Vedic Architecture (Vastu)

Sthapatya Kala: The Ancient Indian Science of Architecture


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The Science of Architecture and Civil Construction was known in Ancient India as Sthapatya-Shastra. The word Sthapatya is derived from the root word Sthapana i.e. ‘to establish’. The technique of architecture was both a science and an art, hence it is also known as Sthapatya-kala, the word Kala means an art.

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Significance of Jyotirlingas in Hinduism


jyotiranga lingas

Indian culture has been among the few cultures on this planet – if you look at it in terms of its geographical size, probably the only one of such size – where for thousands of years, the whole population was focused only on the ultimate wellbeing of the human being. The immediate, material wellbeing was just handled as a small part of one’s life.

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Vastu, Temples and Pyramids in Vedic Context


Vastu, Temples and Pyramids1

Traditional Indian architecture is extremely simple and straightforward. Simple techniques of construction were utilized to build some of the glorious and magnificent buildings that have withstood the test of time. Structural elements like columns and beams were carefully integrated within the buildings to meet the needs of religious and cultural traditions.

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Vaastu Shastra: Ancient Indian Architecture


vastu

Vaastu shastra, an ancient art and science of Indian architecture, explains the practices of constructing buildings which ensures a harmony between man and the five elements and thereby bring all round peace, health, wealth and prosperity. Vaastu Shastra is a Sanskrit name, where ‘vaastu’ means nature, surrounding or environment, and ‘shastra’ means science.

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The Vedic House


When Joseph Rykwert and I sat down to discuss “hermits’ huts” in India for Res almost a decade ago to accompany the publication of Ananda Coomaraswamy’s important manuscript on “Early Indian Architecture: Huts and Related Temple Types,” Joseph made a point that evidence from ancient India would have been quite useful to him in writing his book On Adam’s House in Paradise: “It would have been invaluable, because there was no material on the pre-Gupta architecture of India then available to me.” Basing his work on India’s long tradition of ritual literature, however, the great French scholar of Vedic India, Louis Renou (1896-1966), had already published his article on “La maison védique” in the Journal Asiatique in 1939.

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Sulbasutras: Indian Texts on Sacred Geometry


The Sulbasutras deal with geometrical constructions, a large majority of them for the purpose of carrying out Vedic rituals at precisely constructed altars and similar such ends, that are popularly believed to date to the millennium before Christ or the end of the Vedic age. Of these, Baudhayana’s Sulbasutra is believed to date to the 8th century B.C. Later, other authors including Apastamba, Manava, Katyayana,Satyasadha Hiranyakesin, Vadhula, Varaha and Kathaka composed sulbasutras as well, although the chronological order in which these texts were composed remains unknown as yet.

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Sacred Vaastu Architecture comes West


As North Americans become more ‘green conscious’ in a world of global warming bad news, architects and designers have begun to consider incorporating spiritual aspects of Vedic architecture. Much like the imported practices of yoga and ayurveda, the introduction of vaastu into popular culture will give devotees one more way to introduce Vedic concepts to the western world. In recent news, SFGate.com reports that vaastu design is gaining interest.

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Vedic Altars


In the Vedic sacrificial ritual, when a sacrifice is performed for the benefit of a sacrificer, the dimension of the sacrificial altar is derived from the dimension of the sacrificer. The ritual requires that the altar be constructed of layers of bricks, from which the deity is invoked through the power of hymns. Having been invoked, the deity flies to the site of the sacrifice in his ratha, or “chariot,” partakes of the sacrifice offered from the altar, and then departs. After this ritual, the altar is abandoned. Accordingly, texts describe altars as falcon-shaped and, to one extent or another, these altars conform to the shape of a bird, or more accurately, the shadow of a bird on the ground.

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Vastu: Selection of a Building Site


The technology of Vastu architecture lays enormous emphasis on the selection of the building site for human habitation. Vastu science looks upon the Earth as a living organism with its origin in the primordial energy. The Vastu Shastras address the energy contained in the Earth as “Vastu Purusha” where “Purusha” means the subtle energy that permeates the Earth and “Vastu” is the material body of the Earth that evolved out of that energy. In abstraction “Purusha” is but a subtle substance “Vastu” or essence of the subtle universe which, in other words, means “universal consciousness”. Earth is a conscious living being suspended in space and existing as an extension of the universal being. Earth is evoked and poojas are offered to it before excavation for construction. This is called “Vastu Shanti” or the “appeasement” of Earth.

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