The origin of vaastushastra may have taken place well over
thousands of years ago. The learned men of those days may not have lived in
houses themselves but they most definitely dedicated their lives to the
development of the science "vaastushastra" or "vaastu",
as it is popularly known today.
The principles of the science
laid down during those days were based purely
on the effect of sunrays during different times of the day. The observations
and corrections made were noted and concluded only after in-depth screening
of the situation.
Vastu is a part of Vedas, which are believed to be four to five thousand
years old. Through penance and meditation yogis of that period acquired
answers believed to have come from the cosmic mind itself to their
questions. Hence Vedas are heeded with divine knowledge. The art of Vastu
originates in the Stapatya Veda, a part of the Atharva Veda.
It used to be a purely technical subject and it was only confined to
architects (Sthapatis) and handed over to their heirs. The principles of
construction, architecture, sculpture etc., as enunciated in the epics and
treatise on temple architecture, have been incorporated in the science of
vastu. Its description is there in epics like Mataysya Purana, Skanda
Purana, Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, and Vishnu Purana. There are some other
ancient shastras that pass over the knowledge of vastu shastra to next
generation, like Vishvakarma Prakash, Samraangan Sutradhar, Kashyap
Shilpshastra, Vrihad Sanhita, and Praman Manjaree.
In the Mahabharata it is said a number of houses were built for the kings
who were invited to the city Indraprastha for the Rajasuya Yagna of King
Yuddhistira. Sage Vyasa says that these houses were as high as the peaks of
Kailasa mountains, perhaps meaning that they stood tall and majestic. The
houses were free from obstructions, had compounds with high walls and their
doors were of uniform height and inlaid with numerous metal ornaments. It is
said that the site plan of Ayodhya, the city of Lord Rama was similar to the
plan found in the great architectural text Manasara. References are also to
be found in Buddhist literature, of buildings constructed on the basis of
Vastu. They contain references to individual buildings. Lord Buddha is said
to have delivered discourses on architecture and even told his disciples
that supervising the construction of a building was one of the duties of the
order. Mention is made of monasteries (Viharas) or temples, buildings which
are partly residential and partly religious (Ardhayogas), residential
storeyed buildings (Prasadas), multi-storeyed buildings (harmyas) and Guhas
or residential buildings for middle class people.
The Vastu, with word meaning 'dwelling', is believed to be the residing
places of god and man. According to its modern meaning it covers all
buildings irrespective of their use like residences, industries, business
establishments, lodges, hotels etc. It is based on the five basic and
essential elements, such as Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Jal (water), Bhumi
(earth) and Aakasha (space), which are known as Panchabhutas. Everything on
earth is built from these elements.