Vastu Shastra

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  Origin of Vaastu
The concept of consulting a Vastu expert, for creating peaceful settings at home and workplace, is quite popular today. However, unlike what most people tend to believe, this scientific study of directions, for architectural purposes, is not new. In fact, it has its origin in the Sthapatya Veda, a part of the Atharva Veda, which dates back to thousand of years ago. The early principles of Vastu were framed on the basis of observation of the sunrays, at different times in the day. These observations were noted and important inferences drawn later on, on the basis of an in-depth screening.

The origin of vaastushastra may have taken place well over thousands of years ago. The learned men of those days may not have lived in houses themselves but they most definitely dedicated their lives to the development of the science "vaastushastra" or "vaastu", as it is popularly known today.

The principles of the science laid down during those days were based purely on the effect of sunrays during different times of the day. The observations and corrections made were noted and concluded only after in-depth screening of the situation.

Vastu is a part of Vedas, which are believed to be four to five thousand years old. Through penance and meditation yogis of that period acquired answers believed to have come from the cosmic mind itself to their questions. Hence Vedas are heeded with divine knowledge. The art of Vastu originates in the Stapatya Veda, a part of the Atharva Veda.

It used to be a purely technical subject and it was only confined to architects (Sthapatis) and handed over to their heirs. The principles of construction, architecture, sculpture etc., as enunciated in the epics and treatise on temple architecture, have been incorporated in the science of vastu. Its description is there in epics like Mataysya Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, and Vishnu Purana. There are some other ancient shastras that pass over the knowledge of vastu shastra to next generation, like Vishvakarma Prakash, Samraangan Sutradhar, Kashyap Shilpshastra, Vrihad Sanhita, and Praman Manjaree.

Vastu study incorporates within itself the principles of sculptures, construction and architecture, as they have been described in the epics. One can find its mention in different epics, like Mataysya Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, and Vishnu Purana. From ancient literature, it is found that that the construction of various temples and architectures like temples and palaces was based on Vastu only. There are many ancient shastras, like Vishvakarma Prakash, Samraangan Sutradhar, Kashyap Shilpshastra, Vrihad Sanhita, and Praman Manjaree, which pass over the Vastu knowledge to the next generation.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, Mumbai.

References to Vastu Shastra can also be found in the Mahabharata. The epic tells that when kings were invited to the city of Indraprastha, for the Rajasuya Yagna of King Yuddhistira, a number of houses were built, all of which followed Vastu guidelines. These houses were free from obstructions and had big compounds with great walls. The symmetry of various elements required for the construction of the palace was also taken into consideration. Even the mayasabha of the Mahabharata was built according to the ancient principles of Vastu Shastra.

Vastu finds mention in Ramayana as well. The construction of the holy city of Ayodhya, where Lord Rama was born and ruled, shared a similarity with the plan written in the great architectural text Manasara. Even the Ramsetu of Ramayana was based on Vastu principles. Buddhist literature also makes numerous mentions of buildings based on Vastu. It is said that Lord Buddha used to deliver discourses on architecture and he was very much conscious of the construction of the buildings in order. There is a mention of various viharas, temples, houses, buildings in the various Buddhist texts, based on vastu.

Great Ancient Works Based On Vastu Shastra
  • Vishwakarma Vastu Shastra
  • Samarangana Sutradhar
  • Mandana Sutradhar
  • Rajasimha Vastu
  • Deeparnava
  • Shilparatna
  • Mayamata
  • Manasara
  • Manushyalaya Chandrika
  • Kashyapa Shilpa
  • Aparajita Pricha

In the Mahabharata it is said a number of houses were built for the kings who were invited to the city Indraprastha for the Rajasuya Yagna of King Yuddhistira. Sage Vyasa says that these houses were as high as the peaks of Kailasa mountains, perhaps meaning that they stood tall and majestic. The houses were free from obstructions, had compounds with high walls and their doors were of uniform height and inlaid with numerous metal ornaments. It is said that the site plan of Ayodhya, the city of Lord Rama was similar to the plan found in the great architectural text Manasara. References are also to be found in Buddhist literature, of buildings constructed on the basis of Vastu. They contain references to individual buildings. Lord Buddha is said to have delivered discourses on architecture and even told his disciples that supervising the construction of a building was one of the duties of the order. Mention is made of monasteries (Viharas) or temples, buildings which are partly residential and partly religious (Ardhayogas), residential storeyed buildings (Prasadas), multi-storeyed buildings (harmyas) and Guhas or residential buildings for middle class people.

The Vastu, with word meaning 'dwelling', is believed to be the residing places of god and man. According to its modern meaning it covers all buildings irrespective of their use like residences, industries, business establishments, lodges, hotels etc. It is based on the five basic and essential elements, such as Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Jal (water), Bhumi (earth) and Aakasha (space), which are known as Panchabhutas. Everything on earth is built from these elements.

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