Vastu Shastra is a classical Indian system of architecture that has set down the basic but excellent principles of planning, design, ground preparation, space arrangement, and spatial geometry. Right from the Vedic age, Vastu has been defining the design and construction of any structure or monument that has withstood the rigors of time and age and standing tall till today. In this part let’s first discuss and understand what the term and theory of Vastu actually is.
The Vastu Mania
Today, people expect a Vastu application to provide them with quick cures and great prosperity by simply relocating an entrance, a window, or a room. The longing for prosperity has led people to adopt Vastu principles in their home without caring to understand what its true principles are. People hear chi, feng-shui (Chinese Vastu Shastra) and feel Vastu is a religious superstitious idea or some vague notion, which in turn invokes fear in the minds of people that if a home does not conform to Vastu principles, it is sinful and would snatch all the prosperity from their life. Thus, Vastu compliance has become a basic necessity of the real estate business, and the builders have capitalized on this growing fear of the people.
“….. all kind of nonsense is happening; because when fear rules you, you can make a science out of everything. This whole thing has taken over people’s minds in the last ten to twenty years.”
~ Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on Vastu
Vastu invariably has to play a guiding role instead of an imposing one, thus there is a pressing need to eradicate the fear through awareness and education.
Understanding the Science behind Principles of Vastu
According to the weather and the temperature, Vastu Shastra gave some common guidelines so that you could build your house sensibly. When you study Vastu, Vastu in the mountains can be very different from the Vastu in the plains, and Vastu in Madhya Pradesh can be very different from the Vastu in Kerala. Let us understand Vastu with some examples
A thousand years ago you wanted to build a house, there would have been no engineers and architects to help you, hence you could use some guidelines (Vastu) to build the house. In building a structure, the main challenge is to figure out the span and stability of the roof. Then, in order to build the roof, you had cut a tree which gave you a log that is only 8 feet in length. Thus, the maximum span of your roof can be only 8 feet long, and if you had a big family, to accommodate all you would build a 100 feet long room. The house with these dimensions is essentially a tunnel and living in such a structure definitely affects your physical and mental health.
The Vastu Shastra then offered a set of standards for designing the structure in such a way that the premises are aesthetically pleasing, lends itself to the easy application, and evokes a feeling of well-being in the user.
People visit a holy place of worship for peace of mind, relaxation, and calm. People attend meditating sessions to achieve the feeling of everlasting joy and peace within oneself. But, why don’t we get the same peace of mind at home? Is it the place, God, or something else?
Temples, mosques, gurudwaras, etc. often have taps or water flowing channels, where the worshipers cleanse themselves fully, before entering the place of worship. Water is seen as a purifying agent, capable of cleansing the negative energy in and around the human body. Further when we move towards the ‘garbha-griha’ or the main altar of the holy place the sound of bells, drums, gongs, etc. or the ringing of the tower bell atop the cathedral creates sound waves which nullify the negative energy that surrounds the place. Subsequently, the flowers, diyas, candles, camphor, the fragrance of incense sticks, and other religious ritual articles set the right environment and atmosphere that enables one to have a free flow of positive energy, thus bringing in the much-needed peace of mind for the soul. Even the singing of the ‘Azaan’ during namaaz and clapping of hands during aarti cause enough sound wave so as to result in abundant positive energy flow that combines with positive prayers of the masses assembled, further compounding the overall ‘positive effect’. It is the same when at a live cultural event or sports event, we clap loudly to applaud the performers or sportsmen but if we clap for a longer time, it encourages the performers or players to perform better.
The Vastu principles and standards have been set and made, after long years of research and experiments and it has been established that a few decorative items at home like
- lighting up a diya increases positive energy in the house. Soft lights are important to create an atmosphere of positivity and peace. Make sure that large shadows do not form on walls and tables as it can cause an imbalance in your home.
- plants create relaxed and a soothing environment.
- paintings that depict calm landscapes or scenery in soft colors are considered important for a balanced rhythm in the house.
- a small indoor fountain or an aquarium can be a great addition to the house, it helps to keep good energies flowing and remove tensions, etc.
In Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra which is approximately 2000 years old, he not only explains the construction of the stage, audience hall, and a green room but also what should be the overall dimensions of a theatre based on the theory of acoustics. Bharata has specifically mentioned two reasons why the length of a theater should not exceed 30 meters. Firstly, it will create an ‘Echo Effect’ and the audience will not be able to hear the performers clearly. Secondly, the audience sitting in the last row of the auditorium will not be able to see the facial expressions or the body language of the performers. Last but not the least, Bharata advises that the roof of the theater should be cave-shaped, for the sound made by the performers to reach the very end of the audiences sitting at the back.
The Muni went on in lengths explaining how a playhouse (now theatres) if built bigger than the above would be losing euphony due to the weak resonance of the sounds uttered, and a play produced in it will not be properly expressive. Bharat Muni also described how to select a suitable site for construction of a theater and how the land must be plain, hard, and cleared for pegs, potsherds, bones, grass, and shrubs. These Vastu principles are still relevant and advised for the construction of movie halls and drama theatres.
Paving a way for rational thinking by getting rid of irrational beliefs and religious superstitions we should avoid adulterating the rich history and principles of Indian architecture and embrace its ideas for the greater good.
In the coming series of blogs, we shall explore how Vastu principles can be incorporated into your house plans.
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