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Vaastu Shastra evolved as a compilation of planning principles for a healthy living based on the knowledge base of the time (similar to Western treatises such as Vitruvius') and was not meant to be absolute. Its current popularity stems from its focus on a holistic approach to space and form.
Vastu was earlier used in the design of Hindu homes, but became less prominent in the industrialization period during and following the colonial British Raj. But it is used extensively in temple design, and so survived in the clans of temple designers and architects. In recent years, it has again gained mainstream popularity, and there are several Vastu 'consultants' in India, some dubious, some genuine.
All places of dwelling are termed Vastu however the actual physical manifestation of the dwelling is called Vaastu (the vrddhi, vāstu). Both terms are from the root vas "to dwell, live, stay, abide" (cognate with the English past tense was)

Basics of Vastu: The five elements

Vaastu (spelt as Vastu or in southern India as Vasthu or Vaasthu) is the science of direction, [1]movements and architecture that combines all the five elements of nature and balances them with the man and the material. Vaastu Shastra is creating a congenial settings or a place to live or work, in most scientific way taking advantages of the benefits bestowed by the five elements called “Pancha Maha Bhootas” of the nature thereby paving the way for enhanced health, wealth, prosperity and happiness in an enlightened environment.

The world comprises five basic elements, also known as the Panchbhootas. They are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. Out of the nine planets, our planet has life because of the presence of these five elements.

EARTH (Bhumi) - Earth, the third planet in order from the sun, is a big magnet with North and South poles as centers of attractions. Its magnetic field and gravitational force has considerable effects on everything on the Earth, living and non-living.

WATER (Jala) - This is represented by rain, river, sea and is in the form of liquid, solid (ice) and gas (steam, cloud). It forms part of every plant and animal. Our blood is nothing but water with haemoglobin and oxygen.

AIR (Vayu) - As a life supporting element, air is very powerful life source. Human physical comfort values are directly and sensitively dependent on correct humidity, air flow, temperature of air, air pressure, air composition and its content.

FIRE (Agni) - It represents light and heat without which the life will extinct. All the days and nights, seasons, energy, enthusiasm, passion, vigour is because of light and heat only.

SPACE/ETHER (Aakasha) - It is the shelter provider to all the above elements. It is also considered the primary conductor of all energy sources within the universal context - physical energies such as sound and light, social energies such as psychological and emotional, and cognitive energies such as intellect and intuition.

There is an invisible and constant relation between all the five elements. Thus, the man can improve his conditions by properly designing his buildings by understanding the effectiveness of these five natural forces.

The Modern Theory of Vaastu has worldwide application and furthermore, God needs a Vastu compliant place to gain popularity on earth. This has been observed in several cases that where worship place is in accordance to Vastu, that place gains huge popularity.

Vaastu Purusha Mandala

The Vaastu Purusha Mandala is an indispensable part of Vaastu Shastra and constitutes the mathematical and diagrammatic basis for generating design. Purusha refers to energy, power, soul or cosmic man. Mandala is the generic name for any plan/ chart, which represents the cosmos metaphysically/ symbolically, a microcosm of the universe.

In Hindu cosmology the surface of the earth is represented as a square, the most fundamental of all Hindu forms. The earth is represented as four cornered with reference to the horizon's relationship with sunrise and sunset, the North and South direction. It is called Chaturbhuji- four cornered- and represented in the symbolic form of the Prithvi Mandala. The astrological charts or horoscopes(Rasi, Navamsa, etc.) also represent in a square plan the ecliptic- the positions of the sun, moon, planets and zodiacall constellations with reference to a specific person's place and time of birth.

The Vaastu Purusha Mandala is a specific type of mandala used in Vaastu Shastra. It is the metaphysical plan of a building/temple/site that incorporates the course of the heavenly bodies and supernatural forces.

The legend of the Vaastu Purusha is related thus. Once a formless being blocked the heaven from the earth and Brahma with many other Gods trapped him to the ground. This incident is depicted graphically in the Vaastu Purusha Mandala with portions allocated hierarchically to each God based on the contributions and positions in performing this act. Brahma occupied the central portion - the Brahmasthana- and other Gods were distributed around in a concentric pattern. There are 45 Gods in all including 32 outer Gods.

The eight directions in Vaastu Shastra represent different gods and planets. Accordingly Vaastu determines the particular position of the different parts of a building or structure

Direction

Gods

Representing

Planet

Part of the Building/Structure

East

Indra

Lord of Lords

Ravi (Sun)

Entrance (Harbinger of good luck)

Southeast

Agni

Lord of Fire

Shukra (Venus)

Kitchen (Cheerful housewife)

South

Yama

Lord of Death

Angaraka (Mars)

Ghoulish Masks (To ward off evil)

Southwest

Niruti

Lord of Demons

Rahu (Dragon's Head)

Valuables (Prevents from being robbed)

West

Varuna

Lord of Water

Shani (Saturn)

Bathroom

Northwest

Vayu

Lord of Air

Chandra (Moon)

Bedroom (Serenity and calm and peace)

North

Kubera

Lord of Wealth

Budha (Mercury)

Vault (Cash never runs out)

Northeast

Dharma

Righteousness

Guru (Jupiter)

Puja Rooms (For worship and meditation)

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