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What is Vastu Shastra?

Vastu Shastra, the Benefits of Ancient Architecture
Vastu Shastra, the Benefits of Ancient Architecture

The Hindu scriptures are a source of ancient wisdom pertaining to subjects as diverse as medicine, mathematics, music, engineering, philosophy, spirituality and more. These beliefs are based on common guiding principles and some more well known examples include:

  • Jyotish Shastra or Astrology.
  • Yog Shastra or Yoga.
  • Ayurved. A manner of naturopathy and herbal medicine.
  • Vastu Shastra.

'Vastu Shastra' pronounced, 'vāstū-shāstrā' is a combination of two Sanskrit words, 'Vastu' meaning 'dwelling' or 'house' and 'Shastra', meaning science or text. This refers to the ancient Hindu, 'Dwelling Science' that deals with the principles for 'Vedic' architecture, a sort of Indian 'Feng Shui' if you please. This is however, not like the architecture that we are familiar with in modern times, but is rather the concepts on which buildings should be designed and built, so as to improve the spiritual, mental, material, physical and emotional condition of those who occupy such spaces, in order for them to thrive. The ancient texts describe Vastu as,

"A science of a higher dimension that manipulates the web of cosmic energy to ensure that all structures built in accordance with these principles, are in harmony with both their immediate surroundings and the larger Universe."


Knowledge of 'Vastu Shastra' originated in India around 5,000 years ago. It is believed that ancient Indian sages distilled these concepts from their analysis of how structures are formed in nature and through divinely inspired thoughts. References to this knowledge can be found in several 'Vedas', or sacred texts and these include the:

  • 'Rig Ved'
  • 'Yajur Ved'
  • 'Sam Ved'
  • 'Athar Ved'

The Origins of Vastu Shastra

Although 'Vastu Shastra' relates to the design and layout of living spaces, its origins are in fact, rooted in Hindu mythology.

This mythology relates to a fierce battle between Lord Shankar, the awakend form of Lord Shiva and a demon called 'Andhakasur'. As this battle progressed, Lord Shankar shed a few drops of perspiration and as these drops touched the ground, a terrifying, humanoid, demonic being arose that began to attack and torment all the Gods. No single God could subdue the being and it required a collective effort of 45 different Gods and deities to overpower him. They accomplished this by wrestling him face down to the ground and restraining his limbs and torso. In order to pacify his rage, they blessed him by saying, "You will be worshipped in all noble deeds" and they named him Vastu Purush, the word Purush meaning man.

Since all the Gods are seated at different places over the restrained body of Vastu Purush, it is believed that these are the positions that they hold in any confined space. This formation is known as the 'Vastu Mandal', a plan that maps out the position of the gods and deities. Therefore, any habitat or living space whose site plan is designed in accordance with the 'Vastu Mandal', will place all positive energies in the universe, at their most optimal locations.

There is also a simpler mythological belief that the Hindu god Lord Brahma, the Creator, created the universe and in it was the first human dwelling, which was a square-shaped 'Vastu'. The principles of 'Vastu Shastra' were then passed down through generations of sages and scholars, who refined and developed the science over time.

Diagram of the Vastu Mandal
Diagram of the Vastu Mandal

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Basic Elements and Directions

Vedic disciplines are centred around the five basic elements, known as the 'Panch-Mahabhoots'. It is believed that the human body can be reduced to these five elements and even Gods are desireous of taking on human form, in order to experience their properties. These five basic elements are:

  1. Earth or 'PRITHVI'
  2. Wind or 'VAYU'
  3. Fire or 'AGNI'
  4. Water or 'JAL'
  5. Ether or 'AKASH'

That's right, the ubiquitous earth, wind and fire have all been named, but make no mistake, Vedic disciplines are not just for fans of '70s pop groups. In addition to these elements, 'Vastu Shastra' recognises eight major directions through which either positive or negative energy flow. These directions are.

Directions of Positive Energy:
  1. North
  2. East
  3. North-East
Directions of Negative to Neutral Energy.
In order of negativity:
  1. South
  2. West
  3. South-West
  4. South-East
  5. North-West

According to Vedic beliefs, the objective of the remedial measures for any discipline is to create harmony and balance amongst these five elements. In the case of the laws of Vastu, this balance also extends to the eight directions. Once this is achieved, spritual energy flows in a positive direction and will be observed in the form of positive manifestations. In addition to the overall layout of a house, Vastu concepts also apply to individual rooms. Therefore, there are a subset of rules for the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, dining and living rooms, as well as outdoor areas. The general idea being to channelise the sources of positive energy and block entry to negative ones.


The Laws of Vastu Shastra

While 'Vastu Shastra' and 'Feng Shui' are both ancient arts related to the similar domains, they are quite different in nature and do not share many similar principles. Also, 'Feng Shui' is perhaps more remedial in nature, whereas Vastu goes into the intricacies of design elements as well as recommendations for remedies.

The basic tenets of 'Vastu Shastra' follow a common thread that binds all Vedic disciplines. This has been illustrated in the text known as the, 'Darshanshastra', which explains the state of human existence. It is said that human existence is a 'Stream of Consciousness' that has five sub-branches called the 'Upang(s)'. These 'Upangs' also make up the basic principles of music, astrology, Ayurved, Yoga, 'Vastu Shastra' and can be observed as the following attributes:


Yoga & Vastu Shastra

The word 'Yoga' comes from the Sanskrit word 'YOJ', which means, 'To Unite'. The final aim of Yoga is to unite the individual self, with the universal self. The same ancient texts that describe 'Vastu Shastra', specify that there are four types of Yogas, these are:

  1. Hath Yog
  2. Laya Yog
  3. Mantra Yog
  4. Raj Yog

Yoga as it is practiced today is considered to be a combination of Hath and Raj Yogas and this combination is known as, 'Stanga Yog'.

The yogic practice of 'Pranayam', refers to streams of energy or 'Nadis', in the body. Loosely, 'Nadis' correspond to veins, arteries and capillaries, or the respiratory and circulatory systems. The 'Ida' and 'Pingala' 'Nadis' carry the Sun current and the Moon currents, respectively, to different parts of the body. A third 'Nadi', the 'Shushumbhna', is a very fine, brilliant thread running through the spinal cord along which the 'Kundalini', or 'Sleeping Serpent' ascends. Awakening the Kundalini is the highest step in Tantrik practices.

As explained earlier, according to 'Vaastu Shastra' different directions are associated with positive, neutral or negative energy. Natural energies such as solar, gravitational, magnetic and cosmic radiation are said to flow in from north to east. This flow of energy corresponds to 'Ida' an is auspicious. On the other hand energy from the south to west is inauspicious and corresponds to the the yogic flow, 'Pingala'.

Proof in Support of Vastu Shastra

Research into the correlation of Vastu principles with those of modern day science has found that the geomagnetic flux lines, temperature gradient and structural dimensions of a Vastu structure, form a helical shape when plotted graphically against the four directions. This helix has a width to length ratio of 1:1.618, known as the 'Golden Ratio' and this is thought to be consistent with other naturally occurring forms, right from the ubiquitous microscopic, double helix DNA molecule, to the shape of gigantic galaxies.

The Golden Ratio Helix
The Golden Ratio Helix

Remedies for Vastu Faults

Designing a building in strict accordance with Vastu principles, is not always possible and altering an existing building can often be nearly impossible. However there is a way out, Vastu also prescribes for the use of Yantra talismans and amulets to overcome Vastu faults. These are some effective remedies that can overcome Vastu defects and transform the energy of any living space.

Vastu Yantra

'Vastu Shastra' prescribes for the use of a specific talisman for dispelling the negative effects of Vastu faults in a building. This talisman represents the different gods and deities, armed with their weaponry and seated on the Vastu Purush. Placing this in a building helps to eliminate faults, increases the flow of positive energy and has a purifying effect.

Mahakali Yantra

The powerful Goddess Mahakali's purpose is to annihilates all forms of evil and negative energy. Her corresponding amulet always keeps a building charged with positive spiritual, psychic and cosmic energy.

Peace & Progress Amulet

The 'Peace & Progress Amulet' or 'Sukh Samriddhi Yantra' attracts harmony and progress and will help to optimise your home's energy flow.

Laughing Buddha Yantra

This unique talisman combines Feng Shui symbols with Vedic talismans and Vastu Shastra principles to create the perfect trifecta for a harmonious, prosperous home.

Simple Vastu Recommendations

These are some simple, but useful 'Vastu Shastra' related suggestions that you can implement, to create a more harmonious living space.

  1. Vastu recommends that you keep your home and workplace clean and free from clutter. Clutter and untidiness can attract negative energy and hinder the flow of positive energy. So, make it a point to declutter regularly. You can further improve the ambiance of your surroundings by burning non-bamboo based incense and playing or chanting Mantras.
  2. Place mirrors in your home or workplace carefully. It is believed that mirrors not only reflect light, but also bend and bounce spiritual energy around. Vastu therefore advises us to avoid placing them opposite entrances, beds or dining tables.
  3. Ensure that your home and workplace is well-lit. Natural light is considered to be an excellent source of positive energy, so try to let in natural light, to whatever extent possible. In areas where natural light is not possible, use diffused artificial lighting.
  4. Place plants or flowers inside your home or workplace. Not only will they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, but according to Vastu principles, they can purify negativity in the air around us. Plants are also considered to be good source of positive energy. However thorny plants, with exception of roses, are not considered to be suitable for indoor placement. Also, make sure to tend to indoor plants regularly and rid them of any dead leaves and flowers. Planting cacti outside a home's perimeter boundary, is thought to be good for warding off evil.
  5. Ensure that your bed and work desk are positioned correctly. In 'Vastu Shastra', it is recommended that we should lay in our beds with our heads positioned towards the south, west or east such that we face north, east, north-east or west when we sleep. Similarly, your work desk should be positioned in such a way that you face north, east or north-east when seated.

Final Thoughts

Although there perhaps isn't as much awareness about the benefits of 'Vastu Shastra' as there is about 'Feng Shui', 'Vastu' principles are an wonderful way to transform the balance of energy in a home. Feel free to connect with us through any of our social media platforms if you'd like more information on the subject.

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