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Understanding of Sthapatya Ved Knowledge

Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.

 

All people are influenced by the buildings in which they reside, work and
worship. According to the design of the structure, one will feel either
comfort or discomfort. In correctly designed structures, one experiences a
subtle sense of well-being and contentment. In improperly designed
structures, one feels anxious, stressful and despondent. A well designed
structure will produce a sense of bliss and calmness while poorly designed
structure will produce sickness and depression.

 

The ancient science of Sthapatya Ved provides extensive knowledge about
life supporting building and design principles. A Sthapatya Ved designed home
will promote harmony between parents and children, better physical health,
and more financial success. However a carelessly designed home or building
which out of harmony with the laws of nature will have the opposite effect-
promoting family disputes, health problems, and financial difficulties.

 

Unfortunately, the ancient science of Sthapatya Ved is not widely practiced.

 

Even in India were this knowledge originated, lately very few
building structures are properly designed with the principles of the
Sthapatya Ved.

 

Only in one area – the construction of sacred temples – can one
find authentic Sthapatya Ved design principles consistently
applied. Anyone who has visited the great temples of India,
especially the Minaxi temple, Tirupathi temple in southern India
and the Kayllas temple in northern India has experienced a sense
of inner happiness and fulfillment simply by being in the
structure. In addition to the spiritual activities at these
temples, there are precise mathematical and astrological
calculations, proportions of building plan, specific orientation
and the applied knowledge of subtle physical properties which
produces this feeling of well being.

 

What is Sthapatya Ved?

Sthapatya is a word from Sanskrit the language of ancient India, which
means establishment. Veda means knowledge. So, Sthapatya Ved
means the knowledge of establishing a relationship between the
owner, house and/or building and cosmic order. The same
Sthapatya Ved knowledge which was used to design and construct
these great temples can be used to design and construct homes
and offices. In addition, designing with Sthapatya Ved knowledge
can be done at little or no increase in cost – especially if the
fundamental principles are introduced early in the design
process.

 

How can one achieve this?

We all know that the universe is in perfect order since its birth . If the
Architect can establish the relationship between building design and order
of universe, the life of an individual can be healthier, less stressful,
more creative and blissful. This ancient knowledge of India was in full
practice by the people of India five thousand years ago. Vedic knowledge is
divided in to twenty-seven branches. Sthapatya Ved is created out of the
marriage of two branches of Veda; Ayur-Ved and Jyotish sastra.
Ayur-Ved contains the knowledge of the science of health and the human body.
Jyotish sastra contains the knowledge of man’s relationship to the universe,
and the ever changing effects of the universe on man. Sthapatya Ved
encompasses both the needs of the human body and the environment in one
holistic science.

 

Ayur-Ved says:

 

As is the atom, so is the universe.

As is the human body, so is the cosmic body.

As is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind.

As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.

 

Running parallel to this, Sthapatya Ved says:

 

As is the human body, so is the cosmic body.

As is the human body, so is the body (structure) of the building.

As is the body of the building, so is the cosmic body

As is the building plan, so is the cosmic plan.

 

So we see that from the level of the atom to the level of the cosmos the
same order and laws of nature are reflected. Likewise the human body, the
building body we live in, and the cosmos are all connected by the same order and
laws of nature. Sthapatya Ved knowledge provides us the ability of
achieving this connectedness through all levels of existence. Earth has been in existence for billions of years and
throughout its existence, time has maintained a perfect order in its
environment. In its natural state every inch of the earth is in harmony with
cosmic order. When we disturb a part of the earth, we disturb cosmic order
at that point. From this perspective we have no right to disturb the earth
by putting a building on it.

 

This raises a dilemma. Modern man needs shelter to live and work. How can we
achieve that shelter without disturbing the harmony of the cosmos?

 

Sthapatya Ved provides the answer. It shows how to incorporate
the naturally occurring cosmic order into the design of the
building. Thereby, Sthapatya Ved re-establishes the natural order that was lost by
disturbing the earth to raise the building.

 

Here are few generic principles of Sthapatya Ved knowledge:

 

  • The entrance to the house facing east direction will produce
    far more positive effects than a house with south entrance. 
  • Proper placement of each function in the house, (e.g. kitchen
    can be located in the south east corner – increases appetite and digestion
    quality improves.) 
  • Central place of the house called Brahma-sthana should be
    unobstructed with columns or walls. This space
    allows cosmic energy to flow evenly in the house. 

Use of these simple principles has major effect. There are even deeper
levels of Sthapatya Ved design which concern both the structure’s internal
layout and external proportion and orientation. The interior design must
respect energy lines called ” sutra”, and energy points called ” marma”.
There are specific rules governing the vertical proportion of each room and building. Externally, the
placement of house in relation to the land diagram, relationship of road to
the site, the configuration of the lot, the contours of the site, the
placement of vegetation, and orientation of utilities, and other homes and
buildings in the development will all have a strong effect. To fully
customize a home, the proportions of the house and room placements are
calculated according to the birth charts of the individuals, called Jyotish
orientations. Even incorporating a few of these principles will result in a
more life supporting environment. In order to achieve the wholeness of this
design, one need to incorporate all of the principles of Sthapatya Ved.

 

What is the difference
between twentieth century Architecture and Sthapatya Ved?

Throughout Europe, Asia, America, and in fact the world, architectural
design for the last 2000 years has been based on climate, available
materials, building method of the period, geographical conditions, and
prevailing style. Sthapatya Ved includes all these aspects, but goes beyond
them, by including detailed knowledge of both the human body and the cosmos.
As time passes other systems of Architecture become obsolete. This is not
the case with Sthapatya Ved, because Sthapatya Ved is not a simple fixed
system. It is a dynamic system of Architecture that changes to precisely
match current cosmic conditions. It is a timeless Architecture.

 

What is the most singled-out component in the design method of Sthapatya Ved
that differs most from the western design method of Architecture?

The most common tool that has been used to create a building
design according to western Architecture is to prepare a functional
program of the building and then find the best relationships
between them. The consideration of the orientation of the
building is based on climate and natural view of the site.

 

According to Sthapatya Ved , the knowledge of Jyotish sastra is used to
understand the natural cosmic order inherent in the land. It provides
necessary information to create a blue print of this order, which in
Sthapatya Ved is called the Vastu-Purusa-Mandala. The Vastu-Purusa-Mandala
reflects the cosmic order of the land and is specific to each piece
of land. Vastu means “form” or “building”, which from a Sthapatya Ved perspective is an
extension of the earth. This is because Vastu also means town, country,
Earth and all of creation. When the building is in a perfectly ordered state
it is conceived to be in the likeness of Purusa. Purusa means cosmic man. It
also means unmanifested ultimate reality or pure consciousness. Mandala
means diagram. So Vastu-Purusa-Mandala, or form-consciousness-diagram, means the manifest description of the
unmanifest intelligence underlying the structure of the building and all of
creation. The Vastu-Purusa-Mandala is also known as Cosmic plan. It provides
the guide for all the principles underlying the architectural form. This
cosmic plan is important in the designing a house, town, and or even a country.

 

According to Ayur-Ved, the human body has a direct relationship with the
cosmos. Jyotish sastra provides the knowledge that relates the human body to
the cosmos. Therefore it is the knowledge of Jyotish that links both the
individual and the building to the larger natural cosmic order. These
relationships are expressed in the cosmic plan (Vastu-Purusa-Mandala) and
are used to create the site plan and the blue print for the building as well
as the master plan of the town. This manifests the order and intelligence of
Purusa (pure consciousness) in the building.

 

How does time and space enter the cosmic plan?

The order of both manifest and unmanifest creation of the cosmos is reflected in
the cosmic plan. Within this we find the relationship between man and earth.
Time enters this cosmic plan through the periodic rotation of the earth
which gives rise to the seasonal pattern of sunrise and sunset. Space enters
the plan when the building is oriented to the cardinal points, which are
north, south, east and west. In its fixed position Sthapatya Ved considers
the earth to be four cornered. Two of these points are where the sun rises
and sets. If we take the sun to represent heaven then at these two points
heaven and earth seem to meet. North and south completes the four points.
Each building is constructed to be in harmony with both the cardinal points
and the seasons as they relate to the dweller of the building and the type
of activity to be performed in the building.

 

How does a building design according to Sthapatya Ved relate to the design
of a town?

There are similarities between design of a building and a town. As the
proportion of the house is important as per the dweller’s Jyotish
information so the proportion of a town plan is designed based on Sthapatya
Ved knowledge.

 

The cosmic plan is required for a design of a building and in the same way
it is required to create master plan of a town. As the orientation of
functions in the house design is derived from Sthapatya Ved knowledge so is
the orientation of different functional buildings decided by Sthapatya Ved
knowledge. The orientation of a road location to the house and road system
in the design of the master plan is provided by Sthapatya Ved knowledge.

 

What contribution does building material have in supporting Sthapatya Ved
knowledge?

In order to understand relationship of materials and building
spaces, we need to understand the relationship of spaces in the human
body and materials from which the human body is made. According to
Ayur-Ved the human body is made of five subtle elements: earth,
wind, water, fire and space. If all these elements are in balance
the human mind and body can experience very high states of
consciousness, which results in being blissful, calm and
increasing awareness. Human bones and flesh are considered
similar to earth quality. Wind is present in all moment of liquid
and food. The human body is made of 90% water and
99.9% space exists in the human body. The metabolism and digestion
(digestive fire) represent the fire element. If building body
(structure) incorporates all these five elements, the dweller can
feel the inner atmosphere of the house filled with blissfulness,
calmness and supporting higher awareness.

 

What are the benefits of using Sthapatya Ved knowledge for designing a
residence?

The benefits of using Sthapatya Ved knowledge while designing a residence
are as follows:

 

 

      Improves the health of a dweller and his family.
      Increases the power of creativity and intelligence.
      Extension in the longitivity of life.
      Quality of life will increase.
      Growth in spiritual and material life will increase.
      Family bonding will increase.
      Respect for nature will increase.

 

 

What are the benefits of using Sthapatya Ved knowledge for designing a town
or a city?

These are benefits of using Sthapatya Ved knowledge:

 

Improves the health in general for people who live in the Vedic town.

 

Increases the power of creativity and intelligence, which becomes obvious in
the progress of town businesses, increase in growth of income per capital,
innovative ideas in new businesses.

 

Due to improvement in health of people, life expectancy will increase.

 

The Vedic town will stand out among others in terms of quality of life.

 

Due to support of nature, family bonding within each family and at community
level, will be more supportive, and spiritual and material life will grow
faster.

 

Due to increase in awareness among people, respect for nature will increase.

 

Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.

 

Site Selection for a Sthapatya Ved Building

Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.

It is very important that all the documents described in this article are
collected from the client well in advance of starting a Sthapatya ved design.

Jyotish chart of owner

Because Sthapatya Ved design is based on and intends to re-establish the connection between the individual (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm), it is very important that a Jyotish (vedic astrology) chart is prepared by an experienced Jyotish practitioner. Errors in the Jyotish chart will feed false information back in to the calculations of the Sthapatya Ved design and the resulting design which will not produce the desired benefits for the occupants.

The Jyotish chart must contain the following information:

  • Birth time/day/month/year
  • Birth place
  • Birth Nakshatra(constellation)
  • Birth Rasi
  • Gane.Prior to consulting Jyotish, it is very important that the birth time is checked for accuracy. An experienced Jyotishi will be able to determine the correct time of birth from significant events in your life. It will help if vedic Architect is well literate in Jyotish knowledge, however as long as an experienced Jyotishi is accessible, one can design a building with Sthapatya veda knowledge.

    Site plan

    Prior to visiting the site, the vedic architect or designer needs to obtain site plan
    of the land. This site plan should include land location, road layout, contour
    layout, vegetation, location of pond, river, creek and well. Also location
    of mountains, mounds, or slopes, or other natural features that are offsite, yet have an influence on the site. Of course, a north arrow is required, as Sthapatya Ved designs buildings according to such natural influences as the sun’s path.

    Information of town

    Prior to buying land or deciding to build a house in a city or town, one needs to consult an experience Jyotishi. The Jyotishi should be given the name and location of the town, and the relative location of the land you are considering. He should also be provided with the approximate “date of birth” of the town (such information is easily available from the local library or town hall). The Jyotishi will compare your personal Jyotish chart with that of the town, to see if it will be an appropriate move for you. If your moving there creates a good influence for you, you may then actually begin the process of purchasing, designing, and building.

    Physical relationship of land with immediate surroundings

    Selection of land is a very important aspect according to Sthapatya Ved. Once
    you find land in an area that you would like to live in, you should check the surrounding area for negative and postive influences

    Some influences which should be avoided

        cemetery in a one mile radius
        hospital
        industry
        prison building
        police station
        electrical power station within approximately 1000ft, or high voltage
        electrical line

    Some positive influences

        school, church, temple, or religious building within one mile radius natural beauty such as parks or preserves
        clean water features (lake, river, pond, etc)

    Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.


    I have been asked by several people for sources of more information on Sthapatya Ved. The best place I know of to find a good collection of original source material is at Motilal Banarsidas, for instance, the Mayamata. I have also read a number of other texts; some that I would recommend are “The Temple in the House: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture” by Anthony Lawlor, and “Mayamata” translated by Bruno Dagens, (can be hard to find).

    -Bill Christensen

 

Silence in Architecture

This article springs from a conversation which began in the alt.architecture.alternative newsgroup between Robin Benson, at the time an Australian graduate student in Architecture, and Bill Christensen, webmaster of Sustainable Sources, in 1994

There is a field of study which arises from the ancient Vedic texts of India called Sthapatya Veda, which is generally seen as the study of architecture; sculpture; placement; and art. The word Sthapatya comes from the root “to establish.” The texts themselves tend to be rather on the obscure side.

There is a lot of attention given to the value of silence, however. In the Vedic view, the wholeness of life, the unbounded field of pure creative intelligence, is the basis of all structure in the universe. This unbounded, silent center is represented in all architecture.

Sthapatya establishes consciousness, or creative intelligence in the environment. Consciousness preceeds matter in both the design process and in the actual manifestation. Sthapatya establishes the connection of separate parts to each other and of each part to the whole. Simultaneously, it establishes the connection between the individual and the universal, the individual and the Absolute.

The three principle properties in Sthapatya Ved are:

right direction (both in space and in time)
right proportion
right placement

These three collectively form what is called a Vastupurusha Mandala (form-being-diagram), used as a guide for which activities are best suited for each area of a building.

A common feature of each Vastupurusha Mandala is that the center, known as the Brahmastan, is representative of the silent center of all life. It is the connecting point of all the other parts of the building, the unmanifest center of all of the manifest activities. Says the resident of one recent Sthapatya-Vedically designed building, “the house kind of breathes from there.”

One aspect of right direction involves attention to the sun’s relation to the progression of activity in the house through the day. For instance, generally the entrance is in the center of the east wall of the house, the kitchen is in the south east, the dining is in the south. So the sun’s life-giving energy enters the house first thing in the morning, proceeds to the kitchen and gives life to the food preparations, and follows to the dining room for the noon meal, which is generally the larger meal of the day for many cultures. (The body’s natural rhythms give us highest metabolism at this time as well, promoting best digestion.) And so on, through the house.

Right proportion relates to the overall and relative sizes of building elements. Certain relations resonate with people better than others. Certainly you have been in a large room with a low ceiling that feels opressive, or a small but high ceilinged room that makes you feel closed in. Take a 3m x 4m room and put an 8m high ceiling, and it feels very different than a room of the same proportions with a 3.5m ceiling.

Then there is placement. This has to do with everything from the placement of the house on the lot, to placement of the rooms, to placement of the furniture, to placement of the trees outside, to placement of the lot in the town, etc…

Sthapatya Ved architects, or “sthapatis” as they are called, design the building based on the individual’s (or family’s, or corporation’s) relation to the cosmos (Jyotish, loosely interpreted as astrology), and upon the relation of that to the particular site.

Obviously all of these work together, and each element has to be designed with each other element in mind. The layering and relationships of all of the elements come together to create a building that is essentially an extension of the inhabitants, as it was built to complement their unique relations to the each other and to the world and cosmos around them. It is in essence a living organism, responding to the daily and seasonal cycles in the environment.

 


 

I have been asked by several people for sources of more information on Sthapatya Ved. The best place I know of to find a good collection of original source material is at Motilal Banarsidas, for instance, the Mayamata. I have also read a number of other texts; some that I would recommend are “The Temple in the House: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture” by Anthony Lawlor, and “Mayamata” translated by Bruno Dagens, (can be hard to find).

-Bill Christensen