What Is Vastu Shastra?

This unique and interesting term is applied to the field of design and architecture. It is specifically a design system which focuses on “directional” alignment. Traditional in the Hindu culture, Vastu Shastra is a key element in the construction of temples. Encyclopedia information indicates that this term is also applied to other cultural activities, including sculpture that is not directly tied to building construction.

Long used in the past, Vastu Shastra seems to have found a new base among those living in India. It has enjoyed a revival since the 1960s. The words come from Sanskrit and are used to indicate essence or substance of something, along with the idea of property that enhances a person’s wealth. But in the “vastu” there is also an association with the home or at least the foundation of a building. The second part of the term, “shastra” refers to the science or the learning that goes with this traditional system.

There are several texts on vastu shastra that are considered standard or fundamental to the teaching of the science. These can vary somewhat, especially with the design differences between south India and north India. The system attempts to achieve a certain atmosphere of well-being and balance, with emphasis on the five elements. These include earth (Bhumi), fire (Agni), air (Vayu), water (Jala) and space (Akasha). In vastu shastra there is always a connection or relationship between these five elements.

In the strict sense of construction, vastu shastra can be applied or found in the building of a home. In fact, traditional homes were often constructed with careful attention to cultural beliefs. Location and direction were crucial to the successful construction of a home, as the family’s future and prosperity were believed to depend on this. In the same way, the system and its attention to detail are applied to commercial buildings and offices as well, to help ensure that the atmosphere is correct. The company success or individual success can also depend on getting the correct balance.

While vastu shastra is certainly a science that pays particular attention to details of construction and design, it is also an art that focuses on peace of mind and congeniality among family members and between the family and its visitors. Direction is important because this concept not only depends on such elements as the heat of the sun and the surrounding earth, it also depends on the normal directions of the wind and the rainfall that is common for the area.

One of the key factors in successful use of vastu shastra is to take all of these ideas into account, using the benefits of the natural elements. What this means for the owner of the structure, for example, is that the good forces of nature can be used at no cost to enhance the setting of the home, the feel of the home and even the look of the home. In traditional culture, vastu shastra is considered a large field of study that can be mastered with patience and time.

Written by Lucas Beaumont

Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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