‘Vastu’ literally means ‘house’ or ‘dwelling place’ of human beings and is derived from the root ‘vas’ which means ‘to live’ or ‘to reside’.
Vastu Shastra, an ancient Indian science developed thousands of years ago by Indian sages, lays down rules for the construction of buildings and temples. This science has been practiced for centuries, to create old architectural wonders like temples, palaces, monuments etc. It's an inseparable part of Indian Architecture having roots in ancient scriptures, philosophy, maths, geology and geography. It takes into account , factors influencing a site, such as topography, roads, structures around, sun's effect, earth's magnetic field and 5 elements of nature. Buildings built according to Vastu shastra principles are said to vibrate with ‘universal positive energy’ which results in all round happiness, health, wealth and prosperity for the occupants.
Many people dismiss Vastu as a superstition. However, in reality Vastu is an architectural science that deals with building houses in relation with purpose, rules and best practices. While some of its remedies and solutions may seem very archaic and downright, Vastu has a logical reason behind each of its principles.
“WHAT DOES VAASTU SHASTRA TRANSLATE TO?”
Vaastu is a broad term that also includes the following:
Bhoomi – which means the site/plot or extent of land where the building is proposed. Prasada – which includes the compound wall and buildings which are built within the Bhoomi (Site). Yaana – which means all the vehicles parked within the Bhoomi (Site). Shayana – which includes all the furniture and utensils in the building (Prasada).
"Vastu" is also derived from the sanskrit word ‘vasathi’ which means ‘comfort’. Comfort is related to the right proportion and positioning of the five elements of nature, Agni (Fire), Vaayu (Air), Vaari (Water), Prithvi (Earth) and Akash (Sky) in our surroundings. The complex interplay of the above elements along with the eight directions (E, W, N, S, NE, SE, SW, NW) can profoundly influence the lives of the people living or working in the premises either positively or negatively.
"Shastra" is the sanskrit word for ‘science’ and stands for the principles and guidelines laid down for the construction of a building. Therefore, Vaastu shastra is the science of arranging the above-mentioned elements in their respective places so that they are in harmony, which in turn will make the lives of the inmates happy and peaceful.
"The fundamental principle of Vastu Shastra is to add ‘Value to the Life of the man’ staying in a building by bringing about harmony between the inmate, nature and the built environment. Essentially, Vastu Shastra aims to eliminate negative energy and enhance positive energy present at a place or location so that a person, family or even business inhabiting a building become prosperous and progressive."
For example, Vasthu recommends building houses with thresholds that face either the Northerly or Easterly direction. This is something that many would not even consider, yet history and experience shows that houses constructed with the principles of Vasthu appear more graceful, peaceful and flowing. This can be seen frequently in the buildings of South India.
Vasthu calculates rainfall, wind, sunrise and sunset to identify the ideal way to construct a house. If a house faces north then the effects of harmful UV rays from the sun on the threshold, where members of the house and guests congregate are highly minimized. Similarly an East facing house has the advantage of being graced by the rays of the rising sun which bring life, vitamins and nutrients.
Hence Vasthu is not a superstition and pseudoscience. It is rather a clever set of principles put together by our ancestors to bring betterment into our lives.