Vastu is today a house-hold word, the world over. In any construction — a residence, a temple, a layout, a hospital, a corporate business complex, an educational institution, etc. etc. — the first thought is Vastu. Each structure comprises of various materials like sand, brick, cement, mortar, wood, steel, etc. Each material (including us) radiates energies — positive and negative. Vastu aims at interfacing these and other terrestrial energies (our pets, us, the furniture, the electrical and other gadgets, the carpets and curtains, etc.) with the celestial energies (emanating from other planets and constellations of our and other universes) to make man a part and parcel (of the cosmic order) and provide him with health, happiness and contentment.
Vastu gives importance to surroundings around him and tells us that balancing the various energies in this environment ensures stable mental and physical health. An imbalance can cause sickness, lack of affluence and discontented home ambiance. The ancient masters while speaking of the different mandalas or plans identified the adi bhootas or the primary elements of nature in a nine module plan called Pitha mandala. Keeping this in view we can position furniture, electronic and electrical items, pictures and photos, statues and idols, water fountains and fish aquarium, wind chimes, pyramids (shikara/stupi) mirrors, etc. and use proper colors to balance the various energies that get activated once the four walls of an area come into existence.
Take out your building plan and place the nine module plan on it. Divide the central module into nine more parts and the central part of that becomes the griha nabhi (the navel) of the house. The central main module corresponds to the brahmasthana of the house. The remaining eight modules of the house correspond to the four cardinal (disha) directions north, east, south and west and the four angular (vidisha) directions northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest. The Adi Bhootas (primary elements) identified by the ancient masters for the four angular directions are udaka (water) for northeast, agni (fire) for the southeast, akasha (space) for the southwest and vayu (air) for the northwest. The central module is identified with the primary element prithvi (earth.
Once the plan is superimposed with the Vastu Purusha’s diagram, you will find his head (mental strength) covers the northeast sector and his legs (physical strength) cover the southwest sector. His navel is in the central module. His right arm is in the southeast and the left arm in the northwest. As a general rule, the masters of the home can occupy the south and southwest rooms, the male children can occupy the south, southeast and east rooms, the female children can occupy the north, northwest and west rooms and the elders (grand parents) and the senior members (grand uncles and aunts) and the not-too-well members of the family can occupy the northeast portions of the house. The elder members of the family sleep with their heads to the south and the younger members with their heads to the east.
After this basic introduction, let us try to design the interiors of our homes room by room.
The Living Room
This is the room that makes the first impression when one enters the residence. Members of a family have their daily discussions — normal and serious — here. Guests normally are made to sit in the living room. In a way, the living room is the heart of a home. An ambience of elegance, comfort and compatibility can be created by good imagination. The ideal location of a living room is based on the direction a residence faces. The living room can be in the northeast for a north or east facing house. For a west facing house, the living room can be in the northwest. For a south facing house, one can settle for a southeast living room. Likewise, a living room can be in the central east, central west, central north or central south of a residence.
Exposed beams in the living room create an imbalance in the primary elements in general and the prana vayu (life breath in an individual) in particular and could cause discord, friction and difference of opinions among the family members or the guests. The balance can be partly restored by concealing beams. In India there is a tendency to hang swing and hammock chairs under a beam. As a rule avoid this as sitting under a beam excites your stress zone and disturbs your rational judgment in matters of importance.
It is interesting to note that Feng Shui, the Chinese science of energies also tells us that exposed beams affect the Chi or breath of living energy that flows through the home and its inmates. Chi is the fundamental energy that connects and moves everything. Overhead beams can create an imbalance of this energy affecting the thinking of the occupants of the house. Since family members or guests spend considerable time in the living room an exposed overhead beam in this area is very much undesirable. Chi breaks up into alternating phases — yang, the positive or rising (male, creation and dominance) phase and yin, the negative or falling (female, completion and submission) phase. When these two phases get imbalanced, there is discord and distrust. The beams can be concealed by creating a false ceiling. A light on the beam is recommended. Wind chimes with hollow bamboo pipes at either end of the beam are also said to balance the disturbed elements.
Arrangement of Furniture
Sofa sets can be against the south and west walls (and if need against east walls), not touching them. The area between the sets relating to the southwest (strength corner) can have waist level landscaping done with heavy indoor plants and small rocks and stones. This high rise area can even have a small idol of Lord Ganesha on the west wall. Furniture arrangement, however should give allowance for free movement from the living room into other rooms. Avoid their cluttering. The area between the sets that relate to southeast (energy) can have a floor level (or a table mounted) podium lamp that draws attention to your living room with a nice red or orange light.
Water Fountains and Fish Aquarium
The primary element water is ideal in the central north of the living room. This can be in the form of a small water fountain that runs throughout the day. They can be sheet fountains; they can be winding fountains (to the east) and they can be sprouting fountains (in all directions). Fountains that are made of natural materials like copper, stone, glass, clay, stainless steel, bamboo, etc., are recommended and can be wall, floor or tabletop mounted. The soft and soothing sounds of the water can assist in better interaction with family and guests. As an option, you can have a small fish aquarium with seven fishes of one family (red and gold) and two fishes of a different family (black) in the central north of the living room.
Protruding and sharp corners
Let not the furniture face protruding and sharp corners of columns or pillars. Such protrusions and sharp corners imbalance the primary elements. To minimize the imbalance, they can be aesthetically camouflaged with indoor plants. Avoid camouflaging with thorny plants. Such corners or edges can be softened with cascading, crawling, or tree-like plants. This will serve to diffuse the depressing energies. Mirroring columns from ground to ceiling level will also help in the diffusion.
Paintings and Pictures
The north wall of the living room can have paintings/pictures of long distance waters to stimulate the positive aspect of the primary element water. The east wall can have a painting or picture of the rising sun — the beginning of the dawn of a day. The south and west walls can have innovative paintings of a gentle elephant herd, high rise mountains with heavy plant life and similar pictures or paintings that denote strength. The use of paintings and pictures can create an active ambiance and respite. Paintings such as waterfalls on the north wall provide positive energy. As a rule, avoid paintings that depict death, violence and negative aspects of life.
Electrical and Electronic Gadgets
If a television/audio visual set is required in the living room, it can be placed such that it is viewed facing the east or north. The power can be drawn from sockets placed in the east of southeast (poorva agneya) of the living room. Other devices like air conditioners, air coolers, audio systems, etc., can also be placed with power being drawn from the east of southeast. Fire places can be the southeast or northwest corners of the living room but never to the northeast and southwest corners. Pedestal fans if used, can draw power from the poorva agneya.
Focusing it into the northwest of the living room will keep the primary element air (vayu) balanced. Wind chimes in the northwest sector also aid in the balance. Ventilators above the windows keep the hot air away and aid in making the living room a stress free zone. Chandeliers and ceiling fans can be avoided in the exact center of the living room
Carpets in the Living Room
Carpets and rugs can be placed in colors that correspond to your astrological signs and the direction you place them in. Ancient texts identify certain planets (and directions) with certain colors as follows:
| Copper Red
Dull colors of Blue
Black or Blue
Avoid having the pets in the living room or any of the interiors of the house. A kennel outside the home, not touching it, is suggested, as a first option. However, if they have to be kept within the home you can have them in the northwest and southeast rooms/kennels.
Tridosa and Triguna
Tridosha or the three biological energies build or nurture a body and carry out the biological functions of an individual. All the primary elements are involved when we speak of the Vata or the air principle, Pitta or the fire principle and Kapha or the water principle. These are not physical bodies but fine derivatives of the celestial basic elements — Earth, Water, Fire, Space and Air. The Triguna or three attributes, Sattwa (balance and harmony), Rajas (assertion and aggression) and Tamas (inactivity) also are related to the three sectors of an area — northeast, southeast and northwest respectively. The balance of these attributes that defines our characteristics and the development of the soul can be related to the southwest (stability) sector. It is therefore clear that a balance of the primary elements water, fire, space, air and earth give stability and happiness to the inhabitants. The layout of your living room has to consider all these to make it a relaxing and tension free zone.
Vastu Shastra is a very ancient and methodical knowledge (given to us by our seers for the design and creation of temples, residences and layouts) that connects the terrestrial beings with the celestial energies. The principles that have been handed over to us on a platter by the ancient seers of wisdom can be intelligently incorporated in our interiors to make our lives more meaningful and healthy.