Rather like Feng Shui which is the ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive qi or ‘chi’, Vastu (or Vaastu) Shastra is the traditional Hindu system of design based on directional alignments that is said to improve well being and health. Literally, Vastu Shastra means the Science of Dwellings.
Whereas earlier Vastu was related more to temples and temple architecture it is now observed in general construction of residences and office premises too, since following the principles of Vastu is said to be auspicious, bring good luck and ward off problems including illnesses.
The principles of Vastu seek to bring about conditions for maximum wellbeing and benefits for the residents of a building.
According to Vaastu Shastra, the world comprises five fundamental elements known as the pancha maha bhoota.
The reason that only earth has life from among all the other planets is because of the presence and balance of these five elements with are BHUMI (earth) with its magnetic fields and forces of gravitation exerting its power on all creatures and all things on earth, JAL (water) which is to be found everywhere and in all forms including solid, liquid and gas and which is the major component of the human body and blood, VAYU (air) which is again everywhere and which the human body needs optimum temperature, flow and composition of, AGNI (fire) which represents light and warmth which also should be optimal in order to give energy and vigor to the body, and AKASH (sky or space) which is said to support the other elements and to conduct the different energies present in the world.
Vastu Shastra seeks to bring about harmony among the five elements and an optimal balance so that a congenial living and working environment can be created to enhance good health, well being, prosperity and happiness.
This system prescribes desirable characteristics for sites and buildings based on flow of energy similar to the Qi or Chi in Feng Shui. There are many cosmic considerations and numerological calculations that go to determine how the architecture of the house should be designed.
The sun’s path, the rotation of the earth on its axis, magnetic fields etc are also considerations when deciding on the Vastu of a house. For instance bedrooms are usually designed so as not to require the residents to have their head towards the north while sleeping.
As of now, Vastu is not as popular in the West as Feng Shui; it is catching the interest of alternative therapists.