Principles of Vaastu Shastra
Written by Sonal Panse
Vaastu Shastra is a Sanskrit language term combining the words Vaastu, meaning a dwelling or work place, and Shastra, which means a system of science or art. Vaastu Shastra is an ancient Indian architectural science that evolved some 5000 years ago with roots in the sacred Vedic texts. Its principles of building planning and construction seek to bring about an ideal and harmonious balance between humans and the environment. And as a balanced existence generally paves the way for a happy, fulfilled one, following the principles of Vaastu Shastra can result in a life well-lived.
Let’s see what the Vaastu Shastra Principles entail:
Vaastu Shastra considers the earth as a living entity from which other living beings spring forth. What makes this possible on our planet is the presence of the Five Elements (Panchmahabhuutas) – Space/Sky (Aakash/Ananta), Air (Vaayu), Fire (Agni), Water (Jala), and Earth (Bhumi). To bring about its aimed-for balance, Vaastu Shastra coordinates these Five Elements with Cosmic Energies and human activities. And, while it does refer to astrology and religion, Vaastu Shastra is rooted more in practicality and logic than any ‘Hindu Mysticism’.
However, the thing to keep in mind about Vaastu Shastra:
Most of the principles of Vaastu Shastra were established thousands of years ago, based on observations of the conditions that prevailed then. In our modern times, some conditions may have altered or other conditions may be present that make the implementation of all the principles difficult or impossible. So apply practical common-sense.
Now for the Principles of Vaastu Shastra:
Orientation is very important in Vaastu Shastra. The basic rules of Vastu Shastra are based on the eight directions –
Four principle directions:
- North (Uttara, ruled by Lord Kuber, God of Wealth)
- South (Dakshina, ruled by Lord Yama, God of Death),/li>
- East (Purva, ruled by Lord Indra, King of Gods, and Lord Aditya/Surya, God of Sun/Energy)
- West (Pashcima, ruled by Lord Varun, God of Rain/Water)
Four secondary directions:
- East-North (Ishanya,ruled by Lord Ishanya, God of All Quarters)
- North-West (Vayavya, ruled by Lord Vayu, God of Winds)
- South-West (Nairutya, ruled by Pitru or Ancestors)
- South-East (Agneya, ruled by Lord Agni, God of Fire)
Of these, the East and North are considered the most auspicious.
Based on these eight directions and using a chart called the Vaastu Purush Mandala (Purush means energy and Mandala is an astrological chart), Vaastu Shastra recommends –
- How to choose a plot
- What the shape of the plot should be
- What the type of soil should be
- Where on the plot to construct
- When is a good time to begin construction
- What the architectural plan should be like
- What the interior plan should be like
- Where to locate various rooms like kitchen, living room, bathroom, prayer room and so on
- How to ensure proper ventilation and light
- What materials to use for construction and interiors
- Which colors to use and where
- How to arrange your furniture and belongings
- In which direction to sleep, eat, pray, work, study, make your ablutions, and carry out the other matters of living
- How to plan the garden around your dwelling
- Where to locate the well or water supply
- Where the roads around the plot should be situated
Vaastu Principles generally agree on the following –
- Plots should be square shaped or rectangular – never triangular, circular, hexagonal, elliptical or zig-zag – and preferably sloping towards North, East and North-East.
- The soil should not be sandy, infertile or marshy.
- Use only the best-quality materials for construction.
- When building or planting a garden, it’s ideal to leave more open space in the East than in any of the other directions.
- Don’t plant tall trees too close to the house. The roots and branches could endanger the building, plus the thick foliage could block the sunlight. Plant a herb garden; herbs are beneficial for your health.
- Doors and windows should face East. This ensures the maximum benefit of morning sunlight, which, as we all know, contains the life-sustaining Vitamin D. Limit number of openings to the West and South as afternoon sunlight isn’t as beneficial. Doors and windows should also allow for maximum natural ventilation and light.
- The central space of the home, known as the Brahmasthan, should remain vacant. In ancient India and in many existing old mahals and havelis, rooms were built around a central courtyard. The purpose of this central courtyard is to create a breathing space inside the home and to attract beneficial cosmic energies.
- According to the energy zones in the Vaastu Purush Mandala, the kitchen should be in the South-East, the dining room in the West, the living room and the master bedroom in the South-West, the guest bedroom in the North-West, the bath room in the East or the North, the prayer room in the North-East and so also the well and water supply.
- Use colors according to personal preference and the purpose of the room.
- Sleep with your head towards the East or the South.
- Avoid clutter in your home. Keep only those things that are useful, aesthetically pleasing or personally significant.
While this is a mere outline, Vaastu Shastra goes into wider, finer details. It doesn’t promise to perform miracles. What it does is help you achieve the right kind of environment so you can bring about those miracles.