Vaastu Shastra - Vaastu Revisited
by Purnima Coontoor
Making the Most of VaastuA plot with all corners at 90 degrees, having two roads at the front and back is a good plot
o The open space left in north and east should be more than south and west
o The maximum
Virtual PositivityCorrect Vaastu Defects with Scientific Remedies and Traditional Methods
Vaastu practitioners have identified three distinct methods or levels of dealing with vaastu defects.
Like or loathe it, you can't ignore it. Be it a dwelling or a commercial complex, a temple or a factory, vaastu predominates the way a building is designed. An ancient science which has recently been resurrected by society, Vaastu rules spaces. It is feared by the uninformed, rubbished by non-believers and fiercely defended by serious practitioners. Self-help vaastu books offer instant wisdom to fix your life…break a wall, build a tank, put up a pole for prosperity. The fixes range from the sublime to the ridiculous. The books are also rigid about the placement and size of everything in the house, starting from the front door to the furniture and the plants in the garden. Misconceptions about this ancient science abound, and, in the hands of the unscrupulous, it has now morphed into a superstition which strikes fear in the hearts of people.
So what's the truth about vaastu, and how can it benefit mankind, if it does?
Vaastu means physical environment. Vaastu-shastra (knowledge) or vaastu-shilpa (architecture) codifies the traditional Indian canons of town planning and architecture. Texts such as Manasara Silpa Shastra (by Manasara), Mayamatam (by Maya), Viswakarma Vaastushastra (by Viswakarma), Samarangana Sutradara (by Raja Bhoja), Aparajita Praccha (by Viswakarma's son Aparajita) and Silparatna, among others, are some of the authentic works on the subjects. It's basically a science which governs the optimum use of air, light and space for comfortable living. It is believed that constructing a place according to the tenets of vaastu ensures harmony with the physical and metaphysical forces of the cosmos such as the gravitational, electromagnetic and supernatural.
According to modern historians, this science developed in India during 3,000 BC. Being a technical subject, it was handed over generations verbally or in the form of hand-written monographs to architects (sthapathis). These principles of construction, architecture and sculpture were incorporated in the construction of temples and royal palaces. The excavated cities of Harappa and Mahenjodaro bear testimony to this fact.
The Matsya Purana mentions 17 preceptors of vaastu - Bhugu, Atri, Vasista, Viswakarma, Maya, Narada, Nagnajit, Visalaksha, Purandara, Brahma, Kumaraswamy, Nandisa, Sounaka, Bhargava, Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Sukra and Bruhaspathi.
The principles of vaastu shastra span the entire activity of constructing a building. Starting from site selection, site planning and orientation, it specifies the zoning and disposition of rooms, proportional relationships between the various parts of buildings and the character of buildings. Arguably, the ancient texts talk of a time and space far different from contemporary environment. How relevant is it to apply these principles to modern living, where apartments are packed together like sardines and air and ventilation created artificially?
Most architects feel that the rigid principles of vaastu ruin their design and interfere with their work. "Vaastu is a fear created by quacks who have no idea about architecture," says architect Vijaykumar. "It's impossible to have all doors opening to the northeast and all water tanks piled on the southwest. Vaastu should not be just about a building, it should be about a lifestyle. As an architect, my brief is to give my client a space which is functional to his needs, and aesthetically pleasing. My clients do come up with preconceived ideas about the building, and if their vaastu consultant is rigid, it destroys the basic values of architecture."
Vijaykumar also has problems with applying vaastu to other nations. "It was basically designed to suit Indian purposes," he says. "India gets its breeze from the southwest, which is possibly why people kept a weight on that corner so that the roofs of their huts did not fly away! And they probably kept their cooking stoves in the southeast, so that the fire was not put off by the winds," he argues logically. He feels it is ridiculous to abide by these rules in this day and age.
Purohit, another architect from Bangalore, agrees. "Trouble arises when people with half- baked knowledge end up advising all and sundry about the principles of vaastu. I have clients coming with their entire families, ranging from six to 60 years, to finalize a building plan. Some people are so specific that they decide from which direction the water inlet pipe should pump water into the water tank. Recently, I was forced to remove a beam from the front elevation of a commercial complex as it was against vaastu. Architecture definitely suffers in this scenario".
Most clients are willing to sacrifice design for vaastu. They are more worried about the disasters that may befall them otherwise, rather than the benefits derived by it. And this obsession cuts across religion and caste. "People build according to vaastu irrespective of whether they like it or believe in it…the market demands it. What if you have to sell your place someday?" says Purohit.
So is vaastu not relevant at all in planning buildings? "It is relevant, one hundred percent," says Ambalapady Shreepathy Acharya of Udupi emphatically. A scholar, astrologer and vaastu consultant, Acharya's deep insights on a person's dwelling and workplace have benefited innumerable clients. "Vaastu has got a bad name due to quacks. And the whole approach to the subject, as it is today, is wrong. Vaastu is not a predictive activity, it is an explorative one. It is not a fatal science either. So one need not be in fear of it," he says.
Acharya has several clients outside India too, who have taken his advice and are doing phenomenally well, silencing voices that cast doubt on the uni-versatility(!) of the subject. "Who says vaastu can be applied only to India and Indians? Everything in the universe is interconnected. What is there in the macrocosm, can be found in the microcosm. A number of variables - space, matter, energy - act on an individual at any given point of time. Vaastu can be used to harness this energy in the best possible way."
Regarding the detractors who dismiss it as trash, Acharya dismisses them! "Any discipline can be dismissed as trash, if there is no discipline of the mind. It is not the fault of the science, but of the people who seek it and dispense it," he says. Acharya adds that people should consider vaastu not as expenditure, but as an investment for good life.
This sentiment is echoed by interior designer, Ashwini Tandon, "Vaastu has come to stay. All, but all, my clients, go in for vaastu compatible buildings and accessories. And they do not care about the costs involved. It's actually become a tool for decision-making. I have seen that a good vaastu consultant acts as a psychologist, and a good architect and designer can create an uncluttered space which can unclutter the mind. Vaastu is all about creating positivity at a spatial level. If it can create a sense of well being, why not?"
Serious Vaastu practitioners aver that it is not a generic science whose principles can be applied uniformly to everybody. The trick, and the wisdom, is to recognize that every situation is unique and requires a unique remedy. More and more people are now becoming aware of this aspect of vaastu, and are seeking consultants who can give advice based on their personal parameters, like sun signs, year of birth, and lifestyle. So an effective vaastu consultant has to be necessarily a sadhaka and a spiritual person, who can look into a person's psyche and chart a course for him.
"It can be done by ourselves if we are sensitive enough, but we have lost touch with our inner self," says Ashwini. "We abuse ourselves and our environment, and have become so gross that we are not aware of the subtle vibrations that are always ready to give us messages." Hence the need for a spiritual vaastu guide.
S. Narayanan is one such consultant, and he practices what he calls management vaastu. Astrology and vaastu are application sciences, he says, and his specialty is in personalizing and managing resources to suit an individual's needs. Narayanan stresses on time. How far into future is the person looking at, is the building required to serve his immediate needs or long-term needs? "Time is of the essence. I take time to assess the person, understand what he is all about, his lifestyle, his profession, his family members, and most important, his age. I study his body language, I am sensitive to his smell, sound, touch…and I harness the potential of the man to give him maximum benefit. I even take into consideration the physical proportions of persons, and suggest a space which is ergonomically suited as well!"
Narayanan takes into consideration the two aspects of vaastu, the sthira (the firm) and the chara (the moving). Sthira represents the body and chara, the mind. Man is a combination of both, and these nuances have to be incorporated into his building. Thus the detailed receptivity to the individual's five senses.
So there's more to vaastu than meets the eye. It is not very wise to apply basic vaastu to ourselves, without the benefit of the insight of a sadhaka or practitioner. "You can use the same basic ingredients to create different dishes. Application of vaastu is similar. It's a judicious application of available resources (including knowledge about the personality of an individual) to create harmony in life," says Narayanan. "With vaastu, you can achieve whatever you want in life."
Shylaja, a mother of two teenage daughters, built her house according to the advice of a vaastu and a feng shui consultant, the prevailing trend these days. And she is quite happy with the results. "My crooked site was corrected by running a copper wire in that corner," she says. "Pyramids were placed in strategic places on which the foundation was built. All our rooms are color-coordinated according to the occupant's age and profession. I was also asked to hang a picture of Ganesha on the wall opposite my front door for prosperity," she says.
Ambalapady Shreepathy Acharya also cites many instances of people having benefited from vaastu. "Even cancer cases have been cured and reported non-malignant. Chronic illnesses have also cleared. Many sick industries in industrial estates have also rejuvenated on application of this science."
Amit Lamba, a vaastu consultant from Mumbai, corroborates this view. "According to the Ramayana, the complete city of Ayodhaya was designed and constructed by Manu, a leading architect of that time, in full conformity to vaastu shastra. The Balaji temple in Tirupati is an excellent example of Vaastu. Its prosperity is legendary thanks mainly to the excellent implementation of the principles of vastu shastra. Vaastu shastra also has references in the period of Gautam Buddha and in the Roman empire."
Another prevalent practice to increase positivity in one's life is to place handwritten japa books (for example 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' written 1008 times), underneath the northeast corner foundation. Some are very particular about positioning their front door. They look at the direction in which the vaastu purusha's head is pointing in the month of construction (apparently, the vaastu purusha whose head is to northeast and feet to south west, also spins on his axis, thus pointing to different directions during different months). Fixing the muhurat of construction according to auspicious months suitable for different purposes is also a practice in vogue (for example, people avoid starting construction when the sun is moving in Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces signs).
The deeper you dig, the more expansive does this science get. Practiced sincerely, it can be a boon to the harried modern man to bring peace and prosperity onto his life. Yad bhaavam tad bhavati, it is said (as you think, so shall it be). If vaastu generates positive feelings in man, then positivity is what he shall get.
At the same time, one cannot help sounding a cautionary note against excess reliance on vaastu to safeguard health and happiness; nor should faulty vaastu be a source of fear. In the final analysis, we are the makers of our own destiny and it is up to us to craft our own welfare and happiness.
Amit Lamba: (0) 9819015736, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Vastu Consultant - 15 September 2010
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Subject: Numerology - 1 September 2010
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Subject: Useful Feedback for clients - 7 July 2010
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