The origin of vaastushastra may have taken place well over thousands of years ago. The learned men of those days may not have lived in houses themselves but they most definately dedicated their lives to the developement of the science "vaastushastra" or "vaastu", as it is popularly known today.
The principles of the science laid down during those days were based purely on the effect of sunrays during different times of the day. The observations and corrections made were noted and concluded only after indepth screening of the situation.
Vastu is a part of Vedas, which are believed to be four to five thousand years old. Through penance and meditation yogis of that period acquired answers believed to have come from the cosmic mind itself to their questions. Hence Vedas are heeded with divine knowledge. The art of Vastu originates in the Stapatya Veda, a part of the Atharva Veda.
It used to be a purely technical subject and it was only confined to architects (Sthapatis) and handed over to their heirs. The principles of construction, architecture, sculpture etc., as enunciated in the epics and treatise on temple architecture, have been incorporated in the science of vastu. Its description is there in epics like Mataysya Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, and Vishnu Purana. There are some other ancient shastras that pass over the knowledge of vastu shastra to next generation, like Vishvakarma Prakash, Samraangan Sutradhar, Kashyap Shilpshastra, Vrihad Sanhita, and Praman Manjaree.
Proofs of vaastushastra can be found during the time of Ramayan and Mahabharat. Even in the cities of Mohanjodaro and Harappa the application of vaastushastra can be seen.
Since the science goes far back to the times of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna there are many interesting mythological stories concering the origin of Vaastupurush (the deity).
In the Mahabharata it is said a number of houses were built for the kings who were invited to the city Indraprastha for the Rajasuya Yagna of King Yuddhistira. Sage Vyasa says that these houses were as high as the peaks of Kailasa mountains, perhaps meaning that they stood tall and majestic. The houses were free from obstructions, had compounds with high walls and their doors were of uniform height and inlaid with numerous metal ornaments. It is said that the site plan of Ayodhya, the city of Lord Rama was similar to the plan found in the great architectural text Manasara. References are also to be found in Buddhist literature, of buildings constructed on the basis of Vastu. They contain references to individual buildings. Lord Buddha is said to have delivered discourses on architecture and even told his disciples that supervising the construction of a building was one of the duties of the order. Mention is made of monasteries (Viharas) or temples, buildings which are partly residential and partly religious (Ardhayogas), residential storeyed buildings (Prasadas), multi-storeyed buildings (harmyas) and Guhas or residential buildings for middle class people.
The Vastu, with word meaning 'dwelling', is believed to be the residing places of god and man. According to its modern meaning it covers all buildings irrespective of their use like residences, industries, business establishments, lodges, hotels etc. It is based on the five basic and essential elements, such as Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Jal (water), Bhumi (earth) and Aakasha (space), which are known as Panchabhutas. Everything on earth is built from these elements.
One such story :
Lord Shiva had killed a devil named Andhak after a long war which had continued for years. A spirit originated out of the perspiration of Lord Shiva and consumed all the blood from the body of the devil. His hunger was still not satisfied. He then undertook penance. Lord Shiva was impressed and highly satisfied by his penance and offered him a boon. The spirit then went wild and started eating men and animals. This terrified even the Gods in heaven. 81 Gods including Lord Bramha laid the spirit face down and they then sat on different parts of its body. When the spirit asked for forgiveness Lord Brahma offered him a boon: "After building any structure, the people who offer you prayers and worship you as vaastudevta will be blessed with pleasures and prosperity. However only those people, who do not offer you prayers shall be at your mercy and you may trouble them in any way".
There is a possibility that these stories were added in the olden scripts only to scare people and make them conscious about the subject.
The science of vaastushastra is however no mythological story and has stood the test of time for thousands of years.
HISTORY OF VAASTU
The science of Vastu is considered an integral part of the Indian architecture. According to modern historians Ferguson, Havell and Cunningham, this science developed during the period of 6000 BC and 3000 BC. Being a technical subject, it was confined only to the architects (Sthapathis) and handed over verbally or in the form of hand-written monographs. The principles of construction, architecture and sculpture, as enunciated in the treatises on temple architecture, have been incorporated in the science of Vaastu.
From ancient literature, we gather that Vaastu was treated as the science of construction of temples and royal palaces.
In the Matsya Purana, seventeen preceptors of Vaastu have been mentioned. They are Bhrugu, Atri, Vasista, Viswakarma, Maya, Narada, Nagnajit, Visalaksha, Purandara, Brahma, Kumaraswamy, Nandisa, Sounaka, Bhargava, Vasudeva, Anirudha, Sukra and Bruhaspathi.
The first official treatise on Vaastu, the Kasyapa Silpa, has been attributed to Sage Kasyapa.
In the treatise Agama Shastra, which explains the science of temples, Vaastu is considered as the basis for any type of construction. Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro also indicate the influence of Vaastu on the Indus Valley Civilization.
Role of India
India is the mother of vastu as our saints formulate principles of vastu here. Vastu was written down thousands of years ago where our sages kept in mind the effect of energies and sunlight and balance all the five elements in a manner to have the maximum benefit out of it.
Vastu Shilpa Shastra, the ancient mystic science and the art of designing and constructing buildings finds its origin in Stapatya Veda, which in turns is a part of Atharvana Veda, one of the four Vedas. According to modern historians Ferguson, Havell and Cunningham, this science developed during the period of 6000 BC and 3000 BC.
Proofs of vaastu shastra can be found during the time of Ramayan and Mahabharat. In the cities of Mohanjodaro and Harappa the application of vaastu shastra can be seen. In the Matsya Purana, seventeen preceptors of Vaastu have been mentioned.
These principles, called Vastu Shastra, were evolved over thousands of years out of experience and foresight of ancient Sages of India and are very valuable for the well being of mankind. According to Shastras, if we worship, revere and respect the lords of these eight directions, they will shower on us their blessings and benefits. Our saints have searched vastu shastra; we are only Researching it.
The following lines depicts the importance of vastu shastra :
SHASTRENANEN SARVASYA LOKASYA PARAM SUKHAM
CHATURVERG PHALA PRAPTI SHLOKSHCH BHAVEDYUVAM
SHLIP SHASTRA PARIGYAN MRITYOAPI SUJETAAM VRAJET
PARMANAND JANAK DEVANAMI DIMIRITAM
SHILP VINA NAHI JAGTISHU LOKESHU VIDYATE
JAGAD VINA NA SHILPANCH VARTATE VASAU PRABHO
Meaning - Because of VASTU SHASTRA, the whole universe gets good health, happiness and all round prosperity. Human beings attain divinity with this knowledge. Followers of VASTU SHASTRA get not only worldly pleasure but also experience heavenly bliss. With the above shloka, it is very much clear that VASTU SHASTRA is universal. It is not confined to any particular group of people in the development of all human being irrespective of any caste, creed or religion.
Engineer Rameshwar Prasad
(B.Tech., M.Tech., P.G.D.C.A., P.G.D.M.)