Vaastu Shastra is an ancient Indian planning and architecture guide that prescribes desirable characteristics for sites and buildings based on flow of energy (‘Prana’ in Sanskrit) that are related to the properties (Natural Energies) of Earth among many other principles. It’s essentially based on the philosophy that the sources of energies are to be open and the flow is not to be disturbed. Most of the rules are attributed to what are now scientifically substantiated findings in the modern era. The cosmological considerations for the Sun’s path, the rotation of the Earth, and the magnetic field have all been proven to be effective.
Vaastu believes that there exist two main types of forces which are equal and opposite in nature. One is subtle and fine while the other is dark and dense in opposition and for ease of comprehension we could term these as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ forces, respectively. The cosmically ordained interaction of these two forces lead to the inception of a third type of force called ‘Bio-Force’ or ‘Prana’ which in turn is deemed pivotal for life to exist. This liberated force is important as all over the planet’s surface these forces continuously interact releasing bio-energy. This natural interaction is hindered when a structure is built over the surface of the Earth which means both the forces enter the structure where the interaction continues. However, the intensity of these forces might not be the same resulting in an imbalance. This is where Vaastu Shastra, with its logical implementation and practices, comes to the fore.
It can guide us in building a structure that is designed wherein the positive forces override the negative forces for a beneficial release of bio-energy. This, in turn, maintains a positive Cosmic surplus attributed to the ‘Supreme Being Himself’. A smooth and happy life with everything coming your way without any great struggle for all the occupants is the ultimate goal. Through strict adherence to the Vaastu rules we create buildings that harmonize living with the space one occupies.
In order to get a better understanding of the science involved we should first look into what it stands for through interpreting the collocation of the Sanskrit words.
‘Shastra’ stands for ‘science’ and implies the guidelines laid down for the construction while ‘Vaastu’ literally means ‘a house’ or ‘a dwelling place’ for people. It is a broad term that further includes Bhoomi (the site/plot or extent of land where the building is proposed), Prasada (the compound wall and buildings which are built within the site), Yaana (all the vehicles parked within the site), and Shayana (which includes all the furniture and utensils in the building. It can additionally mean ‘comfort’ which shows the direct relation of our surroundings to the right proportion and positioning of the five elements of nature or Panchabhutas viz; Agni (Fire), Vaayu (Air), Vaari (Water), Prithvi (Earth) and Akash (Sky). The complex interplay of the above elements along with the eight directions (E, W, N, S, NE, SE, SW, NW) and how that is harnessed can profoundly influence the lives of the people living or working in the premises either positively or negatively.
Precision is key as there are very specific instructions for incorporating these vital elements. Before the construction the measurements of the plot or land must be taken carefully. The Sky element is 9% of the length and 9% of the breadth around the plot. Actual construction should be done only after deducting this space. This area has to be divided into four equal parts. The middle of North till middle of East is represented by the Water element. The Fire element is from middle of East to middle of South followed by the Earth element from middle of South till middle of West. The Air element is from middle of West to middle of North.
The next important step is to find the Brahma Sthana. This special area represents the place where lord ‘Brahma’ resides. It is a mixture of all the five elements since he is their creator. This spot is a rectangular area with 1/3rd of the length and 1/3rd of the breadth in the centre of the site.
It is crucial to balance these five elements. The Sky element has to be 9% of both the length and the breadth. It can be more but definitely not less than 9%. Water, Fire, Earth and Air elements make exactly 25% each of the construction. If any of these are deficit or excess then there will be problems to the residents of that house.
Keeping these instructions in perspective we can explore as to how the varied scientific factors come together in getting there.
The dynamics of the Magnetic Poles
If we were to consider the magnetism in nature, the human body itself acts as a magnet with the head, the heaviest and one of the most important part of the body, as the North Pole. The head is the most powerful source of electric and magnetic fields in an organism with the eyes’ magnetic field induction being significantly higher than the rest of the parts of the body.
It is a well-established scientific fact that the human nervous system communicates with the help of electric impulses, thus producing electro-magnetic field around different parts of our body. Electrical potential is generated by the muscles. The human body is primarily controlled by the electrical and chemical reactions inwards. We have all studied in our school years that any movement of charge, howsoever small, produces an electrical field around the direction of movement. It’s only sensible to believe that any surrounding magnetic field will surely have an effect on the electrical activities of our bodies. Thus, it’s safe to assume that we are but a net result of these many magnetic fields distributed within the body itself which becomes equivalent to a magnet matching the overall size. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that if the head is directed towards the North direction of the Earth while sleeping, the repelling force affects the blood circulation, causing disturbed sleep, tension and other connected problems and that’s the reason why Vaastu Shastra specifically dictates the design and positioning of bedrooms. The best direction to sleep is towards South as when the opposite poles are against each other, it attracts and we get sound and blissful sleep. We can even take that to be South-East or South-West but never towards North-East or North-West.
What the rules of Vaastu Shastra theorize, science has concretized as it has long been accepted that we as individuals are constantly traveling along with the Earth with all our belongings towards the North-East direction at a speed of 1070 miles or 1670 kilometres per hour. The forward direction is so due to the Earth’s inclination that is about 23.5 degrees towards the same as it continues to rotate on its own axis This, together with its rotation around the Sun, has been in place for more than 4.54 billion years and all without any suspended axles, bearings or motors. This is why the division of the Earth; the construction of structures and utilization of the buildings shouldn’t be against this motion. Hence, ours or the weight we add should not affect this movement. That’s why Vaastu rules advise to keep heavy weight in South-West and lower weight in North-East corner and to balance the South-East and North-West corners with medium weight.
Sun – the Source of Energy
This Pranic Energy is a vital element according to the Shastra. This energy enters the building mainly from the East as Sun being the principal source rises in that direction. The Sun makes life possible as it brings light and is regarded as the ‘supreme soul’ in the Vedas and the Upanishads. Sky element’s relationship with the Sun element is important as it acts as the carrier of this life energy. Therefore, the alignment of the four main directions with these elements is required to ensure a uniform energy distribution throughout the creation.
This is the basis for the Vaastu guidelines that make the best location for kitchen as the South-East zone which is for the fire. It goes further to even advise to cook facing East with the best time being from 9am to noon as the Sun is at the South-East zone emitting positive ultraviolet rays. Between noon till sunset, the immense heat is not beneficial and should be avoided. After 12pm, the Sun’s position is at South then South-West with it setting in the West. This brings about the rule that the walls at home should be thicker along the Southern and Western zone in order to prevent the harmful UV rays of the Sun into our living premises.
This overall science of arranging these elements in their respective places so as to strike a perfect harmonious balance is what makes the lives of the inhabitants or cohabitants happy and peaceful. Adding ‘value to the life of the man’ is the fundamental motive behind bringing about the sync between the people, nature, and the built environment according to Vaastu Shastra. It could even be considered an elimination of negative energy and the enhancement of positive one at a place or location so that a person, family or even business inhabiting a building become prosperous and progressive.
The parameters of orientation, site planning, proportions, dimensions, and aesthetics are essential in achieving a beautiful, at times symmetrical, and well oriented buildings that are very much in line with the concepts that are taught in the discipline of Architecture. The science goes deeper with consideration being given to the plot or site’s location, shape, orientation, slope, and even the soil as these also radiate the energy.
Vaastu practitioners when presented an opportunity to select among North, South, East or West facing houses tend to choose the North or East facing ones because those are considered the most auspicious. This isn’t that simple still as not every North or East facing house is ideal. In such cases the placement of the entrance dictates whether a house is conducive or not.
The interiors and the exteriors get their own set of instructions based on scientific reasoning and general logic to create spacious and well-designed spaces to build rooms that evoke ‘contentment, peace, and prosperity.’ Apart from the basic rooms, the positioning of the basic features like the staircase, upper floor(s), doors and windows, and the colours for the walls get a mention, too.
This all goes on to consolidate that the ‘shastra’ is a rational science based on observations, facts, laws of nature and governed by a set of principles that has evolved over centuries and generations. It is practicable as is clearly evident from all the structures that have stood the test of time with their aesthetic, brightly lit and cleverly ventilated inclusions being just a few noteworthy achievements. This timelessness is what has piqued the modern-day architects’ and interior designers’ interest in the subject and has made many a convert.