What is Vastu shastra?

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September 7, 2022

The old Indian system of architecture is described in literature referred to as vastu shastra (vastu satra, literally “science of architecture”). These books go with design, layout, measurement, groundwork, space planning, and spatial geometry ideas. By incorporating geometric patterns (yantra), symmetry, and directional alignments, the designs seek to link architecture with nature, the relative functions of different structural components, and traditional beliefs.

Vastu Shastra are the written portion of Vastu Vidya, which is the more comprehensive knowledge of ancient Indian architectural and design philosophies. Vastu Vidya is a collection of flexible ideas and concepts that can be used with or without the aid of layout designs.


According to Chakrabarti, in modern India, consultants like “quacks, priests, and astrologers” who are motivated by profit are peddling pseudoscience and superstition under the guise of Vastu-sastras. They are unfamiliar with the real teachings of the ancient Vastu-sastra books, and instead of elaborating on any of the texts’ “architectural theory,” they couch their discussion in terms of “religious tradition.”

A residence or home with a related parcel of land is referred to as a “vstu” in Sanskrit. The word “vrddhi,” which means “the site or foundation of a house,” is also used to refer to “the site, land, construction or dwelling-place, habitation, homestead, or residence.” Vas, which means “to dwell, live, remain, or inhabit,” is the root. Shastra may be translated roughly as “doctrine, instruction.”

The Vstu-astras, or “science of living,” are historic Sanskrit architectural textbooks. These have Vastu-Vidya in them (literally, knowledge of dwelling).

The Hindu god Vishwakarma is generally credited with creating building, crafts, and vastu. There have been theories linking the vastu shastra’s compositional principles to the Indus Valley civilisation, however researcher Kapila Vatsyayan views them as conjecture because the Indus Valley writing is still unintelligible. Chakrabarti asserts that Vastu Vidya is as ancient as the Vedic era and is connected to ceremonial building. Michael W. Meister asserts that although the Atharvaveda has passages with mystic cosmogony that offer a template for cosmic planning, neither architecture nor a developed practise are represented by them.

Some claim that the vaastu sastras have their origins in literature from before the first century CE, although these claims suffer from being open to interpretation. For instance, the Sulba-sutras, which date to the 4th century BCE, include the mathematical guidelines and procedures for building the Vedic yajna square for the sacrifice fire. However, these are ceremonial things and not permanent structures like houses, temples, or larger objects. One of the first known Indian manuscripts with specific chapters devoted to architectural principles is Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita, which dates to around the sixth century CE. For instance, the Brihat Samhita’s Chapter 53, titled “On Architecture,” examines several aspects of vastu sastra, including “designing cities and buildings,” “housing constructions, orientation, storeys, and building balconies,” among other issues. We must admit that Varahamihira did refer to his own sources on vastu as previous books and sages, says Indian architecture expert Michael Meister. These, however, could be myths and represent the Indian custom of giving mythological sages and deities credit.


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