Vastu shastra

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For the 2004 film, see Vaastu Shastra (film).
Iraivan Temple built using Vastu Shastra principles in Hawaii, United States.[1][2]
Angkor Wat, a World Heritage Site and one of the world's largest Hindu temples.[3] This Cambodian temple deploys the same circles and squares grid architecture as described in ancient Indian Vastu Sastras.[4]

Vastu shastra (vāstu śāstra) is an ancient science of architecture and construction.[5] These are texts found on the Indian subcontinent that describe principles of design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, space arrangement and spatial geometry.[6] Vastu sastras incorporate traditional Hindu and in some cases Buddhist beliefs.[7] The designs are intended to integrate architecture with nature, the relative functions of various parts of the structure, and ancient beliefs utilizing geometric patterns (yantra), symmetry and directional alignments.[8][9]

Vastu Shastra are the textual part of Vastu Vidya, the latter being the broader knowledge about architecture and design theories from ancient India.[10] Vastu Vidya knowledge is a collection of ideas and concepts, with or without the support of layout diagrams, that are not rigid. Rather, they are models for the organization of space and form within a building or collection of buildings, based on their functions in relation to each other, their usage and to the overall fabric of the Vastu.[10] Ancient Vastu Shastra principles include those for the design of Mandir (Hindu temples),[11] and the principles for the design and layout of houses, towns, cities, gardens, roads, water works, shops and other public areas.[6][12][13]

The use of Vastu shastra in the modern era has been controversial. Some architects, particularly during India's colonial era, considered it arcane and superstitious.[14][15] Other architects state that critics have not read the texts and that most of the text is about flexible design guidelines for space, sunlight, flow and function.[14][16]

Jaipur, the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan and called the pink city, was founded and built in early 1700s incorporating many of the layout principles for a city found in Vastu Shastras.[9][17] Similarly, modern era projects such as the architect Charles Correa's designed Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya in Ahmedabad, Vidhan Bhavan in Bhopal,[18] and Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, adapt and apply concepts from the Vastu Shastra Vidya.[9][14] In the design of Chandigarh city, Le Corbusier incorporated modern architecture theories with those of Vastu Shastra.[19][20][21]

Terminology[edit]

The Sanskrit word vastu means a dwelling or house with a corresponding plot of land.[22] The vrddhi, vāstu, takes the meaning of "the site or foundation of a house, site, ground, building or dwelling-place, habitation, homestead, house". The underlying root is vas "to dwell, live, stay, reside".[23] The term shastra may loosely be translated as "doctrine, teaching".

Vastu-Sastras (literally, science of dwelling) are ancient Sanskrit manuals of architecture. These contain Vastu-Vidya (literally, knowledge of dwelling).[24]

History[edit]

Historians such as James Fergusson, Alexander Cunningham and Dr. Havell have suggested that Vastu Shastra developed between 6000 BCE and 3000 BCE, adding that the archaeological sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro stand on the principles of Vastu Shashtra.[25][verification needed]

The pink city Jaipur in Rajasthan was master planned by Rajput king Jai Singh and built by 1727 CE, in part around Vastu Shilpa Sastra principles.[17]

Description[edit]

Ancient India produced many Sanskrit manuals of architecture, called Vastu Sastra. Many of these are about Hindu temple layout (above), design and construction, along with chapters on design principles for houses, villages, towns. The architect and artists (Silpins) were given wide latitude to experiment and express their creativity.[26]

There exist many Vastu-Sastras on the art of building houses, temples, towns and cities. One such Vastu Sastra is by Thakkura Pheru, describing where and how temples should be built.[8][27] By 6th century AD, Sanskrit manuals for constructing palatial temples were in circulation in India.[28] Vastu-Sastra manuals included chapters on home construction, town planning,[24] and how efficient villages, towns and kingdoms integrated temples, water bodies and gardens within them to achieve harmony with nature.[12][13] While it is unclear, states Barnett,[29] as to whether these temple and town planning texts were theoretical studies and if or when they were properly implemented in practice, the manuals suggest that town planning and Hindu temples were conceived as ideals of art and integral part of Hindu social and spiritual life.[24]

The Silpa Prakasa of Odisha, authored by Ramacandra Bhattaraka Kaulacara sometime in ninth or tenth century CE, is another Vastu Sastra.[30] Silpa Prakasa describes the geometric principles in every aspect of the temple and symbolism such as 16 emotions of human beings carved as 16 types of female figures. These styles were perfected in Hindu temples prevalent in eastern states of India. Other ancient texts found expand these architectural principles, suggesting that different parts of India developed, invented and added their own interpretations. For example, in Saurastra tradition of temple building found in western states of India, the feminine form, expressions and emotions are depicted in 32 types of Nataka-stri compared to 16 types described in Silpa Prakasa.[30] Silpa Prakasa provides brief introduction to 12 types of Hindu temples. Other texts, such as Pancaratra Prasada Prasadhana compiled by Daniel Smith[31] and Silpa Ratnakara compiled by Narmada Sankara[32] provide a more extensive list of Hindu temple types.

Ancient Sanskrit manuals for temple construction discovered in Rajasthan, in northwestern region of India, include Sutradhara Mandana’s Prasadamandana (literally, manual for planning and building a temple) with chapters on town building.[33] Manasara, a text of South Indian origin, estimated to be in circulation by 7th century AD, is a guidebook on South Indian Vastu design and construction.[8][34] Isanasivagurudeva paddhati is another Sanskrit text from the 9th century describing the art of building in India in south and central India.[8][35] In north India, Brihat-samhita by Varāhamihira is the widely cited ancient Sanskrit manual from 6th century describing the design and construction of Nagara style of Hindu temples.[26][36][37]

These ancient Vastu Sastras, often discuss and describe the principles of Hindu temple design, but do not limit themselves to the design of a Hindu temple.[38] They describe the temple as a holistic part of its community, and lay out various principles and a diversity of alternate designs for home, village and city layout along with the temple, gardens, water bodies and nature.[13][39]

Mandala types and properties[edit]

The 8x8 (64) grid Manduka Vastu Purusha Mandala layout for Hindu Temples. It is one of 32 Vastu Purusha Mandala grid patterns described in Vastu sastras. In this grid structure of symmetry, each concentric layer has significance.[8]

The central area in all mandala is the Brahmasthana. Mandala "circle-circumference" or "completion", is a concentric diagram having spiritual and ritual significance in both Buddhism and Hinduism. The space occupied by it varies in different mandala – in Pitha (9) and Upapitha (25) it occupies one square module, in Mahaapitha (16), Ugrapitha (36) and Manduka (64), four square modules and in Sthandila (49) and Paramasaayika (81), nine square modules.[40] The Pitha is an amplified Prithvimandala in which, according to some texts, the central space is occupied by earth. The Sthandila mandala is used in a concentric manner.[40]

The most important mandala is the Manduka/ Chandita Mandala of 64 squares and the Paramasaayika Mandala of 81 squares. The normal position of the Vastu Purusha (head in the northeast, legs in the southwest) is as depicted in the Paramasaayika Mandala. However, in the Manduka Mandala the Vastu Purusha is depicted with the head facing east and the feet facing west.[citation needed]

A site of any shape can be divided using the Pada Vinyasa. Sites are known by the number of squares. They range from 1x1 to 32x32 (1024) square sites. Examples of mandalas with the corresponding names of sites include:[8]

  • Sakala (1 square) corresponds to Eka-pada (single divided site)
  • Pechaka (4 squares) corresponds to Dwi-pada (two divided site)
  • Pitha (9 squares) corresponds to Tri-pada (three divided site)
  • Mahaapitha (16 squares) corresponds to Chatush-pada (four divided site)
  • Upapitha (25 squares) corresponds to Pancha-pada (five divided site)
  • Ugrapitha (36 squares) corresponds to Shashtha-pada (six divided site)
  • Sthandila (49 squares) corresponds to sapta-pada (seven divided site)
  • Manduka/ Chandita (64 square) corresponds to Ashta-pada (eight divided site)
  • Paramasaayika (81 squares) corresponds to Nava-pada (nine divided site)
  • Aasana (100 squares) corresponds to Dasa-pada (ten divided site)

Modern adaptations and usage[edit]

Vastu Shastra-inspired plan adapted and evolved by modern architect Charles Correa in the design of Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, Rajasthan.[9][41]

Vastu sastra represents a body of ancient concepts and knowledge to many modern architects, a guideline but not a rigid code.[9][14] The square-grid mandala is viewed as a model of organization, not as a ground plan. The ancient Vastu sastra texts describe functional relations and adaptable alternate layouts for various rooms or buildings and utilities, but do not mandate a set compulsory architecture. Sachdev and Tillotson state that the mandala is a guideline, and employing the mandala concept of Vastu sastra does not mean every room or building has to be square.[9] The basic theme is around core elements of central space, peripheral zones, direction with respect to sunlight, and relative functions of the spaces.[9][14]

During the colonial rule period of India, town planning officials of the British Raj did not consider Vastu Vidya, but largely grafted Islamic Mughal era motifs and designs such as domes and arches onto Victorian-era style buildings without overall relationship layout.[15][42] This movement, later known as the Indo-Saracenic style, is found in chaotically laid out, but externally grand structures in the form of currently used major railway stations, harbors, tax collection buildings, and other colonial offices in South Asia.[15]

Vastu sastra vidya was ignored, during colonial era construction, for several reasons. These texts were viewed by 19th and early 20th century architects as archaic, the literature was inaccessible being in an ancient language not spoken or read by the architects, and the ancient texts assumed space to be readily available.[14][15] In contrast, public projects in the colonial era were forced into crowded spaces and local layout constraints, and the ancient Vastu sastra were viewed with prejudice as superstitious and rigid about a square grid or traditional materials of construction.[15] Sachdev and Tillotson state that these prejudices were flawed, as a scholarly and complete reading of the Vastu sastra literature amply suggests the architect is free to adapt the ideas to new materials of construction, local layout constraints and into a non-square space.[15][43] The design and completion of a new city of Jaipur in early 1700s based on Vastu sastra texts, well before any colonial era public projects, was one of many proofs.[15][43] Other examples include modern public projects designed by Charles Correa such as Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, and Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad.[9][41]

The use of Vastu shastra and Vastu consultants in modern home and public projects is controversial.[43] Some Indian-origin architects state it to be unscientific, not well reasoned and difficult to incorporate. Other architects state that these shastras are part of history and culture, of importance to the heritage, and they have read the texts to creatively adapt and incorporate ideas from them into new projects. Other architects have mapped the functions of various squares in the Vastu sastra mandala, and replaced the individual grids with functional spaces incorporating technology that delivers the same functions.[44]

Klaus-Peter Gast states that the principles of Vastu Shastras is witnessing a major revival and wide usage in the planning and design of individual homes, residential complexes, commercial and industrial campuses, and major public projects in India, along with the use of ancient iconography and mythological art work incorporated into the Vastu vidya architectures.[41][16]

Vastu Sastras - Sanskrit treatises on Architecture[edit]

Of the numerous Sanskrit treatises mentioned in ancient Indian literature, some have been translated in English. Many Agamas, Puranas and Hindu scriptures include chapters on architecture of temples, homes, villages, towns, fortifications, streets, shop layout, public wells, public bathing, public halls, gardens, river fronts among other things.[6] In some cases, the manuscripts are partially lost, some are available only in Tibetan, Nepalese or South Indian languages, while in others original Sanskrit manuscripts are available in different parts of India. Some treatises, or books with chapters on Vaastu Shastra include:[6]

  • Manasara
  • Brhat samhita
  • Mayamata
  • Anka sastra
  • Aparajita Vastu Sastra
  • Maha-agamas (28 books, each with 12 to 75 chapters)
  • Ayadi Lakshana
  • Aramadi Pratishtha Paddhati (includes garden design)
  • Kasyapiya
  • Kupadi Jala Sthana Lakshana
  • Kshetra Nirmana Vidhi (preparation of land and foundation of buildings including temples)
  • Gargya samhita (pillars, doors, windows, wall design and architecture)
  • Griha Pithika (types of houses and their construction)
  • Ghattotsarga Suchanika (riverfront and steps architecture)
  • Chakra sastra
  • Jnana ratna kosha
  • Vastu sarani (measurement, ratio and design layouts of objects, particularly buildings)
  • Devalaya Lakshana (treatise on construction of temples)
  • Dhruvadi shodasa gehani (guidelines for arrangement of buildings with respect to each other for harmony)
  • Nava sastra (36 books, most lost)
  • Agni Purana (Chapters 42 through 55, and 106 - Nagaradi Vastu)
  • Matsya Purana (Chapters 252 through 270)
  • Maya samgraha
  • Prasada kirtana
  • Prasada Lakshana
  • Tachchu sastra (primarily home design for families)
  • Manushyalaya Lakshana (primarily human dwelings)
  • Mantra dipika
  • Mana kathana (measurement principles)
  • Manava vastu lakshana
  • Manasollasa (chapters on house layout, mostly ancient cooking recipes)
  • Raja griha nirmana (architecture and construction principles for royal palaces)
  • Rupa mandana
  • Vastu chakra
  • Vastu tattva
  • Vastu nirnaya
  • Vastu purusha lakshana
  • Vastu prakasa
  • Vastu pradipa
  • Vastu manjari
  • Vastu mandana
  • Vastu lakshana
  • Vastu vichara
  • Vastu vidya
  • Vastu vidhi
  • Vastu samgraha
  • Vastu sarvasva
  • Vimana lakshana (tower design)
  • Visvakarma prakasa (home, roads, water tanks and public works architecture)
  • Vaikhanasa
  • Sastra jaladhi ratna
  • Sipla prakasa
  • Silpakala Dipika
  • Silpartha sastra
  • Sanatkumara vastu sastra

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frommer's Hawaii 2013, ISBN 978-1118287866
  2. ^ Lavina Melwani, The Temple That Siva Built, Masonry Design Magazine, Fall 2009
  3. ^ "Angkor Temple Guide". Angkor Temple Guide. 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  4. ^ R Arya, Vaastu: The Indian Art of Placement, ISBN 978-0892818853
  5. ^ BB Dutt (1925), Town planning in Ancient India at Google Books, ISBN 978-81-8205-487-5, Chapter 1
  6. ^ a b c d Acharya P.K. (1946), An Encyclopedia of Hindu Architecture, Oxford University Press
  7. ^ Kumar, Vijaya (2002). Vastushastra. New Dawn/Sterling. p. 5. ISBN 978-81-207-2199-9. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Stella Kramrisch (1976), The Hindu Temple Volume 1 & 2, ISBN 81-208-0223-3
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Vibhuti Sachdev, Giles Tillotson (2004). Building Jaipur: The Making of an Indian City. p. 155-160. ISBN 978-1861891372. 
  10. ^ a b Vibhuti Sachdev, Giles Tillotson (2004). Building Jaipur: The Making of an Indian City. p. 147. ISBN 978-1861891372. 
  11. ^ George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and Forms, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226532301, pp 21-22
  12. ^ a b GD Vasudev (2001), Vastu, Motilal Banarsidas, ISBN 81-208-1605-6, pp 74-92
  13. ^ a b c Sherri Silverman (2007), Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature, Gibbs Smith, Utah, ISBN 978-1423601326
  14. ^ a b c d e f V Chakrabarti (2013). Indian Architectural Theory: Contemporary Uses of Vastu Vidya. Routledge. pp. 86–92. ISBN 978-0700711130. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Vibhuti Sachdev, Giles Tillotson (2004). Building Jaipur: The Making of an Indian City. p. 149-157. ISBN 978-1861891372. 
  16. ^ a b Stephen Marshall (2011). Urban Coding and Planning. Routledge. pp. 83–103. ISBN 978-0415441261. 
  17. ^ a b Jantar Mantar & Jaipur - Section II National University of Singapore, pp. 17-22
  18. ^ Irena Murray (2011). Charles Correa: India's Greatest Architect. RIBA Publishing. ISBN 978-1859465172. 
  19. ^ Gerald Steyn (2011). "Le Corbusier’s research-based design approaches" (PDF). SAJAH (Tshwane University of Technology) 26 (3): 45–56. 
  20. ^ H Saini (1996). Vaastu ordains a full flowering for Chandigarh. The Tribune. 
  21. ^ Reena Patra (2009). "Vaastu Shastra: Towards Sustainable Development". Sustainable Development (Wiley InterScience) 17: 244–256. 
  22. ^ Gautum, Jagdish (2006). Latest Vastu Shastra (Some Secrets). Abhinav Publications. p. 17. ISBN 978-81-7017-449-3. 
  23. ^ Monier-Williams (1899).
  24. ^ a b c BB Dutt (1925), Town planning in Ancient India at Google Books, ISBN 978-81-8205-487-5; See critical review by LD Barnett, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol 4, Issue 2, June 1926, pp 391
  25. ^ Vāstu, Astrology, and Architecture: Papers Presented at the First All India Symposium on Vāstu. Motilal Banarsidass Publications. 1998. p. 74. 
  26. ^ a b Michael Meister (1983), Geometry and Measure in Indian Temple Plans: Rectangular Temples, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp 266-296
  27. ^ Jack Hebner (2010), Architecture of the Vastu Sastra - According to Sacred Science, in Science of the Sacred (Editor: David Osborn), ISBN 978-0557277247, pp 85-92; N Lahiri (1996), Archaeological landscapes and textual images: a study of the sacred geography of late medieval Ballabgarh, World Archaeology, 28(2), pp 244-264
  28. ^ Susan Lewandowski (1984), Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built Environment, edited by Anthony D. King, Routledge, ISBN 978-0710202345, Chapter 4
  29. ^ LD Barnett, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol 4, Issue 2, June 1926, pp 391
  30. ^ a b Alice Boner and Sadāśiva Rath Śarmā (1966), Silpa Prakasa Medieval Orissan Sanskrit Text on Temple Architecture at Google Books, E.J. Brill (Netherlands)
  31. ^ H. Daniel Smith (1963), Ed. Pāncarātra prasāda prasādhapam, A Pancaratra Text on Temple-Building, Syracuse: University of Rochester, OCLC 68138877
  32. ^ Mahanti and Mahanty (1995 Reprint), Śilpa Ratnākara, Orissa Akademi, OCLC 42718271
  33. ^ Amita Sinha (1998), Design of Settlements in the Vaastu Shastras, Journal of Cultural Geography, 17(2), pp 27-41, doi:10.1080/08873639809478319
  34. ^ Tillotson, G. H. R. (1997). Svastika Mansion: A Silpa-Sastra in the 1930s. South Asian Studies, 13(1), pp 87-97
  35. ^ Ganapati Sastri (1920), Īśānaśivagurudeva paddhati, Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, OCLC 71801033
  36. ^ Heather Elgood (2000), Hinduism and the religious arts, ISBN 978-0304707393, Bloomsbury Academic, pp 121-125
  37. ^ H Kern (1865), The Brhat Sanhita of Varaha-mihara, The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta
  38. ^ S Bafna, On the Idea of the Mandala as a Governing Device in Indian Architectural Tradition, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 26-49
  39. ^ Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0222-3
  40. ^ a b Vibhuti Chakrabarti (2013). Indian Architectural Theory: Contemporary Uses of Vastu Vidya. Routledge. pp. 86–99. ISBN 978-0700711130. 
  41. ^ a b c Klaus-Peter Gast (2011). Modern Traditions: Contemporary Architecture in India. Birkhäuser Architecture. p. 11. ISBN 978-3764377540. 
  42. ^ Anthony D'Costa. A New India?: Critical Reflections in the Long Twentieth Century. pp. 165–168. ISBN 978-0857285041. 
  43. ^ a b c V Chakrabarti (2013). Indian Architectural Theory: Contemporary Uses of Vastu Vidya. Routledge. pp. 86–99. ISBN 978-0700711130. 
  44. ^ V Chakrabarti (2013). Indian Architectural Theory: Contemporary Uses of Vastu Vidya. Routledge. pp. 119–137. ISBN 978-0700711130. 

Further reading[edit]