Vaastu, in a nutshell, is the traditional science of building design and spatial configuration. The individual as well as the collective can live in greater harmony and prosperity when human beings become aware of the subtle connections between space and form. To become aware of the natural environment and to build in consonance with it is the message of vaastu. The science presupposes the psycho-spiritual connection of Indian mythology with human existence.
Using the principles of measurement, rhythm and proportion as the basis of all material manifestation, it avers that the mind and spirit are capable of infusing life into a space and promoting the free flow of energy.
Vaastu: A Path to Harmonious Living provides insights into design concepts that can help the user to maximise his potential within his/her environment. Interspersed with graphic descriptions, the author shows the reader how to improve health, increase spiritual growth and promote creativity, prosperity and success in life.
About the Author:
Sashikala Ananthis one of India's foremost vaastu consultants, authors and teachers. An architect by profession, she studied vaastu for 10 years and started an architectural consultancy called Vadivam which focuses on developing a unique metaphor of design which is suited to contemporary Indian lifestyles, while imbibing the principles of traditional design. Her experiences in the field of vaastu shilpa led to the making of the film A Shilpi Speaks. making won the National Award for Culture in 1991. She has successfully executed designs based on vaastu for executed designs based on vaastu for factories, residences, offices, temples, flats and hotels. Interest and a growing belief in vaastu in the West has taken her to Austria, UK and USA to conduct seminars.
Her book The Penguin Guide to Vaastu has give vaastu its rightful place as an established science that is applicable in the contemporary context.
Many years ago, in one of the memorable talks given by J. Krishnamurthy, I was greatly intrigued by a statement made by him: "Think with your heart, and feel with your head'. It seemed like such a whimsical thing to say, and if I didn't know him better, I could have dismissed it as a meaningless play of words. But I did know that Krishnaji was not in the habit of resorting to linguistic twists for effect; he was definitely pushing the listeners into a region beyond the frontiers of commonplace thinking, beyond the limits of conventional reasoning, and into the wilderness of unconditioned awareness. I was about seventeen or eighteen at that time, and my 'alternative' self was born that day. It is a part of me which occupies a very significant and central part in my personality today, but then on the first day, it was like entering an alien country and stumbling along on an uncharted trip. Much later on I picked up many such seemingly contradictory suggestions from various philosophers, Zen monks and Vedantic seers.
'Follow your heart, and you will know the right time to act.'
'No signposts adorn this universe of inner transformation. You have to become empty, for true change to take place.'
'In having abandoned himself to right action, Arjuna discovered the meaning of wisdom!''
'And King Ashoka stood on the battlefield and looked at all the dead lying around and knew that he could never hold the victory with complacence when the price had been so dear.'
'By pointing to the moon, many look at the finger.'
It was about this time in my life, when I was struggling to come to grips with my traditional roots and my contemporary training that I encountered the wisdom of the great thinkers from all over the world. Literally (and figuratively) my world came to a stop. I was propelled into another path, another reality, which accepts no domination of thought, which assumes nothing as being the last word, and where time does not move in a linear, logical pattern.. I wandered into what seemed to be a cul-de-sac but did not come to a dead end, and which took me into many meandering lanes and through different journeys that have been both breathtakingly, achingly beautiful, and pitiless in their harshness. Out of this journey I have evolved many pearls of wisdom which have contributed to the richness of the world I now live in, and which have helped me in evolving a way of looking at the world that is anchored in the traditional world view and is yet so open and exciting that it can be adapted towards changing times with great ease.
The path of the reflective and intuitive mind
Till a few hundred years ago oriental philosophy was fairly consistent with the lifestyle of the people, and the individual could rely on the blending of philosophy and action in everyday life. Te holistic nature of thought, action, belief and assumptions made it possible to evolve a cyclical relationship between human beings and nature. But with the advent of colonisation, much of this shifted, and the dominant belief system of Europe with its great insistence on linear logic became the mode of transference of scientific thought and technological practices. Many debates have taken place in various forums to discuss this change-of-thought pattern. People like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo passionately denounced 'mind colonisation'. But today, at this crossroad of one more change, when national boundaries are collapsing on the one hand and intense tribal identities are creating greater fragmentation in the other, which direction do we turn to? Many have told me that looking into the Indian past is a regressive action, and many others have tried to change me into believing that all Western thought is distorted and divisive. I believe that both modes of thinking and acting are relevant, and are products of great effort and contemplation of the human mind. What is required for us to do, is to integrate and blend the two minds-the rational and the intuitive-so that we may emerge more enriched and reflective.
The rational part of our psyche understands quantity very well, and requires empirical data to convince it of the efficiency of an argument. The analytical brain says, 'Give me proof that this is so; I cannot accept unclear statements or abstract speculations.' The 'scientific person' says: 'You must explain the hypothesis completely, and offer the parameters for your enquiry. At the end of the discussion, I must clearly understand the aim, process and end product,' All this is quite understandable give the nature of our lifestyle and the heavy emphasis given to materialism in the growth of the psyche. Manufacturers are demanding high profits and changing tastes are pushing them into marketing abstract ideas which are not always measurable. For example, 'fairness' is now a bottled solution! How does a consumer know when he is being taken for a ride?
The intuitive part of our consciousness is capable of comprehending the unstated and the unseen without requiring material proof. Listening to the commonplace utterances of a stranger, it is often possible to cull out the pain, anger, reactivity and listlessness that is not voiced. I have frequently reached out to stranger who were close to a breakdown, desperate for a human touch, and, perhaps, been of value to them, and all this in spite of no word being spoken out of the ordinary and the banal. This part of the human consciousness is a product of millennia of search into the imponderables of life, and cannot be dismissed as 'rubbish'.
This book is an offering to all those who have felt the urge to know and struggle with the many parts of their consciousness, without having to make a choice. This is for all those who would like to maintain their linear logic because it is useful and yet, live the inner life of the intuitive and the spiritual because it is more enriching and inspiring.
The Pandavas stood at the edge of the land called Indraprastha and in their mind rose the city of their dreams with palaces, houses, market places, gardens, pools, temples and offices. The beautiful cityscape embellished with flags and shikharas of the taller buildings, the colours of the walls, the ornaments and sculptures on the gopurams, the coolness of the gardens, the wonderful fragrance of the flowers abounding in the pleasure groves, the bustle of a happy populace going about its business-all moved through the mind's eye of Yudhishthira. He realised this great dream with the help of wonderfully skillful architects and craftsmen. The sabha for the special functions proudly displayed glorious paintings on the walls, semi-precious stones glittering here and there, water bodies with lilies and lotuses, fountains and illusions of openings and steps. From this dream was created the marvellous city of Indraprastha whose great fame spread far and wide and is spoken of even to this day.
Descriptions of the marvellous cities of ancient India abound in the travelogues of Huien Tsang and Fa Hien. The Puranas refer to the cities of Kasi, Hastinapura, Ayodhya, Dwaraka, Kanchi, Vijayanagar, Ujjain and Lanka. The Tamil texts of the Sangam period extol cities such as Rameswaram, Madurai, Kanchi, Srirangam, Kaveripumpattinam, Chidambaram, Tiruvannamalai and Kalahasti. The beauty of the palaces, ornamentation of the temples, size of the roads with their street lights, shop fronts and aesthetic streetscapes are described in great detail. Settlement design and the allocation of facilities was an ancient wisdom and even today, some older towns boast of an order, aesthetics and spiritual serenity that these settlements exemplified. In spite of grotesque modern additions and unplanned extensions and changes in existing buildings, the atmosphere that prevails in the ancient cities and towns of Kasi, Kanchi, Tiruvanandapuram, Kumbakonam, Srirangam, Mysore, Kalahasti and Tiruvannamalai is extraordinarily uplifting to the casual visitor. This book is an exploration of the conceptual base and the physical manifestation of the great dreams of our ancients: this is an exploration of the anubhava or experience as it manifests itself into the physical field as mano shilpam or mano rupam (or the product of a mental vision). For the created form to be invested with the grandeur and beauty of the vision, it is important that many people should share the dream. The craftsmen, the designer and the builder must be evoked on the same wavelength. The occupants must comprehend and share the symbolism and the beauty of the process of creation. The collective space must reflect the ascension and the upliftment of the common dream. Every part of the finished product must hold within it the mysticism and the inspiration of the primary substance (paravastu). The connection between the part and the whole must endlessly sublimate the individual spirit so that it may eternally refine itself and bring to fruition the quest for the 'other'.
The connectedness, the order, the shared dream, the sublimation of the individual part, the keeping alive of the larger quest, and the constant shaping of the physical as it recreates the spiritual urges-these are all part of the Indian heritage. I have made an attempt to verbalise it in the journey through this book to discover the quintessence of traditional design.
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