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Some Orientation & Topography
|by Niranjan Babu Bangalore|
The ancient masters of Vastu or Vedic Architecture highlighted importance of proper orientation. Orientation of a layout, site or building (residence or business) influences the dwellers in terms of living, education, physical and mental health, family relationships, finances and general welfare. The classical textbooks of Vastu identify different plans for varied applications. One of them known as Peeta mandala consists of nine modules and identifies the primary elements water, fire, space and air in the four corners and earth in the center.
It is said that the magnetic field runs north-south through the globe and the Sun gives life to the electromagnetic field in the east-west orientation. The ancients considered geographical orientation, primarily based on the movement of the Sun. Electric current flows through the Earth’s molten core. When it rotates, a magnetic field is produced that extends into space. The earth’s magnetic center is generally inclined at about 110 from its axis of rotation. This means that magnetic north is 110 from the geographical north. Hence, when the compass orientation indicates a maximum tilt of 110, the orientation can be taken to be in order. This tilt in magnetic orientation can be north or south depending whether it is the northern progress of the Sun from Capricorn to Cancer (Uttarayana) or southern progress of the Sun from Cancer to Capricorn (Dakshinayana).
Distinguished teachers of Sthapatya Veda tell us that proper orientation can help in preventing possible chaos, conflict, and failure. While creating a residential (house or apartment) layout, proper orientation of buildings and pathways to the cardinal directions helps in cross-ventilation and creates order and balance that is so indispensable for contentment and happiness. Once the properly oriented site or buildings are identified, the appropriate placement of doorways and windows in certain directions can add up to the general welfare and happiness. Orientation can also be in relation to sitting and sleeping arrangements.
The need for the creative and beneficial solar energies of the morning appears to be the basis for many of the temples to be oriented to the east. The ancient masters felt that proper orientation interfaced the powerful and subtle energies of humans, animals and buildings (pindanda) with the extensive energies coming from millions of universes (brahmanda).
However, some temples are not oriented to the east. One of Lord Siva’s manifestations, Lord Dakshinamurthi, is invariably oriented to the South. Ancients accorded special reverence to Lord as the ultimate Guru or Teacher. He is said to be the embodiment of knowledge and destroyer of ignorance. He is said to be the teacher of the sages and gods. Lord Dakshinamurthi, symbolizing a teacher par excellence is shown in the temples in meditation with a snake (and a rosary) in one hand and fire in the other, signifying divine knowledge and enlightenment, respectively.
Orientation to the north and east are traditionally acceptable. However, ancient treatises do not prohibit orientation to the south or west. Orientation of a site or building was also based on the surrounding topography and local weather conditions. Astrological compatibility to certain directions are also integrated while selecting a specific site or building. Possible effects of the various dual orientations are indicated below.
Let me re-iterate that the ancients have approved of orientation to all the four cardinal directions - north, east, south and west. A proper orientation guarantees the qualitative life. Orientations to the angular directions are not recommended. Classical works identify certain orientations to certain attributes. Orientation to the southeast generally points to constant fear, southwest to quarrels and frictions, northwest to indiscrimination and northeast to disturbances to progeny.
Elevations and Depressions
The ancients masters have also identified the elevations and depressions of a site as of great importance in the happiness or otherwise of the residents of a building. Uniformly level ground is approved and contributes to general happiness. Sites that are not levelled and have natural elevations and depressions such that the areas elevated to the south and west and slope down to the north and east respectively will assure natural rain water and underground water to flow in the clockwise direction throughout the year. Elevations and depressions can be artificially created too by constructing rock gardens in the south and the west and water areas – underground tanks, pools, etc – in the north and east. The cumulative effect of directional orientation and elevation/depression are summarized below.
Orientation and topography within and around any area are important aspects of Vastu . Towns and villages were planned such that the orientation of the streets and sites were to the cardinal directions and never to the angular or vidisha directions. Ancient masters formulated principles of Vastu based on observations, experience, intuition and wisdom.
Many of the arrived conclusions and the corresponding recommendations made by them are meant to be not only spiritually and materially beneficial to the individual but also to integrate the wellness of the individual with the well-being of the society. The great men and women of learning saw the domino effect that integrates the individual, family, society and the humanity-at-large. Vastu provides many simple but effective guidelines, so that the human effort is always oriented and directed towards the goal of making the world a better place for each and every individual.
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