Vastushastra – Historicity and New Paradigms
I only am eternal and endure.
I am the shapeless formidable Vast,
I am the emptiness that men call Space
– Savitri, Sri Aurobindo
From Bramhan evolved Space
Tasmad va etasmadatma Akashah sambhutah
From Space evolved Air
From Air came Fire
From Fire came Water
From Water evolved Earth
From Earth came medicines
– Taittiriya Upanishad
The Indian thought and interpretation of the world is based on the five primordeal elements: earth, water, fire, wind and ether (space). The Vedic and the Agamic traditions have always held that the microcosm is but a reflection of the macrocosm. At the subtle level it is the energy, at the gross level it is the Form. A dwelling is an ecological unit, a microcosm which reflects the macrocosm, is influenced by the same elements, follows the same rules.
The modern mind identifies Ecology with nature, but excludes its spiritual element. For Vãstushãstra, however, the spiritual aspect and the five primordeal elements are the starting point for a design.
What is Vãstushãstra? How can it benefit you?
Vãstushãstra is the ancient Indian system of designing finely-tuned buildings which ‘resonate’ in harmony with the occupants and owners and promote wealth, prosperity, happiness, mental peace and spiritual growth.
An ideal structure should have a dynamic equilibrium of energy. Any serious disequilibrium will manifest as mechanical problems, breakdowns, loss of production, severe financial problems, labour troubles, fire, burglary, litigations, penalties, personal and family problems, accidents, even loss of life.
Vaastu 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. It aims at ensuring the happiness, prosperity and well being of the residents.
Just as a maestro who understands the psychological effect of different octaval vibrations and plays with them to produce soul stirring music which can have a deep impact also on the environment, similarly a Vastuvid who understands the dynamics of forces and their energies can design a structure which resonates with the personality and aspiratuins of the owners and occupants. Such a structure ensures their prosperity and family happiness.
According to Mayamata there are 4 kinds of Vastus:
- The vastu of site
- The Vasstu of building
- The Vastu of Vehicles
- The Vastu of furniture
The authenticity of the tradition
No irrational tradition can survive infinitely the test of time. The survival of Vastu for tens of centuries is a testimony to its authenticity and practical utility.
It is noteworthy that although the Indian peninsula has a highly diversified habitat, the builders followed same principles of Vastu – from the hot plains of Rajasthan to the sea washed Kerala – and with identical results. Though they worked within a set framework of design rules, no two buildings have been designed alike.
The history of the tradition
The antiquity of Vãstu Shãstra is reflected in its direct link with the English word Geometry and its latin root. In Vãstu , measurement of land is an integral part of its work and it is called Jyamiti. In Sanskrit ‘Jya’ means the earth and ‘miti’ is the method of measurement’. Therefore, Geometry actually means ‘measuring the Earth’.
It is difficult to pinpoint the historicity of Indian traditions because of their oral origin. These traditions have given more importance to the spiritual aspects, rather than to the history. 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 Vastu cannot be denied. Folklore mentions Maya and Vishwakarma as great architects. Matsyapurana mentions the names of 18 sages who are said to have established the science of Vastu. The sages were spiritual researchers, seekers of truth, unravellers of the mysteries of the universe.
The literature of the tradition
The following are the important works of Vastushastra
- Vishwakarma Vastushastra
- Samarangana Sutradhar
- Mandana Sutradhar
- Rajasimha Vastu
- Manushyalaya Chandrika
- Kashyapa Shilpa
- Aparajita Pricha
- Vishwakarma PrakashSanatkumara Vastushastra
References to Vastushastra are also found in the following Agamic and Pauranic literature:
Vastushastra is based on Indian Yoga. Just as the parana flows freely through the body of a healthy yogi, so is a house designed to allow free flow of Prana within. The centre of the plot is considered to be the ‘nabhi’ , or the centre of the human body. The NE is the head, the Sahastrar Chakra and the SW is the base, the Mooladhar Chakra. The NE-NW-SW side of the plot is the Pingala or the carrier of solar prana, and the NE-SE-SW area is the Ida or the carrier of Chandra Prana. The nabhi is where the prana originates and therefore has the highest concentaration if energy. IT is therefore called the Brmhasthan, or the Place of Brahma, and no construction is allowed on this spot. The NE is the Sahastrar, therefore is the place where all intellectual and spirituql activities are performed. The Ida side supports all creative and life promoting activities. The Pingala side supports all heavy,difficult, and worldly activities. A good design will leave open area and do light construction on Ida side and undertake heavy cosnstruction on Pingala side. As a rule the SW is made the heaviest part of the construction.
Thus we see that Vastu is a scientific method of designing and construction which aims at establishing a dynamic balance between form and energy so that harmonious conditions re created for the inhabitants.
A house is an organic whole where indiscriminate xtensions/alterations/mutilations should not be carried out.
The modern society needs to garner the benefit of Vãstushãstra more than ever before.
The way we live has changed. Our lifestyles have undergone radical transformations. It reflects our prosperity, progress and development. It is more comfortable, secure and stable than ever before.
Indeed, the lifestyle is our yardstick for measuring progress.
Simultaneously the society is exposed to more brutal pressures than ever. The modern living has exerted unprecedented pressure on the people and their habitat. All around us we find an increase in family and work related tension. People are more prone to hypertension, stresses, pain, anger, agony and antipathy. Everybody in the society is looking for various means and ways to find relief from tensions at levels of physical, mental, spiritual, financial, matrimonial or any social or non-social physcological conflicts
An intelligent application of Vãstushãstra principles can add richness to our lifestyle. It can insulate us from these negative influences and promote peace, harmony, prosperity, wealth, happiness, mental peace and spiritual growth.
Even finances. Finances are highly sensitive to Vãstushãstra changes, and it is possible to manipulate buildings designs to ensure healthy financial conditions.
Correct implementation of Vãstushãstra principles can improve relationships between co-workers, between management and workers, between friends and relatives, between organizations and their clients – the scope of Vãstushãstra in modern living is vast.
Some of the areas where Vãstushãstra principles can be applied successfully are as following:
Commercial & Office Complexes: For better profitability
Corporate Offices: For higher profits, better customer relations,
Educational Institutes: For better results
Entertainment Complexes: For better Value
Hospitals: For better health elated services
Hotels: For higher popularity and profits
Industrial Plants: Exremely high scope for implementation of Vãstushãstra principles
Interiors: For better harmony
Landscaping: for prosperity
Low cost housing for developing countries: for a better life to the occupants
Neighbourhood layouts and Residential Complexes: For a sense of neighbourliness, security, friendliness, kindness, and security
Public Buildings – government buildings, airports and stations: For better efficiency
Sports Complexes; For lower maintenance and better performance by the sportsmen.
Town Planning: For a prosperous town
Of particular interest would be the application of Vãstushãstra principles in designing the layouts of industries. Industries are highly susceptible to Vãstushãstra faults. The reason is obvious: they are exposed to heavy loads of machinery, raw material and finished goods, brute mechanical action of the machines like cutting, piering, shearing, drilling, bending, high to very high temperatures of furnaces, heat treatment plants, welding activities, movement of heavy vehicles, goods, people etc.
Poor Industrial Vãstushãstra planning can lead to several severe problems in a factory. A sensible and intelligent application of Vãstushãstra design principles can help greatly in eliminating a number of the following potential problems:
Burglary / theft
Delay in construction
High mechanical failure
Loss of reputation
Poor financial returns
Slump in professional life
Tension between promoters
Wasteful, unnecessary expenditures
Vãstushãstra 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 Vãstushãstra. A correct interpretation and application of tenets and Vãstushãstra postulates combined with modern architecture can go a long way in alleviating the pressures of modern living.