Understanding Sthapatya Ved
SriYantra Copyright © 1996 by Deepak Bakshi. All rights are reserved.

Understanding of Sthapatya Ved Knowledge

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:

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:

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.

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 is at 21st Century Bookstore's Sthapatya Ved/Architecture section. I have read a number of the texts listed; 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, (the paperback version that I have is 1 volume)

-Bill Christensen

GO TO: Sthapatya Ved Site Selection | Sthapatya Ved: Silence in Architecture

Return to:

Green Building Conference | Sustainable Sources | Building Sources | Articles: Sustainable Building and Beyond