Thursday, November 26, 2009

Similarities Between Vastu & Feng Shui

Vastu and Feng Shui originate from two vastly different cultural backgrounds and civilizations. The underlying basic principles of both however are purported to follow the laws of Nature; and both share some common approaches. The primary objective of both is ‘the creation of harmonious energy within dwellings to create a good feeling and to attract a good life’.
Vastu is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Place of Dwelling’. It originates from ‘The Vedas’, ancient Hindu scriptures on which many of the esoteric sciences of East are based. Vastu principles reflect the theories of Quantum Physics. It emphasizes that ‘everything vibrates and pulsates’. It also asserts the notion that ‘everything is interconnected’.
Vastu was widely applied in the design and construction of ancient temples and architecture during early Vedic civilizations and its influence continues to be prevalent in modern times. Followers of Vastu view the Chinese practice of feng shui as a corollary of Vastu. Both, they say, encompass the science of space alignment, positioning, planning and orientating structures and interiors; and both study the energies of the immediate environment and one’s ‘place of dwelling’ and analyze the impact it has on those residing within.
The Vastu Purusha and the Chinese Dragon:-
In Vastu, the universal energy within any property is depicted by a demon-faced man lying down with his hands and legs positioned within the four segments of the property. He signifies the underlying earth energies which can be harmful unless countered under certain circumstances or harnessed appropriately to bring good luck. This demon-faced man is known as Vastu Purusha, ‘Purusha’ meaning Man in Sanskrit. In feng shui, similarly, the energy of the universe, known as ‘Chi’, is described as the dragon’s cosmic breath.
The Vedic Square and Eight Mansions:-
In Vastu, a property is divided into 9 sectors and each of these sectors is energy specific and has significantly different meanings. These 9 sectors are further divided into 81 squares, known as ‘Vedic Squares’, denoting the spatial influence of the eight compass directions.These Vedic squares also denote the vulnerable energy points within a property and the positioning of rooms is carried out after analyzing the grid so that vulnerable points can be found and avoided. This particular formula of Vastu bears some resemblance to feng shui’s ‘Eight Mansions’ theory.
The Pancha Bhootas and the 5 Elements:-
Vastu also has something similar to the five elements that is based on the ‘Pancha Bhootas’; Pancha meaning Five and Bhootas meaning Elements. The elements of Vastu however are different from the 5 elements of feng shui.
In Vastu, the five elements are Air, Water, Earth, Ether (space or cosmos) and Fire. These elements also represent various sectors of a plot. Ether known as the ‘Eshanya’ which resides in the Northeast, Air known as ‘Vayu’ resides in the Northwest, Fire known as ‘Agni’ resides in the Southeast and is symbolically shown as a triangle. Water known as ‘Jal’ resides in the Northwest with Air. Earth represents the quality of form and is represented by a square and resides in the Southwest.
In addition to these elements, the four cardinal directions in Vastu relate to other aspects of life. East represents children and prosperity and is known as ‘Indira’, West known as ‘Varuna’ relates to fate and Karma (Destiny), North known as ‘Kubera’ relates to career and South known as ‘Yama’ relates to legal affairs and the cycle of life and death. The centre of the plot is known as the ‘Brahma Sthana’, i.e. the place of the creator, which is the embodiment of creativity and balance.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


In this creation, everything follows an order. At certain times human births take place. At some other times the animals, the birds, the trees etc. are created. In human births, the male and female births follow a certain order. Time is under the control of the five bhutas. As per the order of the bhutas, the names of the weeks are formed. Sun (Ravi) and Mars (Mangal) areTejo tatwa planets. On Sunday and Tuesday ( Mangal ), certain period of time after Sunrise is under the control of Sun and Mars. Knowing this ancient rashies named these weeks after Sun and Mars. Monday (Soma) follows the Jala tatwa planet of Soma (Moon). Wednesday (Budhavara) follows Buddha tatwa planet Mercury(Buddha), Thursday(Guruvara) follows Akasha tatwa planet Jupiter(Guru),Friday(Sukravara) follows jala tatwa planet Venus(Sukra),Saturday(Sanivara) follows Vayu tatwa planet Saturn(Sani). In these weeks certain period of time from the Sunrise is under the control of the lords of these weeks. The rest of the time is under the control of the lords of the prithvi, jala, agni,vayu and akash tatwas. The planets would not go in any other different order other than this order. As per the lords of the tatwas, the male and female births take place in the human births. Under the control of time of Moon, Venus, Saturn the female births take place and male births take place from the time control of Sun, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter. That means under the time of jala and vayu tatwas the female births and under the time of bhu, tejo and akash tatwas male births take place. There is a connection amongst the tatwa times, the star in which the Moon is posited, the characteristics of the birth sign, the lord of the birth week and the male and female divisions. Since these five divisions are connected to the five bhutas, lord Brahma has created these births consisting of these five bhutas.The species cannot live without connection with five bhutas. As per this order in this vast time frame , human births take place at certain times only . This is as per the Sastra and accepted by those who have read the Sastras. Moon receives the life energy from Sun. Due to the effect of the Moon , this energy is converted into the birth of the species. For the time of the birth depending on the tatwa the male female order of the birth, the mental and physical characteristics are formed. In the five bhutas the first bhuta of Akash is the centre of electricity. In the human body the important part of the brain, which is the seat of nervous system, belongs to akhash tatwa. The second one the vayu (air)is important for the survival of the species. The third one of agni (fire) is required to improve the human cells meaning oxygen without which the agni or fire cannot be generated and the birth cells are important for life. The fourth one of jala is 80% of the human body. The jala is equivalent to the blood of the body and if this blood is solidified it is difficult to live. The fifth one of prithvi represents the body. However much the body is cleaned but still the earthy smell of the prithvi comes out.
The connection between the human body and the five tatwas has been shown. These tatwas follow their time division regularly in their lordship weekdays. The tatwas follow their time one after the other as Prithvi: 6minutes; jala: 12 minutes; Tejo: 18 minutes; vayu: 24 minutes; Akash: 30 minutes. That means, for every 90 minutes the first rotation of the tatwas in the above order of Prithvi, jala, Tejo, vayu and Akash would be completed and the second rotation would be started in reverse order. In this order there would be 16 rotations of the tatwas in 24 hours. In these rotations, the odd rotations would be in direct (savya) order and the even rotations would be in reverse (apasavya) order. That means, the first rotation of the tatwas would be in the direct order of Prithvi, jala, Tejo, vayu and Akash, the second rotation would be in the reverse order of Akash, Vayu,Tejo, jala and Prithvi, the third rotation would be in direct order, the fourth rotation would be in reverse order and so on till the 16 rotations are completed. These direct and reverse rotations of the tatwas is referred in the book " Jataka Phala Chintamani" as follows:
Avalambavaagni bhoovyoma jala vavyadipah khagah
Kramaat arkodayo vaare sa swakaala pravartakah ||
Bhoomyadi paadaghatikaa vrudhisyadhardha yaamake
Yaamottharaadhe thadraasyath aarohakshava rphanam||
Parivrutthi dhwayam yaame prathiprahaara meedhrusham
Sthreejanam jalavavyosyaath bhoonabhognishu pumjanmani||
Yethena ghatika jnaanam thena lagnamvinidhrisheth||

The tatwas, their lords, weekdays and sex are as: Prithvi- Mercury-Wednesday-Male; Jala-Moon. Venus-Monday, Friday- Female; Tejo- Sun, Mars- Sunday, Tuesday- Male; vayu- Saturn- Saturday- Female; Akash- Jupiter, Thursday- Male.
The Prithvi tatwa would remain for 6 minutes after the Sunrise on Wednesday, the jala tatwa would remain for 12 minutes for 12 minutes after sun rise on Monday and Friday, the Tejo tatwa would remain for 18 minutes on Sunday and Tuesday after Sun rise, the vayu tatwa would remain for 24 seconds on Saturday after the Sun rise and the Akash tatwa would remain for 30 seconds onThursday after the Sun rise.
The general characteristics of the people born in various tatwas are as follows:
Prithvi tatwa: The lord of this tatwa, Mercury (Buddha) is intellectual. Science, philosophy, mathematics, business, saved amounts are represented. The characteristics of this tatwa has got very good connection with Saturn characteristics. Those born in this tatwa would have self- confidence, patience, imagination, future planning and interest in material prospects. They will have practical tendencies such as giving loans, accumulate money and gain from mines etc
Jala tatwa: The lords of this tatwa are Moon and Venus. Imagination, good thinking power, enjoying life, expertise in fine arts, research in scientific fields particularly connected with research in medical fields are represented. Those born in this tatwa, though having the above quoted qualities, would get tired sometimes and want to take rest and idleness is one quality. Generally active, experts in different fields, can adapt to any situation and behave, will have self-respect and compassion, will have low profile, will build castles in air being lazy, can become very active when doing practical things, will perform the jobs with determination, though not having natural strength will see that jobs are done. When Moon is strong they become political experts.
Tejo tatwa: Sun and Mars are the lords. The general characteristics are enthusiasm, good physique, force, oratory powers and passion. Those born in this tatwa will courageous and adventurous. Can occupy high positions with self-effort. Very ambitious, wise, believable, can perform duties with determination and with self-mind, advocates, politicians, experts in mathematics, engineers, adepts in surgery, military employees, best sportsmen, sometimes behaves cruel.
Vayu tatwa: Lord Saturn. The characteristics are best thinking, meditation, self-enquiry, solitary residence, steadiness, patience and hard work. Those born in this tatwa are practical, experts in philosophical studies, panderers on God, enthusiastic, cunning and imaginative. Though they speak harshly, they are not cruel. They will not tolerate untruth and ingratitude. They can grasp anything very quickly. Unsteady persons, political leaders, philosophers, researchers, geologists, ascetics etc are born in this tatwa.
Akash tatwa: Jupiter is the lord. For those born in Akasha tatwa, the natural characteristics are joy, delight, happiness, pleasure, satisfaction, gratification, faith in good periods, liberality, generosity, augmentation, growth, addition, improvement, progress, success, prosperity, fullness, consciousness of possession of means or strength, absence of anxiety, fear or apprehension, power of attracting, drawing towards one's self, drawing away from attraction and fascination, they will have changes in their mental and physical temperaments. In favorable circumstances, they will be torchbearers for high ideals with great qualities, enthusiasm, energy, generosity and independence. In unfavorable circumstances, they can have depressions, dissipating energy. They will have natural confidence, reliance, and mental and physical strength. They will be interested in education in philosophy, finance, law and writings. They will have fame and name. Poets, lawyers, yogis, persons with divine strength, persons who talk decisively, generous persons, persons who do not know secret dealings, friendly persons are getting born in this tatwa.
((This article is a free English translation from the book " Jyotisha Siddhantammu" published in 1970 written by DaivagnaRatna and Vidya Visarada late Shri Divakaruni Venkata Subbarao in the South Indian' Telugu' language)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Temple Architecture of Nepal & India

 V. Ganapathi Stapathi

The temples in Nepal and India have played a versatile role in the life of its people and have been the dominant and inseparable part of their cultural and spiritual activities from the early times. People, from the crown to the common, from the saint to the scholar have frequented temples and held them as sacred objects of worship and sources of solace and bliss. In fact, the cream of Indian culture is enshrined in the temples. The cultural life of the Indian race is built around the temple. This culture is spreading fast today, all over the world. This system of temple culture has not been replaced by any other system up to this day. It is so strong, effective and efficacious that no alternative became possible. It is based on truth, not on mere faith.
Modern scientific analysis of a temple goes to establish that temple-space is surcharged with enormous positive energy and the visitors, frequenting the premises attain physical welfare and mental well-being. How could a mere structure built of stone or of brick and mortar contain that kind of energy? What makes the temple structure and the premises so powerful? What do the temple components like Garbhagruha, Mukhamandapa, Vimaana, Gopura, Praakaara, Minor shrines, Pillars and various other parts of the temple structure mean? Do they have any scientific basis or are they mere imaginative, artistic edifices to house sacred forms and symbols of religious concepts? Also it is a scientific truth that a temple is not a home of God but it is the form of God. In other words, the temple structure itself is worthy of worship and in that context; the God form installed inside is redundant or superfluous. There is truth in it, hence I am emboldened to say so. Temple building is not a congregational structure but a form of God structurally delineated. This aspect of the temple as a form of God is implied in the Upanishadaic statement of 'Prasadam purusham matva poojayet mantra vittamaha'. The literal meaning is that the priest well versed in mantras shall look upon the temple building (prasada) as Purusha (embodied energy called Vaastu Purusha) and worship him with due respect. The meaning further noticeable in this context is that a temple building is a composite of the Sukshma (subtle) and Sthula (gross) aspects of the Supreme Being. The Sukshma is the subtle space enclosed in the sanctum and Sthula is the material form built around it. Also the temple structure is realized as the body and the inner space enclosed as the spirit. And the circumambulatory space around the temple sanctum called praakaraas is the rhythm bound spatial expansion of the inner space. In other words, the temple layout is the extended form of the 'rhythm' of the inner space (the Daharakasa). Therefore in the Vaastu tradition, the temple complex is designed according to what is called musical layam, where layam means rhythm (or swara vinyasa). Hence architecture is defined as frozen music as well.
In the traditional Vaastu Shastras, the concept of temple structure as the extended material form of the jeeva is vividly described in a technological language to aid designing of temple forms meaningfully. The temple form is designed into Viswaroopa (visible material universe). Is not the human body, an extended form of the inner being, and the subtle into gross? The Vaastu sloka goes on thus:
Upapeetam charanakara, adhistanam janu mandalam,
Pada vargam karakaram prastaram bahu moolakam,
Tatkantam gala mithyuktam shikharam mukha mevache,
Ushneeshantam shikha chaiva mahanasicha nasika,
Netranam kshudra nasyau cha viswarupa mithi smirutam.
There are a certain number of parts, with which the limbs of the temple structure are composed, just like the human form being composed of limbs such as foot, leg, thigh, torso, hand, neck, head and the hair lock. The components of the temple form, as expressed in physical terms, may be noticed in the accompanying diagram. The human scale (taala unit/kaala maatra) is simultaneously shown side by side. The subtle is in 8 units and the gross is in 9 units. The structure is the concept of Mayonic science wherein human laya (order) is brought into application. There is a profound scientific concept underlying the creation of Vaastu structures whether it is a temple building or a house building. At present let us focus our attention on the temple structure. To understand the composition of the structural parts of a temple, one should know the scientific concept in its layout and its significance. It is the scientific layout that determines worthiness of the form. The layout adopted for temple form is synonymous with the layout of the Cosmos! This is the basic concept, which confers pan-Indianness of the temple design and lends national character to the temple-culture.
The plan of the layout of a temple is technically called Mandala or Vaastu Pada with a grid of 8 × 8 = 64 spaces or 9 × 9 = 81 spaces of equal dimensions. In modern architectural terminology this can be addressed as energy-grid. These layouts are squares, two dimensionally and cubes, tridimensionally. Those two layouts are the geometrical formulae for the shilpi to replicate the subtle substance of the universe into visual material form. This is the formula handled by Jagatguru Viswakarma, the creator of the universe, to turn his own thoughts into material forms. This formula is couched in a simplistic saying vastu reva vaastu meaning "it is the subtle that turns into gross". Here Vastu is subtle energy and Vaastu is embodied energy. This was discovered and put into the Vastu texts by Mayan, the author of Mayamata, Vaastu Shastra and of Surya Siddhanta, the most ancient treatise on Astronomy. The application of this principle confers sanctity on the man-made structure of a temple and makes it worship worthy. This is the scientific truth of the highest order underlying temple design and temple culture.
To understand this concept still more clearly, one has to go to the very root of the genesis and evolution of the universe. The root exists in the vast luminous space (akasa) that surrounds the earth and for that matter every object of the universe. The space under reference is not a space of nothingness but a space filled with energy or spiritual light. As a matter of fact, the space is mathematically confirmed to have been packed with countless cubes of energy of Paramanu size. One such cubical space dwells in the cave of our heart and in the hearts of all animate objects of the
universe. This cube with a square base is called Vaastu Purusha Mandala where 'mandala' is square and 'purusha' is energy. 'Vaastu purushah chaturasra samsthaha'-"the all pervasive energy is couched in a square" - so says Vastu Vidya, a treatise on architecture. Vaastu Purusha mandala represents, infact, the micro universe and quality wise and shape wise the micro and the macro are one and the same. That the space is the primary source of all animate beings is justified further in the upanishadaic saying, 'akasat vayuhu vayoragnihi agnerapaha adbhi prithvi prithivee bhyam oshadhayaha'. The meaning is that the air, fire, water and earth have come forth in successive developments from the SPACE. The vegetation further came out of the Earth, which acted as another space (source) called earthly space. The shorter version of this phenomenon is that the Earth came out of the Space or the Space is the source of the Earth. In fact, it is from one single paramanu that the Earth has come into being and hence the energy contained in an 'anu-sized subtle energy' and the energy contained in the Earth itself have come to be called by a common term Vastu Purusha and hence the container and the content have together come to be called Vaastu Purusha Mandala.
The layout of the spherical earth is identified to be Vaastu Purusha Mandala of 9 × 9 = 81 spaces whereas at subtle level, it was of 8 × 8 = 64 spaces of energy grid. Hence the mandala of 8 × 8 and that of 9 × 9 are said to be 'subtle' and 'gross' respectively. Area wise, the square and circle are equal, in spite of its growth from anu to anda (in terms of proportions). This theory is applied in all animate beings from insect to elephant. The square Vaastu Purusha Mandala is the wave patter of primordial energy and infact it is the primal manifest form of the non-manifest, which grows into material form ultimately. All visual and audible forms come under this theory. The resultant mathematical formula is that o = ¡, meaning that the subtle is qualitatively and quantitatively equal to gross. Mayan also says, ‘Prasadadini vastuni vastuvad vastu samsrayat tanyeva vastu reveti kathitam vai vastu vid budhaihi". The meaning in simple words is that buildings, be it a temple or a house, are all embodied energies, signifying the co-existence of energy and matter (Vastu). Is this not the unified theory of energy and matter?
So Vaastu Purusha Mandala, the plan of the primordial cube of energy is utilized as the plan of the temple, as per the directive of Vaastu shastra. How sacred and scientific is the principle governing temple form? Is this not secular and universal? The three dimensional cube is the basic structure of the sanctum into which is placed the idol for worship. Around the cube a variety of bands and motifs are added on to give a pleasing alluring look and to conform it to human form in structural terms. This cube is traditionally denoted by the epithets Chitravain Chitrambalam and Chidambaram which means 'mini hall'. This I have named as 'Micro-abode' and 'Microbode'. So every temple structure, as per Vastu tradition, is a microbode, within which the free space is enclosed. What does this microbode, the mini hall contain? It is a spark of cosmic fire that lies centered. This is called Brahma bindu. This is again OM light, the vibration of which causes the Om sound. The vibration of this Om light is called Time or Kaalam. The vibration of the primal OM light is the dance of Lord Shiva and that of sound is Uma. Hence 'Omkara' Natana. Uma is 'word' (vaak) and Shiva is 'meaning' (artha).
So Mayan says that Kaalam is the creative element of all the objects of the universe and adds that the universe itself is the product of Time. "Time is the creative source of all objects. It is time that changes into form. It is time that blossoms into the universe and Kaalam thus does wonders"-Mayan.
Therefore Kaalam itself is designated as Kaala Brahman. Kaalam, in simple words is the speed or vibration of energy or light. The summum-bonum of these discussions is that vibration causes all phenomena. This concept is extended to poetry, music and dance where Kaalam is redesignated as Taalam, maatra or kaalam, the ruling element of all forms of poetry, music and also dance. What would be unique and astonishing is that the same Taala measure is extended to create visual material forms (time-spaces) of which one is the building whether it is a temple or house. Sculptural
representations are also born of this scientific theory of rhythm (Taala) and therefore they are divine and worship worthy.
The concept of Vaastu, in this context, is that it is the minute cell of energy (microbode) which changes itself into material body (Vaastu) by virtue of the vibrations emanating from the energy. In other words, all living organisms have sprung into material existence out of the seed and speed of divine energy. Hence the sanctum is held to be a living organism capable of 'vibrating from within and spreading into a space of energetic particles'. These vibrations have been quantified just as we have quantified the sound vibrations emanating from a stringed instrument of music. These measures of sound vibrations have been assessed to be equal to material vibrations and thus got extended to
create material spaces called buildings.
Another important concept of Vaastu is that this small cell of energy is called 'foetus of space or garbha by which the structure has come to be called Garbhagriha and Karuvarai . Also called Bindu Griha in Agamas. 'Karu' is the energetic space-atom and the structure enclosing it is 'Arai'. Our Garbhagriha structure is so designed in terms of frequency of vibrations called 'rhythm' that the energy-waves emanating there from, are productive of positive effects on human psyche, in as much as musical vibrations are controlled by numerical adjustments to produce sweet sonic effect in human mind. Because of such structural vitality one feels edified when one steps into the temple ambience
or stands in front of the sanctum. This will happen irrespective of the structure enshrining an idol or not. Such is the spiritual significance of the very structure of Garbhagriha.
The temple architecture is a scientific phenomenon. Let me complete by saying that the music is enjoyable because of the science underlying musical composition and rendering the song. These are musical forms heard and enjoyed at heart. Similarly, the same science underlying the musical forms are visually seen and experienced at heart in a temple premises. The effect is one and the same.

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