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Vāstushāstra Review of Literature Series


as proposed

1. Vāstushāstra-01 Introduction, Meanings and Methodology for review


2. Vāstushāstra-02 Prerequisites- Scales, Professional & Auspicious time
3. Vāstushāstra-03 Land, Plot and its Properties
4. Vāstushāstra-04 Grid and Orientation (Mandala)
5. Vāstushāstra-05 Built form- Composition and Types
6. Vāstushāstra-06 Placement or Organisation of Parts

Reviews and comments may pleased be mailed to


vrambatkar@gmail.com or soa.dean@gmail.com

Vāstu texts may be classified as follows:

1. North Indian or followers of Vishvakarmā-


includes Agnpr, Aprjp, Atris, Brths, Bhtml, Gdrpr, KaspsMansl,
Mstpr, Mhtch, Mhtmd, Narpr, Nards, Smgns, Silpo, Vstrv,
Vstrn, Vstkr, Vstsk, Viskp, Viskv, Vasup, Yukti.

2. South Indian or followers of Āgamshastra (Tantra)-


includes Agamk, Isana, Kamik, Mansr, Mnsch, Mayam, Slprn,
Tntrm, Vassk, Vasvd,
******

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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In order to study the limited aspects to a reasonable detail, mainly


following texts are used for the literature review.
SN Abbreviations Texts
1 Agamk Āgama-kosha, Ed. Dr. S.K.Ramachandra Rao, 1994. # Volumes
2 Agnpr Agnipurāna, S.P. 1882, & (Trn.) Ed. N.Gangadharan, MB Delhi 1985
3 Aprjp Aparājitaprichhā, Ed. P.A.Mankad, 1950
4 Atris Atrisamhitā, of Mahamuni Atri, Ed. M. Ramkrishna Bhat, Delhi, 1981
5 Brhts Brihatsamhitā, Ed. M.Ramkrishna Bhat.
6 Bhtml Brihatvāstumala, Dr. Tripathi B. Chaukhamba S S O Varanasi 1995
7 Gdrpr Garudapurāna, (Trn.) Ed. J.L.Shastri, Motilal Banarasidas, 1985
8 Isana Ishānashivagurudevapaddhati, T.Ganapati Shastri, Trivendrum S.S., 1922
9 Kasps Kāshapiyashilpa, Ed. Vinayak G. Apte, 1926, Anandashram Granthavali,
10 Kamik Kāmikāgama; secondary reference from Manasara Series I by. P.K.Acharya,
11 Mansr Mānasāra, Ed. P.K.Acharya.Vol. I to VII, 1934 to 1996,MM, New Delhi,
12 Mansl Mānassollāsa of Someshvara, Ed. Sree Sargondekar, 1939.Gaikwad O. Series,
13 Mnsch Manushyālayachandrika, T.Ganapati Shastri, 1919, Trns- Dr. Achuthan & Dr. Prabhu
14 Mstpr Matsyapurāna, Ed. Talukdar of Audh, 1916,Reprint 1980, Oriental Books, New Delhi
15 Mayam Mayamata, Ed. T.Ganapati Shastri, 1922; and Bruno Dagens, 1994
16 Mhtch Muhurtachintamani of Ramdaivednya, Ed. Kedardatta Joshi, 1983-95
17 Mhtmd Muhurtamārtanda of Narayanadaivednya, Ed. Dr.S.Mishra, 1997.
18 Narpr Nāradapurāna, (Trn.) Ed. J.L.Shastri, MB Delhi 1985
19 Nards Nāradasamhitā of Mahamuni Nārad, Ed. Ramaraj Mishra, 1995.
20 Smgns Samarānganasutradhāra, Ed. T.Ganapati Shastri, T.S.S. Baroda 1922;
21 Smgns Samarānganasutradhāra, Ed. Dr.D.N.Shukla.
22 Slprn Shilparatna of Sreekumara, T.Ganapati Shastri, 1922, Shastri Sambhashiv1929, T.S.S.
23 Silpo Shilpashāstra (Orisa), Ed. P.N. Bose, Varanasi 1978,
24 Tntrm Tantrasammuchhaya, Ed. Dr. Unni,1990, Nag Publication, New Delhi
25 Vstrv Vāsturājvallabha, Ed. Anup Mishra & Pt.Ramyatna sharma, Kashi (1950)
26 Vstrn Vāsturatnāvali of Shree Jivanātha, Ed. Pt. Achutananda Jha, 1981.
27 Vstkr Vāsturatnākar, Ed. Vindhyeshwri Prasad Dvivedi, CSSO, 1995,
28 Vstsk Vāstusaukhyam of Todarmala, Ed. Kamalakanta Shukla, 1996.
29 Viskp Vishvakarmaprakāsha, Ed. Pt. Mihir Chandra, 1943.Reprint S.V. Press, Mumbai 1996
30 Viskv Vishvakarma-vāstushstra, Ed. V. Shastri and Mj. B. N. Gadre, 1958.
31 Vassk Vāstushāstra of Sanat Kumar, secondary references.
32 Vasvd Vāstuvidyā, T.Ganapati Shastri, 1913,T.S.S., Travancore
33 Vasvd Vāstuvidyā, Ed. Mahadev Shastri, 1940, Anantashaya Sanskrit Series, Travancore
34 Vasup Vāstusutra Upanishat, Alice Boner, Sadashiv Rath, Bettina Baumer, 1982,
35 Yukti Yuktikalpataru of Mahāraja Bhoja, Ed. Pt. Ishvarchandra Shastri, 1917.

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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VAASTUSHATRA
REVEIW OF LITERATURE - 1

Contents
REVIEW OF LITERATURE ............................................................................................................... 1

2.0. PREAMBLE 1

2.1. WHAT AND HOW TO REVIEW? 1


2.1.1.1. The Meaning And Scope ............................................................................................ 2
2.1.1.2. The Definition ............................................................................................................ 3
2.1.1.3. Scope .......................................................................................................................... 3

2.1.2. The parameters of architecture 4


2.1.2.1. Theories of architecture .............................................................................................. 4
2.1.2.2. Techniques.................................................................................................................. 5
2.1.2.3. Expression .................................................................................................................. 5

2.1.3. The parameters of Vāstuvidyā 6


2.1.3.1. Theories of Vāstuvidyā ................................................................................................ 6
2.1.3.2. Techniques (Vāstuvidyā) ........................................................................................... 10
2.1.3.3. Expression (Vāstuvidyā) ............................................................................................ 11

2.1.4. The Architectural Design 12

2.1.5. The Constituents of Architectural Data 12


2.1.5.1. The constituents of Vāstuvidyā Data ........................................................................ 13
2.1.5.2. Preliminaries ............................................................................................................. 14
2.1.5.3. Land And Plot........................................................................................................... 15
2.1.5.4. Grid, Diagram And Orientation ................................................................................ 15
2.1.5.5. Built Form ................................................................................................................ 16
2.1.5.6. Organisation Of Parts ............................................................................................... 17

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


VAASTUSHASTRA
REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1
2.0. PREAMBLE
This work is an attempt to rationalise the contents of Traditional Indian
Architecture, referred as Vāstuvidyā (science) or Vāstushāstra (technology), so
as to relate it to contemporary architecture, and thereby be applicable in
practice. Most of practitioners of Vāstu in India are non architects, and club the
practice with astrology, Reiki, and such other fields, creating doubts about the
rationality and scientific contents of this science. These six articles, are
extracted from the thesis of the author on Vāstuvidyā with intention to present
contents of the ancient text on this subject, technically and without any coating
of superstition. The first article in the series prepares the background to relate
vāstuvidyā to present day architecture, and classify the contents.

2.1. WHAT AND HOW TO REVIEW?


The texts of vāstuvidyā differ in context, content, quantum and sequence
as they were composed in different periods (500 BC to 1600 AD), in different
contexts and for different professionals. Amongst the exclusive texts Mānasāra
and Aparājita Prichhā are the largest while Manushyãlaya Chandrikã is the
smallest (250 verses). It is neither possible nor required to study all the
information given in these texts as it does not relate to the requirement of this
research. This chapter, therefore first discusses the parameters and contents of
architecture, and vāstuvidyā in order to relate the two. This comparison will
identify the areas of agreement and conflict and help to sort the contents of
vāstu texts.. The contents of the principal texts of vāstuvidyā shall then be
studied under the new heads derived through this comparison. The order of the
texts is preferred as per type and similarity of information. Since all the texts do
not contain information on all the topics, every text may not find mention for
each item. The chapter and verse numbers of actual Sanskrit text are given in
the foot-notes.
2

2.1.1.1. The Meaning And Scope


The word architecture has its origin in `archi-tectonics’ which means
rules of organizational structure; principles of composition or order (of form) or
systematic arrangement of components or knowledge.1 The term is used in
computer science, only in this sense. „archin’ means to rule and ‘archos’ means
chief or ruler. `archist’ hence is believer of rules2 and anarchist is the non-
believer. ‘Nihill’ is the absence of any rule. The term architecture therefore
derives the meaning of an organisation or system or order which is strictly
based on hierarchy of rules. These rules obviously were based on the rules of the
nature, having its origin in cosmology and geophysics. The word `archetype‟
means original pattern, model or prototype, implying the pattern or order of
nature. To an architectural theorist, it means “following (imitating) the essence
(of structure and form) from the nature,” which is the source (mother) of all
creations. The word „imitating‟ should be applied to material (mortal), as well as
intellectual or spiritual (divine or immortal) qualities of nature.

The word 'Vastu' and Vāstu are derived from the root `vas ol’ meaning to

dwell or to occupy. (vasti means habitat) All artefacts in or on which mortal or


immortals dwell are called vastu3 and hence Vāstu normally implies an entity
created for use of human beings. The word vastu is also used for any physical
object, which occupies space. At times vastu is referred to the creation of nature
(primary) and the vāstu to the creation of men (secondary). Number of words are
derived from the same root and hence a wide range of meanings has got
associated with the term Vastu. Vasudha (Vasundhara) means earth, vasa
means traditions, vāsa means rafter or beam (also enclosure), vāstavik means
real or actual, vastusthity means reality or facts and vāsana means desire. In
literature, the word Vāstu is also referred to, as the `central idea‟, or `plot‟ of a
composition (like a drama or a poem)4. In true sense, vāstuvidyā is a science of

1
. Chambers Dictionary,
2
. Shipley T. Joseph, Dictionary of Word Origins, 1945., p.23. Anarchist = one who believes in no ruler or rules.
Nihilists = one who believes in no basic principles,
3
. Mayamata, & L.. Joshi, L. Ed. Marathi Vishvakosha, (1987}
4. Datta Amaresh, Encyclopaedia of Literature, 1987, p.4509

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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product design, which includes from settlements and buildings to machines and
icons, with a central theme of wellness and prosperity of its users..

2.1.1.2. The Definition


“Architecture is the articulation of space so as to produce in the
participator, a definite space experience in relation to previous and anticipated
space experience."5 In all cultures of the world, architectural form is an
expression of philosophical interaction of the forces of mass and space. This in
turn, reflects the relationship between man and nature and man and the
universe. The clarity and vigour with which the mass and space are resolved set
the level of excellence of architectural work at any period of a cultural
development.

Architecture is also defined as an art and a science of designing (defining


or ordering) spaces for the use of living beings. 6 It is an art because it has to
respond to abstract qualities like intelligence, emotion, spiritualism, religion
and socio-economic conditions, etc. It is a science because it deals with physical
elements like materials, spaces (land) and has to respond to physical, structural
and other logical properties of these materials. Though the building is an
arrangement of materials in their structural logic7, they are essentially ordered
to communicate cultural intentions. Architecture, thus is a mythical
representation of building, and it is this feature which accounts for ability of
architecture to organize itself in to a body of technical and aesthetic knowledge.

2.1.1.3. Scope
All such environments, as well as, all human artefacts, are designed in
the sense that they embody human decisions and choices and specific ways of
doing things. In making these choices, certain values, norms, criteria, and
assumptions are called upon. These are often embodied in ideal schemata.
Environments, in some way, reflect and encode these schemata and the order
they typify. “In all traditions the ordering schemata are frequently based on the

5 . Bacon Edmund N. , Design of cities, Thames and Hudson, London, p.21


6 . Amos Rapoport, Cultural origine of Architecture, in Introduction to Architecture, 1979, pp.2-10
7 . Demetri Porphyrios, “Building and Rational architecture”., Architecture and design, 1989, p.7

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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sacred, since the religion and ritual are centre of the traditions 8. If built
environments are humanised environments, liveable places, then by definition,
sacred or sanctified.

Building is not necessarily architecture, as it refers to the craft of


construction. Building (bãtisse) comprises of the knowledge and experience that
man accumulates in dealing with the contingencies of providing shelter.
Architecture, on the other hand refers to the art of building (l ‘art de bãtir).
Architecture appears to be the product of an artistic intention, not, like building
of necessity. Architecture makes us see the building craft from which it is born,
from which detaches itself as an art, and to which it alludes. Architecture
therefore, embraces a wide range of objects from planning of settlements to the
adornment of icons. In Indian context also, settlement planning, houses,
palaces, forts, temples, gardens, water bodies, furniture, idols and ornaments
are included in vāstushāstra.

2.1.2. The parameters of architecture


2.1.2.1. Theories of architecture
The term „theory of architecture‟ was originally simply the accepted
translation of the Latin term 'ratiocinatio' as used by Vitruvius, to differentiate
intellectual from practical knowledge in architectural education.9 Today it
signifies the total basis for judging the merits of buildings. Such reasoned
judgments are an essential part of the architectural creative process. It is
believed that architecture is in the synthesis of the Vitruvian triad, viz. Firmitas
(structural stability); utilitas (appropriate spatial accommodation) and venustas
(attractive appearance). The notion that architecture is the art of building was
implied by Alberti in the first published treatise on the theory of architecture,
'De re aedificatoria' (1485). Although he was a layman, he rejected, by his title,
the idea that architecture was simply applied mathematics, as had been claimed
by Vitruvius. 10

8
. Amos Rapoport, Cultural Origis of architecture, 1978, p.8,
9
. Encyclopedia Britanica.
10
. Eng. trans. Ten Books on Architecture, 1955

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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Theories about Architecture are concerned with identifying key variables


like space, structure, social process etc. 11 The semiotics believe that most of the
architectural “objects not only function but also communicate that they function,
and function in a particular manner,” thus signifying the cultural and
technological aspects of the society 12. In the Western world, imitating or
duplicating physical images from the past was established as Architecture.
Indian traditions also believe “every form is an image of an original form.” 13
Architecture and planning, no matter what they include and where they are
applied, are prescriptive in nature, and unlike art, has to relate traditions to
technology. making its analysis more difficult. Architectural design is a
synthesis of many faculties of contradictory nature, and hence does not rest on
any solid foundation for its ultimate product.

2.1.2.2. Techniques
The techniques of architecture are normally the methods by which the
buildings are formed, from particular materials. These methods are influenced
not only by availability and character of the material but also by the total
technological development of the society. Architecture depends on the on an
organised labour force and upon existence of the tools and skills necessary to
secure, manufacture, transport and work durable materials. The techniques are
evolved and conditioned by two forces viz. economic and expressive. The first
tries to maximize the stability and durability in building with a minimum of
material and workforce, and the other desires to produce meaningful forms.

2.1.2.3. Expression
“Expression in architecture is the communication of quality and
meaning. The functions and techniques of building are interpreted and
transformed by expression in to art, as sounds are made in to music and words
in to literature.”14 The nature of expression varies with the character of culture
in different places and in different times, forming distinct modes or language of

11. Bruno Zevi quoted in Introduction to Architecture, p.22


12
. Umberto Eco, Sign, Symbol & Architecture, 1979, pp.12-13
13
. Rigveda., VI-47/18, cf. Alice Boner, Vāstusutra Upanishat, 1982, p. 40 .
#ie~ #ie~ izfr#ie~ Hkofr A ÔV~fÓYik›iz;ksxs.k iztu;fUr #ikf.k «Ž «
14
. Encyclopaedia Britannica.

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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expression called styles. Style communicates the outlook of a culture and the
concepts of its architects. The principal forces in the creation of a style are
tradition, the experience of earlier architecture; influence of contemporary
expression outside the immediate cultural environment; and innovation. These
forces operate to produce an evolution with in every style and ultimately
generate new styles that tend to supplant their predecessors. The components of
expression, which communicate the particular values of style, are content and
form. Since contents can be communicated only through form, the two are
organically united.

2.1.3. The parameters of Vāstuvidyā


2.1.3.1. Theories of Vāstuvidyā
Vāstuvidyā aims at wellbeing and prosperity of the user through its
product, i.e. owner / occupant in case of buildings. Everything else is secondary
consideration, but embodied in the rules. The theories of Indian Architecture are
not explicitly explained nor mentioned in the texts, because they form the
higher knowledge15. It was implied that professionals operating at higher level
do possess such knowledge. Some texts are written as reminders or repertories
and some as directives for craftsmen. The tradesmen were not explained the
science, as it was (thought) beyond their comprehension. They were given
directives to be followed religiously. Aspects of vāstu are related to auspicious
time, orientation, clockwise movement, grid, proportions, sets of dimensions,
and mathematical formulas to approve a configuration, and location of
functional spaces in relation to the cardinal directions.

Vāstuvidyā has two principal theories which have lead to series of rules.

ONE: The energy contained in the object is induced by the tectonic of the
object and is responsible for its behaviour. When the energy contained in an
object matches with the purpose, the performance is optimum.

TWO: Every space or object, when conceived or defined, attains a


molecular form. This space molecule (Panjara) is envisaged in a grid having (45)

15
. Knowledge of body (physical or material and mortal objects) is lower knowledge and that of the soul (immortal or
spiritual) is higher knowledge.

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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fields of different potential energies. When the use pattern follows the related
potential energy field, the performance is optimum.

Rule 1 Tectonic & Energy:


If we take four objects cube, pyramid, cylinder & sphere (ball) one each,
and try rolling them, only sphere would roll properly and the reason is its shape.
If you improve surface qualities of the object, results are better. If we roll on
different surface the results will again change. It will roll longer on a smoother
surface and sloping in the same direction. If we take four balls, each of steal,
wood, glass & rubber, and bounce & roll them again. One of them will respond
better because the material is most suited for the purpose of bouncing. Take two
balls, of identical size of solid rubber with a steal core. In one case the core is in
centre & in other it is off centre. One rolls uniformly and the other does not. The
combination of size, shape, material, surface, and placement of its parts is called
tectonic. The above two objects are behaving differently because of the difference
in the energy, induced by the their tectonic.

Vāstuvidyā believes that tectonic and energy are interlinked. There is a


soul in every living body: human, dog, cat, fish & so on. All souls originate from
the same source and are similar in nature. For some reason (past karma or
desire) they are forced to follow a specified pattern of living on the earth during
the present life. In other words, the tendency (reward or punishment) of a soul is
determined before its association with the body. Therefore the soul is in search
of a body tectonic suitable to its assigned behaviour. The soul is attracted by the
body during its formation and development to make it alive. The soul & body
together behave primarily as per the nature of the body. This is how the human
beings differs from animal; some are healthy and others are challenged. We
know that our happiness is directly proportional to our inner (emotional) and
outer (physical) health. No one wants a deformed body. No one wants a
deformed house to live in, provided we know what's healthy house. Thus the
theory validates the meaning of `archi-tectonics’, the rules of tectonics.

Shilpashāstra which developed concurrently with vāstushāstra helps to


understand this logic better. It is about the body proportions. The ideal

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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proportions are prescribed to the Gods, because the body with those proportions
contains the superior or divine energy, strength & power. We pray specific God
for specific purpose. We have different details for different Gods, because their
energy differs.

Architecture in the true sense is followed by other than human beings.


There is definite tectonic of nests. Different birds follow different designs and
methods for their nests, but each of them is consistent in its design. They do
have rules. Honeybees never make rectangular hives. Ant-hill has a definite
pattern in its built-form, with underground defined chambers for each function.
What projects above ground is the vent shafts. They do follow laws of nature,
structure, mathematics, & properties of material, with no schools to teach.

There are rules for tectonic in other areas. For playing cricket, hockey,
Tennis, golf, & such games, balls used are different. The material, size, weight,
etc., are well defined for these, and any deviation is not accepted. Any change in
its surface is punishable, and the damaged ball is not used. We accept in cricket,
that as the ball gets older, it spins better. We understand that when the tectonic
(surface) of this object changes, the energy changes & hence behaviour changes.
Behaviour of vāstu as object and building, depends on its tectonic.

Rule 2- Space Molecule


The space conceived is for living beings and hence compared with the
conception and development of baby in the womb. Formation of body in the
womb (for human and most animals) starts with a head and spine, arranged in a
particular position, with respect to the body of the mother. All other parts of the
body develop thereafter from this basic form, gradually from gross to detail,

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


9

depending on the form of the mother and father (human or animal, etc.). For
vāstu, the mother is the environment- land, soil, climate, landscape, vegetation,
etc., and the father is the intent, purpose and functions other than biological.
The assumption of space molecule is a square (stable form developed from circle
as concept) with its sides abating four cardinal directions. To facilitate creation
development and protection, it generates certain properties within. There
properties can be understood better with help of a mandala of 9 grids (3 x 3).

Four corners represent manifested states of matter (solid, liquid, gas and
fire or energy, and the centre is un-manifested state (space or ether). The
creation is from un-manifested to manifested; from conceptual to physical; from
dream to reality, from intent to execution, and therefore the force of movement
is from centre to the four corners. A square with sides parallel to cardinal
directions, gets maximum length along the direction of force, and therefore most
stable and auspicious. Northeast corner is the head and the axis from northeast
to Southwest is the spine, also called Jeevansutra or thread of life. This is the
bone structure of vāstu as a building. The lines from east to west and north to

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


10

south are the veins for circulation of essential fluid (blood), and bones of the
cage called panjara. It is divided in forty-five energy cells. The grouping of
energy cells makes northeast intellectual & stable, and so on. Locating activities
in accordance with the energy is key to design. This will be discussed in detail in
the chapter of grid and placement.

2.1.3.2. Techniques (Vāstuvidyā)


Vāstuvidyā believes that the structure of the form is pre-decided
(mythical), and accepting or imitating the same is auspicious. Based on
geomancy, vāstu-texts propose a set of grids called `mandala'. Building and
Shilpa (image of god) are both creation and both are expected to protect the
human being and hence contain some sort of energy. The tāntrik process (of
tracing a geometrical plan) makes the building a vāstu and an image a deity.
The vāstuvidyā texts along with the tantra texts give specific bad effects of not
following the configuration and the procedure. Vāstushāstra, therefore, is
combination of geophysics, geomancy, tantra and astronomy/ astrology. The
diagram or the grid that vāstuvidyā depends on, is thus a yantra / diagram,
where the lines and the squares have a particular meaning.

In a way its Indian Geomancy. Geomancy is defined as `divination from


figure given by handful of earth thrown down',16 or “divination by figures or
lines drawn on the earth”.17 Dr. Ching Yu Chang while dealing with Japanese
space, defines geomancy as “divination by means of natural or artificial
configuration of earth or astronomical bodies.” 18 Geomancy has two bases. The
first is the cosmological base, where partial rationale from the process of
formation of earth, creation of life on earth, orientation and rotation of earth
and geomagnetic field etc., could be derived. The other base is from the heavenly
body, i.e. the Sun, the Moon, five planets and two nodes. Since astrology has not
been accepted as a science in the modern scientific world, this rationale is
difficult to prove. There could be three reasons for non acceptance of astrology
and geomancy; 1. that its proof is based on observations in real world over an

16
. Chambers Concise Dictionary , Allied publishers, New Delhi, 1985-93
17
. Johi L.S. Marathi-Shabdakosk, (Hkq&jey)
18
. Dr. Ching Yu Chang, in Japanese Space Conception, P. I, The Japan Architect, April, 1984. p.65

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


11

extensively long period of time, 2. that it cannot be demonstrated exclusively


and under controlled conditions of laboratory, and 3. being predictive in nature,
accuracy of time, place and magnitude is not always feasible. However, this very
aspect of geomancy has made vāstuvidyā more popular. Meteorological and
astrological predictions are part of our life style, in spite of occasional failures as
they were correct on other occasions.

2.1.3.3. Expression (Vāstuvidyā)


Vāstu mandala has been compared (personified) with the bone structure
of human beings. The human skeletons anywhere on the face of the earth follow
exactly the same logical order but, no two human beings are identical. Human
bodies differ in height, built, proportion, colour, etc., in accordance with the
regions of earth, i.e. the mother (includes global location, climate, topography,
soil, etc.) and are expressed as races, clans or communities. All living beings
from reptiles, animals, birds, to human beings, have direct link of head and
spine, and all raise their heads high during decisive moments including fights.
Raising head is indication of dignity, power and strength. Raising head creates
low pressure around the brain and it works efficiently. Theory of evolution
illustrates that the human race has its spine vertical and head at the highest
point in relation to body, and he does not need to lower it while eating. Though
all species have same bone structure (within) yet no two bodies are identical
externally. The difference is made by the skin and the fillers between skin and
bones. Some of them are gift of genes and others earned by food and exercise.

All the buildings having same or similar function, thus are supposed to
have the same organisational structure or tectonic but not necessarily same
expression. The difference may be on account of intent, purpose, or the climate.
Most of the texts refer to shāla or wing of the building, and one to ten wing
houses are defined. Some texts give sixteen variations in character of the
building on account of locating veranda on one to four (all) sides, but in different
directions19. Only eight of them are said to be auspicious.

19
. Smgns., 23_1-20; . Viskp., 32_101-108; Rajvl., 6_1-7

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Aparājit Prichhā elaborates more on the built form and its expression. It
mentions around 1,400,000 variations of building with changes in external
features, but having same tectonic. Vāstu texts being studied and explored
mostly by the scholars of Sanskrit, the technical aspects of built form were
attended at low key. Aparājit Prichhā was edited by Er. Mankad and has given
justification to this aspect. Minor texts generally deal with techniques of
construction, in timber and stone, as information on built form.

2.1.4. The Architectural Design


This portion is deleted from the section as it is elaborated in other paper
titled Architectural Design- (units 1 to 7) available on "Academia"

2.1.5. The Constituents of Architectural Data


The buildings (architectural product) exist in spatial, social, behavioural
and technological context. The information that is analysed and synthesised in
an architectural design is classified differently by architects. Most authentic of
these could be summarised from the work of Snyder,20 as follows:

1). Anatomical (Behavioural context),


2). Geological (Customization of space to land, Spatial context)
3). Socio-cultural (Perceptual context, Personality or Image).
4). Technological (Materials, methods and, economic context).
Anatomical data includes the functional (primary / secondary)
components. Normally it represents the requirements of the user (in term of
function and purpose) in the building, qualitatively and quantitatively.

The space or geological context accounts for all the information about
elements in the process, on account of the location of a building. This includes
plot size, shape, topography, geography, vegetation, climate, solar radiation,
wind and rain conditions (direction, intensity and duration) etc. at micro and
macro level.

Socio cultural data is a set of information which is supposed to express


the personality or image or style of the building. Every society and culture has a
set of conventions and meaning attached to them. Every society has a specific
20
. J. Snyder, Introduction to Architecture, (1979) pp.

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13

image for each type of building. These images are functional and symbolic and
help to identify not only purpose of the building but also the society. 21

The fourth group of information deals with the techniques i.e. the
building materials and methods of construction. This set of information checks
for feasibility of ideas developed by the other groups, and makes it a reality.

2.1.5.1. The constituents of Vāstuvidyā Data


The texts of vāstuvidyā generally cover five types of objects, viz. temples,
residential buildings, shilpa or sculptures, village/ town planning and furniture
and items of daily use. We are concerned here with information pertaining to
residential buildings, where ever it occurs. These contents were classified under
six heads by the author as given below, for his Ph.D. thesis. Earlier, similar
reclassification has been done by P. K. Acharya and D. N. Shukla.22

1) Time & Consecration


2) Land and Plot
3) Direction and Orientation
4) Grid and Diagram
5) Built-Form
6) Placement (organisation of parts.)
However this classification may not appeal to the architects today. The
intangible aspects (1 & 3) have an element of faith and therefore limitations in
academics. All the information in the texts aims to build an auspicious building,
and at times give results of good and bad configurations. Author does not make
any claim about the results mentioned in the texts, though such tendency has
been noticed in his research (Relevance of Vāstuvidyā), on a small sample.
Purpose of this work is to give readers unbiased details from the texts of
vāstushāstra, with my logic where ever feasible, and encourage research in this
field. Most of the research and practice, in this field is done by scholars of
Sanskrit, as they could access the texts and the language. Their interpretations
and translations, lack the technical understanding of the subject, and hence
21
. The temples in India has a typical character to be differentiated from other buildings, mosques and churches.
However, within the broader image of temple, the minor variations indicate whether the temple belongs to Northern
, Southern or Eastern part of India.
22
. cf. D.N.Shukla, Vastushastra Vol. I, 1995, p. 96 ; P.K.Acharya, Indian architecture Vol. II p.98.

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


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they deal vāstuvidyā and astrology in the same way. The classification used
here is as follows.

1) Preliminaries (Geomancy, time and consecration)


2) Geological data (Land- shape, size & slope)
3) Anatomical data (Orientation, & Grid)
4) Technological data (Rules of Built forms)
5) Socio-cultural data (Organisation of Parts)
2.1.5.2. Preliminaries
The texts on vāstuvidyā normally start with Mangālcharana or
salutation to Ganesha, Sarasvati and Shiva. This is followed by the source of the
texts either as Brahma or Shiva; Vishvakarmā, Maya, (and other sages) for the
original texts or as the sages and their works for the compilations. Some texts
include the information about the author and the place or patronage availed.
The system of measurement and the designations, qualifications, duties and
responsibilities of the technicians involved in the profession is also included in
the texts either in the beginning or at the end. The measurement system
mentioned in the text is based on human body, and the terms like Angul, wisti,
hasta, danda, are the units of measurements. Some texts also include time of
fructification of results; penalties to the technicians (Mānsāra) and others
include the quantum and mode of the remuneration. Aparājita lists the defects
in the building and construction.

The time has its origin in astronomy and hence the mathematics and
astrology both are expressions of time. Rotation of earth around itself sets a
scale for a day and around the Sun for a year. The position of the sky around
earth has been envisaged in 360 degrees (approximately one degree per day
rotation of earth). The days called tithis, are neither of the same duration nor
start at a fixed time of the day. The position of the Sun, the Moon and other
planets with respect to the earth make certain time period auspicious, neutral
or inauspicious. The Indian almanac or panchang is intended for tabulation of
productive and unproductive spans of time, and not for counting of days as in
case of western calendar. The term used is "Muhurta" and it may differ for
different purposes. The muhurta for war is destructive and will not suit for any

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15

constructive work. The science of astrology is used to find auspicious time for all
the ritualistic procedures in India. This is the only link of vāstuvidyā with
astrology. Literature on these topics is discussed in the paper Vāstushāstra
Review of Literature-02.

2.1.5.3. Land And Plot


The characteristic of land, viz. shape, size, topography, geology (soil
condition), hydrology (water table), and fertility (vegetation) etc. are considered
for suitability of land or a building. The land has been classified for settlements
and buildings, forts, water bodies etc.. Plants are the sources of oxygen and
medicine and their presence in the immediate environment has been duly
recognized.23 Plants which grow naturally in large number, are indicators of
water table, underground water source and nature of soil.24 This is reviewed in
Vāstushāstra Review of Literature -03.

2.1.5.4. Orientation And Grid


The known and unknown part of energy is realised as solar radiation.
Establishing true east is therefore such an important part in vāstushāstra, that
it is given a status of a ritual (Prāchisādhanā). It is also essential for invoking
the Vāstupurusha, the deity of the site and the building. He is supposed to have
his head is in north and the spine along the jeevansutra., as explained in space
molecule. Other two corners occupy his limbs. As the energy bound in an vāstu
is a part of the cosmological or geophysical setup of the universe, east-west due
to rotation and north-south due to magnetic polarity, play important role in
invoking the energy fields. The east is represents direction of progress and most
of the works are supposed to be done facing the east, or on east-west axis. The
clock-wise direction is called pradakshinā path or srishti-krama and is treated
as auspicious. The combination of time and direction therefore, is important for
the layout, digging and construction.

The myths and legends of all ancient religions used symbols for their
metaphysical esoteric conceptions, represented visually and simultaneously by

23
o`{kk;qosZnk/;k;%A okfVdkfnjksi.kfopkj
24
. Brihatsamhita: tyfÓjkfopkj( tyizkfIrfopkj

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR


16

objects like the Omphalos or cosmic egg, the Stone of the Kaaba, the World
pillar, the Shiivalingam, or by abstract signs and line-diagrams. Figures of
divinities, came latter for explicating the recondite meaning of symbols, where
these were no longer obvious and accessible.25 Vāstumadala is such a diagram,
which illustrates general principles of form creation, graphically. In physical
sense, it is wither skeleton or cage. Brahman is the centre, from where
enumerates the world of manifestation. The centre is the support. It represents
the full but undifferentiated whole of the universe. It is the womb where in
single being are formed by separating lines. The lines are the veins of
Vāstupurusha and network of these lines create the vāstupada. The points of
intersection of the veins and the centre are called marmas or sensitive points.
As a doctor is has the correct knowledge of the veins and the vulnerable parts of
the human body, the architect is supposed to know the mandala. The related
literature from vāstu texts is reviewed in Vāstushāstra Review of Literature -04.

2.1.5.5. Built Form


The Building is basically a container of energy, essential for
environment for a particular purpose or act. The type of energy depends on the
overall shape of the container and its orientation. The house becomes auspicious
or inauspicious for the owner, by the location of building on the plot; direction it
faces; number of wings; number and location of the entrance verandah and
entrance; the choice and combination of shālā and the ālinda to the veranda.
All buildings are defined by proportions and dimensions, methodically based on
a system of measurement. Vāstushāstra uses a formula to check whether the
building designed is suitable for the spiritual well being of the inhabitants. This
system of formulas, technically called shada-varga (set of six), are based on the
doctrine of 'remainder'. A remainder of the time unit is the ”seed of the next
cycle”. Perimeter and area of the building is the prime determinant. This
literature forms the body of Vāstushāstra Review of Literature-05.

25
Boner Alice- Vāstusutropanishat, p.8

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2.1.5.6. Organisation Of Parts


The universe, which is essential for creation and survival of living beings
is said to have been constituted from five basic elements viz. space (ether), air,
fire, water and earth. They respond to the five human senses in additive
manner. Ether responds to sound, air to touch, fire to vision, water to taste and
earth to smell. These elements are in fact the five states of matter (as solid,
liquid, gas, energy-fire and ether) and constitute every living body. The physical
components of the building or sculpture are required to be in conformity with
these cosmic representation. These micro-macro cosmic correspondences are
again another way of equating vāstu with the universe. Summarising energy
fields, Northeast is stable and Intellectual, Southeast is unstable and active;
Southwest is stable and physical and Northwest is unstable but passive.
Locating functions in accordance with this qualities ensure better results. The
natural movement in this hemisphere is supposed to be clockwise. It starts with
northeast and terminates in northwest. North is not part of the cycle. Movement
of food in house or goods in any industry is preferred along this route.

This part of literature popularly referred as placement is dealt with in


Vāstushāstra Review of Literature -06.

(Continued in part 2 to 6)

******

VASTUSHASTRA REVIEW OF LITERATURE-1, BY DR. V. R. AMBATKAR