Natural concepts of vasthu
Written by kanippayuradmin Monday, 4 February 2019
Literally, vasthu is derived from the word “vas” meaning “to dwell” or “to reside”. Vasthu is the dwelling place of mortals and immortals – mortals like human beings, animals, birds, plants and all other living things and immortals like God, Demigod, Spirits etc. Vasthuvidya is the science dealing with the construction of housing units and proper placement of household articles and subsidiary constructions like cattle shed, well etc.
The house is the dwelling place where a person wants to live with peace and comfort. This can be achieved by proper planning and placement of house. It is well known that if we run along the waves of the wind, the energy required will be less or the running will be easier in comparison to running opposite to the waves. Similarly, living according to nature provides us physical and mental comfort and helps us to develop business and prosperity. The science which is based on this natural principles is Vasthuvidya. Hence, vasthu is that darshana which guides you to live in tune with nature. It once again emerges as favourite subject for modern engineers and architects
2. ORIGIN OF VASTHUVIDYA
During the vedic period, whatever human understood and learned through thousands of years of existence came out as precious sasthras which ultimately became treasure of India. Vedas are originated from Brahma. All the ancient Indian sciences are originated from Veda. They are four in number, namely Rkveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda (refer fig.1). As supplements to the four Vedas, there are four Vedopangas. As Ayurveda (knowledge of life) for Rigveda, Sthapathyaveda is the subsidiary of Atharvaveda. Thus Sthapatyaveda’s authority is clear and undisputed. It is the knowledge of Sthapathi, the Silpi (Architect). It is also called silpasastra (building science). In common parlance, Sthapathya veda is the science of construction. It is also called Vasthuvidya, the knowledge of Vasthu. “Good future comes from good deeds, good deeds comes from good thinking, good thinking comes from good environment and good environment means environment in tune with nature – this is what vasthu provides.”
The various factors on which Vasthu depends on are as follows:
- Selection of an ideal plot
- Position of the house
- Shape of the house
- Importance of dimension of the house
- Relative position of various rooms
These factors will be explained in detail in the coming sessions.
3. SELECTING AN IDEAL PLOT
Selecting the ideal plot for construction is given great importance in Vasthuvidya. The selection depends on the following:
- Slope of the land
3.1. Slope of the land
Selecting the ideal plot for construction is given great importance in Vasthuvidya. Selection is based on terrain and soil conditions (Sthalaguna), hydrological factors (Jalaguna), and biotic factors (Vrukshaguna).
When considering sthalaguna, gentle slope towards East and North are considered auspicious. Sun is the major source of energy during day time and stars are the source during night time. We know that Sun rises in East. Among the various groups of stars, the major one is ‘Saptharishikal’. They are the major energy source during night and they rise in the North. Hence land sloping towards either/both these directions receives more energy and such plots are considered auspicious. Also, irregular plan shapes are not preferred. Instead, square or rectangular plots are mostly preferred. Soil is tested to check out its permeability and consolidation. Presence of substances like cinder(Thusha-Puttu), bone(Asthi), hair(Kesam) etc. in the plot is inauspicious.
The clockwise movement of water in the plot is considered as auspicious. Flow to north and East is also auspicious. The site on the southern bank of waterbody flowing from west towards East, or on the western bank of a water body, flowing from south towards north is good. The soil moisture is tested by quick germination of seeds.
Vasthuvidya has classified trees and plants into two categories. Flowering, fruit bearing, and milk exuding trees are good. Bamboo and thorny plants are not considered auspicious in the plot.
A special feature of Vasthuvidya is fixing the orientation of the vastu and it is very important procedure.
As per Vasthu, a house may be oriented in 8 directions – 4 cardinal directions and 4 corner directions. The cardinal directions are true North, East, South and West. The corner directions are NE,SE,SW and NW. These directions are specified with respect to a focal point called Brahmasthanam and vasthu considers all these 8 house positions as facing to brahmasthanam. These positions are taken as the birth places of the vasthu and are denoted by the ‘Yoni number’( Yoni No:1 to 8). Yoni is thus an indicator denoting the position of the house with respect to the brahmasthanam. The Yoni number for each direction is shown in figure 3.
Earth has got a West to East rotation each day and North to South rotation yearly. When we travel in a vehicle sitting just reverse to vehicle, we feel uncomfortable and journey will not be comfortable. If the Earth is compared to a vehicle and its inhabitants as passengers, houses are to be necessarily aligned to the rotational directions. i.e., proper North South and East West, alignment is necessary to get the maximum benefits and to live harmony with Earth.
4. POSITION OF THE HOUSE (GRUHASTHANAM)
Generally speaking, building has to be positioned either in the north eastern corner (eesana khandom) or south western corner (nirhruthi khandom) of the plot. Building positioned in north western corner (asura khandom) and south eastern corner (yama khandom) are not advisable for positioning of building.
For larger plots, we usually take the largest square field within the plot orienting towards the cardinal directions. This square is divided into four quadrants and the north eastern or south western quadrants are selected for positioning of the building. (See fig. 4)
For smaller plots, the positioning of the house is based on “Alpakshetra Vidhi”. In this case, the largest square within the plot is divided into four quadrants and one has to adjust the house in such a way that the house center has to come in either north eastern or south western quadrant considering the position of the road. (See fig. 5)
In all the above cases, one has to leave a clearance equal to 1 in 8, 1 in 9 or 1 in 10 of the length from the outer edge on all the four sides. This clearance is called “Pishachaveedhi”. Vasthu principles states that the house should not enter into this side clearance.
5. SHAPE OF THE HOUSE
The shape of the building depends upon the orientation of the building. Based on the four cardinal directions, we can design the house in four main shapes as per vasthu. They are as follows:
- Chathushala / Naalukettu
5.1. Ekashala (Rectangular)
Ekashala is made of only one block or sala. It can be of two types:
- Thekkini ( North facing ekashala) (See fig. 6)
- Padinjatti ( East facing ekashala) (See fig. 7)
Ekashalas facing north and east are auspicious. And those houses facing south or west are also technically considered as one of the above type EKASALA as per vasthu principles, i.e, their elevations are facing south or west but design principles (perimeter) should be that of the ekashalas facing north or east respectively.
5.2. Dwishala (L shaped )
Dwishalas are yet another way of building houses. These are combinations of two salas (blocks) and can be of the following two forms :
- Dwishala with larger western portion (East facing Dwishala) (See Fig. 8)
- Dwishala with larger southern portion (North facing Dwishala) (See Fig. 9)
5.3.Trishala ( C- shaped)
Trishala are another design combination (combination of three blocks forming a “C shape”). They can take two forms. They are:
- Trishala with larger western portion (East facing trishala) (See fig.10)
- Trishala with larger southern portion (North facing trishala) (See fig. 11)
North facing trisalas are made of thekkini, padinjatti and kizhakkini (blocks on the southern, western and eastern side of the centre courtyard). East facing trishala consists of padinjatti, thekkini and vadakkini (blocks on the western, southern and northern side of the centre courtyard).
Trishalas facing south and west are to be avoided as per vasthu, i.e, while designing, C shape opening should be avoided in the south and west of the house.
The combination of the four salas (kizhakkini, thekkini, padinjatti, vadakkini) called “Naalukettu”. This kind of design is considered as the most nature friendly construction which gives at most living comfort. Here, four salas are facing to the inner courtyard as per vasthu rules.
Each sala must be designed based on their individual design principles (perimeter), and the perimeter of the outer naalukettu should adhere to the principles adopted for the major sala among the two salas (thekkini or padinjatti). It can be constructed in two ways. One way is to construct the four salas in combined form with connections at the corners (See fig. 12). Another way is to construct the naalukettu as four separate salas with open spaces in between them. Each sala serves specific purposes like kitchen, store, housing etc. In some cases, each sala may be separate houses. (See fig. 13).
6. IMPORTANCE OF DIMENSIONING
We can visualize the shape of a house only with its dimensions. Hence dimensions are given prior importance in Vasthu.
As modern engineering uses meter as standard dimensional unit, Vasthuvidya has got it’s unique system of measurements. Two systems were developed namely Yavamana (based on grain size), Manushyapramana (based on human figure). Former was developed taking yava (Barley) as the basic unit.
As far as Manushyapramana is concerned, designing is carried out taking one Hastha i.e., as the shoulder to arm distance of the house owner. Standardization is not practical in this system. And all the designing are carried out based on yavamana. For practical use in a field, a Hastha having subdivisions of 24 angulas is used. For larger measurements, a unit called Danda is used; and that is equal to 4 Hasthas.
|1 Yava =||3.75 mm|
|8 Yavas =||1 Augula =||3 Cms|
|24 Augulas =||1 Hastha =||72 Cms|
The dimension for a particular house is fixed based on “Shadvargangal”( aayam, vyayam, nakshathram, thidhi, vayassu and karanam). The perimeter which gives most auspicious combinations of these shadvargangal should only be adopted.
7. POSITION OF VARIOUS ROOMS
The position of various rooms are specified in Vasthu based on Padakalpana and Raasichakra. These are explained in detail in the coming sessions.
7.1. Kitchen, Dining Room, Pooja, Family Living Room
The location of the kitchen is stated based on padakalpana. For this, we divide the outer dimensions of the house into 10×10 = 100 or 9×9 = 81 parts. Each part is called a ‘padam’ (fig.15). Vasthu states that kitchen may be located in agnipadam, parjanyapadam or vayupadam i.e, in SE, NE or NW corner of the house . However, there is a difficulty with this concept. In the case of small houses, this may not be practical. For eg., let us say that the kitchen is located in one of the above mentioned three padams. If the outer dimension of the house is only 30 ft, then the size of kitchen would be 3×3 ft which is impractical. Thus, this method of defining location of kitchen is more practical for large houses.
For small houses, vasthu has provided another choice for defining the location of kitchen. It is based on raasi chakram. Here, each side of the house is divided into four equal parts and each part is called ‘raasi’(fig.16). It states that kitchen may be located in the medam/edavam raasi which means in the middle portion of the eastern wing.
Thus, in a more generalized way, vasthu states that the kitchen may be located in the eastern or northern wing of nalukettu or eastern or northern part of the house with respect to brahmasthanam. The eastern wing of the house (kizhakkini) is called annalayam (aalayam for preparing and having food). Hence kitchen and dining room should be located in the eastern portion of the house as per vasthu principles. The northern wing of the house is called sukhalayam (resting and refreshment). Hence, northern wing is the proper place for family living room and pooja room. Vasthu principles also states that the activities in the eastern and northern wings may be interchanged. Hence eastern and northern wings are the positions for kitchen, family living room, dining room and pooja room.
Vasthu principles also states that the activities in the southern and western wings may be interchanged.
Vasthu defines the location of the well based on raasi chakra. Here, each side of the plot is divided into four equal parts and each part is called ‘raasi’(fig.18). In the northern wing of the plot , if we eliminate the north western part(dhanu raasi), then the remaining 3 parts (raasi) are good for locating wells. The same principle applies to the eastern part of the plot also, i.e, the well may be located in the eastern wing except in the south eastern part (midhunam raasi).
However, for defining the location of the well near a house we need to consider the raasi chakra of the plot as well as that of the house and apply the above mentioned principle. Makaram, kumbham, menam, medam and edavam raasi are auspicious locations for the well considering the raasi chakra of the plot. However, the location should also be within makaram, kumbham, menam, medam and edavam raasi of the house, i.e, sometimes the selected location may be within the above mentioned 5 raasis of the plot but it may be outside of these raasis of the house. Such locations are not good for well. (See fig. 19)
While designing the stairs, the following things are to be ensured:
- The first step should not orient towards North
- There should be even number of treads (odd number of risers)
- If there are two/more goings, the risers should be arranged in clockwise direction
- The landing should be avoided at mid height of the wall(height between floors)
Gates are located based on padakalpana principle. Here, the entire plot is divided into 81 padams (refer fig. 15). In the eastern side of brahmasthanam, the gate should be located in the indirapadam. In the southern side, it should be located in the grihakshathanpadam. In the western side, it should be located in the pushpadathanpadam and in the northern side, it should be located in the bhaladapadam. In general, the gate is located nearer to the centre line of the plot along the corresponding side. The vasthu principles also states that the gate should not be located in the padam at the corner along both the sides. Also, the centre line of the gate and that of the plot should not coincide with eachother.
8. BENEFITS OF VASTHU
The main advantage of vasthu based construction is the living comfort achieved by the people living in such houses. As already discussed, vasthu based construction is based on the rhythm of nature. Hence, it best suits the various natural environment and provides us with an eco friendly design. Since the design is eco friendly, it will have all the benefits of such constructions like good lighting, proper ventilation, ease of usage, good structuring etc.
The basic principles of design in vasthuvidya have been mentioned. Hence, vasthuvidya is the science dealing with design and construction of houses in accordance with the nature. All ancient buildings were constructed based on this principle. Constructions based on vasthu principles gives more living comfort, better protection from extreme atmospheric conditions, best utilization of space, good structuring and helps in leading healthy, wealthy, happy and prosperous life etc. It incorporates new concepts and its many principles suite scientific approach. Hence, more and more people are preferring vasthu based constructions knowing the benefits and living comfort gained from such designs.
- Dr.Balagopal T.S.Prabhu and Dr.A.Achuthan(1997), Design In Vasthuvidya – Vasthuvidyapratisthanam, Calicut
- Kanippayyur Krishnan Namboodiripad(2006), Vasthu Lakshanam – Manorama Publications, Kottayam
- Manoj S Nair(2012), Vasthu In Contemporary Housing – Current Books, Thiruvalla
- Dr. A. Achuthan(1998), Sthapathi – The journal of Vasthuvidyapratisthanam, Volume 3, Calicut
- Dr. A. Achuthan(2001), Sthapathi – The journal of Vasthuvidyapratisthanam, Volume 3, Calicut