Vedic Art of Design and Placement
Vāstu Śāstra (Vaastu or Vastu Shastra) is the holistic art and science of construction, design and placement. An ancient and sacred body of Vedic knowledge whose principles direct proper orientation between living beings and their environments, Vāstu helps us find harmony within by understanding how to live in harmony without.
Through an understanding of the subtle, yet powerful forces of the four directions and five great elements (space/air/fire/water earth), we are more enabled to live in synchronicity with nature, our structural environments and the natural laws which govern them. More than just architectural and building principles, Vāstu is also seen in interior design, color orientation, landscaping, sculpture and painting, dance and poetry.
One fundamental principle of Vāstu is finding alignment with the movement of Prāṇa (vital life force) in our environment, which when obtained is akin to swimming downstream–-all goes much easier, we feel better, we have better prosperity, we are happier and have more focus and energy. Our Sun showers this vital force on the earth and Vāstu shows us how to orient ourselves to it in order to capture Prāṇa’s creative power and avoid its destructive winds.
Four Directions: Prāṇa and Polarity
The four directions of north, east, south and west are a given to most people, but why? Without these cardinal points we would be lost at sea and since the beginning of time all creatures have oriented themselves instinctually to these directions, but why?
Everyone knows the feeling of waking up and being drawn to the warmth of the Sun on our faces and if we walk in a garden we might see flowers opening and even turning their petals to the east to absorb the Sun’s rays. The east is the direction of sunrise and whether we are aware of it or not, the direction from which the Sun’s powerful Prāṇic forces emanate and bathe the earth in warmth and light and vital life-giving energy. Therefore, the east/west axis of direction is extremely important for life and many principles of Vāstu are based on optimizing this simple and yet often overlooked force of nature.
In a similar manner, but possibly less visibly evident , is the way the earth and all its life is oriented to the north/south polarity axis. The earth spins on this axis and, even if unaware of it, this is a very powerful magnetic force of polarity at work. Birds and various creatures navigate due to its unseen, but powerful pull.
As this is true in the macrocosm of the earth, so it is true in the microcosm of the body and we find ourselves orienting ourselves by the north/south polarity of our spine with our head serving as the superior direction of north. Because of this the northern direction is said to be very auspicious and Vāstu puts emphasis on principles of alignment with the north/south axis.
The Valuable Northeast
The point of intersection of the two powerful directions of east and north is the northeast and is highly praised in Vāstu Śāstra. Therefore, much thought and planning is put into how a town, a building, or even a room is oriented in relation to optimizing the energy and benefit of the northeast. Because of this, we will see that in India all temples and even whole cities are built with these principles in mind. We will also see that this is at work in the West, as most ancient cultures had a natural sense of how to orient themselves to the forces of nature.
However, much of today’s modern architectural or general building principles work not with aligning with nature, but rather with being creative expressions as art forms, or as practical expressions of utilitarian needs in city planning, leading to a growing amount of unhealthy dwellings for homes and businesses.
Vāstu Śāstra strives to put us back on track with nature and helps to orient our lives with the power of the macrocosm within our own microcosm.