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Vastu Shastra

Vastu Shastra (vāstu śāstra, also Vastu Veda, "science of construction", "architecture") is a traditional Hindu system of design based on directional alignments. It is primarily applied in Hindu architecture, especially for Hindu temples, Palcaces & Ancient cities.

The Sanskrit word vastu means "any really existing or abiding substance or essence, thing, object, article", and also "goods, wealth, property". The vrddhi, vāstu takes the meaning of "the site or foundation of a house, site, ground, building or dwelling-place, habitation, homestead, house". The underlying root is vas "to dwell, live, stay, abide".

The term shastra may loosely be translated as "science, doctrine, teaching".

Fundamental concepts
There are many principles in Vaastu Shastra. To mention a few which involve certain mathematical calculations, Maana is used for proportional relationships in a building and Aayaadi specifies conditions for maximum wellbeing and benefits for the residents of a building. Below are some of the basic theories in vaastu sastra.

Five elements
According to vastu sastra, the world comprises five basic elements known as the pancha maha bhoot. Out of the eight planets, ours has life because of the presence and balance of these five elements. The five elements are as follows.

EARTH (Bhumi) - Earth, the third planet in order from the sun, is a big magnet with North and South poles as centers of attractions. Its magnetic field and gravitational force has considerable effects on everything on the Earth, living and non-living.

WATER (Jala) - This is represented by rain, river, sea and is in the form of liquid, solid (ice) and gas (steam, cloud). It forms part of every plant and animal. Our blood is nothing but water with haemoglobin and oxygen.

AIR (Vayu) - As a life supporting element, air is a very powerful life source. Human physical comfort values are directly and sensitively dependent on correct humidity, air flow, temperature of air, air pressure, air composition and its content.

FIRE (Agni) - Represents light and heat which account for day, night, the seasons, energy, enthusiasm, passion and vigour.

SPACE (Akasha) - The Aakasha provides shelter to all the above elements. It is also considered the primary conductor of all energy sources within the universal context - physical energies such as sound and light, social energies such as psychological and emotional, and cognitive energies such as intellect and intuition.

There is an invisible and constant relation between all the five elements. Thus, the person can improve their conditions by properly designing their buildings by understanding the effectiveness of these five natural forces. Vaastu sastra combines all the five elements of nature and balances them with the person and the material. It takes advantage of the benefits bestowed by the five elements of nature to create a congenial living and working environment thereby facilitating spiritual well-being and paving the way for enhanced health, wealth, prosperity and happiness.

In Indian architecture, the dwelling is itself a shrine. A home is called manushyalaya, literally, "human temple". It is not merely a shelter for human beings in which to rest and eat. The concept behind house design is the same as for temple design, so sacred and spiritual are the two spaces. The "open courtyard" system of house design was the national pattern in India before Western models were introduced. The order introduced into the "built space" accounts for the creation of spiritual ambiance required for the indweller to enjoy spiritual well-being and material welfare and prosperity. At right is a typical layout of a square building, with a grid of 9x9=81 squares, meant for family persons (for scientists, artists and yogi a grid of 8x8=64 is prescribed). The space occupied by the central 3x3=9 squares is called Brahmasthanam, meaning the "nuclear energy field". It should be kept unbuilt and open to the sky so as to have contact with the outer space (akasha). This central courtyard is likened to the lungs of the human body. It is not for living purposes. Religious and cultural events can be held here--such as yajna (fire rituals), music and dance performances and marriage. The row of squares surrounding the Brahmasthanam is the walkway. The corner spaces, occupying 2x2=4 squares, are rooms with specific purposes. The northeast quarter is called Isanya, the southeast Agni, the southwest Niruthi and northwest Vayu. These are said to possess the qualities of four respective devatas or gods--Isa, Agni, Niruthi and Vayu. Accordingly--with due respect to ecological friendliness with the subtle forces of the spirit—those spaces (quarters) are assigned as follows: northeast for the home shrine, southeast for the kitchen, southwest for the master bedroom and northwest for the storage of grains. The spaces lying between the corner zones, measuring 2x5=10 squares, are those of the north, east, south and west. They are meant for multi purposes.

The Vastu Purusha Mandal is an indispensable part of vastu shastra and constitutes the mathematical and diagrammatic basis for generating design. It is the metaphysical plan of a building that incorporates the course of the heavenly bodies and supernatural forces. Purusha refers to energy, power, soul or cosmic man. Mandala is the generic name for any plan or chart which symbolically represents the cosmos.

In Hindu cosmology the surface of the earth is represented as a square, the most fundamental of all Hindu forms. The earth is represented as four-cornered in reference to the horizon's relationship with sunrise and sunset, the North and South direction. It is called Chaturbhuji (four cornered) and represented in the form of the Prithvi Mandala. The astrological charts or horoscopes also represent in a square plan the positions of the sun, moon, planets and zodiac constellations with reference to a specific person's place and time of birth.

The legend of the Vastu Purusha is related thus. Once a formless being blocked the heaven from the earth and Brahma with many other gods trapped him to the ground. This incident is depicted graphically in the Vastu Purusha Mandala with portions allocated hierarchically to each deity based on their contributions and positions. Brahma occupied the central portion - the Brahmasthana- and other gods were distributed around in a concentric pattern. There are 45 gods in all including 32 outer deities.

• North- Kuber- Ruled by lord of wealth (Finance)
• South- Yam- Ruled by lord of death - Yam (Damaging)
• East- Indra- Ruled by the solar deity- Adity (Seeing the world)
• West- Varun- Ruled by lord of water (Physical)
• Northeast -Ishan - Ruled by Shiv
• Southeast- Agni- Ruled by the fire deity - Agni (Energy Generating)
• Northwest- Vayu- ruled by the god of winds (Advertisement)
• Southwest- Pitru/Nairutya, Niruthi- Ruled by ancestors (History)
• Center- Brahm- Ruled by the creator of the universe (Desire)

The Vastu Purusha is the presiding deity of any site. Usually he is depicted as lying on it with the head in the northeast and legs in the southwest but he keeps changing position throughout the year.

Vastu shastra prescribes desirable characteristics for sites and buildings based on flow of energy (prana in Sanskrit). Many of the rules are attributed to cosmological considerations - the sun's path, the rotation of the earth, magnetic field, etc. The morning sun is considered especially beneficial and purifying and hence the east is a treasured direction. The body is considered a magnet with the head, the heaviest and most important part, being considered the North Pole and the feet the South pole. Hence sleeping with one's head directed north is believed to cause a repulsive force with the Earth's magnetic north and thus considered harmful. Bedrooms are therefore designed keeping this in mind. This is a wide spread practice in India even today.

Energy is primarily considered as emanating from the northeast corner and many site and building characteristics are derived from this. Sites sloping down towards north or east from higher levels of south and west are considered good. Open spaces in site and openings in the building are to be more in the north and east than in the south and the west. No obstacles are to be present in the north and the east. Levels and height of buildings are to be higher in the south and west when compared to the north and east. The southwest corner is to be the highest, followed by southeast, then by northwest and finally by northeast. The triangle formed by joining the southwest, southeast and the northwest corner of the site is attributed to the moon and the triangle formed by joining the northeast, northwest and southeast corner of the site is attributed to the sun. The former are prescribed to be heavier and higher and the latter light and lower. Sites having a longer east-west axis are considered better. The diagonal connecting southwest and northeast is to be longer than the diagonal connecting southeast and northwest. An extended northeast corner is considered beneficial.

The above paragraph cites some of the commonly associated ideas regarding "energy" and the manipulation of energy in Vaastu. As it turns out, "Prana" is not the same as "Vaastu energy." While Prana is considered to be a somewhat subtle energy, it falls within the category of material energy. Vaastu energy is not in the same category. In addition, the Vaastu Shastras do not mention that sunlight has an effect on the Vaastu of a building. It is indeed thought of as an important aspect of life but it is material energy rather than subtle energy.

While many people think that "Vaastu energy" is emanating from the North East, that is a misunderstanding. People also attempt to equate the energy of the house with the planets. That is another misconception. Vaastu energy emanates from the central part of the house (Brahmasthan) and not from the east. (Pranava Veda and Vaastu Shastras). This energy is a mixture of Vaastu energy, which is subtle energy from the earth, and Vastu energy which is subtle energy from Consciousness itself. (See Fabric of the Universe by Dr. Jessie Mercay). Many assumptions are made about Vaastu Science that are completely untrue. From these assumptions people have made up ways to "correct vaastu" by selling yantras, crystals etc. for that purpose. This is completely innapropriate as there is no where in the Vaastu Shastras that indicates that any of these devices can correct faulty Vaastu. Once a person becomes educated in Vaastu Shastra by an authentic Shilpi Guru (teacher of Vaastu shastras) then it becomes clear that these ideas are erroneous


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