There are two specific aspects covering Vastu Purusha Mandala. Vastu Purusha is the mystical or spiritual lord of a Mandala or the enclosed ground area, wherein he lies with his face down. The mandala is a cosmic diagram of the enclosure where Vastu Purusha manifests. Vastu Purusha identifies the importance of an area by placing his head to the north-east (balanced thinking) and his lower body to the south-west (stability and strength). His navel is in the center of the area (cosmic awareness) and his hands to the north-west and south-east (movement and energy). Vastu Purusha is space personified and he is said to have been born from Lord Siva's perspiration, when the Lord fought the demon Andhaka and ultimately killed him.
Each enclosure, whether it is for human habitation (residences, offices, etc.) or divine habitation (temples and other religious structures) is identified with a plan that is referred to as the Vastu Purusha Mandala. It symbolically signifies the three aspects of a structure - para, sookshma and sthoola. Most texts on Vastu Sastra talk about the 64 module plan for temples and shrines and the 81 module plan for residences and other buildings that are not religious structures. The mandala is an area of space defined by an enclosure. Vastu Purusha is super imposed into the enclosure to indicate the birth of a structure from Nature. The Vastu Purusha is held in place by 45 deities — 32 in the outer enclosure and 13 in the inner enclosures. Food and fruit are offered to these deities before construction to please the Vastu Purusha, who confers health, prosperity, peace and happiness to the residents.
The concept of Vastu Purusha Mandala extends beyond the mere physical aspects of construction. While the modern architects identify the physical aspects of a structure in terms of beauty, ventilation, sunlight orientation and location, the ancient masters looked into the metaphysical (spiritual) and subtle aspects of a structure too. The mandala provides a useful design module for locating the various rooms of a habitation, the measurements (in units of hasta and angula) of which are based on a set of six formulae normally referred to as the Ayadi Shadvarga. The ancient masters did not overlook the importance of comfort and convenience of the residents in terms of ventilation and sunlight.
The diagonals running from the south-west to the north-east and south-east to north-west through the center of an area, known as Konasutras, are sensitive. The points that the horizontal and vertical lines of each module of a mandala intersecting these diagonals are known as Mahamarmas or Marmas and are also highly sensitive zones, the sensitivity being extreme around the central module or Nabhi of the enclosure. The sensitive width of the diagonals, the horizontal and vertical lines and the Marmas that should not coincide with the walls, beams, etc., are 1/24th, 1/16th and 1/8th of a module (of the 81 module plan) respectively. Beams, depressions, water, columns and pillars are to avoided in these areas.
The placement of the deities in specific areas of the mandala has significance in deciding the location of the foundation, the walls, beams, pillars and columns. The Brahmastana (or the central nine modules of 81 module plan) is the most important and sensitive area of a structure. Generally this is best left open as a courtyard in human habitations (residences, etc.) that has a shikara pyramid based on the paramasayika mandala. The Brahamasthana is ideal as the sanctum sanctorum in divine habitations (temples). The shift in the placement of walls and pillars ensures that the construction is within the buildable area and does not disturb the marmas or the sensitive zones. The corners of the outside of the mandala are said to be negative energy zones with the presiding deities being Paparakshasi (north-east), Charaki (south-east), Vidari (south-west) and Putana (northwest). It is for this reason that corner doors are normally not recommended for buildings.
Dividing the sital area into four concentric zones (Brahmastana, Daiva, Manushya and Paisacha) identifies the buildable area. Construction is approved in the Daiva and Manushya zones. The Paisacha zone of a Paramasayika Mandala covering one-ninth of the sital length and breadth on the outer periphery is generally kept free for movement around the building.
Once the site is selected, the entire area is cleaned and levelled. Land can be tilled by cattle or mechanical tillers and bones, hair and other dirt removed. The tilling also ensures removal of holes, depressions, etc., created by termites and rodents. Ant-hills if found indicate not only hollow soil beneath but also the possible availability of water under ground. The ant-hill can be removed by offering prayers with fruits and flowers before and after it removals. The entire area is then watered and liberally germinated with seeds that sprout. This is to induce fertility in the soil. When the soil is heavily sprouted, a cow and its calf are allowed to graze and go around the site for a day or two. The 81 module Vastu Purusha Mandala is drawn on the site with flour and proper offerings of food and fruit are made to the forty-five deities. This signifies respect and regards to the Vastu Purusha, the lord of the site, while at the same time it enhances the physical and metaphysical quality of the site.
The Vastu Purusha Mandala can be adapted to the various design needs of residences, temples, factories, offices, departmental stores, sub-divisions and other constructions. We will address the many aspects covering the design needs in the future articles.