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Vastu Shastra
Introduction on Vastu
Vastu is broadly, defined as a ‘place where people live’ and the Shastra or the science of dealing with dwelling places is called ‘Vastu Shastra’. Vastu, the ancient science of architecture is holistic and its tenets connect us to the universe. Modern architects and engineers build houses and buildings with the main purpose of providing shelter from the elements of wind, rain, fire and Sun, but the science and art of Vastu ensures through time tested principles not only protection from elemental forces of nature but also a peaceful and prosperous life.

Vastu is as relevant today, if not more, as it was thousands of years ago. It ensures not only financial welfare but also peace, prosperity and good health. Vastu principles are directed at harmonising external space with the internal space within a man.

Vastu is a holistic science which is in full conformity with the entire cosmos and flow of energy from all sources. The ancient sages of India made a deep study of different aspects of nature and discovered a clear link between the perfect order in man and his surroundings. They also found that orderliness of nature could, if adopted in human life, bring lasting and invaluable benefits. The temples of India are rich in architecture. They are the marvels of Vastu Shastra and give solace to millions of devotees who throng these temples. Similar is the case of ancient forts which have survived the vagaries of history and nature.
History of Vastu
Vastu dates back to the pre-Ramayana and the Mahabharatha periods. Our Puranic literature is full of references and knowledge about construction of buildings from houses to forts, palaces, temples and yajnashalas. Maharishi Bhrigu to Shukracharya and Brihaspati eighteen learned rishis have been referred as proficient in Vastu.

Buddhist and Jain literature are full of Vastu references. Lord Buddha is supposed to have given instructions to his disciples about the construction of Viharas (monasteries).

Ancient Literature: References to Vastu are found in following ancient literatures:

Vedas
  • Rigveda
  • Yajurveda
  • Samveda
  • Atharvaveda
  • Sthapatya Veda (Upveda of Atharvaveda)
Puranas
  • Matsya purana
  • Skand purana
  • Agni purana
  • Garuda purana
  • Narada purana
  • Vayu purana
  • Varaha purana
  • Bhavishya purana
Important works on Vastu
  • Vishwakarma Prakash
  • Samarangana Sutradhara
  • Mayamatam
  • Manasara
  • Brihatsamhita
  • Vasturaj Vallabh
Ancient Exponents of Vastu
  • Matsyapuran refers to eighteen sages proficient in Vastu
  • Bhrigu
  • Atri
  • Vashistha
  • Vishwakarma
  • Maya
  • Narada
  • Nagnajith
  • Vishalaksha
  • Purandhara
  • Brahma
  • Kumara
  • Nandisa
  • Saunaka
  • Garga
  • Vasudeva
  • Anirudha
  • Sukracharya
  • Brihaspati
Importance of Vastu
Vastu is a practical science. Its benefits and advantages are real and tangible. It teaches the individual to live in balance and harmony with the Panchamahabhootas (five basic elements present in the universe) of Jal (water), Vayu (air), Prithvi (Earth), Agni (Fire) and Aakash (Space).Vastu Shastra is a science that has come to us from the Vedas. Vastu will help YOU achieve material prosperity, mental peace and happiness and harmony in home and work place. Following pages will enable you to open the doors to a life time of physical, mental and emotional well-being. Our ancient seers observed the influence of cosmic energies on living beings. Vastu harnesses the various energies present around us in a particular pattern so that they blend harmoniously with the persons living in the building. Our most immediate Vastu is our body. The seven energy chakras in our body are linked with the Panchmahabhootas and any imbalance reflects on our physical, mental and emotional health.

The five elements of nature are linked to our five senses of hearing, touch, smell, sight and taste. Earth is linked to our sense of smell through the nose.
Fundamentals of Vastu

The whole universe is made up of five basic elements, the earth, water, fire, air and space. Our body is also made up of these five basic elements of nature. The pancha-mahabhootas are related to our five senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch and sight. Any imbalance in our external and internal Vastu translates into unhappy situations. Vastu teaches the individual to live in balance and harmony with the panchamahabhootas.PRITHVI (EARTH) Human beings have a natural and emotional affinity with the Earth. The Earth revolves around the Sun and has gravitational and magnetic force. Scientists have proved that earth is a huge magnet with two poles North pole and South pole.

As all know, opposite poles of a magnet attract each other and same magnetic poles repel each other. Our ancients have found that sleeping with the head towards the South enables one to go with the nature and draw maximum positive energies from the cosmos to keep fit and healthy. Vastu also deals in detail about inspection of soil, selection of site, shape, slope and size of plot of land.JAL (WATER) After earth, water is the most important element. It is linked to our senses of taste, touch, sight and hearing. It is quantitatively the largest of the five elements as more than 80% of our body and two-third of earth’s surface is water. Most ancient civilisations came up close to rivers and water sources. Vastu provides important information about the placement of water sources like wells, boring, underground water tank, overhead water tank etc. while planning the house.

Positions for drainage of water, septic tanks, sewarage, drains etc. are decided carefully to optimise the benefits of water elementAGNI (FIRE) Sun is the most vital source of energy and light. Formation of day and night, change in seasons is brought about by the movement of Sun in relation to the movement of earth. The Sun’s rays can be split into 7 plus 2 colours. Beginning from the very beneficial ultra-violet rays in the Eastern side corresponding to North-East, the Sun’s rays further split into violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red (VIBGYOR) and infra-red in South-East.

When these rays combine with water, they get additional benefits. It is, therefore, recommended to have a water source in North-East direction. To block North-East with high construction or contamination of North-East by building a toilet there is depriving yourself of most beneficial rays of Sun and has adverse results. It is recommended by Vastu to have tall and big trees in the South so that harmful rays of Sun are blocked.VAYU (AIR) The Air or Vayu is vital for our survival.

Our sense of sound, touch and feel are related to Air. The air on earth is a mixture of various gases like nitrogen, oxygen, helium, hydrogen etc. Oxygen is vital for human beings and nitrogen is essential for the growth of plant life which in turn provides oxygen. Correct percentage of different gases, atmospheric pressure and humidity level is important for life forms on earth. Vastu recommends proper placement of doors, windows, ventilators, balconies, height of structure and placement of trees and plants for balancing the Air element within the structure. AAKASH (SPACE) - Vastu is the only body of thought that gives Space the status of a natural fundamental element. Vastu Shastra is, therefore, superior to any modern or traditional school of architecture in the world. Aakash or the space is infinite and limitless.

In a house, space element is related to the centre portion or the brahmasthan. It is important that brahmasthan be kept open and light. Any disturbances in the space element are detrimental to your growth. When you keep your office, home or factory in a mess, you spoil the space element around you. Extra construction, unutilised rooms or floors, homes stuffed with possessions, too big, extravagant and opulent houses collect a lot of negative energy. It is a place where you should be able to unwind and rejuvenate yourself.

- : Determination of directions : -

Vastu is based on the directional energy and identifying directions is the first step before any Vastu evaluation is undertaken. Roughly, the identification can be done by the Sunrise direction as Sun rises from East and sets in West via South. But if the identification is based on Sunrise direction, there is chance of a mistake. There is a sizable difference between the Sunrise positions on June 21 and December 21, the longest and shortest days respectively. Sun rises on true East only on the days of equinox which are September 21 and March 21.

On these days, the days and night are equal.Using a Magnetic Compass - There are two types of compass available in the market, floating disc and the pivotal needle. The most common is the pivotal needle. The needle of a compass always points towards North. While using the needle compass, place the compass near the centre of the plot, house or workplace and wait for the needle to stop oscillating. When the needle stabilizes, align the North marked N on the dial directly below the needle. The other three directions will automatically get positioned by moving the body of the compass. The points of directions shall be the same outside or inside the structure.Basement / Cellars - As far as possible, it is better to avoid basements especially in a residential building, since the houses should always be on a higher level than the road. In older days palaces built on hillocks used to enjoy strength, stability and luxuries of life. However, when houses are used both for residential as well as commercial purposes basement can be made in East, North and North-East sector and used for storage and parking.

If basement is used for business purposes use it as a store. If business is conducted from a basement only 60% benefits are obtained in spite of best efforts. Basements get little light and even less fresh air as basements have skylights near the ceiling which are rarely opened as they are difficult to reach. A noise which sounds a whisper at ground level sounds loud underground. It is observed that persons spending too much time in the basement become dull, lethargic and irritable. Vastu regards Basements as a bad omen because they form a hollow beneath our feet. Our health and happiness depends on the earth under us being solid. At any cost, the residence should not be in the basement.

How Vastu is different from Fengshui?It is upto each practitioner to decide which science is more relevant in Indian context but a deep understanding of both sciences is a must for every competent practitioner. What one needs to understand here is that like Vastu Shastra there are many healing techniques developed around the world having vastly different techniques and remedies which make perfect sense in their own context only. An indiscriminate mix-and match of different techniques without any in depth knowledge can defeat the very purpose.

There is no contest between Vastu Shastra and other methods like Feng Shui, this is about indiscriminate mixing of different systems. It is important to understand the basic essence of remedies for them to work. For example, symbols are extensively used in Feng Shui. Symbols work because they from a part of the collective consciousness or collective psyche of a class of people / a race or a nation. The symbolism is usually rich with nuances and contains multiple shades of meanings.

The power of symbolism is great because so much is conveyed and communicated at a glance. It works because the power of generations of traditional / folk beliefs and religions is behind it. To give an example, the dragon may be considered an auspicious animal in china but in India, it may be perceived as a ferocious fire emitting snake. In this case, I fail to see how a dragon symbol can add any positive effect. Any fact, figure or statement without reference to the context can never make sense. In Indian context, whenever we state Laxmi or Kuber it automatically refers to wealth and prosperity in the Indian mindset. Same words may be meaning less is Japanese or Chinese context. Same way a fish aquarium creates a picture of wealth and prosperity for Japanese but if it is placed in a Jain home in India as a remedy it may have a reverse effect as it goes against their deep-rooted religious instincts giving them a guilt complex.

On the brighter side the intelligent use of mirrors and wind chimes, some of Feng Shui remedies can solve many a tricky situations. Both these Sciences have a touch of Mysticism, as they incorporate the philosophical thoughts of their respective origin. Also, the climatic conditions of the two countries favour different directional preferences. For instance, Feng Shui favours South as an entrance direction, a high rise towards North and South East for water source. Vastu, on the other hand, puts a premium on an open North, a high rise towards South and North or North East for water source.

- : Vastu Is An Art :-

Vastu Vidhya is one of the most valuable treasures of ancient Indian knowledge. The word Vastu means to dwell and Vidya mean science, so Vastu Vidya is the sacred science related to designing and building houses. The classical literature on Vastu is vast and scattered. Vishwakarma Vastu Shastra, Mandana Sutradhar, Samarangana Sutradhar, Mayamatam, Brihat Samhita, several of the Puranas and Agamic Work, deal with the subject in great detail. Vastu principles, if carefully followed, bring not only just prosperity into the household but also love and peace.

Vastu Shastra is directed at harmonizing external space with the internal space within man. Vastu aims to restore the balance between the home that is the microcosm and the cosmos that is, the macrocosm bringing health, wealth and happiness.According to Vastu, the external and the internal are interchangeable, because the underlying energies that govern the elements, such as wind or fire, are the same as those that control the organs of the human body. Vastu states that when building and forms echo the underlying cosmic principles, they become a part of the basic structure of the universe and vibrate in harmony with it. These positive vibrations have a direct effect on the inhabitants. Our ancient sages saw the influence of cosmic energies on living beings. They found that various energies that run around us in a particular pattern could be harnessed such that they resonated positively with the individual being or the people residing in the building to make their lives meaningful and harmonious.

Vastu contains the hidden key to realigning the home with cosmic principles such as solar energy, the movement of the celestial spheres, the magnetic field of earth, gravity and the influence of the moon and sun. It offers a holistic approach to the design and layout of houses. Although the art of Vastu is ancient, it is unconditioned by time and remain as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. It has universal application and is not confined to a particular country, climate or hemisphere.

A Note on TreesLandscaping is closely related to house building. Our ancient sages have laid down certain rules for planting trees. A variety of decorative and herbal trees and plants have been recommended for encouraging good health and prosperity. Heavy leaf bearing trees can be planted in the South-West. Rock gardens with slope towards North and East can also be in South-West. No big or tall tress should be in front of the house or in the North or East side of the house. The shadow of a tree should not fall on a house between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The reason is that the auspicious rays of the morning Sun should not be blocked by any tall structures and big trees. Similarly, big trees and high construction on South and West shields the house and the occupants from the harmful rays of the afternoon Sun.Herbal plants like Tulsi and Tumbe can be grown in the North-East region. Tulsi is perfect for a home's brahmas than. Lawns and flower beds should be in the North-East. No thorny plants, cactus and plants emitting liquid like milk, should be kept in the house. They should be kept outside the boundary of the house.

Plant brought from a temple, bank of a river, stolen from a place or given by a person whom you dislike should not be planted on your plot. Saplings brought from a nursery should be planted. Trees like Ashoka, Almond, Nilgiri, Coconut, Neem and Lemon are recommended for planting in South and West of a house.Rose plants can be kept in the South-East zone. Trees like Berries, Tamarind, Gum Arabic, Cotton or silk tree are harmful.

They should not be planted in the house at all. In case, you already have planted trees in the North and East of your building and are wondering what to do about them, our ancient texts have prescribed certain methods. Pooja to the tree should be performed the previous night and offerings of rice and curd made. Next morning again after praying the trees should be felled. The tree should fall towards East or North. Vastu Purush : Myth & RealityThe system of Vastu Science came into being thousands of years ago. The vastu tradition holds that there are five gross elements--earth, water, fire, air, and space. All of these elements are present in the vast space of the universe as well as in all living being and worldly objects.

The ancient Rishis were aware of the hidden forces underlying the universe and used symbols and myths to describe them. Vastu Shastra was given in a codified manner. The most important tool of understanding and decoding the science of Vastu is the Vastu Mandala Pada Vinyasa. The Mandala and the deities of different padas provide the key to unlock and understand the workings of underlying energies in the universe. Vastu Purush is essentially an abstraction based entirely on the site plan.Vastu Purush is the ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ representing the all-pervasive ‘prana’ inherent in all existence. For thousands of years mankind employed mythology to describe and assimilate the mysteries of the universe. Human beings naturally understand, identify and relate to the human form. All the deities we worship are in human form.

Myths and stories are created to give concrete form to the formless and abstract. This is to enable the common man to understand the complex forces at play. The myth of Vastu Purush can be seen to represent real forces in a fictional form. The symbolism of Vastu Purush represents the multi-layered forces that are at work within a confined space. Vastu Purush is the constituting metaphor for harmonising and synthesising the different forces and spirits at play on the cosmological, metaphysical and architectural levels within a confined space.

When it is said that the Vastu Purush exists in every structure, it is a reminder that every house, every structure and site is a living breathing organism with life, rhythm and harmony. To understand the rationale of Vastu Purush, it is important to understand the concept of Mandala, Brahmasthan and Marmasthan. Vastu Mandalas are the various site plans or basic ground plans of any type of construction. It is said that Vastu is the canvas, Purush is the rupa or form and Mandala is the tool. Thirty-two kinds of Mandalas are mentioned in the ancient texts. The most favoured shape of Mandala is a square, oriented to the cardinal directions. The central point is known as Brahmanabhi or Brahmabindu. The Mandala is divided into a set of number of cells or grids called Pada. The most recommended Mandala or building plan for dwelling of human beings is the Paramsayika Mandala, each side is divided into nine equal parts resulting in a total of 81 parts of the entire structure. The super-imposition of the image of Vastu Purush on the Mandala or building plan is called Vastu Purush Mandala.

 
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