Master S.BS. Surendran is a practising consultant for both Vaastu and Feng Shui, having had the rare opportunity to be trained and guided by Scholars and Grand Masters in both fields. He is the first Indian to receive accreditation from the International Feng Shui Assocation (IFSA) and is a regular columnist in leading newspapers and magazines both in India and overseas. In this article he gives us some insight into the Vaastu tenets and the semblance between Vaastu and Feng Shui.
“Vaastu” and “Feng Shui” is something much spoken about and skeptics pass it off as a faith following an an unscientific practice. Culturally they originate from two different backgrounds, as a consultant with formal training for both the sciences; I wish to share the fact that there are many commonalities between the two sciences and a common goal – “To harmonize your place of dwelling and make it more vibrant for the occupants“.
The science of Vaastu and Feng Shui predominantly deal with “Time and Space” management. All buildings have “Vastu” (energy or material) and orienting it in accordance with the plot and the environment generates good “Vaastu” (embodied energy). Feng shui is all about harnessing the nature’s energy and channelling it into our place of dwelling keeping in mind the directions, elements and time period changes. In short Vaastu or Feng Shui is all about dealing with “Energy and Matter”, Time and Space”, “Space and Spatial Form”.
To understand the concept of Vaastu or Feng Shui we need to understand more about energy or ‘Chi”. Everything in the universe has an energy field unique to it, but influenced and linked in some way to everything else. Likewise everything has a “flow”, like a river that flows down to the sea.
Vaastu is an ancient architectural science that balances the five elements in any environment bringing maximum productivity and success. Vaastu Science or quite often referred to as ‘Vaastu Shastra’ is an ancient ‘Dwelling Science’ from India. It’s a science of a higher dimension which integrates the all pervading cosmic energy to ensure that structures built in accordance to the principles of Vaastu are in harmony with the immediate surroundings and the Universe as a whole.
The human body is a measure of all things in the universe. Every area in a piece of property is akin to the human body and the limbs. The Hindu mythology speaks of different limbs representing different energy levels, similarly the sectors of the plot have different kinds of energy due to the magnetic and cosmic energy fields. The grid of the energy points when mapped on a piece of plot forms what is known as “Vaastu mandala” ( refer pic). This is used as a reference to build and orient rooms in a property and the energy in each sector of the grid determines the activity in that room.
Building a house in ancient India was not only a creative design approach but was also a sacred process of putting it in place brick by brick as the house was considered a living organism. The spirit of the house was called the Vaastu Prussia and different cardinal directions and sectors were classified based on different energies, elements and had a relationship to the Indian Gods.
Earth quakes are quite a common and highly unpredictable phenomenon. However in the ancient scriptures of Vaastu science it has not only been analyzed but the cause and effects of earth quakes has also been classified based on natures signals which emanate as a forewarning prior to an earth quake.
Earth quakes are caused due to the geological activities in the bowels of the earth which create a shift of the tectonic plates on which the various continents and the oceans rest. Consequently the upper layer known as crusts move, causing the earth to cave in and buildings to dislodge. Primarily earth quakes generate a random vibratory motion of the ground with ground accelerations predominantly moving in the horizontal axis.
Vaastu science classifies Earthquakes into the following categories on the basis of the discoveries by an ancient astronomer and Vaastu Guru Varahamihira. He has described the earth quakes as:¬
• Varuna Earthquake: The word Varuna in Sanskrit means Rain and in the Vaastu context it also implies water. Fall in water levels resources, change of river course, water level going down in open wells and tube wells indicate a possible impending earthquake. This is also supported by behavior and signals emanating from animals, birds and insects as their behavioral pattern changes and observing such signals and taking precautionary measures could avoid loss of life and property due to earth quakes.
• Agneya Earthquake: Agneya or Agni in Sanskrit means Fire. If you observe cracks in the earth which are not manmade, a feel of uneasiness amongst birds flocking together and the stress in them reaching such levels that at times they commit mass suicide by drowning in water, and extreme fluctuations in temperature indicate an earthquake which also results in emission of lava from fiery volcanoes.
• Vayavya Earthquake: Vayu means wind and this type of earthquake is connected with air. The early warning signs of such quakes can be observed from the behavior of people who tend to get agitated, increase in speed while driving ending as a fire mishap or accident, aggressiveness in their behavior, rivers flowing wayward.
• Indra Earthquake: Indra is believed to be the Lord of Kings. Known as the god of storms and war; he controlled the weather, rain, thunder and lightning. As the name goes, this kind of earth quake is preceded by torrential rains, flooding and landslides. The behavioral pattern of animals change and especially dogs, monkeys, birds break their nests and sub-soil creatures like ant and mice tend to behave abnormal for long periods ranging from a few hours to even seventy five days before the event occurs.
Scientific studies and data collected on the occurrence of earthquakes reveal that most often the earth quakes occur on the 3rd,5th,16th,17th,28th,37th ,48th and 59th day of an eclipse and the mean time between the occurrence of two earth quakes ranges from 3,5,7,13,15,17,34 and 45 days.
Vaastu science, modern structural designs and building science have detailed many methods to construct an earthquake resistant structure. It’s a common fact that only “weak” structures give way during earthquakes causing calamity and destruction. The science of Vaastu propagates creating strong, vibrant and stable structures which stand for centuries and withstand adverse circumstances and nature’s fury.
Some of the vital factors to be considered in building an earthquake resistant structure are:
• Building Configuration: The earthquake resistance of a structure is largely influenced by the configuration of the property in terms of Geometrical shapes in plan, elevation, and location of structural elements and distribution of the mass of the building. Hence adapting regular configurations, symmetry and uniformity would be beneficial.
• Plan and Elevation shapes: The building having a uniform shape in elevation will avoid sudden changes in lateral stiffness along the height of the building which would cause concentration of stress and disintegration. Especially buildings which have inverted set back (top heavy or enlarged) are quite dangerous due to the high centre of gravity which could tilt the foundation during earthquakes (refer pic)
• Building Design: The openings in the walls in the form of doors, windows and ventilators should be of uniform size, shape and distance from the corners. Avoid cut corners and any extension or cut corners should be limited to 15-20% of that particular side for better stability under earthquake forces.
• Plot soil and Vegetation: examine the quality of the soil and past history of the site; ensure the ground is free of sludge, worms, ants and bones. Holes charcoal. ash and husk weaken the foundation and will not be good from earthquake resistance point of view.
• Cleansing and Purifying: Purify the land to ensure it is free of all negative forces, ill energies which can be done through sprinkling rock salt in all the four corners of the property also add a Nine inches layer of pure sand before commencing the construction work. It should be chemically inert and preferably from a river or water source as this will provide elasticity to the foundation and super structure and will help quick regaining of the equilibrium to a building during earthquakes.
• Ensure that while laying the foundation it is conical at its base and rectangular in its overall design and the laying of foundation should be a continuous work without a break and water should not be allowed to stagnate during construction.
Earthquakes cannot be prevented and nature cannot be controlled, yet by adapting some simple but scientific suggestions and integrating the science of Vaastu and modern architecture, we can create structures which are Earth quake Resistant.