Vastu – The traditional Indic System of Architecture

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This article by Manisha Sarade

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The term Vastu-Sastra has been in use to denote the compendium of architectural knowledge not only of buildings and their constituents, but also of the construction of markets, towns, streets, drains, sewers, bridges, ferries, ports, wells, bath-tanks, reservoirs, dams, embankments, parks, gate ways, arches, ladders, flights of steps to hill-tops and so on. As another term for Silpasastra the knowledge of iconography and sculpture, VŚ was meant to deal with the art and craft of all artefacts like bedsteads, couches, palanquins, wardrobes, baskets, cages, nests, lamps, costumes, coiffures, crowns and ornaments. This prescriptive compendium was also to deal with matters such as the features of the ideal site, soil conditions, planning and designing besides various normative factors such as gnomonic and astrological calculations.

Designer Sunflower and Lotus Leaf Lamp

It is well known that there is a long history of architectural practices in the Indian subcontinent, an advanced phase of which goes back to the Indus Valley Civilisation of c. 3000 BC. The houses in Mohanjo-daro consisted of rooms spaced irregularly around one or more open courtyards, which were often paved with baked bricks. They were imposing structures. The open central space would have provided light in the absence of large windows in the external walls. All that could not withstand the ravages of time are lost and consummated back in the earth.

However, many monumental structures of the Buddhists and Jain monastic establishments besides the Hindu temples have survived to our times as brilliant testimonies of Indian architecture, almost entirely anterior to the extant VŚ texts that are dated to c.6th century AD and after. Monuments at Sanchi, Sarnath, Amaravati, Barhut, Ajanta, Ellora, Aurangabad, Bhaja, Karle, Kanheri, and Andheri are examples. These structures in stone actually indicate how accomplished was the wooden architecture, for their concepts, designs, plans, constituents and features look like facsimiles of woodwork. They remain the enduring testimony of the amazing level of perfection achieved by the architectural designers, masons, craftsmen and artisans of early India. It is on the basis of these umpteen monuments the architectural knowledge of India became explicitly coded and systematised subsequently.

गृह वास्तुशास्त्र : Home Architecture

The temple architecture of India represents the continuation of the Buddhist and Jain designs, plans, and principles as adapted to the Āgamic cosmology, mode of worship and iconography. It has been claimed that VŚ is an offshoot of Atharvaveda that is generally assigned c.800 – 500 BC. Nevertheless, the extant texts are not of that antiquity. Scholars have classified traditional Indian architecture into three schools, viz; the nagara, dravida and vesara with their own prescriptive texts.

Why adhere to Vastu?

We all hope for the best always and pray for calmness, peace and prosperity in our homes. Staying positive and praying is one thing but have you ever thought what else can be done to achieve all your life-goals and attract peace, positivity? Vastu is the answer. It is an ancient and traditional form of Indian architecture. The fundamentals of Vastu-science circle around the various sources of energies, solar and celestial included. Balancing these energies is the key to bringing in success and peace to you and your loved ones.

Secrets of Vastushastra

Vastu takes into account the layout, design, measurements and spatial geometrical coordinates to create an aura of harmony and peace in your home. It is one of the things that truly makes your “house” a “home”. While constructing a house, if one ensures that the construction goes on in accordance with the Vastu preferences, negative energies will never be able to set foot in such houses. The same is true when one moves into a new house. All it takes is a Vastu expert and a few little arrangements and alignments of the items to give the house a “Vastu-touch”.

The system is believed to be a divinely ordained system and has a deity as its God. He is called Vastu Devata or Vastu Purusha.

Gods’ Residence – The Mythology

The body of Vastu Purusha remains the place of residence of many Gods, and mythology gives an account of this unusual phenomenon. Vastu Purusha emerged out of the sweat of Lord Shiva in a large human form. However, when he started causing serious trouble to the Devas, the heavenly beings were forced to come together, bring him under control, and press him down forcefully with his face to the ground. However, realizing that this entity was created only for the benefit of the world, they calmed him down, bestowed him with blessings and made his body itself their place of stay. Thus, Vastu Purusha is not merely a single divinity, but a unified form of many Gods spread all over his body.

Vedic Mythology (Set of 2 Volumes)

Deities dwelling in Vastu Purusha’s Body Parts

As many as 45 Gods are believed to reside in Vastu Purusha’s physical frame, with Lord Brahma, the creator occupying the all-important central portion of the body. This location is known as the Brahmastan and is regarded as perhaps the most significant aspect of the Vastu principles. Of the total number of Gods, 13 are residing in the middle parts of the body and 32, at the corners. The different parts of Vastu Purusha’s body are thus said to represent the different Gods they arehousing.

Vastu For Workplace: A Comprehensive Study

It is Shiva who occupies the head portion and Brahma, the place behind the navel. As far as other deities are concerned, Parjanya and Diti stay in both the ears; Apadeva, above the throat; Ayarma and Prithwidhar in the breasts; Jaya and Aditi in shoulders; Apavatsa above the heart; Savitra and Savita in the upper right arms; Rudra and Dudradas in the lower right arms; Mrityu and Mitra in the thighs; Indra and Jaya in the private parts; Agni and Roga, above the knees; Nandi, Sugreeva, Asur, Kshona, Pusha, Varun, Papa and Yakshma in the blood vessels of the legs, and Pitra in both the heels. All these 45 deities have their specific mantras dedicated to them too.

Vaastu & The Five Elements

The principles of Vaastu, connect the individual home with the subtle laws of nature, such as energy grid of the earth, beneficial earth energies, and cosmic energies from the sun. They also align the home with the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space, which are called the Panchabhutas as per Vedic traditions. Each of these five basic elements is energetically associated with a particular cardinal direction. This is not an arbitrary alignment but an acceptance of the subtle laws of nature. By honouring the various elements and their primal energies, we live in greater harmony with nature.

पांच भौतिकम् : Five Elements of Treatment (Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Sky)

Earth: Bhoomi

The earth element is associated with the south-west direction and is the best choice for locating the master bedroom. This also reinforces the position of the head of a family and acts like a solid and grounding element to the entire family.

Tip: Placing plants and having rocks or hills in this direction will prove beneficial.

Prithvi Earth with Vastu Benefits and Knowledge (Panchmahabhuta The 5 Elements) (Audio CD)

Water: Jala

Northeast is the direction where the energy waves of the water element collect. This makes it the best place for locating indoor and outdoor water features and bodies – swimming pools, fountains, ponds, mini waterfalls and aquariums.

Tip: Water is frequently used as a metaphor for pure consciousness in the Vedic tradition.

Panchamahabhuta The 5 Elements: Jal (Water): With Vastu Benefits & Knowledge (Audio CD)

Fire: Agni

The fire element is predominant in the south-east, so it is best for locating kitchens, computers and other electrical appliances. Digestion and transformation are also the realms of Agni.

Tip: To aid and honour this element, light diyas and non-toxic candles, always starting from the south-east of your home.

Panchamahabhuta The 5 Elements: Agni (Fire with Vastu Benefits & Knowledge) (Audio CD)

Air: Vaayu

The air element is liveliest in the north-west, so place your air coolers and air conditioners, and wind chimes in this area. The concept of movement, in general, is associated with this element and direction.

Tip: To enjoy the benefits of the prana in the air, try and practice pranayama. Sitting down, preferably with the windows open, will bring fresh air into your body and into the space surrounding it.

Space: Akasha

This element is directly linked to sound and silence. Akasha (ether) is the expansiveness in the centre of your home, the elements of energy and dynamic space dominate here.

The centre of every space is called the Brahmasthan – the interface between the seen and the unseen, the manifest and the un-manifest.

Aakash Space (With Vastu Benefits and Knowledge) (Audio CD)

Tip: Avoid placing a heavy object in this area. Honour the Brahmasthan by keeping it clear and clean, a revered space for life to flourish.

More Vastu tips for you to make your house an ideal abode

The Living Room:

This is the only space in the house that serves as an open playground to a variety of energies entering your home. It is so because all the guests and other family members usually gather in the living room and they carry a variety of energies with them, some positive and some negative. One must ensure that only positive energy stays inside the house. Vastu suggests that the host must face the North or East when guests visit. And guests must be seated opposite to the host. This can be achieved by a simple seating arrangement change. Also, all electronic items must face south, the direction of fire. That will ensure the best and positive energy flows into your house.

The Bedroom:

A bedroom is the most important room in every house and it must stay full of positive aura, round the clock. Vastu suggests that the bedroom door must open to a maximum of 90%, always. It is important for channeling positivity into the room. While you sleep, your head must face south as it is the most calming and comfortable direction. De-clutter your bedroom and only have the stuff you absolutely need. Free and abundant flow of light and air in the bedroom is again an absolute-must.

The Kitchen:

The best Vastu-favored corner to set up any kitchen is that “South-West” corner. Or else, the “North-West” corner works just as fine. All burners and stoves must face south while the drinking water should always be positioned in the northeast side. Owing to spinning drastically different energies, try setting up the kitchen as far away from the bedroom as possible.

The Prayer/Pooja Room:

A Pooja room is one of the most important and auspicious places in any house. More or less, a Pooja room serves like an engine that drives and circles various energies throughout the house. It is, therefore, imperative that special care is taken while designing and placing the Pooja room. As per Vastu, the best and most auspicious direction and place for the Pooja room is the north-east corner of your house. If north-east placement is not feasible, it can be set up in the east or the west side of the house. Once set up as per Vastu, the Pooja room keeps driving harmonious vibes throughout the house which in turn heightens the positive energy.

Burnished Temple With Stoopas On The Roof And Dangling Bells

The Money/Jewelry Box:

Cash/Money is what makes the world go around. It is directly related to our social status, prosperity, harmony and abundance. Our emotions are so deeply connected with money that for us Indians, money is not just an instrument to buy or possess material and worldly things. Our culture hails money as a form of goddess Lakshmi. We pray for money and it is, more or less, a part of our religious beliefs. Hence, it is extremely important to have our money/cash box placed as per Vastu to keep the money flowing in. A cash locker must always be placed close to the south-west or the southern wall in a room. It is important to ensure that the locker open towards the north. It is because the Lord Kuber is considered to be residing in the northern direction. When we repeatedly open the locker in the Lord’s direction, the gracious god refills it every single time.

2" Hand Painted Decorated Boxes | Mango Wood | Handmade | Made In India


Location or placement are of paramount importance in Vastu-Shastra. For the optimum confluence of the best of energies, every room has been marked to be located in particular spots as per Vastu. For instance, the main entrance of the house must face east, the rising-side of the Sun. It is to allow the positive light enter and grace your house. It is ideal to cook facing the east side in a south-east located kitchen. This setup is the easiest recipe for happiness. While the bedrooms must occupy the south-west corners, bathrooms must necessarily be built in the northwest corners. In many cases, following the Vastu suggestions is tedious sometimes. But there’s nothing to fret about. These suggestions are more of guidelines rather than “do-or-die” rules. An expert’s opinion in terms of Vastu usually goes a long way.

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