Vastu Sastra is normally referred to as the science of architecture. Is it just that or is there more to it?
When we speak of Vastu Sastra we not only speak of the science of architecture but also the science of cosmology, astronomy, metaphysics, geography and geology. The cosmological aspect is best illustrated by observing our solar system. In our vast universe, apart from the earth we live in, there are many other such systems which influence our lives. The astronomical aspect is best demonstrated when the various texts speak of the Ayadi Shadvarga or the six formulae that are used in construction of temples and residences. The Brihat Samhita of Varamihira in the chapter on Vastu Sastra says : “ I will now explain for the happiness of the astronomers and astrologers the science of architecture that has come down from Brahma through a steady line of intellectuals.”
The metaphysical aspect is best made clear when we understand the importance of drawing the Vastu Purusha Mandala or plan before we start the building construction. The Mandala symbolizes the metaphysical principle of the all-encompassing celestial principles. Finally, coming to the geographical and geological facets of Vastu Sastra, the ancient texts saw the importance of studying the topography of the land and the surroundings apart from studying the whole universe with its array of stars, planets, continents, rivers, seas, mountains etc. The examination of soil in terms of sound, touch, smell, taste and color highlight the geological aspects of this great science.
To put it briefly, Vastu Sastra is both a science and art and its purpose is to make a human habitation not only a thing of beauty and strength but also make it give delight and affluence to the inhabitants in the long run.
Does Vastu Purusha always lie with his head towards North-east?
Three positions of Vastu Purusha are identified. They are
(a) Nitya Vastu
(b) Chara Vastu and
(c) Sthira Vastu
In Nitya Vastu, the Vastu Purusha’s position is said to change every three hours. Daily building activities are said to be done on the basis of Nitya Vastu.
In Chara Vastu, his position is said to change every lunar month. The beginning of the important aspects of construction like commencement of the building, installing the main door-frame, digging of the well and entry into the new house are said to be based on Chara Vastu.
Sthira Vastu has the Vastu Purusha lying prone on his stomach with his head towards North-east.
His buttocks and legs are to the South-west and his knees and elbows to the South-east and North-west. The Sthira Vastu is considered in the actual construction activities like placing the doors, windows, construction of the various rooms etc.
However, it is to be noted, from the engineering and architectural point of view, the position of Vastu Purusha (Sthira) should be considered more as a plan for designing the house rather than as a mythical and mystical concept.
I live in a hilly region. I am now trying to find a suitable site for building my house. Are there any guidelines?
Most ancient texts tell us that the natural flow of the land should be to the East, North and/or North-east. In fact, Samarangana Sutradhara clearly tells us that the land slanting towards the direction presided over by Varuna (West), Yama (South), Marut (North-west), Agni (South-east) and that which is depressed in the brahmasthana (middle) is extremely bad and unfit for living. It even identifies certain sufferings due to the declivities as given in the following table.
Declivity Suffering from
South-east Fear of fire
South Fear from ill-health, insanity and death
South-west Ailments resulting in chronic disorders
West Loss of peace, wealth and prosperity
North-west Foreign residence, family quarrels and ailments.
Depression or hollowness in the middle, the ancient text tells us, results in poverty and disintegration. Elevation in the middle and declivity towards the east, north and north-east are recommended for health and wealth. A depression in the borders of all the four sides results in happiness and contentment.