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Vastu: An Introduction

Summary: An introduction to the benefits, scope and origins of Vastu (Vedic Architecture, Vastu Vidya, Sthapatya Veda, Yogic Design) – the ancient Vedic system for the design, layout and utilisation of life-enhancing buildings that bring positive benefits to their occupants.

Benefits of Vastu (Yogic design of living spaces)

The benefits of Vastu are said to be: an increased sense of wellbeing; improved health; greater harmony in us, our family and our relationships; a deeper feeling of self-awareness and inner peace; increased wealth and financial stability, increased creativity; better spiritual progress.

Just as the ancient architects and masons considered the orientation and proportions of the great buildings and cathedrals of Europe as being of vital importance to the occupants, so Vastu designers set out to create life enhancing buildings that are in harmony with the environment and natural forces.

Vastu creates ideal living and working spaces by connecting the individual with all the supportive forces of nature. It links the individual’s consciousness with the universal order.

Scope of Vastu

Vastu, through the proper orientation, proportions, design and utilisation of buildings aims to promote peace, health and prosperity in the occupants.

It does this by producing buildings that are more ‘in tune’ with the subtle laws of nature. So instead of getting ‘sick building syndrome’, we get ‘well building syndrome’ that gives more positive support for our life and work from buildings with good Vastu.

The principles of Vastu are not limited to domestic dwellings. They can be applied to all buildings from houses, offices, commercial premises, civic buildings, places of worship and even to town and city planning itself.

There are now a growing number of buildings in the West constructed to the Vastu formulae. Anecdotal evidence from occupants is very favourable and there are quantitative, objective research projects being planned to evaluate the benefits for both home owners and businesses too.

Over the past few years the holistic healthcare system known as Ayurveda has become much more main-stream and accepted in the West. Whereas Ayurveda aims to create health in our bodies, Vastu aims to create ‘health’ in our buildings.

We find Vastu also referred to as Vedic architecture, Sthapatya Veda, Vastu Vidya, Yogic Design,  Vastu Shastra and Vaastu. Although there are subtle differences between some of these terms I will use them interchangeably in these introductory articles.

Origins of Vastu

Vastu is one of the ‘sister subjects’ of Yoga. Together with  Ayurveda (Yogic Healthcare), Pranyama (science of breath) and Jyotish (Vedic or Yogic Predictive Astrology) it forms part of a powerful synergistic group of ancient ‘traditional technologies’ designed to deliver individual and universal well-being.

Although Vastu has its traceable origins in the ancient Vedic texts of the Indian subcontinent, its rules and formulae are appropriate to all of us wherever we may live. Vastu dates back many thousands of years.  Archaeologists and historians suggest it dates from between 6000 BCE to 3000 BCE, but Vedic proponents suggest even further back – possibly 11,000 or more years.  It is said that it was originally given by the Divine for the benefit of all mankind, to help alleviate suffering and unhappiness amongst the people. Vastu is cognized wisdom – not experimentally, or experientially, derived. Further information on the mechanics of  Vedic Cognition can be found in an article on the origins of another of the Vedic Sciences – Jyotish Astrology

Vastu almost certainly lead to the later development of the Chinese Feng Shui system.


Additional Information on Vastu

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.

Benefits from Homes with Good Vastu

The ancient texts on Vastu describe 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
    • More 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 on Vastu

Vastu: Top Tips for Better Homes

Summary:  This article examines the major Vastu (Vedic Architecture, Sthapatya Veda) factors to consider before buying or building a brand new house, or before moving into an existing property.

Top Tips for Better Homes through Good Vastu

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.

Whether buying a brand new house or moving into an older property here are some top tips based on Vedic Architecture’s key 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. Leading a spiritual lifestyle also helps.

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 on Vastu (Vedic Architecture, Sthapatya Veda)

Vastu: Removing Negativity from Our Homes

Summary: This article gives practical steps for removing any negative energy from our environment and making our home more positive. 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 for Removing Negativity from our Homes

    • 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 for Removing Negativity from our Homes

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