‘Vaastu’ has been a popular science from the ancient times, right from the Vedic age, in the design and construction of any structure or monument that has withstood the rigors of time and age, standing tall till today. Its strong scientific base ensured that its principles and theories were practiced, by our ancestors. The customs and practices of utilizing Vaastu theories have been gaining popularity and acceptance, very rapidly since the last three to four decades. Today it has become a common word in every household; whenever a new property is bought or sold or for that matter when the construction starts and finishes. But however, we find that the present principles followed, differ vastly from those prescribed in the traditional Vaastu Shastra.
Various efforts have undergone in spreading the principles and theories of Vaastu. The role of the Media has been very instrumental, in spreading its message. In the social media specially, we find there is so much of exposure about Vaastu Knowledge that in place of creating awareness among the masses, it has given rise to unwarranted fears and misapprehensions in the minds of the people who have become hesitant, full of insecurity in the way of accepting and implementing the Vaastu concepts fully & unconditionally. Due to this, the common public who were misinformed by the Vaastu Shastris, thought that following the norms of Vaastu will imply that, inadvertently if any mistake occurs or any violation of the principles of Vaastu takes place in the construction process, then it would definitely lead to the Ultimate Doom of the whole household and its members.
The overflowing of the market with abundance of literature and knowledge about Vaastu through Books, CDs, Internet – ‘YouTube’ links etc, propagated by countless self-proclaimed Vaastu experts who are themselves totally ignorant of the basic principles of engineering and architecture and cannot establish the coherence needed with the modern architectural designs of today. There have been many cases, where even educated people like engineers, doctors, lawyers and many other professionals with blue collared jobs and with perfect professional backgrounds, falling prey to these ‘fly by night operators’ and adopting totally misleading suggestions made by these kind of self-styled Vaastu Experts; a mushrooming, ever growing, people with ‘making a fast buck’ kind of attitude who believe in only playing to the galleries by popularizing only a few basic aspects of the ancient Vaastu Shastra. It is said, not the least bit exaggeratedly, that every household has at least one Vaastu Expert in the making, such is the proliferation of these kinds of elements.
Many cases have come to light in recent times where these self-proclaimed experts have invoked and created a kind of Phobia or ‘Fear Psychosis’ in the minds of the owners, filling them up with doubts, telling them that if their houses are not constructed according to their interpretation of the ancient Vaastu Principles then it may even bring ‘death to the householder or breadwinner’ of the family. Now everybody being afraid of Death and being vulnerable enough to submit to their demands, using threat to life to even the family members, thus blackmailing them emotionally as a weapon to be used to hoodwink the general public. Even the ‘Elite’ class nowadays is succumbing to their nefarious tactics, spending huge amount in renovation, breakages and alterations, without giving a thought to rationality and practicality. Even the majority of the writings by these ‘pseudo’ experts on Vaastu available nowadays, have crossed the limits, misguiding people into selling their beautifully constructed structures, houses, apartments and establishments, getting fully built structures without any faults demolished or making modifications to them when they are not needed at all. All these involving a huge expenditure, literally burning a big hole in the pockets of the beneficiaries that of course also includes the experts high and neat remuneration, but in reality they are spoiling the good name of Vaastu and even creating misunderstanding in the minds of the people, casting aspersions on the genuineness of practicing ‘real and proven Vaastu experts or shastris’.
According to the current Vaastu norms, the kitchen in a house should be located in the south-east direction, the Puja room in the north-east, the owner’s bedroom in the south-west, open space in the north-west and the main door of the house, either in the north or the east. The toilets as well as the bore well of the house, should not be located in the north-east. Not adhering to these rules, while constructing a house, is considered to be inauspicious.
As we rummage through history we find, that the majority of the old houses in which our forefathers used to live, did not match with the Vaastu Principles as mentioned herein. However, many of them and their successive generations thrived in them, successfully. More importantly in the bygone age, there was no ‘Obsession’ with Vaastu, as is the norm today.
The important point to note is that in spite of their houses not being Vaastu friendly or instructed according to the Vaastu norms, the inhabitants of these houses led a much more happier, more prosperous, peaceful and tranquil life, than the present generation of inhabitants, who always seem to be suffering from some kind of ailment or the other that seems to cohabit within the household, causing untold miseries and worries within the family or household continuously. It is to be noted that even in our joint families and extended families, the elderly people never had any serious health issues or history of ailments like diabetes, blood pressure/hypertension and many other ‘Life Style Ailments’ that have now become ‘de-rigeur’ or a regular feature in any modern family’s life, in the contemporary age.
So, the important question arises – ‘What in reality is Vaastu?’ The answer is very simple. “It is simply put, the art of life that helps an individual lead a successful and peaceful life in harmony with nature”. It is no way related to the Birth and Death of an individual, nor does it enforces the supposition the one needs to own a house to follow its principles, in order to live a peaceful life. It’s high time now to set aside misguided notions about Vaastu and to dwell seriously on the fact that Vaastu has finally arrived.
Whether it is the ancient Greek Civilization, the harbinger of Greeko-Roman style of Architecture or the Indus Valley civilization of the Harappans and the Lothals – the harbinger of the’ Modern Drainage System’, the medieval Islamic Civilization – the harbinger of the Islamic style or Mughal style of architecture ; each and every Civilization has its own history related to architecture. But the basic question remains – ‘how do we define Architecture?’
According to the English Dictionary, architecture has been defined as, ‘the art and the science of designing and constructing buildings’. On the face of it may lead us to believe it to be the history of bricks and mortar or in other words it may be defined as, the evolution of design. However this is far from the truth. By and large, human needs like Shelter, Protection, Security and basic norms of Society, are the same the world over. Yet despite this similarity, we don’t see similar or identical structures or buildings everywhere. Not only do they differ in 2 design, they also differ in their expression of art. Architecture is basically the art and technique of building, used to fulfill the practical, creative and expressive requirements of a civilized society. Almost every well-settled society that possesses techniques for building structures produces suitable architecture and architects to design the structures. Without having architecture in place, man would have been exposed to a primitive struggle with the elements right from the stone ages to the present times but due it, a solid defense against the natural environment that is a pre-requisite for and a symbol of the development of civilized institutions has been created.
Vaastu Shastra deals with the various aspects of designing and building living environment that is in harmony with physical and metaphysical forces. Building practices based on the limited interpretations of these principles are still sustained and practiced in specific areas of India. Though Vaastu from outside seems to be conceptually similar to Feng Shui, which also aims at harmonizing the flow of energy, (also called Life Force or ‘Prana’ in Sanskrit as similar to ‘Chi’ in Chinese) through the house; it differs in the details, such as the exact direction in which the various objects, rooms, materials etc. are to be used and placed.
Vaastu works on the 3 principles of Design that covers the entire premises. The first one is ‘Bhogadyam’ according to which the designed premises must be useful and lend itself to easy application. Second one is ‘Sukha Darsham’, in which the designed premises must be “aesthetically pleasing”. The proportion of the spaces and the materials used, in the interiors and exteriors of the building, (ornamentation, color, size of windows, doors, rooms and the rhythms of projection) should be beautiful. The third principle is ‘Ramya’, whereby the designed premise should evoke a feeling of well- being in the user.
Vaastu, the Indian Vedic Science related to Environmental Bliss, has certain stipulated norms and standards. These standards have been set and made, after long years of research and experiments. Our old Indian temples and monuments are the living examples of such experiments. We have extensive literary, archaeological and epigraphically related evidence to confirm the validity of these experiments and the conclusion drawn on the 3 theories of design.
Now I would like to give the example of Bharata’s Natyashastra, which happens to be at least 2000 years old. In it Bharata describes not just the construction of a stage or a theater, but on the overall dimension of a ‘theater based on the theory of acoustics.’ Bharata has specifically mentioned two reasons why the length of a theater should not exceed 30 meters. Firstly, it will create an ‘Echo Effect’ and the audience will not be able to hear the performers clearly. Secondly, the audience sitting in the last row of the auditorium will not be able to see the facial expressions or the body language of the performers. Last but not the least, Bharata advices that the roof of the theater should be cave-shaped, for the sound made by the performers to reach the very end of the audiences sitting at the back.