insomnia, birth of physically deformed children, long-term stress in relationships and a general instability in life. Offices and factories tend to suffer from personnel and productivity problems, schools have high absenteeism, children find it difficult to concentrate, commercial stores don’t get customers, and patients in hospitals tend to suffer the most.
The other harmfuil forces are the huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation and energy particles from the space, the fluctuating magnetic field of the Earth, the oscillating magnetic poles, Corialis Force, Chandler’s Wobble and the effect of changing moon on human emotions.
Vãstu Shãstra is the only system of architecture which promises homes with harmony. Therefore it is logical to say that Vãstu homes would shelter the residents from the harmful effect of these negative natural forces
Vãstu architecture and Housing
It has been observed that that those families who live in houses with Vãstu defects tend to suffer from psychological problems, relationship problems, chronic illness and serious setbacks in life, and when the Vãstu defects are removed or treated the problems also disappear.
The housing sector stands to benefit immensely if there is a blend of modern architectural techniques and skills with rules and guidelines of Vãstu architecture. Modern Architecture excels at scientific usage of space, designing energy efficient buildings, harnessing solar, wind and geo-thermal energy. But it stops at the physical and aesthetic level of building designing because unlike ancient Indian architecture, modern architecture is clueless about the subtle forces of nature and the immense benefit which the society can gain by harnessing them.
Houses designed on Vãstu principles would offer a healthy and a secure life for the housewife, a protection from emotional traumas and a meaningful existence for her self, her husband and her children. A family will have good income, good social and personal life, recognition in professional fields, and a strong family bond.
Incorporation of Vãstu principles in designing townships and housing projects will not escalate the cost if done carefully; however, if it does so, it would be very marginal, and that would be a small price to pay for the immense benefits that would follow.
Value Addition: The profile of the real estate customers and the investors has changed considerably over the past few years. Now we find them more educated, suave, and quite aware of the benefits of Vastu Arhitecture. Therefore, inclusion of Vastu principles in a property design would amount to extra value addition, and the customer would have a preference for such property.
Vãstu Architecture, Corporate World, and Indian Industries
The Corporate world can benefit from Vãstu principles to enhance their employees’ productivity and have better interpersonal relationships.particular interest would be the application of Vãstu principles in designing the layouts of industries.
India has suffered huge losses from the sick industries. According to the report of “Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India, on 31.12.2003″ the net worth of sick industries in India was Rs.54650.90 crores, their accumulated losses were a staggering Rs.103277.55 crores. These industries involved 23,35,757 workers (Annexure D). This is a terrible human tragedy, a terrible loss of manpower, and a staggering financial loss to the nation.
There is no doubt that most of these sick units must have tried their best to turn around, but experience shows that industries which suffer from critical problems in spite of their excellent management and infrastructure have one or several major Vãstu faults in their design and layout. Industries are highly susceptible to Vãstu faults because they are exposed to heavy loads of machinery, raw material, finished goods, brute mechanical action of the machines like cutting, piercing, shearing, drilling, bending, very high temperatures of furnaces, heat treatment plants, welding activities, movement of heavy vehicles, goods, people etc .It has also been observed when the Vãstu defects are removed the problems disappear.
Vãstu is, however, not a cure for all problems, nor is it a substitute to hard work and careful planning in life. It would be naive to assume that if Vãstu principles are utilized then success in life would become a foregone conclusion in all cases, because Vãstu principles work within the framework of natural laws, they aim at creating ambiences where hard work and sound planning yields quick results. The society should watch out for unscrupulous elements who are misguiding people at large in the name of Vãstu Architecture.
Sick Building Syndrome, Green Architecture and Vastu Architecture
The West has already begun its crusade against Sick Buildings. In 1974 the concept of Bau-biologie was propagated in Germany under Dr. Anton Schneider. In a broad sense the term Bau-biologie may be understood as the science of holistic interactions between life and living environment. The building environment has an effect upon the health of the occupants, and baubiologie uses this knowledge to build healthy homes by defining certain principles of where and how the buildings should be located, the selection of building materials, defining the parameters of desired moisture content, noise pollution, light, lighting, colour, use of harmonic measures, proportions and shapes and so on (Annexure E).
The concept of Bau Biologie is thirty years old, and it works at the physical level of building sickness. Fortunately, we have inherited the knowledge of Vãstu which is ancient and proven, and works at a much deeper level.
The global energy crisis has initiated a move towards Green Architecture. Perhaps we will be left with no other choice if we want our children to survive. Already work has begun in India by TERI and some individuals. Our buildings need to be integrated with nature. Man cannot be separated from his environment, he belongs to it. There is a holistic bond between the two of them. Also, all life stems from the Earth and therefore it is imperative that we make it a point to integrate our buildings and other constructions with Earth and our environment.
The modern technology and architecture have great common sense, practical vision, will to innovate, and Vãstu has its ancient wisdom, a philosophy of directions, space and measurements. A fusion of Green Architectural techniques, Bau biologie and Vãstu principles may well pave way for a revolution in real estate development and housing.
A word about Vastu and modern Architecture. At no point has it been suggested in this document that Vãstu Architecture should replace modern planning and architecture. It would be cynical to suggest that. Modern technology is unsurpassed in the history of the world in fields of space management, construction techniques, grand visions, initiative and a will to innovate and take on challenges headlong. What is being suggested is that the principles of Vãstu architecture should be profusely used in designing townships, colonies, co-operative housing, industrial areas, individual houses, and factories without compromising on the efficiency of modern architecture.
An appeal to Government agencies, ministries, builders and promoters
There is a global renaissance in faith, religion, traditional arts and crafts. In India, the traditional performing arts and handicrafts were patronized by the Government soon after Independence, but the patronage of traditional knowledge has remained a dream. The tradition of Vãstu Architecture has been carried down by a succession of scholars, and in the current scenario has made its presence felt purely upon its own merit. Vãstu is a living science and a great hope for our tomorrow. No other method of designing and construction is as deep, profound and philosophical as Vãstu. A correct interpretation and application of tenets and Vãstu postulate combined with modern architecture can go a long way in alleviating the pressures of modern living. It is the call of the hour to patronize and utilize the traditional sciences like Vãstu architecture which are relevant in modern times and can contribute in a positive manner to the creation of a better life for all. May we look forward to sacred spaces in all Indian houses where families feel safe, secure and comfortable, where human intelligence can think better, where our children can learn how to aspire high and actually reach there. Various community buildings like schools, primary health centers, village offices and community center and even middle and high-income housing while retaining their cost effectivity in terms of structural, functional and aesthetic sufficiency can be built on these principles.
Vãstu should not be viewed through tainted glass of religious or political fanaticism. It is a school of architecture which has its roots in the Vedas which belong to all humanity because what is good belongs to all. Therefore, incorporation of Vãstu principles and rules in designing and construction of housing projects and public buildings would not amount to patronization of a religious concept and would be within our country’s secular policy. In any case, adherence to Vãstu architecture is a choice, not a rule.
We are a nation with a glorious tradition and heritage of culture, knowledge and learning. Our time has arrived. The Planning Commission‘s document “India Vision 2020” is already published. Hon. President Dr. Abdul Kalam has also projected a vision of India being a super power by 2020. Today we are an emerging economy, we have a large pool of scientists, a giant technological workforce, self-sufficiency in food grains, and an overall development in core sectors. The Age of brute force is over, this is the age of Knowledge. Let us utilize the knowledge of Vãstu Architecture to harness the subtle energies of Cosmos for creating habitats, commercial and industrial zones, successful centers of higher education and scientific research, create environments where everyone of us performs well and grows, creates wealth and contributes to the growth of the nation. We are a nation of a billion people which is committed to success, and this juggernaut will not stop anymore.
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