Summary: Article showing the ideal room allocations for each direction according to the laws of Vastu to produce a positive and uplifting living space. Together with an explanation of the underlying principles linking room function with direction in Vedic Architecture.
Modern architecture caters for the gross needs of the occupants. It takes into consideration things such as space, light, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, security, etc. Vastu caters for our more subtle needs – for example, the need to experience peace, harmony, creativity, etc.
In order to achieve this Vastu allocates the functions of certain rooms, e.g. kitchen, dining room, etc. to certain directions. If we select these specific directions for particular activities we will, according to Vastu, feel more comfortable, be more creative, have better relationships and feel healthier as a result.
The following diagram illustrates the ideal room usage for each of the eight directions. So, from the diagram we see the kitchen is ideally located in the South East of a building, the main entrance and hall is in the East and a good place to locate the home office or study would be in the North.
This diagram is not a floor plan. A Vastu home does not have to be a square built on a 3 x 3 grid, or with equal proportions to every room! So the diagram just represents a ‘model of organisation’ telling us the best directions in which to locate certain rooms. This is useful if we are building a new house, or want to re-allocate rooms in an existing property.
Not all Vastu experts agree 100% on every detail – but the allocations shown in this diagram are widely accepted.
* The central empty area in the diagram is called the ‘Brahmasthan’ – literally the place where creativity resides or is established. It is not a place for activity. Light should reach this area from above (e.g. from a sky-light in the roof). This also applies to a two storey building where light from the roof should come down to the ground floor. Indoor plants can grow there and a water feature is acceptable too.
Room Placements We Should Definitely Avoid
Certain room placements should definitely be avoided if we want to create a good vastu and therefore a supportive living space. So we should definitely avoid
- A main entrance in the South of the building
- A toilet in the North East
- A kitchen in the North East
Explanation of Room Placements According to Directions
The following section explains some of the reasoning behind Vastu’s allocation of rooms to particular directions. However, it is not necessary to understand any of this stuff in order to benefit from Vastu principles in home design.
We just follow the above diagram and allocate rooms accordingly, so as to create the best possible living environment.
The allocation of rooms to particular directions in Vastu is not a random choice. Neither is it based on superstition. There is, in fact, a deep understanding in the Vedic Tradition of the interconnectedness of all things. This is perhaps best expressed in terms of the ‘Vedic Model of Reality’. In this model all the people, all the plants and animals, the planets and even the stars are part of an integrated and interdependent whole. This was cognised by ancient sages, and is realised by the fully enlightened today. The science of Vastu is underpinned by this model.
The Brahmasthan or ‘Central Quiet Area’
There is an empty space at the centre of the room placement diagram called ‘the Brahmasthan’. No activity is linked to this space. Why then would we go to the cost of making an area of a building that has no apparent function? Well, quiet empty spaces have their value.
In Europe, many old towns were built around a central square. This space was largely empty – apart from maybe a fountain or small garden. Similarly, many ancient dwellings and villas in the Mediterranean were also built around a central, empty space (apart from perhaps a water feature and a few plants). It was as though the ancient architects and masons appreciated the well-being created by a quiet, empty central area and they built this into their designs for homes and for towns. It is also a key feature of a Vastu designed home.
The Brahmasthan in a building mirrors the creative centre within us: that central, deep level of silence from which all our thoughts arise. A Brahmasthan therefore brings a coherent, settled-but-creative atmosphere to a building.
Links between Vastu, The Planets and Directions for Rooms
To Westerners it seems very odd to associate a planet with a particular direction, but Vastu does this! So Vastu is linked to another of yoga’s related subjects – Jyotish or Vedic Astrology.
In the West, the idea of associating a planet with a day of the week is so deeply embedded in our culture we rarely even think about it. For example, Saturday is associated with Saturn, Sunday with the Sun, Monday with the Moon. In the French language it is even clearer – Tuesday is associated with Mars (Mardi), Wednesday with Mercury (Mercredi) and Friday with Venus (Vendredi).
Now here is the link. In Vastu, planets are associated with particular directions and in Vedic Astrology they are associated with particular characteristics (e.g. Jupiter is associated with wisdom, Mercury with intellect, etc. – see Planetary Indications article)
- So it should come as no surprise that Vastu chooses the direction North in which to place a study or home office, as this direction is associated with Mercury – the planet of intellect and communications.
- Similarly, Vastu locates a room for spiritual purposes such as meditation and yoga in the North East – which is the direction associated with Jupiter (the planet that indicates wisdom, spiritual practices, etc.)
- The most important of the ‘planets’ (actually ‘Grahas’ or celestial objects) from a Jyotish perspective is the Sun. It represents power, health and general well-being. The Sun rises in the East and is linked with this direction. So, according to Vastu, the main entrance should always be in the East of a building and face the rising Sun.
Links between Vastu, ‘Laws of Nature’ (Devatas) and Directions for Rooms
In the Vedic Tradition, each of the directions is also associated with a particular aspect of ‘Natural Law’ – also known as ‘Force of Nature’ or ‘Devata’. These forces are collectively known as the ‘Dikpala Devatas’ – or ‘Guardians of the Eight Directions’. There are strong links between these concepts and the Chinese concept of ‘The Four Symbols’ – ancient ‘spirits’ responsible for the four cardinal directions.
If we now examine a few of the links between these ‘forces’ and the Vastu room recommendations.
- The ‘force of nature’ responsible for wealth is called ‘Kuber’ and this is associated with the North direction. So it comes as no surprise that the North direction is a good place to keep valuables in a home. It is also linked with a place for study and usually, the more we learn the more we earn!
- Agni is the devata associated with fire and the South East direction. So it seems quite logical to place the kitchen in the South East of a building as cooking requires heat!
- The devata Indra is said to be the ‘ruler of the other forces of nature’, just as the Sun takes a primary position in the hierarchy of the planets. So both Indra and the Sun are linked to the Eastern direction – the preferred direction for the primary entrance to our homes.
Links between Vastu, the ‘Five Elements’ and Directions for Rooms
In the Vedic tradition the whole world (including us!) is made from combinations of the five primary elements or ‘Pancha Maha Bhootas’. It is overly simplistic to translate these into English as ‘Earth’, ’Water’, ‘Air’, ‘Fire’, and ‘Space’. Taken together ‘Earth’, ‘Water’ and ‘Air’ actually represent the three key states of matter identified by Physics: Solids, Liquids, and Gasses. ‘Fire’ represents heat energy in all its forms, including radiant heat (and the digestive ‘fire’ within us). ‘Space’ is not just the three dimensions in which stuff exists, rather it is viewed as a field of vibrant ‘energy and intelligence’ (close analogies with the Vacuum State in Quantum Physics here). Ultimately, it is also associated with Consciousness.
Again, let us examine the rationale for associating these ‘Elements’ with the Vastu ideal room recommendations.
- Obviously the key place for the kitchen is associated with the ‘Fire’ element – the South East.
- The ‘Water’ element is associated with the North East – so Vastu recommends the water supply should enter the building from this direction.
- To get a sound sleep we don’t want to be in a place where the ‘Air’ or ‘Fire’ elements predominate (in Ayurvedic terms these would be linked to ‘Vata’ and ‘Pitta’ – see article on Sound Sleep through Ayurveda). So the South West, which is associated with ‘Earth’, seems a good place for a Master Bedroom.
Although all the above reasons may seem esoteric, they show that Vastu is a carefully thought out system that is integrated within the ‘Vedic Model of Reality’ and which also links to Yoga’s sister sciences of Jyotish and Ayurveda.
Together they form an integrated system that promotes health, happiness, fulfilment of our desires and good spiritual progress.
Additional Information on Vastu
- Frequently asked questions on Vastu FAQs – 1, FAQs – 2, FAQs – 3
- Benefits of Good Vastu in the Home
- Vastu: Top Tips for Better Homes
- Vastu: Housing Locations to Avoid
- Vastu: Removing Negativity from Our Homes
- There is an informative article on the Vastu Shastra (Vastu teachings) on Wikipedia
- A view from Australia, on the application of Sthapatya Veda
- An application of Vedic Architecture principles to a garden village in the UK
- Key Principles of Vastu Design
- Applying Vastu to town and city planning