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".
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.
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
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
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
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
• 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
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
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