By Shashi Kadapa
Vastu Shastra, the science of architecture, is an ancient Hindu practice that describes the principles for construction of buildings to harness the forces of the five elements. Atharva veda and Yajur Veda, two of the four Vedas written in 4000-2000 BC, detail the principles of Vastu Shastra.
When a structure is Vastu compliant, it means that the structure is integrated with nature, geometric patterns, directional alignments, and symmetry. Such a space creates harmony and draws positive cosmic energy into people’s lives. This article explains the origins, practices and principles, the energies and spirits in a place and symbols, artifacts that can be used to enhance the positive natural forces. While new spaces can be built as per these principles, the article also suggests methods to channelize the positive energy in existing homes and workplaces through reassigning living spaces and using yantras.
According to ancient Sanskrit texts, Brahma, the supreme creator of the universe created a cosmic man called the Vastu Purusha. It had an insatiable hunger and started eating anything that came his way. The gods beseeched Bhagvan Brahma to stop the purusha but he was helpless. He called the Ashta Dikapalakas, the eight gods and guardian who guard the eight cardinal points and other gods and they pinned him to the ground.
When the Purusha begged for mercy as he was Brahma’s creation, the creator made it inseparable from earth and nature. He became an integral part of structure with various body parts representing a natural force and energy. Structures that comply with Vastu rules channelize these forces to provide peace, prosperity and good health for the inhabitants.
Principles of Vastu
Vastu Shastra is based on harnessing different forms of natural energies. These include Solar, Lunar, Earth, Sky, Magnetic, Thermal, Wind, Light, and Cosmic. Many principles of Vastu closely adhere to modern prescriptions of sustainability such as using natural light and sun rays to cleanse the rooms, maintaining water bodies near the homes as they provide a cooling effect, aligning the site to the North – East direction so that the earth’s magnetic forces and sun rays have a beneficial effect on the body and mind, and others.
Vastu practices starts with the concept that all animate inanimate things, sentient and non-sentient are a mass of energy. Personality, behaviour, success, failure are in large part dependent on the interplay of the inner energy. Dwelling spaces are considered as living entities and the home is a physical body that interacts with the atma – soul and the universal energy to provide a microcosm of the existence. Environmental principles of the plot and home orientation are given as follows.
The mandala is a geometrical pattern that is superimposed on the plot drawing or the floor plan. While it is a concentric circle, practical limitations of the floor plan allows the mandala as a square or a rectangle. It indicates a spiritual journey that the homeowner takes through multiple layers of rituals for 40 days, the time required to experience a physiological cycle.
Mandala is also applied to a kingdom. Kautilya, a sage from 4 BCE suggests that a kingdom, or fort should have layers of friends, resources, and water. The mandala creates a map of the spatial arrangements and dimension of rooms so that run rays, magnetic poles, geopathic zones and concentric zones are reflected in the construction.
There are 13 deities in the vastu purusha mandala. Brahma is the centre space and all other rooms and functional spaces are created from this space. Once Brahma is seated, the four cardinal directions North, South, East, and West are specified and these indicate deities and energy fields.
The energy fields are bhudhar or energy to begin a work, aryama the expertise to build networks, vivasvan the energy to obtain success and mitra the energy for motivation. Eight more energies emerge from these four and they are rudra, rajyaksma, apa, apavatsa and others. Fig 1 illustrates a mandala with the 45 gods and the functions for the room such as kitchen, living room and so on.
Figure 1. Mandala and Energy, functional spaces
It is possible that a small residence, office would have just a few rooms, with kitchen, toilets, staircase already built and they cannot be shifted. However, other spaces can be adjusted and combined and yantras placed to make the house vastu compliant.
Since earth is inclined at 23.5 degrees from the ecliptic, the first sun rays fall on the north east, and the same for setting sun. Therefore, the kitchen should be in the middle of the light zone and receive natural light throughout the day. Water in the north or north east is purified since early rays have infrared rays. During the day, the coolest location is in the north direction. Hence, cowsheds and grain storage should be in the northwest while treasury is in the north. In ancient times, toilets were placed at a distance from the house. Ideal spatial arrangement of rooms are entrance – east, kitchen – southeast, bedroom – south, master bedroom – southwest, dining room – west, cattle – northeast, treasury, stores – north, mediation – northeast, central room – centre.
Earth’s magnetic field protects people’s lives. Force lines of the magnetic field travel from the north magnetic pole to the south magnetic pole. North is the purifying direction while the south has energy giving properties. Cosmic energy is maximum in the northeast direction and grows weaker in the southwest. Hence, the northeast section of the building must be lighter to obtain the benefits of magnetic poles.
Cosmic energy from the heavenly bodies and the natural energy grid for earth is a web that links to forces of heat, sound, matter, electricity and magnetism. Energy pathways flow from northeast to southwest and from southeast to northwest at a distance of 3.5m. The bio electromagnetic grid has several intersecting lines that have positive and negative effects on the body. Sleeping on negative points can increase inflammatory diseases, while sleeping on positively charged points can cause deadly diseases. Hence, one should sleep within these grids. Modern day Hartman lines with spacing of 2.5 m help in bone formation and in removing many diseases.
Yantra represents the elements and symbols of vastu shastra. It protects spaces that are not designed as per the mandalas shown in Fig 1. The yantra is made of triangles, hexagrams, lotus, circles, images drawn on paper, parchment, cloth, metal, on the floor, carved in stone, tattooed, or worn as a talisman. It represents a specific god and is used for protection against negative forces, for meditation, to develop specific powers, to gain wealth and success, etc.
Vastu Yantra is pyramid shaped and removes negative energy while balancing the five elements. Durga Bisa Yantra removes obstacles and should be placed on a platform or hung in the north, north east direction, Vyapar Vriddhi Yantra brings riches for business and should be placed in the east or north east, and so on.
Fig 2 shows the Bhut Pishacha Dakini yantra is used for exorcism, for protection against spells, and to remove demonic forces. It should be placed in a metal locket and worn around the neck after following all rituals. The Sanskrit numbers indicate the various names or avatars of Goddess Durga Mata.
Figure 2. Bhut Pishacha Dakini yantra
To conclude, the article briefly discussed the importance of vastu shastra applied to building homes. Previously built homes can be made vastu compliant by changing the use of the rooms, and by using yantras. The science was developed in ancient India many thousands of years ago and the principles still hold true.