Special issue with the Sunday Magazine
Wealth : August 27, 2000
Vaastu for prosperity
Architect and Vaastu expert.
As a practising Vaastu designer I have had many kinds of clients over the years and the stories of my conversations while designing for them have been both moving and hilarious. They touch upon design as a process and reveal the inner struggles of people while they build their house, office and factory. Why is this connected to wealth you may ask, since one expects the process of building to be only an expenditure. A person saves to build and at the end of it either finds he or she is a poorer person. As many people have become aware, Vaastu practitioners are promising the owners of all buildings that it is possible to actually earn money through the nature of the building itself.
There is a theory of order that is explored in the traditions of Yoga , Vaastu Shilpa , Sangeeta, Natya , Tantra and Vedanta .This theory postulates the intrinsic order or rhythm that connects the individual elements to the entire system , and follows a working methodology to create order in a chaotic environment so that healing and vibrancy may be established.
In music the sadhaka learns over time to balance the sruti and laya to create a musical tapestry which is capable of evoking the listener into a deeper and higher state of consciousness. Over time the musician learns the intricacies of raga and tala and develops his or her own method of balancing the notes to create a unique interpretation of the music. It is not always possible to create a great musician, but if the grammar is safeguarded then it is possible to have pleasant music.
Gaining wealth through Vaastu is a little like this. The building when designed with the right balance of aesthetics and proportions will impart a certain flavour and harmony to the occupants of a space, but unless they are able to bring about a balance and a seeking for excellence in their own lives, the building would remain only an unused resource.
Vaastu Shilpa texts speak of the power of the image in the Garbhagruham that can move the Bhakta into an exquisite state of self-forgetfulness or laya. This is why the temple is known as the Alaya. The vibration of sound, dim flickering light, smell of the incense, the chanting and resonance of Omkara, the fragrance of the flowers, the presence of the various sculptural images all combine to evoke an unforgettable experience. To achieve such a threshold the Shastras have set out the visual environment within the rigours of a grammar or arithmetical order. This too is known as tala.
In yoga sadhana the student is taken through the various steps to integrate and align the manas or mind, prana or the vital energy, and sharira or the body. This can be done only if the practitioner is willing to work with rhythms and pulsations of the system. In tantra also the various adharas are regulated and aligned so that energy may be released and powers may be discovered and harnessed within the individual. There is no aspect of the traditional paths of self-discovery, which does not insist upon order, rhythm and alignment. Many stories abound in the puranas that speak of careless and confused approaches to sadhana which gave negative results and sometimes unleashed monstrous forces of destruction.
Every individual in his or her pursuit of excellence learns to respect time, energy and activity. When the three are placed in a mutually enriching configuration the sadhaka is capable of shifting from a simple linear growth into a quantum leap. Such a shift of consciousness is the essential ingredient of the human search for meaning in life. This leap is possible in any walk of life, doing any task or activity provided the individual is in a search for order. This search or quest is often referred to as the spiritual transformation, or the path of Bhakti, Karma, Gnana, or Vignana yoga.
In the field of building design there are four elements that have to be ordered. The universal energies, the unbound space, the physical form and the people who would inhabit the space. When the four are aligned in a way that is appropriate for the context and application, it is stated that the occupants would experience well being and spiritual unfolding.
The building composed of the living room, kitchen, bedroom, toilet, and so on is not sufficient to bring about well-being in the family. It is necessary for the building to have certain proportions, spatial configurations, colour, shape, size and underlying philosophical connections for the family to be able to touch its full potential. A house that takes into account the basic concepts of energy level planning, cosmology, ayadi or sacred measure calculation, vedanta or belief systems, is capable of taking the family into deeper levels of self awareness, awakening,and healing of the inner consciousness.
As a designer in the field of Vaastu I have attempted to integrate the practical and the mystical in many ways. There is no one solution but a series of unfolding and learning in this search. The Vaastu tradition makes the promise of well being, prosperity, health, achievement, friendship, and spiritual growth. These benefits are not offered as abstract results, but as clearly defined design parameters and sacred measurements that can be applied in a practical situation.Many people have asked me over the years regarding the contemporary relevance of Vaastu: in the modern cityscapes with this terrible pressure on space and money, how is it possible to design in the traditional way? Don't you need to have courtyards and verandahs?'
It would be wonderful to have the luxury of large airy spaces even today but people are looking for extremely tight compact homes and offices, which require less time and effort to maintain. The concepts of Vaastu when understood well can be adapted for all contexts with ease.
Many interventions can be made in the field of design which will offer benefits and positive results for the occupants of the building, whether residential, commercial or educational.
1. The designed space and form with its projections and recesses can offer aesthetic pleasure to the occupants. This effect is comparable to the experience of a bhakta in a temple.
2. The module employed in the design or the width of the building can be derived from the vibrations of the people who would occupy the building through a process known as Ayadi or sacred measure.
3. The design can be a combination of functional needs, psychological comfort, and spiritual well-being.
4. The mystical nature of directions, cosmology and the larger quest of people for their spiritual awakening can be addressed through the design.
5. Benefits such as health, prosperity, friendship and harmony can be offered through the linear measures adopted in the design.
One of my earliest experiences with clients on the Vaastu design front was most educative. This encounter helped me in evolving a strategy to discriminate between needs, desires, greed, fantasy and helplessness.
Case study 1
The client was the owner of a finance company and I was asked to design his office interiors. When it came to the Ayadi calculation for the entrance door, size and location of the MD's cabin, and the sizes of the tables in the main sections. I explained the benefits that the tradition spoke about and gave some examples. He said "I don't need friendship and well-being, my only concern is profit. How much can you promise me?" I explained once again that the benefit would be prosperity and this could be translated into hard cash only through hard work. Our friend was extremely put off by this. It took all my ingenuity to come out of this impasse without compromising on my principles that no benefit can be out of proportion with the effort put in. Subsequently his business folded up as result of embezzlement, which is another long story.
Case study 2
In another incident my client, the CEO of a large power generation unit had been experiencing problems particularly with the governmental sanctions and delays in starting work. Many employees had started blaming the Vaastu in the proposed plant design. The company had been told that their water source and the location of their generator were not as per "perfect Vaastu" recommendations. I was called in as a consultant by the project architect. The company had already spent a few crores on water source and location of the generator.
The generally accepted rule of Vaastu is of the generator in the south-east and the water in the north-east. But this is a fixed interpretation that has been questioned. Do rules have any rationale in Vaastu? In fact it is not well known that the traditional sciences and practices that grew in this country were actually based on experiences, inferences and studies carried out for many generations before they were integrated into the lifestyle of people. Therefore water source, slope of land, location of kitchen and other principles are not some fixed parameters that will cause terrible results when violated. The project as well as the local climate and topography have to be studied by a suitable expert before the directions and locations of facilities can be finalised, and there are many options available.
I explained all this to the client and spent several weeks clarifying the energy patterns of the site and design and offered some simple remedies to correct the negative energies. The project began to move and the team went into active participation and achievement mode. My only comment to the client was "please listen to the voice of tradition with respect. Vaastu is actually a sensible way of recreating universal connections and a very practical, eco-sensitive design process, don't let market forces convince you otherwise."
Once I designed a dance school for an extremely talented modern dancer. She spent hours with me trying to understand the meanings she held about life, art and relationship. This understanding was translated into a building composed of space, form and energy flow.
These incidents have made me respect the energy patterns of people and buildings. I can confidently state the essence of Vaastu as a holistic mapping of the space and context of human settlements. Out of this action of mapping emerges a design process, which understands the relationship between space, form and people, and this is the meaning of prosperity.
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