What is Vastu Shastra? – An introduction to Vaastu

What is Vastru Shashtra

What is Vastu Shastra?

I have been working in India for a few years now and, What is vastu shastra or vidhya? (knowledge of vastu) is almost compulsory fact for an architect. This is also true for some other parts of the world.

What is VASTU SHASTRA or VAASTU VIGYAN is a frequently asked question so I approached Mr. Prahlad Rai Kabra who is an expert on the subject of Vastu Shastra to make a detailed post around it so that you can have a better understanding of the subject. Rest is written by him.

Vastu Shastra is the Science of Architecture which came in existence with the birth of the first form of life on the Earth. An accumulated knowledge which can produce similar results, under the same conditions, becomes a part of Science.

Principles of Vastu Shastra have got that capacity; but the importance of “the same conditions” is very essential, rather more than required for a Chemical reaction. It is the oldest and can be called as the Mother of all Sciences.

Meaning of Vastu Shastra

VASTU word is originated from “VAS DHATU” in Sanskrit language through the word VASATI. Vas and Vasati both mean to live/dwell and VASTU means a place where one lives/dwells for a purpose. Here, the purpose or reason to live is important. Properties of a VAASTU depends upon the purpose of its utilization like requirements of a bed room is different than that of a class room.

**VASTU is also sometimes spelt as VAASTU.

Origin Of Vastu and Vastu Shastra

VASTU is always dependent of our requirement and requirement is always a subject matter of our Desire and desire, in its positive sense, relates with well being of a human being. VASTU SHASTRA is a creation of human race for the benefit of the race, designed for a particular purpose, the laws/principles of such design were based upon the experience of centuries.

The necessity and importance of VASTU was felt everywhere in the world and developed by the locals keeping in view of their specific requirements under given conditions.

Clearing a Misconception about Vastu Shastra

This way, VASTU SHASTRA is made for a man, not the man for Vastu Shastra. Vastu Shastra principles were made by human being, depending upon their requirement, but by no means, it has been imposed upon us by any Power or Authority or God. The requirements of a person do change from time to time and accordingly, the laws were changed and shall always remain in changing mode. Old laws are there in the root of new laws and should be respected; but not to be followed blindly.

History of Vastu Shastra

The history of VASTU SHASTRA starts from the day, the first creature of Nature came on the Earth, in any form whatsoever. The very first consideration of any living body is safety from enemies, may be from own creed, which made him to search for a safer place to live.

Thus the first day of the history of VASTU SHASTRA is the day on which the first creation of the Nature or Almighty came in existence on the surface of the Earth. Naturally, thus, it becomes the Oldest Science, man has ever developed.

A search for safe bunch of leafs or trunk of a tree or heap of stones or a cave all comes under the purview of VASTU. After this factor, safety from weather and climate, requirement of air and light in dwelling place might have figured and necessity of doors/windows might have cropped up. Closing of all entrances of the living place to secure from enemies should have been the basis of inventing door closing systems.

After safety, one had to concentrate over food and water. The earlier settlements are, thus, found on the bank of rivers. Storage of food and water for odd days became the subsequent requirement, giving rise to the requirement of godowns and water tanks or wells.

These requirements also depended upon the specific requirement of individuals for specific purpose. It is a natural chain of developments based upon necessities. Therefore, it is said “Necessity is the mother of Invention”. For every new requirement, new principles or modification of old principles was made AND the journey reached up to this era and the same shall continue as the entire civilization is to keep on changing in accordance with the law of Nature.

Nature itself is changeable & movable, so, how the old vastu principles can remain stable and equally good under the changed circumstances? Old principles were good at a time and now they are good to the extent that they form the basis of modern laws. One should not be orthodox; but must not forget that to-day is because of yesterday and carries a value.

It is a well established fact that VEDAS are the oldest literature available in the world. There are four Vedas e.g. Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Atharva Veda. Out of four Vedas, Atharva Veda deals with aspects of VASTU SHASTRA and discusses it, in details, under the head of Sthapatya Shashtra or Sthapatya Kala .

Other Vedic literatures are Vedanta, Puran, Sutra, Brahman, Aranyak and Upanishdas. The knowledge in these Shashtras was carry forwarded to generations by “Shruti” and “Smriti” which means by hearing from elders/father/Guru, remembering and spreading the same all over for well fare of mankind. Sthapatya Shashtra ( VASTU SHASTRA ) or Sthapatya Veda contains Scientific guide line for making Architecture, Chariot, Aeroplane, Missiles, Ships, Forts, Palaces, Cantonment, Arms, Temples, Ashram, School, Mathas, Various Mandaps, Havan Kunda, Bridge, Canals, Tunnels, Water bodies, Gardens, Fields, pastures, cremation ground, Dharam shalas (Inns) and Animal houses etc.

In building Architecture (under vaastu shastra ), specific principles were made for different type of person and purpose. Different Designs were suggested for Kings, Ministers, Chief of Army, Priest, Nagar Seth( financers & business supremo), Teachers, Raj Vaidy(Doctors), Rajya Jyotish(Astrologer) and others as their requirements were different while consideration of due dignity was also kept in mind. Provision for separate colonies of like minded people was given to facilitate their common rituals which cannot be adhered now.

Vastu Shashtra Pyramid

Pyramid of Caste system in India – ‘Varna Vyavastha’ also had an important role in deciding rules of Vastu Shastra and understanding it helps us understand what is vastu shastra.
There was a “Varna vyavastha” (caste system) in those days and separate localities were suggested on this basis which cannot be imagined now a days. Joint family system was prevalent where big houses with large open spaces were needed.

Whole society was depended upon Agriculture for which a number of animals were needed and accommodation for them was also kept in mind while designing a house. The entire system stands changed and requirement of human being has been changed drastically.

All this has needed to amend the old principles though the theme remains the same. The modern Vaastu Shastra has a changed face now.

In every part of the Earth, Vaastu Shastra Principles were formed in tune with their requirements which also depended upon their geographical situation. According to ancient Hindu literature, the Earth was divided in seven continents; but named in old Vastu Shastra literature as well. To acquaint the readers with old and new names, they are produced here under.

Ancient Names Modern Names
Jambu Asia
Plaksha South America
Pushkar North America
Kraunch Africa
Shak Europe
Shalmali Australia
Kush Arctic


How Jambu Dweep used to be

Details of the areas and countries in these subcontinents is also available, mentioning of which may go beyond the scope of this write up. However, Bharat or Hindustan or India was a part of Jambu Dweep (Continent). It was divided in 9 parts or countries, namely, as given in old literature, Bharat, Kimyurush, Hari, Ilavrit, Ramyak, Hiranmaya, Kuru, Bhadrashwa and Ketumal. Jambu Dweep (Asia) was the smallest and Pushkar (North America) was the largest, their ratio of area was 1:64.

Bharat was again divided in 5 segments

1. Arya vrit

Broadly, it covered complete Himalayan range, North West India (Mostly in Pakistan at present), J & K, Himachal, Uttrakhand, Nepal and other areas of foot-hills etc.

2. Samsthali

Area between Ganga and Yamuna rivers covering Punjab (A part in Pakistan), U.P., Haryana, Rajasthan, A part of Gujarat & Maharashtra, Bengal, Areas-now in Bangladesh, Assam and Orissa etc.

3. Kurukshetra

Haryana, Hastinapur (Delhi), Part of MP etc.

4. Dakshin

Area below Vindya Parvat e.g Vidarbha, MP, part of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra, Chennai and other southern part except coastal areas etc.

5. Mlechha Mandal

Coastal areas, mainly occupied by fishermen and other lower caste people.

Note :- Names of the areas in a segment are not exact and should be considered for a broad understanding only. Areas under different segments did change due to various wars at different occasions.

In older days, people used to migrate in masses from place to place due to climatic reasons or for the sake of food for themselves and their animals. Availability of land was not a problem as the population was very less. Migration from one kingdom to another was also not a big problem. People also migrated for safety reasons.

Small to big establishments came in existence at a later stage. Many soldiers would not have returned back to their countries after a war and wars were very common in those days for expansion of territories. Educational, Intellectual and Spiritual level was very high in Bharat/Hindustan and people were very prosperous. This country was known for civilization, peace and wealth. Many outside Powerful Kings invaded this country to loot the wealth.

It is widely believed that during such an operation, Aryans came to this Bharat country, about 4000-5000 years ago through North-West side, like others, as that used to be the easiest and safest route to enter in this country. Perhaps, they came from an area below Siberia near Russia. They were white in color with good height and physical strength.

What is Vastu Shastra In India

The local inhabitants of Bharatvarsha were called Dravids who were devotees of lord Shiva, their Almighty. The Aryans were also rich in Science. They were good intellectuals, warriors, Diplomats and Politicians. They were devotees of Lord Vishnu and considered him to be their Almighty.

Vaastu Purush in Indian architecture

Everywhere in the world, the concept of Almighty was prevalent and the imagination of virtues in the Almighty was similar. Every one considered him to possess power and virtues, beyond imagination, who masters all activities of the nature, solar system and the human being, pervading all over invisibly.

There were different living conditions in different parts of world, their beliefs were different and they devised different routes to achieve the bliss of life, a common factor for all. The code of conduct, may be different for different circumstances, is called the DHARMA. The ultimate aim of any Dharma is to get Bliss of the life and to know the truth of the Almighty.

The Hindu culture respected all Dharmas equally and gave a message “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina, Sarve Santu Niramaya”. Unity in diversity, whole over the world, is favourite theory of Vedas. The devotees of lord Vishnu were called “Vaishnavs”, later on divided into Vaishnavs and Smarts, whereas the devotees of lord Shiva were known as “Shaivyas”.

It is said that Yajna (Yagya/Havan) was introduced by Aryans in India whereas Shaivyas followed meditation route. Aryans defeated the locals and spread over whole of the Northern part of the country, which can be understood by the segment called “Aryavrit”.

They came to Bharatvarsha not to return and became its part and parcel. Subsequently, both the civilisations dissolved in each other and a hybrid culture developed. It is also said that Vedas were brought by Aryans; but my personal estimation is that the present form of Vedas, if not modified in between, is a mixture of both Philosophies.

There was a pure Imperialistic system of administration in India at that time whereas Aryans system had a stamp of Democracy as well. Their king was also designated Indra, Ministers were called Devtas and they also called themselves Dev, indicating supremacy over the locals. It seems that the concept of Devtas was introduced by Aryans in VASTU SHASTRA.

All forms of natural forces/energies were called Devtas and a name was given to them for the purpose of understanding and expression. Recognition to natural forces/energies was also given all over the world and different names were accorded to these forms of energies, equivalent to Devtas. To optimize these energies for the welfare of human being is the basic purpose of Vastu Shastra. These energies are responsible for our birth, living and death (Moksha/Salvation).

I hope your doubts about What is Vastu Shastra? How did it originate? Its Misconceptions and similar basic questions have been answered now, another post about How to apply Vastu Shastra for home and other buildings would be coming soon. Stay connected.

Written by: Prahlad Rai Kabra (Vaastu Shastra consultant and expert)

You may also like...