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VASTU PERCEPTION

After 1000 years of slavery and 50 years of freedom, with new fond passion of VAASTU, it appears now that we may have another theme of liberation which could be "VAASTU MATHRUM".

It is a matter pride for us that our ancient Indians were learned and enlightened people, and they have bestowed upon us the ancient knowledge of VAASTU and other occult sciences which are commonly known as Shastras. Like may other ancient knowledge's of our ancient culture, VAASTU also has remained a secret and through the journey of 1000 years of slavery, the process of guru shishya education suffered set back and valuable knowledge of our ancient culture has come to a stage of mere traditions and rituals which are followed without understanding; whether it is marriage ceremony, or Deepavali Pooja or Griha Pravesh.

VAASTU is currently a fad in high society, and it is surprising that there are millions of educated "VAASTU IDIOTS" who seek VAASTU experts through yellow pages, and self styled VAASTU experts advertise in the classified columns of financial news papers offering guaranteed results and financial gains in the name of modern PRACTICAL VAASTU. It shows that even modern educated and learned people belonging to wealthy circles are quite superstitious and they are blind faith and "Andh Vishwasi".

Here is the case of a rich man who bought a duplex apartment in a swanky Malabar Hill building facing the Chowpatty sea-face in Mumbai. The apartment was designed in such a way that the living room and the bedrooms faced the sea towards the south, since VAASTU is a fad, sure enough the VAASTU expert came, but a bit late via the yellow pages and as predicted the VAASTU expert put his foot down and said this was sacrilege. So what if the building was designed in such a way that it faced the sea view towards the south? He asked. The south was an awful direction, he declaimed, it was the place of Yama (the God of Death) and of Agni (Fire), and the apartment would bring misery to its owner.

Having invested a lot of money in the purchase of apartment, now what? Was there a way out? Yes, there was a way out. The apartment with a sea view (a feature that attracts a premium in Mumbai) had to be altered, ruled the VAASTU expert. He proceeded to bring the kitchen, the servant's room and the internal staircase on the sea-facing side and shifted the bedroom to the service lane. Yet, the owner was quite pleased with all these alterations and said, "Never mind the view, as long as I can maintain my wealth".

It is surprising that today the learned and the successful people lack basic conviction of logical reasoning and fall prey to superstitions and dictates of the unqualified, smart, self-styled experts in the name of VAASTU.

I decried such blind superstition and wondered why nobody stopped to ask some simple questions such as "Why is the south considered to be inauspicious?"

As an avid reader and eager student of architecture, I went back to my books, I came upon a map of ancient India tracing Indian civilization to the Indus Valley about 5,000 years ago. When the Aryans came to the country they traveled along Taxila to Harappa to Mohenjodaro and so on, moving from a north-westerly to an easterly direction and going down to the south.

It is worthwhile to note that, all the rivers flowed from north to south, from the northern Himalayas down the slopes and into the ocean. When the Aryans came (from the north-west) they settled on the western banks of rivers. Since the rivers flowed from north to south, the new settlements were located in such a way that they could draw water upstream from the river. The water here was clean and potable. This was also the place where they built their holy ghats and their temples. As the town expanded, the sewage lines flowed downstream to the south. This was a natural, hygienic facet of town-planning. As a result, the southern side of the town was dirty and the unhygienic part of the city. It was also the southern part of the town where the cremation ghats were located to ensure that the ashes flowed downstream and away from the town. The dirty river water, by process of aeration and exposure to the sun, became clean, clear and potable about 100 miles downstream. And the next town was usually located about 100 miles downstream from the earlier one.

Such an environmental aspect of ancient Indian town-planning has lead to the myth that south belongs to the God of Death, and it is followed as BLIND RITUAL in the name of VAASTU.

Going by this logic, the Taj Mahal Hotel and Gateway of India in Mumbai being to the south of the city - would have been the location for the city's cremation ghats and Kanyakumari down south of India, the monumental place of Swami Vivekananda, should be the abode of "Yama", but this is not the case.

Thus, it is clear that the "location" of the God of Death to the south is a mere myth and there is no sense in blindly following all old rituals without logical interpretation. "We are carrying our rituals too far forwards".

There is another example of ritualistic approach of the modern VAASTU Pandit, that south west side of the house or office should be heavier and higher being good for the welfare and prosperity of the master, and sometimes in the Office layout, part of the room is raised just by an inch or so by use of little raised wooden floor, or thicker carpet just as a ritual of VAASTU.

Nobody asks why south or south-west side should be higher and heavier, and how does this brings prosperity to the master of the house hold?

Tracing back the history of living habits, and living environments, it has been observed that due to social customs, and safety security of the inmates of the family, houses were built inward or enclosed around walled structures, mainly in southern states, and hot region like Rajasthan and north west India. These houses were generally built with a courtyard which served as a protected space for use of ladies, children and family activities and house hold occupation, when the men folks were out of the house for their work, or on long trading journeys. Since sunrise in the north east side is at lower angle, the north east section of the house was at low height to receive the comfortable morning sunlight into the courtyard of the house. The south-west of the house was made higher so that in the afternoon when it is hot, the higher portion of the south-west corner of the house will cause shadow in the courtyard giving protection from the hot sun for comfort and welfare of the inmates. Such an architectural planning based on environmental aspects has been distorted, by the modern VAASTU Pandit and hence the interior of an enclosed office space or office floor, raised by couple of inches in the south-west corner as specified by the VAASTU is nothing but a superstitious ritual in the name of VAASTU.

We do realize that our ancient Indians were learned and enlightened people and we must take advantage of inheritance of our ancient texts, which come to us in the form of VEDAS, SHASTRAS and various other SUTRAS. We must explore the mysteries and interpret logically our ancient knowledge and rationalize the applications of ancient principles in the present day context for the betterment of society.

What is VAASTU? Is it a Faith? but Faith is a product of imagination rather than logical conclusion. Belief is a popular concept which is not necessarily true. Since VAASTU cannot be believed without logical reasoning, hence it cannot be termed as FAITH. Also since faith is a blind phenomenon then there should be no further question and matters settles itself that VAASTU is not a FAITH.

What next? Is VAASTU a science or (Vigyan)? Science is based on tested truths and is built on proven facts. Some VAASTU experts advocate that Science of VAASTU pertains to mystique of cosmic influence on humans and their dwellings - but science does not consider natural causes without explanation of phenomenon as science, and hence VAASTU cannot be considered "Science as a Whole".

Most People refer VAASTU as a SHASTRA? Is VAASTU a SHASTRA?

Research of our ancient culture reveals that there were 4 vedas, 6 shastras, 18 puranas, 24 upanishads and VAASTU is not listed among any of these compilations or listings, that means VAASTU is not among the listed shastras. Perhaps it is the manipulation of the clever mind of the media or the pandits who propagate VAASTU as Shastra to call themselves as Shastri or VAASTU Shastri, perhaps to attach greater significance or value addition to their qualification in the name of Shastra.

If VAASTU is neither a Shastra nor a faith, and not even science (Vigyan), then what is it? It has to be some thing. Atleast it has to be either VIGYAN or GYAN or some kind of knowledge. THE QUEST MAY END UP AT THE STAGE OF GYAN - THAT MEANS COMPOSITE KNOWLEDGE. VAASTU is composite knowledge of our ancient Indians, which was evolved during the process of development of our ancient society.

Unfortunately our modern educated society is still under the influence of western culture, and western media. Interpretations of our ancient culture and our ancient sciences has been motivated by the objectives of profits to be derived from the publications, and hence it is subject to saleable interpretations by the manipulation of the clever mind of the western media.

For example, to most Indians and to most people world over our ancient text of "KAMASUTRA" pertains to art of sensual love, and erotic aspects of sex and this has been highlighted and projected by the western media as a saleable product for the material gains and profiteering. Indians also have started to believe so. Most educated Indians have not even cared to study or understand the KAMASUTRA text, because our modern Indian society is yet inhibited and has a mental block in the name of ancient traditions and rituals, and thus our modern Indian society is missing most of the valuable knowledge from Kamasutra. It was about 3000 years back well before the period of Ashoka, based on the tested knowledge and experience of our ancient Indians Rishi "VAHTSYANA" had compiled in a text form, the principles of their living style in a simplified manner as performing arts or KALAS and these principles were formulated as Sutras - which became to be known as KAMASUTRA.

Principles of VAASTU can be traced from the philosophy of Indian way of life, which can be best understood from the two celebrated texts of our ancient Indians. One is "GITA" and other is "KAMASUTRA". While the essence of GITA pertains to Karma Promo Dharma or duty is worship, KAMASUTRA pertains to skills of performing duties. KAMASUTRA is a detailed text of 64 basic arts which the men and women of noble civilization had to perform for the fulfillment of their life with success and glory. Out of 64 basic arts only 4 arts were meant to be personal and generally not discussed in public, 24 pertain to daily life activities, 16 pertain to gambling including practical aspects of gambling and 20 pertain to skills including VAASTU and SHILPI. VAASTU somehow or the other has relevance to all the arts which become allied to the activity of VAASTU, which include philosophy, science, astrology, mathematics, geomancy, divining, fashion, trends of beautification, music, dance, drama, crafts, artful presentation, elocution, skill of intuition, mystic judgment and what not. RISHI VAHTSAYANA, IN HIS TEXT OF KAMASUTRA, HAS DESCRIBED "VAASTU" AS AN ARTIST, ARCHITECT, TOWN PLANNER, INTERIOR DECORATOR ALL INONE, WITH ABILITY OF MANY MORE SKILLS.

VAASTU or VAASTU PURUSH can be termed as supreme who is superior to all. In modern day time; Architecture is called mother of all arts and today Architect is expected to perform the role similar to that of VAASTU - as was envisaged by Rishi Vahtsayana about 3000 years back that means an architect is expected to possess multiple skills, arts and ESP as well, and that will make such an architect "THE VAASTU".

WHILE TRACING THE PHILOSOPHY OF INDIAN WAY OF OUR ANCIENT INDIANS, it may be noted that our ancient Indians had learnt the secrets of life as a cycle path from evolution to subsistence to residue and regeneration. They also understood that our human form and our nature is unification of cosmic or (solar energy) and organic energy of earth and the human form or our body is a part of nature, and human body is designed to acclimatize with nature.

Our ancient Indians also realized that state of human existence is a stream of consciousness which is very much dependent on nature. The consciousness is the state of body alive and our real body is the stream of sub-conscious - which flows in our body in the form of white cells in the blood chemical composition of white cells is similar to that of the brain.

The stream of consciousness which flows in our body is maintained by three factors, which are AYUR, TARANG and YOG. AYUR - means body temperature and thus the knowledge of ayurved was formulated to enable the human beings to use natural ingredients for maintenance of body temperature - which ensures the body free from physical alignments. TARANG - means Rhythm or body Rhythm or energy Rhythm, this can be modulated by music. Music helps the mind or state of mind. YOG is the process of unification of mind and body. All these three factors are again very much dependent on the NATURE.

In this context our ancient Indians had evolved the methods or principles of living in harmony with nature or natural way of living with environment which could be conducive to pursue the maintenance of stream of consciousness and or to attain the state of super consciousness or State of Sat-Chit-Anand. THE VERY PROCESS OF LIVING WITH NATURE / OR PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL WAY OF LIVING WAS TERMED AS "VAASTU".

Every author of VAASTU in the foreword writes in one way or the other, such kind of statement : "THAT THE VAASTU PRINCIPLES WERE FORMULATED BY OUR ANCIENT INDIANS TO TAKE THE MAXIMUM ADVANTAGE OF SUNLIGHT / AIR AND ORIENTATIONS AND ENVIRONMENT AROUND FOR THE BENEFIT OF NATURAL WAY OF LIVING FOR BETTER HEALTH AND PROSPERITY"

Form the above statement, it is very clear that VAASTU principles were formulated as :

i.              Guide for NATURAL WAY OF LIVING.

ii.             Guide for living in tune with the environment.

iii.            Guide for taking advantage of natural light and ventilation.

 

Having said as above, there is no scope left for any rigid formula and orthodox attitude of application of common prescription or ritualistic directions for different geographical locations and different situations.

 

It is obviously clear that essence of VAASTU advocates that living style and dwellings should be such that advantage can be derived from the natural environment, surroundings and natural light and ventilation's for better health and pleasant feelings. It means "ADVANTAGE FROM NATURE AND SURROUNDING ENVIRONMENT" is an important; theme aspect of VAASTU. Since nature and environment is variable from location to location, the application of orientations at physical level become dependent on the variable locations and relevant environment and hence applications of principles of VAASTU at physical material level are variable and flexible to the extent to achieve the main objective of taking advantage of nature and environment.

 

For example; houses and dwellings in the plains of northern India, it will be natural to plan the houses in such an orientations that advantage of natural cross ventilation can be derived from the East-West winds. Houses, dwellings units along the west-south west coastal region shall be so oriented that advantage of natural ventilation can be derived from south west winds. Similarly advantage of water resources can be derived mainly from flowing water of rivers in the northern region, and in the coastal hilly region advantage of water resources can be derived from the stored water in lakes and reservoirs, as per natural topography irrespective of orientation and direction.

 

The requirements of sun light in the north Himalayan region is much more to give protection against the cold winds whereas in the desert zone and in the zone of equator sunlight is required to be shielded to over-come the discomfort of heat and glare.

 

The above examples illustrate that in different locations different types of dwellings are required to be worked out to achieve the common factor of "taking advantage of natural light and ventilation and surrounding environment for natural way of living of humans". Hence there is no rigidity and application process is variable and flexible and universal for all humans irrespective of cast, creed and religion, and hence it can be considered that "VAASTU PRINCIPLES PERTAIN TO APPLICATION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF ENVIRONMENT" or VAASTU can be termed as "ENVIRONMENT ORIENTED ARCHITECTURE".

 

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