Vastu Purusha Mandala is a Design of the Living Environment

    An introduction into the basics of Vastuvidya, importance of direction and logical reasoning for it and deities of various directions.

Vastuvidya is the traditional science of architecture for constructing buildings such as houses, palaces, and temples. For construction of buildings, living environment (surroundings for human settlement for daily living) is the basic concern for traditional construction engineers called sthapathis.

The environmental ecosystem for human settlement was built with geometrical frameworks. Vastusastras (the science of architecture) form the construction manuals for building temples, palaces, houses and others. Living environment of humans is the basic element for sustainable livelihoods. Ever since the origin of man, their living apparatus had been closely attached to nature and natural surroundings.  

The surrounding environment of human settlement has always imposed certain shapes and geometries to architectural construction from ancient times till modern present (Fazeli and Goodarzhi, 2010:98). Their settlements have been highly influenced by both terrestrial surroundings such as earth, water, plants, animals, fire and winds; and celestial forces of energy emanating from sun, moon, and stars. The technology of buildings and their geometrical patterns are derived from nature and its fundamental laws.

The basic framework of the structural engineering of a building are similar to that of a human body. The spatial configuration of the site plan of the building and its geometrical pattern are drawn in the vastusatra principles. For any kind of building there must be water pools and vegetation around it. The floor space called mandala is the basic soil upon which other spatial constructs are built. The patterns and geometries of the mandala are connected to the environmental ecosystem of human settlements. The environmental principles suggest the shape and spatial arrangements of mandala. The architectural construct relates to sun rays, magnetic poles, geopathic and concentric zones.

Sun rises in the east, passes through the South and sets in the west. However, due to 235* inclination of the earth from its vertical axis, the East is not the first direction that receives sun rays, but North-East. The same theory can be applied to the cardinal West. North-East and South-West directions are important in the movement of sun’s rays.  Southern half will be the light zone with positive energy, and Northern half is the dark zone with negative energy.

Sun rays consist of visible white light and invisible infrared and ultra violet rays. Infrared rays are beneficial with purifying effects to human health while ultra violet rays are harmful to human bodies with negative effects.

From 6 am onwards the beneficial infrared rays with purifying effects starts flowing. Hence water available at the east, north and north east becomes bacteriologically safe. From 11 am and 3 pm the effect of ultra violet rays will be high which is harmful to human health. So being at southwest is best to be avoided.

Now consider Northwest and Southeast. The hot and cold zones are thus pointed out. Since North- East is in the middle of the cold zone it is better to arrange study rooms and prayer rooms there. Conversely, since Southwest is hottest and destructive, rooms there are better closed.

Based on the position of the Sun in the sky during day time, the coolest place in the house is in the north. East offers morning sun so it is a good location for building high priority rooms with baths. Bed rooms are to be arranged in the southern part; Southeast is better for food preparation and kitchen may be arranged there. The West receives negative sun rays in lesser degrees during day time. The North-South direction is the magnetic energy field. Earth’s magnetic fields protect radiation from the sun by deflecting solar flames.

North magnetic pole is found near to the south’s geographic direction, and South magnetic pole lies in the North geographic direction. Thus, force lines of this magnetic field travel from the North to South magnetic pole by providing anti-biotic properties that control infection. Thus, North direction is always considered purifying direction.

Cosmic energy is received in plenty in the Northeast direction, whereas Southwest is always found empty in this regard. Thus, the slope of the building plot should be North or east facing.  Based on biological discoveries, the oxygen level of the planet has virtually remained unchanged through the centuries over, and tilting of the earth will generate similar effects. Therefore, the Northeast half of the plot will be full of fresh beneficial cosmic energies, while the Southwest section will be totally empty (Ashwini Kumar, 2005, Vaastu: The Art and Science of Living, S.1: Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd).

Cosmic energies are emitted from celestial bodies such as sun, moon, stars and planets; and the earth’s energy grids are worked through specific geometrical patterns. Vastu Purusha Mandalam is an archetypal pattern which establishes a potent, energetic and healthy effect as drawn in Vastusastras. Square is considered   better shape for the building. The central point, known as Bindu, indicates   the navel of the creator or god, the manifestation of the divine concept. The symbol of duality in creation is represented by Shiva and Shakti, the male and female force. Triangle symbolizes mother, which signifies the process of creation. See the diagrammatic representation-

Vastupurushamandala. Source Wikipedia.

In the diagram four fields of energy can be recognized. The central part is Brahmapada around which there is Devapatha. The third belt is Manushyapada and the last belt is the material space, the Pishachapatha. The two innermost areas are the zones, which are open with minimum walls. Two outermost space are the place of human habitat. Energy of two inner zones is subtle for human body. Most inner area and most outer area are not suitable for human living. (Jayadevi Venugopal, 2012: 870-77)

To conclude Vastupurushamandala is an ecological framework, the   diagrammatical representation of which establishes the relationship between human living and environmental surroundings.

Human ecology is related to space and time. The fractal geometry 6 presented in Vastu Purusha Mandala denotes the expanding nature of space and time. It is this unit of measurement that transforms space and time into tangible forms or grids which are inseparable and coterminous entities that measure tangible forms or grids, which are represented by symbolic deities.

Isana (water), the god of creation is the deity of the Northeast. Niruthi (earth), the god of destruction and decomposition is the deity of the Southwest. Vayu (wind) is the deity of Northwest. Agni (fire) is the deity of Southeast.  Kubera (god of wealth) is the deity of the North. Yama (god of death) is the deity of South. Varuna (god of rains) is the deity of the West. Indra (god of energy, sun) is the deity of the East.


1. Achuthan A and Prabhu BTS, 1997, Design in Vastuvidya, Calicut: Vastuvidya Pratishtanam, Saraswatham.

2. FAZELI, H and A Goodarzi, 2010, “The Principles of Vastu as a Traditional Architectural Belief System from an Environmental Perspective “, WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, Vol.128© 2010 WIT Press. ISSN 1743-3541 (on line).

3. Sala N, 2006, “Fractal geometry and architecture: Some interesting connections”, WIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 86, © 2006 WIT Press, ISSN1743-3509 (on-line).

4. Venugopal, Jayadevi, 2012, “ Vastu Purusha Mandala : A Human Ecological Framework for Designing Living Environments “, in Prabhakara , R Bhashyam, Aravind, Chandra, BS Jagadeesha and Jetty Chandra  Rekha, Eds, Advances in Architecture and Civil Engineering , Bonfrong, Bangalure, India, pp. 870-77. 

5. Download from ©2012 The Author. 

6. Fractal geometry is one of the most exciting frontiers in the fusion between mathematics and information technology. A fractal could be defined as a fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is approximately a reduced size copy of the whole. The term fractal was coined by the Polish born French Mathematician Benoit B Mandelbrot. (N Sala, 2006)


Author is  a Tagore National Fellow, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts Bengaluru. 


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