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Vaastu : An Introduction
The word ‘Vaastu’ is derived from the Sanskrit Dhatuvasa which means to live. So, VaastuShastra is the science which deals with the layout of the site and the building to be constructed. It also gives elaborate details about the construction of townships, palaces, complexes, etc. The main objective of this Shastra is to make humanity live in as perfect a harmony as possible with Mother Nature. This Shastra was given to us by the Maharshis. There are 8 directions in which 4 are called the cardinal directions and 4 sub directions.
In Vaastuthe area is divided into eight parts : East, South, West, North, North-East, South-East, South-West and North-West. Each of these directions has a deity called Dikpala. The Dikpalas are as follows :
The Vedic texts have given different hymns to the eight Dikpalas. Indra is the king of the Devatas. The Sun rises on the Eastern Horizon. Hence East is given the most prominent place followed by North, the direction of Kubera, the lord of wealth. East is the point of health, virtuous living, and fame. North is the point of wealth, name, prosperity. North has astronomical significance also as it points towards the Pole star or the DhruvaNakshatra.
Whenever we discuss about the Vaastu of a plot or building, we first fix the North and East points and then proceed with the mapping out of the building. While fixing the norms for a dwelling houseVaastuShastra has fixed the Southern side for the bedroom. It also states that more space is to be left on the Northern side of the plot. Let us examine the logic behind this. Cool breeze comes from the Southern direction which is described as Malaya-maruta. To enjoy this breeze we require space on the Southern side. ‘A’ and ‘B’ construct one building each, side by side. The Northern side of ‘A’ will be the Southern side of ‘B’. So, automatically when ‘A’ leaves more space; on the Northern side. ‘B’ will have more open space on his Southern side which will facilitate free flow of air. The bedroom which is supposed to be the Southern side will have a lot of fresh air. This means that when one retires to bed after a tiring day’s work, he will enjoy the beautiful cool Southern breeze which will induce good sleep. On the Eastern side also one is supposed to leave more open space. This enables the early morning Sun rays to fall on the front yard and the building. The Sun rays are an antidote for many evils.
The VaastuShastra has been discussed in our scriptures, as well. We find references to Vaastu in the Ramayana at many places. VaastuShastra lays down separate norms for dwelling houses, palaces, complexes, public utility buildings, etc.
Nowadays, we argue that cities are overpopulated. It does not mean that the regulatory authorities should allow haphazard constructions. For construction of temples also, VaastuShastra coupled with Agama Shastra is scrupulously followed. There are varieties of Agama Shastras. Shaivagama, Vaikhanasagama, Pancharatragama are a few to be mentioned. For preparing idols in the temples, ShilpaShastra is followed in consonance with Agama Shastra. All these are independent Shastras. These are mentioned here to enable the readers to understand our glorious and rich traditions and culture.
A study of ancient literature bearing on Jyotisha, mediine, Vaastu, etc., will reveal that the vision of ancient sages was far more deeply based on, and intimately correlated to the realities and values of life than dreamt of in modern times.
A careful examination of Hindu methodology which is necessary for a right understanding of Hindu attainments in VaastuShastra reveals that the whole movement was genuinely and positively scientific, the ultimate goal being spiritual; and it was arrested at an important stage due to political convulsions.
Though perception, observation and experiment were the main criteria of truth, institutional wisdom now neglected in the name of scientific temper, was mainly responsible for development of disciplines like Jyotisha, Vaastu, etc.
According to Indian tradition, eighteen sages, such as Bhrigu, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvakarma, Maya, etc., have established the science of Vaastu. Amongst the more important works we have Vishvakarma-Vaastu-Shastra, Samaranganasutradhara, Mandana-Sutradhara, Rajasimha-Vaastu, Diparnava, Shilparatna and Mayamata. There are other works which are generally based on one or the other of the classics. Vaastu is also dealt with in the Agamas, such as the Karrukagama, Suprabhedagama, Vaikhanasagama, etc., and works on Tantra, such as the Hayasirsa-tantra, Kiranastantra, and Puranas such as the Agnipurana, Matsyapurana and Vishnudharmottarapurana, etc.
Vaastu principles are more or less common all over India, living from times immemorial as a cultural entity. Vaastu has retained its traditions for thousands of years and it is as relevant today as it was when first propounded. There are also Vaastu texts for Jainism and Buddhism, such as the Gautamiyam, Bauddhamatam and Chaitya. The VaastuShilpatraditions is purely Indian in its fundamental concepts and currency.
There is a belief that the text of the Brihat-samhita, has as its source the work Manasara, though there are some differences of opinion regarding this. Manasara is a comprehensive treatise on architecture and iconography. According to some scholars it is considered to be a “source of all presentations of architecture in Purana and Agama as well as in more specialised textssuch as the BrihatSamhita and Mayamata. In fact this treatise is identified as a VaastuShastra, the first Vaastu being the earth”.Manasara represents the universality of Vaastu tradition and contains also the iconography of Jain and Buddhist images. This work is universally consulted all over India.
The literature on Vaastu can be roughly classified as ShilpaShastra and GrihaVaastu or Devashilpa and Manavashilpa. It is said that the Shaivite and Vaishnavite Agamas of various persuasions as well as the Grihya sutras and the Arthashastra contain abundant material on Vaastu, but somewhat scattered.