Bharathiya Shilpa Vyavastha : Part 5

Vaastu for living

This is an introduction to Vaastu as it was applied for residential places. It is an insight into what was the original science behind Vaastu, which is very different from the “Directional Vaastu” as is practised currently. “Vaastu Consultants” in the present-day, stick to only the directional principles of Vaastu forgetting almost 85% of the rest of the Vaastu principles.  

My attempt is to address this subject about the ancient methods of building houses, in much greater detail and introduce the reader to the following aspects: 

  1. Selection of the site: The site selection for building the house either independent or row house as in villages was a very important factor. In the case of an independent house, usually it was built inside a farm or a garden. The site inside the boundary of the farm or the garden was marked. Some small holes like in the centre and the cardinal directions were made. A lamp was lit in the central hole, some coins and grains were kept in the South-West hole, another lamp lit in the South-East hole, a pot of water was kept in the northern hole, a pot of cooked rice in the southern hole and the eastern and western holes were kept empty. These holes were duly closed using a plate or a colander.

The next day, usually 12 to 16 hours later, these holes were inspected. Depending on the lakshanas (Signs) found, the plan for the house was made. A row house in a village was usually built one arm further or behind the previous house and it was considered as an extension of this old house. There were many other considerations for selecting the site for constructing a house and not just 60 X 40 north, east, south or west facing.

  1. Raw material to be used: The raw materials used for building a house were usually sourced locally. There was a limit of distance for sourcing the raw materials; it was within 25 kms from the location of the house. This made it easy to source the material and the artisans and masons would be adept in using this material. The raw material should be suitable to that region for the seasons and weather conditions as well as the people. The raw material would cost less as transportation would be easier. Bullock cart being the main means of transport, one could leave at about sunrise and come back by sunset maximum. It was easier to monitor the replenishment of the raw material for construction as well as for maintenance later on. The local artisans working on it would be adept at using the material.
  2. 5 Lakshanas – Typical Signs of a house: There were 5 principles to be followed for building a house as Shri Ravindra Sharma Guruji used to say. He must have derived it from various sources like Shastras and Shilpakars too. These 5 Lakshanas are given below. 
  • The House must promote health. 
  • The house mustn’t economically compel the people living in it.
  • The house must help the people live a social life.
  • The house must promote love for nature.
  • The house should help people in their spiritual journey. 

I shall be explaining these Lakshanas more in detail in future blogs. 

  1. Basic and other unique designs of houses: The dwellings were basically of 10 shapes as illustrated below. 
  • Single row: These were single row houses, sometimes just a single house and sometimes a row of houses, but the typical feature was they were in single row. 
  • Right angled: These houses were in the shape of the English language alphabet L. These houses usually had the Kitchen, store and dining area on the shorter side and the longer portion would be the living quarters.
  • Three Sided or U shaped: These houses were shaped like a U with three wings with a courtyard in the middle. These types of houses were called ‘Trishala Graha’. Here one side would be housing Kitchen, store and dining area, the opposite side usually had a guest room, and one room for one of the family to live, the central area housed the rest of the family.
  • Four Sided (Chathushaala): Most of the independent houses were in the four-sided design with an entrance on one side and an open courtyard in the middle covered by the house on four sides. The open courtyard would sometimes have a well for drinking and cooking water purposes. There would be a ‘Varanda’ / ‘Chabutra’ / ‘Jaggalee’ at the entrance where the guests would be welcomed. These houses were many times ground floor plus first floor kind of accommodations. They would have a puja room, kitchen, store, bathroom, granary and bedrooms inside the ‘Chathushala’. The inner portion would have a sit-out all along the four inner sides.  These types of houses were very common across the country but the style of construction and the construction material would change according to the Janapada.
  • Circular: In some villages the houses were built in a circular shape. They usually had a sloping roof and looked like an inverted cone. Here I would like to bring to your notice some of the peculiar practices of the modern ‘Vasthu Consultants’ they tell their clients that round shape is inauspicious. Again a misconception if we visit any interior village we will find that most of the houses are built in this shape. People have been living very happily in these houses. 
  • Square: These houses were square in shape and they had equal sized sides. They usually had a roof which slanted either towards the front and back or in some places it was slanting towards the sides.  
  • Rectangular: These houses were rectangular in shape and they had unequal sized sides. They usually had a roof which slanted either towards the front and back or in some places it was slanting towards the sides. These were commonplace and many independent houses were built rectangular in shape. 
  • Triangular: In some forest areas keeping in view the security of keeping the wild animals away, triangular houses were built. These houses had pyramid shaped roofs. They had a very low lying and small entrance where people had to bend down or almost crawl to get inside the house.  
  • Fish or Boat Shaped: Fish or Boat shaped houses were built on high mountains where the house had to be built in the direction of the wind or these types of houses were built even on the river banks to avoid flooding damage. They were also built near the sea shore to avoid damage by tides.
  • Ashtakona or Octagonal: The Ashtakona or Octagonal houses were usually built by people who lived surrounded by large estates of land. Palaces of kings were also built in this shape. In today’s world of “Directional Vaastu”, usually these “Vaastu Consultants” tell people that Octagonal shape is inauspicious and many people have broken down their ancestral homes to build a square or rectangular shaped house. This is in a way very foolish. This I say as people who would have built those houses hundreds of years back would know Vaastu much better than us. Octagonal shape is actually the shape of ‘Ashta-Lakshmi Yantra’ which is most auspicious for attaining eight folds wealth.    

To be continued…


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