Importance of Orientation in Vastu
The ancient masters of Vastu or Vedic Architecture highlighted the importance of proper orientation. Orientation of a layout, site or building (residence or business) influences the dwellers in terms of living, education, physical and mental health, family relationships, finances and general welfare.
Different plans are identified for varied applications. One of them known as Peeta mandala consists of nine modules and identifies the primary elements water, fire, space and air in the four corners and earth in the centre. The application of Peeta Mandala is found in residential and business concerns.
It is a known fact that magnetic field runs north-south through the globe and the Sun gives life to the electromagnetic field in the east-west orientation. The geographical orientation is primarily based on the movement of the Sun. Electric current flows through the Earth’s molten core. When the earth rotates, a magnetic field is produced and it extends into space.
The north indicated by the compass is 11 degrees away from the geographical or true north. This is because the earth’s magnetic centre is generally inclined at about 11 degrees from its axis of its rotation. Hence when the compass orientation indicates a tilt of 11 degrees, the direction shown by the needle can be taken to be the true north. This tilt can be northward or southward depending on whether the Sun is moving from Capricorn to Cancer (Uttarayana) or from Cancer to Capricorn (Dakshinayana).
True North is slightly different from the one indicated by the compass.
- Residential (house or apartment) layout can face all the four cardinal directions - north, east, south and west. Ancient masters have approved it.
- Orientations to the angular directions are not recommended.
- Orientation affects living, education, physical and mental health, family relationships, finances and general welfare.
Distinguished teachers of Sthapatya Veda tell us that proper orientation can help in preventing possible chaos, conflict, and failure. While creating a residential (house or apartment) layout, proper orientation of buildings and pathways to the cardinal directions helps in cross-ventilation and creates order and balance that are must for contentment and happiness. Once the properly oriented sites or buildings are identified, the appropriate placement of doorways and windows in certain directions can add up to the general welfare and happiness. Orientation can also be in relation to sitting and sleeping arrangements.
Orientation to the north and east are traditionally acceptable. However, ancient treatises do not prohibit orientation to the south or west. Orientation of a site or building was also based on the surrounding topography and local weather conditions. Astrological compatibility to certain directions is also integrated while selecting a specific site or building.
Let us re-iterate that the ancient masters have approved of orientation to all the four cardinal directions - north, east, south and west. A proper orientation guarantees quality life. Orientations to the angular directions are not recommended. Orientation to the southeast generally points to constant fear, southwest to quarrels and frictions, northwest to indiscrimination and northeast to disturbances to progeny.
The need for tapping the creative and beneficial solar energies of the morning appears to be the basis for many of the temples to be oriented to the east. Proper orientation interface the powerful and subtle energies of humans, animals and buildings (pindanda) with the extensive energies coming from millions of universes (brahmanda).
However, some temples are not oriented to the east. One of Lord Siva’s manifestations, Lord Dakshinamurthi, is invariably oriented to the South. Ancients accorded special reverence to the Lord as the ultimate Guru or Teacher. He is said to be the embodiment of knowledge and destroyer of ignorance. He is said to be the teacher of the sages and gods. Lord Dakshinamurthi, symbolising a teacher par excellence is shown in the temples in meditation with a snake (and a rosary) in one hand and fire in the other, signifying divine knowledge and enlightenment, respectively.
Temples were also oriented based on their proximity to mountains, lakes and roads. It is not uncommon to find a few temples of Siva, Vishnu and the mother goddess facing south, north and west, with lakes and mountains nearby.
Possible effects of the various dual orientations will be provided in another article.