Category Archives: Vedic Living Spaces – Vastu

A building design and planning system to create peace and harmony in the home, the local environment and the community. Doing so through the correct orientation, layout and design of buildings and developments. It is the Vedic equivalent of ‘Feng Shui’

Removing Negativity – Top Tips

Summary: This article gives practical steps for making our home more positive and removing any negative energy from our environment. Many of the recommendations are very simple, low cost solutions.

In an ideal world we would be able to choose a great Vastu location in which to build our home, select the correct proportions for the building and allocate all our rooms according to Vastu principles.

However, if we live in rented accommodation, or have limited resources in order to change room allocations then there are several other things that we can do to help the overall positive feel of our living space.  Even small changes can sometimes make a big difference to the overall ambience of our house or flat.

None of the following purification tips are based on superstition. Rather, they are simply actions which enliven the laws of nature (also known as ‘the field of natural law’ or the ‘universal devas’), thereby increasing the overall positivity in the atmosphere of our home. Ideally we want to turn any dullness, sadness, ‘heaviness’ or inertia (called ‘Tamas’ in Vedic terminology) present in our dwelling into a more positive, uplifting, life-enhancing, joyous energy (called ‘Sattva’).

Basic Tips

        • Firstly, we can change the direction in which we sleep, so our head always points towards either the East or the South, but never to the North. People have reported dramatic improvements in both sleep patterns and general well-being by making this simple change
        • If we have a choice of entrances to our home we can predominantly use those facing East or North – never the South. We can simply place a pot plant in a doorway or hall to obstruct a South facing entrance, rather than doing any building work!
        • We can also impose order on the place where we live. The first step is to declutter. The second step is to clean the place ourselves (and not get a paid cleaner to do the work). Somehow cleaning our home ourselves brings a better sense of ‘connectedness’ and ‘ownership’ with our environment
        • We can do some sort of spiritual practice in our home. This could be yoga, meditation, prayer, worship, singing hymns or chanting mantras
        • We can burn incense (in a proper container to minimize fire risk) in each room, or bring in fresh flowers, or put living plants in our homes
        • We can play uplifting music or use YouTube videos of Bhajans, hymns, chanting or Vedic mantras. Singing often helps too. Combining singing with mantras is great fun – so sing and dance along with Krishna Das’ ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. Playing Gandharva Veda music is also particularly beneficial. We need to just make sure we choose the right melodies (ragas) for the particular time of day we are playing them. Just be aware that instrumental Gandharva Veda music (e.g. flute) usually sounds better than the vocal versions to most Western ears!

More Advanced Tips

If, after doing all of the above, our living space still feels rather dull (i.e. Tamasic) and lacking in positive energy  we could try some of the following ‘more advanced’ purification tips:

        • Ring a small, high pitched bell throughout the house each day
        • Create a sacred space or altar to our chosen form of the divine in a quiet corner of a room (ideally in the north-east corner of our house)
        • Vedic mantras are said to be the language of nature. So you could chant or play some classic Vedic mantras that uplift the atmosphere. The mantras ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’ and the classic ‘Mrityunjaya Mantra’ are good. This mantra is particularly useful if there has been a death or major misfortune in the house.  But something as simple as ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is also very powerful at dispelling negativity
        • A great Indian Saint once said that children’s laughter really improves the atmosphere in a place and drives out any negativity – so invite your neighbour’s kids around to play with your own and let them have fun!
        • Burn a ghee lamp continuously for 24 hours in the property. Only do this if you can continuously monitor the flame and remove all potential fire risks (including children and pets)!
        • Turn the heating up to maximum for a few hours, with windows closed then turn it off and fully open all windows to the fresh air
        • Sprinkle water or flower petals that have been offered in Puja or other Vedic ceremonies (or that have been blessed by a living saint) around the house and the immediate surroundings. Sacred ash (Vibhuti) from Vedic fire ceremonies is also said to be very purifying 
        • In extreme cases, we might even consider performing some form of small Vedic fire ceremony (also known as Yagya, Yajna, or Homa) in the property to purify all aspects of our home and its surroundings. The consciousness of the person performing the ceremony is important. We should choose someone we can relate to and feel at ease with, as well as someone who has knowledge of how to perform the ceremony and knowledge of the correct mantras

Benefits of Good Vastu in the Home

Summary: This article examines the personal benefits we can expect from living in a home which meets the ‘good Vastu’ criteria.

The ancient texts on Vastu ascribe numerous benefits to having a home with a good Vastu. The benefits are said to be as follows:

  • An increased sense of wellbeing
  • Improved health [1]
  • Greater harmony in ourselves, our family and our relationships, less quarrels
  • A deeper feeling of self-awareness and inner peace – being more ‘connected’ with both our true self and our natural environment
  • Increased creativity leading directly to better problem solving – any issues arising are more easily solved and apparent problems become lessened
  • Increased wealth and financial stability [2]
  • Better spiritual progress
  • Greater sense of protection and security
  • Less risk of theft and damage from storms, floods, etc

Footnotes

[1] Just as ‘sick building syndrome’ (also known as ‘a building with very poor Vastu’) negatively impacts on our health, so a building with good Vastu positively impacts on our health.

However, we should be aware that Vastu is only one of the factors that affect our health. From a Vedic perspective other factors, such as our age, our returning karmas (which can also be reflected in our genetic makeup), the surrounding environment, our diet and chosen lifestyle can also affect our health. Fortunately, Vedic technology has ways of modifying at least some of our returning karmas via the remedial techniques prescribed by the karmic engineering system of Vedic Astrology (Jyotish). It also gives appropriate advice on diet and lifestyle tailored to our individual physiology through another of yoga’s sister sciences: Ayurveda (a holistic healthcare system).

[2] The Vastu of a home is said to have a direct influence on our prosperity and financial stability. A good Vastu is said to improve our chances of acquiring and maintaining wealth, whereas a poor Vastu is said to increase our chances of financial loss.

However, Vastu is again only one of the factors that influence our ‘gains’ and financial stability. Common sense tells us that wealth depends to a certain extent on our abilities and the effort we make in our endeavours i.e. our overall ‘merit’. From a Vedic point of view another factor is our returning karmas. Some of these can be assessed, and if necessary, improved through the remedial measures offered by the systematic methodology of Vedic Astrology. We should also take conventional financial advice and evaluate all the factors before investing!

In the West we tend to view wealth as just financial gain, whereas in the Vedic tradition it is viewed more holistically. For example, if we are not in good health it is difficult to enjoy our wealth. The various aspects of ‘wealth’ and prosperity are covered by the eight forms of Lakshmi mentioned in the Vedic literature. For example: the wealth of knowledge, wealth of food, wealth of children, wealth of courage and strength, general prosperity, money and good fortune, etc.

Additional Information

Summary of benefits of Vastu compliant living  and effects of poor Vastu, as stated  in the Vedic texts.

Further descriptions of the benefits of living in a home with good Vastu

Vastu: Top Tips for Better Homes

Summary:  Good Vastu creates a more healthy, harmonious, prosperous and peaceful home. By following the rules of Vastu we can help create harmony in our lives by designing our living spaces to be in tune with the laws of nature. This article examines the major Vastu (Vedic Architecture, Sthapatya Veda) factors to consider before buying a brand new house, or before moving into an older property.

Top Tips for Better Homes through Vastu

Whether buying a brand new house or moving into an older property here are some top tips based on Vedic Architecture’s principles to help get a better Vastu:

Avoid major negative influences from the nearby surrounding environment. So don’t move into a house near to cemeteries or crematoria, prisons, hospitals, heavy industries, power stations, abattoirs, etc. See detailed article on locations to avoid

Reject outright houses with an inherently poor Vastu, such as those with a south facing front door, toilets in the north-east corner, etc.

Modify dwellings to improve Vastu factors. For example, if we can change a main entrance direction from the inauspicious south facing to a much more beneficial east or north facing, we can improve the property’s Vastu considerably. Even changing the direction in which we sleep, so our head points towards the East or South, can improve matters.

Optimise Vastu for the building by re-allocating rooms according to the principles of Vedic Architecture. For example, we could re-designate certain rooms as the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, etc., according to their orientation and location in the building.

Mitigate for less than ideal Vastu. For example, it is said we can improve the general ambiance and harmony in a building by using appropriate yantras, mantras, certain crystals, homas and pujas, burning incense, Vedic Chanting, playing Gandharva Veda music, etc.

So we should avoid major negative influences from the surrounding environment. We can also modify and optimise entrance orientations, sleeping directions and room utilisation so as to increase the beneficial effects. If we further increase the positivity of the environment by suitable mitigation strategies we should end up with an acceptable Vastu. This will ensure a life-supporting, happy and harmonious home in which to live.

We should all accept that a perfect Vastu is, in most cases just not possible. Unless of course we build a purpose designed dwelling conforming to all the rules of Vedic Architecture, in an optimally planned community, laid out according to the Vastu rules of town and city planning.

Although not specifically stated in the Vastu rules, it seems to make sense to buy a house from people who are reasonably happy, healthy and prosperous and who want to move for some reason other than misfortune.


Additional Information

A detailed article on factors to avoid in the surrounding environment

Frequently asked questions on Vastu FAQs – 1, FAQs – 2, FAQ’s – 3

A general introduction to Vastu

        Article on Benefits of Good Vastu in the Home

Vastu: Housing Locations to Avoid

Summary: This article gives Vastu advice for locations to avoid when buying, or building a new house, due to proximity of man-made influences in the surrounding environment.

 Vastu Recommendations on Housing Locations to Avoid

Whilst many of the following factors agree with common sense, others are not so obvious. I have collated the opinions of a number of Vastu experts and authors into the list below. This incorporates both factors mentioned in the ancient texts and the Vastu expert’s application of the principles of Vedic Architecture to our modern world.

Any influences where stress is concentrated, or that upset the ‘laws of nature’ and natural harmony in an environment are to be avoided.

So don’t buy or build a house located within a one mile radius of any of the following:

Traditional Factors to Avoid

  • A court, prison or other detention centre
  • A hospital or mental asylum
  • A large cemetery or crematorium [1]

Modern Factors to Avoid

  • An abattoir or meat processing plant
  • An airport (some say avoid up to a five mile radius for a major airport)
  • Sources of strong electro-magnetic fields, e.g. high powered radio or radar transmitters, electricity switching centres and sub-stations, very high voltage overhead electricity distribution cables [2]
  • Municipal sewerage plants
  • Municipal waste incinerators and rubbish tips
  • ‘Factory’ farms and research establishments involving testing on animals
  • Heavy industries and power stations
  • Large mineral extraction sites, mines, refineries, etc.

To obtain a life supporting and harmonious living space it is really important to avoid these external influences before even trying to optimise a building’s Vastu.

Some Vastu experts also suggest avoiding very close proximity to churches, temples and public or civic buildings (such as public halls) – but this is in the immediate neighbourhood, for example houses exactly opposite or closely neighbouring the site.

On a completely pragmatic issue regarding air quality, it seems good to avoid houses in cities that are very close to main arterial roads, elevated sections of freeways, etc. as current research links certain particulate emissions from diesel powered vehicles to potential health hazards [3]

Generally, it seems to make more sense from a Vastu perspective to buy houses from people who are reasonably happy, healthy and prosperous and want to move for some reason other than misfortune. The more auspicious and happy a house or area feels [4], the better it probably is.

Some influences remain for a period of time even if the current site usage has changed. For example, in the UK many of the older mental health institutions have been converted into flats, or demolished and new houses built on the sites. The same goes for new buildings constructed on the site of ancient burial grounds in cities which have later expanded. Also to be avoided are houses which were previously used as a brothel or where a serious fire, murder, untimely or accidental death, etc. has occurred. It pays to research the history of an area before buying a property located there.

Footnotes

[1] Smaller cemeteries attached to churches, for example a churchyard in a village may not be so negative – just avoid immediate proximity.

[2] Exactly how far you need to be away from a strong source of electro-magnetic fields is a matter for debate. It probably depends on the transmitter power and antennas directivity. If you have an option, it’s probably best to avoid close proximity to mobile phone masts too. For point sources of electro-magnetic radiation the intensity falls off as the square of the distance (inverse square law), so simply by trebling the distance away from the transmitter, we are exposed to one ninth the field strength. The whole question of electro-magnetic ‘smog’ from Wi-Fi, data networks, mobile phones etc. and its effect on our well-being needs further research. In the UK we have a very high voltage overhead grid system ranging from 11KV to a massive 400KV – definitely to be avoided. Again, exactly what constitutes a ‘safe’ distance is debateable. If the radiation is non-ionizing (as is the case with radio waves from mobile phone masts) current scientific thinking would say there is no problem, but Vastu would treat all such sites with caution.

There is an interesting, scientifically objective article on the possible links between certain cancers and high levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) due to overhead power lines on the UK’s Cancer Research site.

[3] There is an informative article on the effects of diesel particulate emissions on health by the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency.

The UK’s BBC website says ‘The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, had previously labelled diesel exhausts as probably carcinogenic to humans. IARC has now labelled exhausts as a definite cause of cancer, although it does not compare how risky different carcinogens are. Diesel exhausts are now in the same group as carcinogens ranging from wood chippings to plutonium and sunlight to alcohol’.

[4] If we practice any form of meditation then go and spend a few minutes with our eyes shut, either in the building or just outside it, and observe how we feel at a deep level about the place. Often our intuition can give us valuable advice – but we need to be in a reasonably settled state for this to happen.


Additional Information

  1. Frequently asked questions on Vastu FAQs – 1, FAQs – 2, FAQ’s – 3
  2. Article giving an Introduction to Vastu

Vastu FAQs 3

Summary: This FAQ list contains more in-depth questions on the topic of Vastu – a building and planning system to create health, happiness and prosperity in the individual, together with peace and harmony in the home, the local environment and the community. Vastu is also known as Vedic Architecture, Vastu Vidya, Vastu Shastra, Vaastu and Sthapatya Veda

Q. Has Vastu evolved over a period of time?

A. No. It does not need to as it falls into the category of ‘revealed knowledge’. The Vastu system, although very precise and systematic, is not derived from experiment. Rather, it is ‘received wisdom’- its origins lie in the distant past. In fact the whole of the Vastu Shastra (Vastu ‘Scriptures’) were ‘revealed’ by enlightened sages many thousands of years ago.

Q. What share of people’s problems can be attributed to poor Vastu compared with problems due to their returning karmic influences? Surely both are interlinked?

A. An interesting question. I have heard the figure of around 60% Vastu (versus 40% karma) related influence, mentioned by followers of the now deceased, Self-realized Vedic Scholar Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Of course, one might need a certain degree of beneficial karma to live in a house with a good Vastu!

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself has been quoted as saying ‘Living in a proper Vastu can eliminate 60 to 80 percent of the problems we encounter in life.’ This is a surprisingly large figure and shows the importance he placed on this ancient Vedic Technology. Of course, these figures might be a ‘worse case analysis’, only applying to occupants of houses and neighbourhoods with really poor Vastu resulting from the combination of many unfavourable factors.

Q. I have heard that Vastu was an important factor in the design of Indian Temples

A. Yes, certainly parts of the Vastu Shastra (scriptures) deal with the design and orientation of temples and places of worship and it has been widely used for centuries in the Hindu tradition for this purpose. Other parts of the Vastu texts deal with domestic dwellings and buildings for civic and business purposes too. Vastu also gives rules for the optimum lay out of towns and city planning.

Q. Is Vastu a science?

A. No, not in the accepted Western definition of ‘science’. Although Vastu is systematic and precise, none of the rules in the Vastu Shastra are based on experimental evidence. In addition, there is no existing scientific bio-mechanical model or hypothesis to suggest how a building’s design affects people’s well-being (apart from obvious environmental factors such as noise, light, occupant density, temperature and humidity, which are already factored in to Western Architecture). Vedic Architecture comes from cognized, not experimental or experiential knowledge.

However, we would expect the benefits of Vastu to be visible through existing scientific methodology. Current research is looking for quantifiable effects of Vastu .

Q. Do all Vastu experts agree on every topic?

A. There are many areas of broad agreement. However, certain groups or ‘schools’ may have different opinions on the details. This is why the input of an enlightened, Self-realized master is valuable at clarifying any differences and misunderstandings that may have arisen over the long lapse of time since the Vastu Shastra’s original cognition. Errors may also have arisen when this knowledge passed from an oral tradition to a written one. This may seem very surprising to Westerners and an explanation for this will be covered in detail in another article.

Q. Do the Vastu rules change in the Southern Hemisphere?

A. No. Although many modern authors are confused about this point, Vastu is a universal system with universally applicable rules. Thinking about it logically, if the Vastu orientation rules were reversed for the Southern hemisphere then what rules should be applied to people living in equatorial regions? Similarly, would the rules become more ‘diluted’ and less effective as we moved from higher latitudes to closer to the equator? No, Vastu remains a universal system with universally applicable rules. It was given by the Divine for the benefit of all mankind – wherever they live.

Q. Does Vastu use True North, or Magnetic North, and does the difference matter? 

A. Vastu uses True North, not Magnetic North for its orientation reference point. True North is the direction towards the Earth’s rotational axis and this is always used in Vedic Architecture. Magnetic North is the direction in which a magnetic compass needle points. Depending on where we live on the Earth’s surface, there can be huge differences (e.g. almost +/- 20 degrees within the USA alone) between True North and Magnetic North. This difference, called the magnetic declination, also changes over the years (yes – the magnetic north pole moves around!). This implies the fixed directional properties of Vastu are not linked to the ever changing Earth’s ‘magnetic north’ direction. So we always use True North, never Magnetic North, as a reference in any Vastu building orientation.


Additional Information

Frequently asked questions on Vastu FAQs – 1, FAQs – 2

Article giving an Introduction to Vastu

More FAQs on Vedic Architecture

Article on the application of Vastu to Temple (Mandir) Design  and photos of the well known Swaminarayan Temple in London

Detailed advice on using a compass to find true north using magnetic declination  calculations