Vastu Shastra has evolved from ancient times to address the inherent need of every human being to live a life of peace and prosperity free of illness and poverty. The construction of a dwelling aided by the science of living in tune with nature induces positive energies and subdues negative influences. Everything in the Universe is considered to be made up of divine energy and channelizing these energies in the right direction to attain maximum benefit is the aim and intention of Vastu Shastra.
Importance of the five elements or Panchabhootas
Of the nine planets, the planet Earth is said to have the presence of all five elements facilitating the existence of human life. By moulding these five elements aided with Vastu Shastra the energies of the cosmos can be balanced to suit human needs and enhance positive energies.
Earth or Prithvi is the third planet from the sun which is inclined at an axis of 23½ degrees at the meridian. It has a North and South Pole and its gravitational and magnetic field affects all living and non living things on Earth. It is an important element and is physically made up of land which contains the site and materials required for construction. Before commencing construction selection of a proper site with detailed inspection of the plot, size, shape etc have to be carried out. The element Earth is considered to impart stability, balance, maturity, steadfastness and patience and dominates the diagonal directions and the centre in every built up space. If the earth element is in a state of balance it induces stability in life by creating a sense of harmony and peace with respect to behaviour, career and relationships.
Air or Vayu is the next element and represents the North East direction. It is physically made up of a number of gases like oxygen, nitrogen etc which affect humidity and pressure levels. Air is associated with movement mainly in the rotational mode and represents growth and the courage to accept new challenges, take risks and bring joy and happiness in life. Vastu is used to balance the air element and encourage meeting with people or circumstances that facilitate growth. The doors and windows have to be placed according to Vastu to facilitate good flow of air.
Water or Jal represents North East direction in Vastu and is physically present in the form of oceans, rivers and lakes. Vastu helps in the proper positioning of water bodies like aquariums, water tanks and swimming pools. Water is associated with creation of new concepts and ideas and when water is balanced it creates a philosophical and spiritual attitude by giving a broader outlook of life.
Fire or Agni represents South East direction in Vastu Shastra hence elements of fire like kitchen or electrical gadgets have to be placed in South East according to Vastu. Sun is the source and sustenance of life hence Vastu should provide proper ventilation for sunlight. Fire brings power, strength, zeal and is equated with earning capacity and money thus enhancing ‘fire in the belly’ meaning driving force behind all actions. When balanced it brings fame and success.
The universe is made up of space which encompasses galaxies, sun, moon, stars etc hence defining space is a very important part of Vastu. The open space in the centre of the house was well defined in the past and is dominated by West direction. Space represents enhancement and expansion which includes mental space defined by thought processes. When space is balanced it brings a sense of direction, precise knowledge and awareness and organisational capabilities.
The correlation between a living place and its direction have great importance in conjunction to the planets hence assumes great significance in Vastu Shastra. The orientation of a building is very important in order to facilitate positive energies and reduce the effects of negative influences. There are eight directions with the North, South, East and West denoting the main or cardinal directions and the meeting point of any two directions called ordinal or intercardinal points like North East, North West, South East and South West. This is highly beneficial as the salient points of both directions are combined in Vastu to reap maximum dividends.
Deities associated with directions
Each direction is associated with a particular God or deity and propitiating and worshipping the deity is said to yield eternal blessings.
East – This direction is governed by Lord Indra the King of Gods. Since the Sun rises in the East this direction is considered holy and auspicious hence this direction bestows wealth and prosperity.
West – This direction is governed by Lord Varuna the Lord of rains. He is the bestower of prosperity since rainfall yields crops and hence more influence on water bodies. Since west is opposite to east no work can be undertaken in the west. Neptune is the planet ruling West.
North – This direction is governed by Lord Kubera the God of wealth hence it is the bestower of wealth and prosperity. This is the reason why one’s feet must always be towards the North and head towards South while sleeping as on waking one would see North and get Lord Kubera’s blessings. Mercury is the planet ruling North.
South – This direction is governed by Lord Yama the God of death. That is why entrance doors should not face South as they are said to bring ill fortune. Most auspicious tasks are forbidden in the South.
North East– This direction is governed by Lord Ishan which means ‘third eye of Lord Shiva’ hence this direction is also referred to as Ishanya. This brings knowledge, wisdom and success.
North West – This direction is governed by Lord Vayu the God of wind hence is also referred to as Vayavya. As the wind is constantly moving the use of Vastu brings a change in business, friendship etc and confers good health and long life.
South East – This direction is governed by Lord Agni the God of fire and is also referred to as Agneya. It is related to the cooking area and the use of Vastu brings confidence, zeal, and good health.
South West – This direction is governed by Goddess Niruti meaning lawlessness or destruction and is a name for Rudra the deity for storm and is also another name for Lord Shiva. Hence this direction is referred to as Nairitya. Goddess Niruti is also considered a form of Kali. She gives protection against evil forces and with proper Vastu prevents death and confers longevity.
Stories in Scriptures
Vastu Purusha is the deity presiding over any site. The scriptures mention two stories relating to the Vastu Purusha. In the ancient text Mayamatam it is said that once Brahma wished to create a new being and so created a Cosmic man. Unfortunately the creature began to grow larger and larger in size and to satisfy the hunger due to his never ending size he began to devour anything that came in his path. All the Gods in anxiety then rushed to Lord Brahma who realising his mistake summoned the Ashta Digpalas or the Gods of the eight cardinal directions. All of them jumped on him and subjugated him. Overpowered and helpless he then pleaded to Lord Brahma for mercy. Pleased with his prayer Brahma then blessed him to be the deity present on the site before construction who would be worshipped to attain prosperity and success. The creature was held by the Gods to the ground with the head on North East direction, feet on the South West side, face downwards and both the hands to the South East and North West direction.
In Matsya Purana
Once there was demon named Andhaka who fought a long battle with Lord Shiva and was eventually killed. But during the long battle Lord Shiva became tired and began sweating profusely. Out of the drops of sweat that fell to the ground a man came into being and began to pray deeply to Lord Shiva to confer on him the boon of his choice. Pleased with him Shiva granted him his boon. He began to eat up all the three worlds. The terrified Gods decided to overpower him and hold him down to protect the universe from destruction. The devotee then prayed to Lord Brahma for mercy who pleased with him blessed him that he would be worshipped before any construction activity was undertaken.
Vastu Purusha Mandala
The Vastu Purusha is said to lie down in the cosmos in a grid of usually 81 squares in such a way that his head is in the North East direction which represents balance in thought. The lower body faces South West which represents strength and rigidity. The navel is in the centre of the earth signifying holiness and Divine awareness. The hand faces North West and South East signifying energy levels. The positions of the 44 Gods and Brahma holding down the Vastu Purusha are shown with 13 in the internal enclosures and 32 in the external enclosures. These symbolic Gods have certain inherent qualities and are said to rule various aspects of life. Thus, according to the nature of the deity ruling that particular area each room is allocated each area of the house. The metaphysical design of the cosmos in the form of a diagram on which the whole concept of Vastu Shastra is based is referred to as the Vastu Purusha Mandala. On the basis of this diagram and directions related to it all physical features like doors, windows etc are decided in terms of sunlight, ventilation etc before the actual construction takes place. This diagram or Vastu Mandala indicates the placement of different features in the right direction represented by the suitable deity to reap maximum benefits. A module is developed and various areas are divided with great care taken to ensure that the right areas are earmarked for the right features as per Vastu Shastra. The prime place of importance is given to the ‘Brahmasthana’ in the Vastu Purusha mandala which is the ‘centre’ and considered the most sacred place for worship and divinity. The Vastu Purusha Mandala is followed by all experts in different design structures like houses, temples, offices etc.
Vastu Shastra combines the knowledge of science and the universal cosmic energy to enhance positive energies. Vishwakarma the celestial architect is regarded as the father of Vastu Shastra and description of Vastu Purusha Mandala is mentioned in his treatise Vishwakarma Prakash.