Vastu-shastra (1): Canons of Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 63,284 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes The Site-planning (Vastupada-vinyasa) of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) first part (Fundamental Canons/Literature). It discusses basic concepts such as the philosophy, astronomy, geography and history of Hindu Architecture. Vastushastra can be traced to ancient literature while this thesis also reveals details regarding some of the prime canonical works.

(ii) The Site-planning (Vāstupada-vīnyāsa)

A general introduction:—

Vāstu is primarily the planned site of the building. As a rule its shape is square which is the fundamental form of Hindu architecture. Its full name is Vāstu-Puruṣa-maṇḍala. Vāstu, Puruṣa and Maṇḍala are equally important and significant. The identity of Vāstu with Puruṣa is symbolic of metaphysical import. It is more significant in case of temple-architecture where the image of the supernal or Cosmic Man, the Puruṣa is congruous and identical to the planned site. ‘Maṇḍala denotes any closed polygon. The form of the Vāstu-puruṣamaṇḍala is a square. This is its essential form. It can be converted into a triangle, hexagon, octagon and circle of equal area and retain its symbolism (Bṛhatsaṃhitā, Ch. LIL 56, Comm.). These forms—the square and circle—have Vedic origins, Baudhāyana’s prescription of ‘Gaturaśrīkaraṇa’ (vide Śūlva-sūtra 7 22-28) is a testimony. It is in accordance with this ancient tradition that Śilpa-texts like Mayamata [Mayamatam] (III. I) and Vastu-vidhāna (Ms. Adyar library) of Nārdada [Nārada?], emphasis the shape of the Vāstu as square. The Vedic origins relate to the shapes of Fire Altars the Mahā Vedic and Uttara Vedi etc. which are square as a rule.

Prof. Kramrisch rightly interprets this second tradition:

“The square, as fundamental figure of sacrificial symbolism and temple architecture, lends itself to many variations. Baudhāyana prescribes the construction of the Sārāratha-cakracit and the commentator explains how to form at first a small square with 4 bricks in the middle of the Agnikṣetra, then to enlarge this square, to one of 16, etc. This method has become known in the West, through Aristotle, as the Pythagorean ‘gnomon’. It is in this way toQ, that the various types of the Vāstumaṇḍala are enumerated in Vāstuśāstra in a progressive series of 1, 2, 3, 4 units square, etc., the most sacred being the plan of 64 squares, preserving the meaning of 64 which is exemplified in “64 bricks form the spokes of the wheel, 64 the Vedi”.

The Vastu-puruṣa-maṇḍala of Indian architecture takes it symbolism and significance from the Square Maṇḍala of the Earth and of the Ecliptic. Prof. Kramrisch has made a very lucid and brilliant exposition of this element of the Vāstu-puruṣa-maṇḍala on the authority of the Vāstu-vidhāna of Nārada, very important ancient text on Hindu Science or architecture and readers are referred to read this exposition—vide H. T. P. 29-39.

A more relevant portion of this exposition may be reproduced:

“The square ‘cakra’ or maṇḍala is a closed polygon symbolical of recurrent cycles of time. Pṛthivī-maṇḍala and Vāstu-maṇḍala are both squares; the one connotes the earth ruled in its life by the apparent movement of the sun and filled in its extent by the equilibrium of the pairs of the opposites on which this order is established. In its whole extent it is a Vedi, and this is also true of the Vāstumaṇḍala into which it is incorporated. In the form in which the Vāstumaṇḍala is the ‘plan’ of the temple and regulates the rhythms of its groundplan (adhaśchanda, talacchanda) a further accentuation of its squareness is the rule. In the sub-division of its sides or borders from four to eight and up to thirty-two, the original geometrical progression, fixing positions, can be seen at work. The 32 positions, four times eight in space, are held by divinities identified with those of the mansions of the moon, by some schools. The border in its continuity is associated with the course of the moon, and inasmuch as it faces the eight directions it is associated with the stations of the sun”.

“The Vāstu had come to be the place of the adjustment of solar and lunar cycles. The number 32 of the divinities residing in the squares of the border of the Vāstumaṇḍala is also the sum of 4 and 28, the number of the regents of the four planets who rule over the equinoxial and solstitial points referred to the cardinal points, and of the reagents of the 28 Nakṣatras. Their location in the Vāstumaṇḍala shows a reconciliation of the motions of the Sun and the Moon, and they have their nature in their number which is 32; the single divinities who make up this sum act each as a locum tenens”.

In Vastu-śāstra they are nearly unanimously identified with the divinities whose names are shown in the border of the Figure appended in the end—vide Appendix A, following the ‘Bṛhatsaṃhitā, LIL 43f. The evidence of the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra and the Mānasāra would be just following. It may be remarked in the words of Prof Kramrisch (H.T. pt 37) that the form of the square is the stage on which is drawn, while it is being acted, the movement of sun and moon and that of their years in their unequal course, their meeting, reconciliation and the fresh beginning towards one more coincidence. Such inequality, such imperfection are the cause of existence; the seasons similarly are brought about by the axis of the earth being inclined to the plane of its orbit. The obliquity of the axis of the earth, the inequality of the motions of sun and moon, produce the cycles in which we live. Were it not so, were all coincidence, life would be reabsorbed into perfection, into the infinite which is beyond manifestation.

On this Vāstu dial of cosmic movement where obliquity and discripencies appear straight and square, care must be taken not to interfere with the movements and the ways in which they are laid out, for on their courses depend the order in the universe and the destinies of human lives. The science of architecture is part of the science of the luminaries; the time lor setting up a building, its place and the direction it has to face, are ascertained on the magic diagram of the Vāstumaṇḍala.

The very imperfection which is the cause of the existence of the world serves as the basis of all astrological forecasts and astronomical calculations. There is always a remainder. For nothing could continue if nothing were to remain. The place occupied by anything in the present, is in the residue of the past. The name of Vāstu, derived from Vastu, a really existing thing, signified residence as well as residue (S. B. I. 7.3. 18-19).”

Other details like symbolism of the square, the form of Mārtaṇḍa, Vāstu, the Remander etc. etc. may be left here for want of space as they are well expounded in Dr. Kramrisch’s book ‘The Hindu Temple’.

In the preceeding paragraphs some idea has been brought out of this fundamental canon of Hindu architecture from the stand point of the applied knowledge, the ritual, the Jyotiṣa, and the meta-physics. Now before we take up its exposition from the standpoint of the implied practice, the engineering of the site-plans as is enshrined in the text books of architecture, a few words may be added on the organism of the plan which is the bed rock of the origin of Hindu Temple Architecture (cf. the Organic Theory Pt. V). The lines by which the square plan is divided into small squares, the two diagonals of the plan and the “lesser diagonals”, 4 or 8 in number, and drawn parallel to the former have a definite width, proportionate to the size of the plan. The width of the main diagonals in a plan of 81 squares measures as many finger breadths (aṅgula) as the side length of the small square measures in cubits (hasta. Br.S. III. 62-63); and the straight lines have one and a half times this width. Their intersection (marma; a vital, or vulnerable spot) measures one eighth part of one square in the plan of 81 squares, (The Marmas are of special impor-tance in the site-plan. Where the Vāstumaṇḍala is co-extensive with the Prāsāda, they affect the position of pillars in temples as described in the ‘Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra, ch. XLIX’. In brick and stone temples such as are preserved, the Marinas affect the positions of windows, buttresses, etc. of the wall of Prāsāda). The division of the square and also the divisional lines themselves are measured in proportion to its total extent. No building, or part of the temple must be placed on these vital points”.

“Further the lines are not mere geometrical connections; their prototype has the measure of Breath; they have direction and width; while they form a net cast over the plot, they also share in its extent, represent it in an aliquot ratio and their points of intersection are the vital parts and tender spots (marina) of the site. These must not be hurt or interfered with by setting up pillars, doors, or walls, on them.”

The places which must not be encroached upon by doors, walls or pillars, beams, etc. and windows (gavākṣa, vātāyana;Br.S. Comm.; LIL 57, ‘Samaraṅgaṇasūtradhāra’, XIII. 10-16), at the concurrence of the lines (sūtra) are listed on p. 55. (The ‘Bṛhat-Saṃhitā’ enumerates 9 specially vulnerable spots (atimarma) and gives the proportionate size of the tender spots (Marma). These are grouped according to their importance and specified in the later texts according to the lines which meet, diagonals and orthogonals, and their number, at each respective crossing. The size of a vulnerable spot is given in the ‘Bṛhat-Saṃhitā’ as ⅛ (1/8th) of a square (the whole plot being divided into 81 squares). The ‘Samarāṅgaṇa-sūtradhāra’ however gives to the conjunction of 8 vaṃśas (= 8 stūras [sūtras?], at their meeting point) the extent of the tip of a hair (bālāgra); that is, the concurrence is just a point. The ⅛ (1/8th) of a small square of the ‘Bṛhat Saṃhitā’ does not correspond to the actual extent of ‘marma’; it appears more as a parcelled plot with the concurrence of the lines in its centre and agreed upon to be ⅛ (1/8th) of that of the small square. In the ‘Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra’, the ‘sandhi’ or conjection of lines has no magnitude. It is a point to be avoided when determining, the position of the middle of door openings, pillars etc.) They are avoided by shifting for example the position of the respective parts of the building, to the right of the vulnerable points. Similarly also nothing (no dravya’) may be placed on the border or middle lines and the consequences are serious too, though not fatal, if the other orthogonals and the 2 diagonals are infringed (ib. XII. 23-36). The earlier texts however limit the tender spots to the concurrences of lines: (Br.S. LII. 57; ‘Viṣṇudharmottara’, Pt. II. ch. XXIX. 45-46). The spots which are the most vulnerable and which must be avoided with great care, are in and around the Brahmasthāna, the centre of the square.

The connections of the Vāstupuruṣamaṇḍala and the buildings to be set up on it are manifold They comprise the position of temples sacred to distinct divinities; of definite buildings in definite parts of the maṇḍalas and the position of the images at their definite places. In addition to these inconographic considerations, the slight deviation of doors, pillars, etc. from a uniform and mechanical symmetry contributes, as in the forms of life, towards a fuller consonance, of the proportions of the architecture. The living breath of Vāstu-puruṣa would thus be seen to permeate the total structure”.

N.B.—The three charts (A.B. and C.) of the lines (sūtra) their intersections and proportionate width may be purviewed in the appendix at the end.

This organism of the plan leads to take up the most vital clement of Vāstupada-Vinyāsa, the Supernal Man. The Vāstu-vidhāna (VIII 23-32) of Nārada says that the Vāstupuruṣamaṇḍala is the magic diagram (yantra) and the form (rūpa) of the Vāstupuruṣa: It is his body (śarīra) and a bodily device (śarīra-yantra) by which those who have the requisite knowledge attain the best results in temple building. It is laid out in tabular notation as man and site (naraprastara) Vāstuprastara; ib. 29).

In the Puruṣa, Supernal man, the Supreme Principle is beheld. Beyond form and non-contingent, it is beyond description. It is know by intellectual intuition as residing in man, the microcosm, and in the universe, the macrocosm, Either is its place of manifestation. Man and Universe are equivalent in this, their indwelling centre. Of this equivalence, the Puruṣa is an image. In the Puruṣa, the relation of the Supreme Principle (Brahman) and of manifestation is seen as coterminous. The Supreme Principle in this aspect is called Puruṣa because it reposes or dwells in Integral or Supernal man as if in a city (Puruṣaḥ = puri-śayaḥ or puri-sadaḥ; Yāska, ‘Niru 1.13; 11.3). The city is drawn as a yantra, a device in which is bound and situated the Supreme Principle. It is a plan of its manifestation and as such it is also the body of the Puruṣa, itself without substance. It is the site indwelt, and pervaded by the Puruṣa. Any place where this body lies down, where this plan is laid out by those who know it exemplifies the presence of the Puruṣa and is its ‘bhūmi’, the ground on which it rests. By its impress that piece of land, freed of all associations acts as primordial, undifferentiated substance (Prakṛti).’

The symbolism of the Vedic altar, Agni, is continued in the Hindu temple, in its plan. The Vāstupuruṣa of this maṇḍala is indeed Agni-Prajāpati. It is drawn on the ground and not piled up. No fire burnṣ on it; the temple is set up on it. The image of the Vāstupuruṣa coterminous and one with the maṇḍala is drawn in the likeness of man. His head lies in the East, in the maṇḍala of 64 squares, the legs opposite; body and limbs fill the square. No bricks are laid down which had been identified with the several parts of his body. The bricks were square; now squares are drawn, lines separate and connect those parts and limbs and are their joints and vital parts. These must not be hurt. The lines too (nāḍi) belong to the anatomy of the subtle body of the Vāstupuruṣa, they are channels of energy as the nerves are and the arteries in the gross body. Their prototypes are Prāṇa and Vāyu. The spine (vaṃśa) of this Puruṣa of 64 squares, is the middle line of the plan of the temple, as it is of the altar.’

Further details like subtle body of the Puruṣa and its pictures, the descent of the Vāstupuruṣa, the nature and names of the Vāstupuruṣa may be seen in Prof. Kramrsich’s work, the Hindu Temple. A special mention may be made here and now that forty five gods are constituents of the body of the Vāstupuruṣa; they cover his extent, they are his limbs and vital parts and their sum total is the Vāstupuruṣa with whom it is co-extensive. Their number necessarily is the same in the Vāstupuruṣamaṇḍala of 64 or 81 or any of the other numbers of squares; only the extent allotted to each differs, but not their relative position in the plan. A detailed exposition of these gods and their significance in the architectural symbolism have been ably worked out by Kramrisch and it may be purviewed in her Hindu Temple.

This is the cosmological or metaphysical background on which the most fundamental Doctrine of Vāstu-puruṣa-maṇḍala rests and from this we can very well understand and appreciate the very advanced state of architectural planning in ancient India. Now as promised we have to say something on this canon from the stand point of implied practise, the engineering of the site plans preferably from the evidences culled from the two texts, the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra and the Mānasāra. Let us begin with the evidence furnished by the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra devotes four chapters on it viz. Vāstu-traya-Vibhāga, Nāḍyādi-Sirādi-Vikalpa, Marma-Vedha, and Puruṣāṅgadevatānighaṇṭu and all these four chapters form one theme namely the site-plans and presiding dieties of the squares together with the conception and elaboration of the Vāstupuruṣa, the Supreme Lord of the site.

When a site is selected for constructing a village, town or building, the ground is divided into different numbers of squares. Māna-sāra distinguishes designations, according to the number of squares into which the whole area is partitioned out. The whole scheme is arranged in such a manner that in each case the number of partitions represent the square of the serial number.

The Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra however, describes only three such site plans, that is, of eighty-nine squares, hundred squares and sixty four squares in the first of these chapters (cf. Vāstutraya also Vāstulakṣaṇa). These are really the principal site plans fit to be employed in towns and temples, the most important subjects of planning. In the next chapter however, it describes some other site plans too—of sixteen squares and of one thousand squares. Its special contribution however, is that in this chapter it describes circular plans together with three-sided, six-sided, eight-sided and sixteen-sided as well as so many extraordinary plans like Vṛttāyata, Ardhacandra etc. (ibid).

It may be noted again that each of these squares is assigned to its presiding diety—some deities however, are lords of more than one square The Lord of the Central square is always Brahmā. These presiding deities Pada-devatās are of two classes—Internal and External.

Again another important thing as elaborated in the second of these four chapters as well as in the last one, is that the presiding deity of the whole site is called Vāstu-Puruṣa. (He is described as hump-backed and of crooked shape. He is said to occupy the planned area in such a manner as to occupy the whole plot and thus the presiding deities of the squares became presiding deities of the different limbs of the body of the Vāstu-Puruṣa. All this is indicative of the metaphysical doctrine of Vāstubrahma, Ekam sad Viprāḥ Vahudhā Vadanti). In this connection special mention may be made of the laying of the Vāstu-puruṣa with all its limbs together with their interior components of Nāḍī, Vaṃśas, Anuvaṃśa, etc. that there should not occur any Vedha, otherwise results are effected (cf. 3rd of these 4 chapters). The avoidance of the Vedha is one of the most important points of planning in Indian architecture. A unique thing in this book is that;sixteen-fold alphabets indicative of tḥe whole body of the Vāstu-puruṣa are mentioned at the close of the Chapter.

So far these are details of non-architectural interest from the modern point of view. Architecturally these site plans are enjoined by the text to be employed in the following constructions:—

1. In the residential houses of the Brāhmaṇas and the people of other castes together with the palaces, of the kings and temples of Indra should be employed the plan of eighty one square,

2. The different varieties of temples, pavilions, all laid out in Śatapada Vāstu.

3. The sixty four square site plan is fit to be employed in the planning of the camps of the kings, the village, kheṭas and the towns.

Apart from these 4 Chapters there is one chapter more in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra which has a special importance of its. It is called Vāstusaṃsthāna-Mātṛkā—(the Secular varieties of the Vāstu-Plots).

We have already taken notice of certain site-plans (Ch. 12 to 15). This chapter on sites of the different varieties of Vāstu is unique in this respect that such varieties of Vāstu have nowhere been dealt with. The chief characteristic of these sites as would be evident from their description just below, is that they aim at the secular i. e. civil planning in contrast to the religious planning of the site plans described in chapters 12 to 15. I have already pointed out that this work on architecture is the father of secular or popular planning in India.

The forty sites with their worthy occupants are tabulated here-under:—

The Plots The Dwellers
1. Caturaśra 1. King
2. Sama 2. Queens’ Chamber
3. Sāci or Śayyākāra [Śayākāra?] 3. Purohita
4. Dīrgha 4. Princess
5. Vṛttāyata 5. Commander
6. Śambūkākāra 6. Vehicles (horses & elephants).
7. Śakaṭākṛti 7. Vaiśyas
8. Akṣākṛti 8. ?
9. Bhagākāra 9. The prostitutes.
10. Ādarśākṛti 10. Goldsmith. Nagaragoṣṭhika
11. Kanthākṛti 11. ?
12. Chinnakarṇa 12. Mahāmātyas
13. Vikarṇa 13. Hunters
14. Śaṅkhābha 14. One-eyed persons.
15. Kṣurasannibha 15. Gaṇācārya
16. Śaktyānana 16. Vrajādhyakṣa
17. Kūrmapṛṣṭha 17. Mālikas
18. Sadaṃśākṛti 18. Tailors
19. Vyajanākṛti 19. Horsemen
20. Śarāvākṛti 20. CarpentersTakṣakas
21. Śaṅkha-saṃsthāna 21.—
22. Svastikākāra 22. Bards, Vandīs & Māgadhas,
23. Mṛdaṅgopama Paṇavopama 23. Players on Veṇu and Tūrya—musical instruments.
24. Viśarkara 24. Charioteers
25. Kabandhābha 25. Nīcas and Śvapākas—the outcaste
26. Yava-madhyasamākṛti 26. Dhānya-jīvīs
27. Utsaṅgābha 27, Śramaṇas
28. Gajadantābha 28. Mahāvatas (Elephant’s riders)
29. Paraśusannibha 29. Captives
30. Viśrāvita 30. Vine-makers
31. Śvabhra 31. Labourers
32. Pralamba or Yugala 32. Barbers
33. Vivāhika 33. Cashiers
34. Trikuṣṭa 34. Vahnijīvīs
35. Pañcakuṣṭa 35. Vahnijīvīs
36. Paricchinna 36. Mānopajīvīs
37. Diksvastikābha 37. Caityāni
38. Śrīvṛkṣa 38. Trees (Sacrificial)
39. Vardhamānasamānana 39. Ditto
40. Eṇīpada 40. Gaṇikās
41. Narapada 41. Thieves

It is the tradition that practically all the manuals on the science of architecture have devoted some chapters to this time-honoured tradition of Vāstu—its different categories, its presiding deity, the Puruṣa, its different gods inhabiting the different directions, corners, centres and so on, and their worship and other propitiatory performances.

After the survey of the Region and the selection of the site, the first thing for a town-planner is to plan out the roads and streets, lanes and by-lanes together with the orientation of the place so as to make it a fit place for human habitation with ease and comforts, health and longevity, peace and prosperity. Laying out the roads and streets is inter-connected with the plotting out of the whole area. There are fixed rules as to how a piece of land under planning should be plotted out. These rules are what we understand by the term, ‘Padavinyāsa’. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra prescribes the arrangement of the Vāstupada-vinyāsa as the preliminary to all the building activities. This subject is also treated in the earlier works.

When a site is selected for constructing a village, town or building the ground is divided into a number of squares. As already stated the Mānasāra (chapter VII) distinguishes thirty two kinds of such schemes by as many different designations, according to the number of squares into which the whole area is partitioned out. The whole scheme is arranged in such a manner that in each case the number of partitions represents the square of the serial number’.

The evidence in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is presented in Chapters 11 to 14 and 38 (vide tabulation—Re-arrangement of the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra pp. 14-18),

Thus the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra devotes five full chapters—11 to 14 and 38th Chapter. While the first four chapters are traditional in nature with one innovation, namely, that it has added an interesting account of sixteen-fold alphabetical symbolism technically called Nighaṇṭu representing the different limbs of the body of the Vāstu-Puruṣa—the Presiding Lord of the Site. The 38th Chapter entitled “Vāstu-Saṃsthāna-Mātṛkā”, however, is a novel departure from the tradition as here we find the conception of the secular sites and they number as many as forty and their scheme of plotting etc. is not based on the theological or religious considerations (the deities etc.) but purely on physical ones. This is also one of the side developments of the science of architecture towards the civil or secular planning—a definite landmark in this connection is seen in the plans of the Śālā houses (vide Part III, House Architecture, where this point is developed).

It suffices here to say that the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra has described only three of the traditional site-plans, that is of eighty-one squares, one hundred squares and sixty four squares (vide Vāstu-traya-Vibhāga, the 11th chapter). These are really the principal site-plans most commonly accepted and fit to be employed in towns and temples. Its special contribution in this scheme is that it describes (vide 12th Chapter) circular, semi-circular, triangular, hexagonal, octagonal and sixteensided site-plans, also. The principal topics, in all these schemes, are the allotment of the different plots to the different deities, the laying out of the Vāstu-Puruṣa and the folk-planning, that is allotment of the different plots for the residences of the different people belonging to different castes and professions.

Site Plans.

Let us now take the notice of a typical site-plan, one of the principle site-plans (cf. 81 squares) in a bit detail;

The Plot of 81 Squares (Ekaśīti-pada-vāstu).

This, as already indicated, consists of eighty one divisions of the plot of the land—a site earmarked for the building as shown on the chart appended. Each of these divisions is called a Pada and has a presiding deity associated with it. The arrangement is shown in the chart.

In this connection it should be noted that the Pada-vinyāsa is a very convenient method more or less like a modern graph divided into uniform squares for the purpose of making a plan according to proportionate measurements e,g. when it is said that the centre of the building should be located on the Brāhma-Pada or Brahma-Sthāna, it means in simple language that particular portion of the Lind comprising the central nine squares (Nava-pada Ch. II.I) is to be built upon. Similarly, the whole site-plan becomes so clear with reference to each square named after that particular deity. By this device, the Indian writers are able to refer theoretically to any particular spot of the site in the four cardinal and four intermediate directions within the bounds of the site in the most convenient manner. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra uses, in this connection some significant terminology e.g. Padika or Pada-Bhuja which refers to the deity of one square; Dvipadika or dvipadādhīśa to the presiding deity of two squares, Saṭpada [Ṣaṭpada?] to a deity of six squares.

There are mainly two broad divisions of these deities, namely the internal deities (Antaḥ-saṃśrayāḥ-Devāḥ Ch. II. 6) and the external ones (Vahisthāḥ Devaḥ—ibid).

The Internal Deities.

A. Central Lord
1. Brahmā
Note: Navapadika............ 9

B. Those Adjoining the Centres
2. Aryamā (East),
3. Vivaśvān (South),
4. Mitra (West),
Note: Each of these (2 to 5) occupy 6 Padas-Saḍbhuja [Ṣaḍbhuja?] and thus they occupy............... 24

C. Pada-Koṇastha (of the central corners).
5. Pṛthvīdhara (North),
6. Savitṛ,
7. Sāvitra,
8. Jaya,
9. Indra,
10. Yakṣmā,
11. Rudra,
12. Apa,
13. Āpavatsa.
Note: Each of these are allotted to only one Pada according to the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra The other texts however, make them the lords of two Padas..................... 8

The External Deities.

Thirty two deities are assigned to the outer-most boundary of this Site-plan, eight of whom have the double share being external and internal both, the rest i.e. 24 deities occupy each a single plot.

The Dvipadādhīśa (lords of the two squares) are marked with a flower as tabulated under:—

  1. Agni,
  2. Parjanya,
  3. * Jayanta,
  4. Indra,
  5. Ravi,
  6. Satya,
  7. * Bhṛśa,
  8. Nabha,
  9. Anila,
  10. Pūṣā,
  11. * Vitatha,
  12. Gṛhakṣata,
  13. Yama,
  14. Gandharva,
  15. * Bhṛṅgarāja,
  16. Mṛga,
  17. Pitṛgaṇa,
  18. Dauvārika,
  19. * Sugrīva,
  20. Puṣpadanta,
  21. Varuṇa,
  22. Asura,
  23. * Śoṣa,
  24. Pāpayakṣmā,
  25. Roga,
  26. Nāga,
  27. * Mukhya,
  28. Bhallāṭa,
  29. Soma,
  30. Caraka,
  31. * Aditi,
  32. Diti.

Thus in all these deities are 45 = 48
and the plots are:—81

It is called Paramaśāyika Plan, and the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra prescribes (Ch. 13.3) its employment in the residential houses of the four castes as well as the palaces of the kings and the temple of Indra. Indra being the symbol of Indian Royalty, is also dedicated akin to kings to this plot of 81 squares, otherwise the different temples for the enshrinement of the different deities are said (13.4) to be constructed on the site-plan of 100 squares—Śata-pada-Vāstu—appended in the end. The site-plan of 100 squares holds good also in the planning of the Maṇḍapas, pavilions, attached or detached to the central shrine—the Prāsāda.

For the planning of the towns and their other categories like Kheṭa and Grāma as well as for the planning of the royal camps ((Narendra-śibira), the site plan of sixty four squares is recomended (Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra Ch. 13-5). The Mānasāra (ibid) calls it ‘Caṇḍita’. It comprises within it the sixty-four squares, as per the diagrametic representation appended in the end.

Now after these principal plans have been taken into consideration another important notice is the formation of the Vāstu-Puruṣa, the first discipline to be mastered by an expert Sthapati (vide the eight-fold Architecture, the 45th Chapter). The V.P. is the presiding Lord of the whole plot. He is described as hump-backed and of crooked shape. He is said to occupy the, planned area in such a manner as to occupy the whole plot and thus the presiding deities of the Squares become presiding deities of the different limbs of the body of the Vāstu-Puruṣa. In this connection special mention may be made of the laying of the Vāstu-puruṣa with all its limbs together with their interior components of Nāḍī, Vaṃśa, Anuvaṃśa, Marma, etc. that there should not occur any Vedha, otherwise the adverse results are effected (cf. 3rd of these 4 chapters i.e. Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra 13th). The avoidance of the Vedha is one of the most important points of planning in Indian Architecture. A unique thing in this book is that sixteen-fold alphabets indicative of the whole body of Vāstu-puruṣa are mentioned at the close of the Chapter.

Again it may be pointed out that the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is the only work in the extant Vāstu-śāstra works that gives the Nighaṇṭu of the Pada-devatās, appended herewith.

Further again most of these Pada-devatās stand for their connection with solar system and the atmospheric regions. The scientists have discovered the manifold segments of the Solar light. P. A. Mankad, in his Introduction to Aparājitapṛcchā has very ably worked out this symbolism of these Pada-devatās to the afore said solar system and atmospheric regions (XIII-XX). The theory of Orientation of Structures is nothing but the practical application of the Vāstu-pada-vinyāsa, and we have already seen its implication in the proceeding section—Diṅnirṇaya. Some more observations of the learned editor of the Aparājitapṛcchā need be reproduced to bring the fuller significance of this Hindu tradition in architecture and also to popularize Sri Mankad’s theory which be has so lucidly expounded:

“Within a couple of centuries European scientists have discovered that the Solar light (white) could be split up under suitable conditions into three segments; first, a visible spectrum of coloured rays ranging from the deepest blue to red with their wave lengths varying from 3900 to 7700 Angstroem Units. This visible spectrum is flanked on each side by two invisible zones known as ultra-violet and infra-red. The ultra violet segment comprises that part of the spectrum with wave lengths approximately between 136 and 3900 A Units, and is next to the violet zone; while the infra-red segment has wave lengths varying between 7700 and 4000000 A Units, and is next to the red of the visible spectrum.

The invisible spectrum on the violet end is called the actinic or chemical spectrum.

Cosmic rays—to *006 A. U.
Gamma rays—to *01 A. U.
Rontgen, rays—to 5 A. U.
and Ultra Violet—to 3900 A. U. form this region.

The invisible region on the red end is called the thermic or heat spectrum. This section is divided into 3 sub-regions according to the views of Luckiesh, while Saidman divides it into 9 octaves out of which the first 3 are used in therapeutics. As far as the promulgation of the principles of Indian Vāstuśāstra in old Vedic times is concerned we have to look to Aryan Brāhmaṇas of over 40 centuries who were divided into two distinct camps. One was purely orthodox and was headed by Atri and his colleagues, while the other belonged to the reformists’ school and was headed by Bhṛgu and his colleagues. The latter school, it appears, has brought about a fusion of some of the Dravidian elements into the principles which were purely Aryan. The mythological disquisition regarding the origin of Vāstupadadevatā is not touched here. Only the location and the intensity of influence of the deities involved are discussed. It may be added in this connection that Indian Vāstuśāstra takes cognizance of as many as 45, perhaps 49 or 53 deities. These are shown in the chart attached hereto.

The Indian sages who promulgated this theory were not equipped with the present day appliances of the Western Science such as Newton’s Colour card, Solarium with a spectroscope, Quartz lamp, Rheostat, and other appliances, or the remarkable instrument the Spectroheliograph which was invented by Professor Hale in America and M. Deslandres in Paris and which enables one to get pictures of the hydrogen Sun, the calcium Sun or the iron Sun, portraying only those formations upon it that were composed of the particular vapours selected and which could further photograph the Sun’s atmosphere at various levels etc.—and yet they were able to discern many natural phenomena in a marvellous manner. They had no equipped laboratory except nature and all the same they could distinguish between primary, secondary and tertiary colours. They had the knowledge of the decomposition of Solar white light into the visible spectral regions. Their discoveries did not end there.

The visible spectrum had distinctive names with, specific functions; the present day science has the seven divisions which are distinguished by colours only. Western Science has no parallel with the changes which these seven rays undergo during the diurnal motion of the Sun at its Several periods as detailed at length below. Scholars have tried to interpret the Vedic gods from various viewpoints, but they have been found conflicting in a variety of ways. I am, on my part led to approach the subject from a different angle altogether. Vāstuśāstra has reference to Vāstudevatāpadavinyāsa i.e. the disposition or apportionment of (padas) divisions in the general plan allotted to different deities. This Vāstupadavinyāsa, it may be observed, forms a fundamental principle for the design of various structures administrating to the needs of men of a variety of grades.

In order to bring home to readers this view point, I append a chart of the deities who direct and control the animate and inanimate world. The North-east corner of the chart starts with “ī” which stand for “īśāna” which corresponds to the ultra-violet segment of the Solar spectrum.

Its rūpa (the mystical occult form) has the following attributes:

  1. Nīlakaṇṭha,
  2. Trinayana,
  3. Sahasrākṣa,
  4. Vajradaṃṣṭra,
  5. Atyugna,
  6. Atīndriya,
  7. Sūkṣma,
  8. Ananya,
  9. Śaśiśekhara,
  10. Gaṅgādhara,
  11. Jvalattriśūla [?],
  12. Gaṇḍamāla [?],
  13. Nāgendrahāra,
  14. Nāgendravalaya,
  15. Śaṅkara etc.

If these characteristic are rationally studied a host of properties and phenomena would be revealed. A chart showing the appointment of padas assigned to various deities in general plan of structures as worked out by Mankad is appended (in the Appendix No. A.).

Similarly, the South-east comer of the chart represents which stands for Agni and corresponds to the infro-red [infra-red?] segment of the solar spectrum. If the rūpa of Agni as known to Indian savants is minutely studied it would be a real revelation to Western scientists, as it is calculated to unfold a variety of mysterious scientific problems:

saptahastacatuḥśṛṅgaḥ saptajihvo dviśīrṣakaḥ |
tripātprasannavadanaḥ sukhāsīnaśśucismitaḥ |
svāhāṃtu dakṣiṇe pārśve devīṃvāme svadhāṃ tathā |
bibhradakṣiṇahastaistu śaktimannaṃ nu caṃ sa vam |
tomaraṃ vyajanaṃ vāmaiḥ ghṛtapātraṃ tu dhārayan |
ātmābhimukhamāsīna evaṃ rūpo hutāśanaḥ |
karālī dhūminī śvetā lohitā nīlalohitā |
suvarṇā padmarāgā iti vibhāvasoḥ saptajihvānāmāni |
pītā śvetā aruṇā kṛṣṇā dhūmrā tīkṣṇā sphuliṅginī |
jvalinī jvālinī iti kṛśānornavaśaktayaḥ |

Now to the portion corresponding to the visible spectrum of the Solar white light. Jayanta, Parjanya Mahendra...... to Bhṛśa and Ākāśa these seven correspond to the VIBGYOR, (Westen Science). It may be added that the Western Scientists have as yet no specific names except the colours; while Jayanta, Parjanya etc. signify by themselves certain distinguishing properties besides the colour of the visible spectrum.

In Western Science the visible spectrum of Solar white light consists of seven colours—VIBGYOR, as stated above. According to Indian Vāstuśāstra the Vedic deities corresponding (in number only) to these are Parjanya, Kaśyapa, Mahendra, Sūrya, Satya, Bhṛśa and Nabhas. Their characteristic functions are described seperately. They have reference to the radiant energy of the Sun. The seven horses of Sūrya are represented by these deities. Indian sages have further seven more Aśvas from a phonetic or acoustic consideration. They are: Gāyatrī (six) Uṣṇik (seven), Anuṣṭup (eight) Bṛhatī (nine) Paṅkti (ten), Triṣṭup (eleven) and Jagatī (twelve) meters with 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 syllables in a quarter:

Here as one proceeds from Gāyatrī to Jagatī the number of syllables go on increasing just; as the wave lengths of VIBGYOR go on increasing from V to R. These seven horses of Chandas would be explained in terms of phonetics later on.

Agnipurāṇa’s 93rd Adhyāya prescribes as many as 12 Marmas (vital parts) in a Vāstu (site of buildings); they are as under:—

  1. Mahāmarma,
  2. Anuja,
  3. Hala,
  4. Viśūla,
  5. Svastika,
  6. Vajra [?],
  7. Mahāsvastika,
  8. Sampuṭa,
  9. Trikaṭa [?],
  10. Maṇibandha,
  11. Suviśuddha, and
  12. Pada (!).

These Marmas in a Vāstu (ground plan of buildings) indicate that the places marked therein should not be built upon. They go to determine that not only a certain percentage in the plan should remain unbuilt upon, but they show where the open spaces should have their location, in the general scheme of the plan. Further the theory of orientation of structures is nothing but the practical application of the general principle of Vāstudevatāpadavinyāsa. The study of the latter principle will thus makes the theory of orientation of buildings more clear.—“brāhmamuhūrta, uṣā, aruṇa, prātaḥ, saṃgava [?], madhyāhna [?]”—etc. are technical terms refering to the diurnal course of the Sun, long before its rise on the horizon in the east to Sunset in the West.

When the Sun appears on the horizon in the morning he is accompanied by seven deities (including himself). What are described as seven steeds are nothing but seven rays—“saptaharitaḥ | harit”—from “hṛ [?]” to take away, extract. (Vide Nighaṇṭu of Yāska). Pandit Ganga Prashad m.a, m r.a.s, Retired Chief Judge Tehri State has discussed this question of steeds at some length in his “sūrya-saptāśva-varṇana” (1.50,8,9.). As the Sun has risen above the horizon and advanced a few degrees in in its onward march towards the meridian i.e. in the “saṅgava” the functional duties of the seven deities have come to an end and they have to retire in favour of five (?) or three deities among whom “aryaman” occupies the presidential chair. The portfolios of the seven deities of the “prātaḥkāla” are reshuffled among the new members of the “saṅgavakāla—aryaman” with Āpa and Āpavatsa on the North and Savitṛ and Sāvitra on the South The Sun’s further course towards the meridian terminates the duties of Aryaman and his colleagues and Brahmā steps in to direct and control the heavens in the “madhyāhna”. It is not to be supposed that several other deities on the Southern and Northern sides as shown on the chart are not functioning at all, all the while. The Sun being the central figure during the day is the sovereign lord domineering over all other deities.

The reverse process takes place during the “aparāhṇa” course of the Sun. Brahmā then hands over his charge to three or five (?) deities of the “aparāhṇa” namely Mitra and his colleagues Rudra, Rudradāsa on the North and Indra and Indrajaya on the South. The distinctive functional effects of these luminous bodies are different from those of Ayarman and his colleagues though light and heat aspects remain un-affected. It is only in the “sāyāhna” course of the Sun that these five deities retire in favour of seven ones wherein Varuṇa occupies the place which Sūrya had to do in the morning. Varuṇa thus is a ray aspect of the Sun. The functions of the deities of the evening are different from those of the morning members, Indra in the morning has Asura as his evening counterpart, so also Jayanta and Parjanya have Soṣa [Śoṣa?] (Śaturn) and Pāpayakṣmā and so on for the right hand colleagues of Varuṇa It will be apparent, that the functions of the evening deities are evidently not the same as those of the morn ng ones. The reason is evident. As the Sun advances from sunrise to midday, his course in the first quadrant is marked by gradually increasing temperature and decreasing atmospheric humidity. In the same way his career from the meridian towards the horizon on the West or his progress in the second quadrant is characterized by diminishing temperature combined with increasing humidity. The function of the luminaries under such opposing influences can never be one and the same.

Wilkins (Hindu Mythology) says that in the Vedic literature Varuṇa was not represented chiefly as the god of the ocean;rather Vedic hymns show him as one of the gods of light. This interpretation quite fits in the reading of the chart, as Varuṇa in the evening is the same as Sūrya in the morning. Varuna from bṛ to cover, to encompass means, atmosphere or the deity presiding over the atmosphere. This atmosphere is, thanks to the discoveries of Astral physics during the last fifty years, divided into several spheres on account of their varying physical characteristics. These divisions of the aerial envelope are roughly Troposphere, Tropopouse, Stratosphere, Ozonosphere, Etherosphere etc.; but several centuries before this discovery, the atmosphere over which Varuṇa held its sway was divided into “bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svar, jana, tapa, satyaloka” and the distintive colours which they presented arc summed up in the idea of “saptamālikā sūtra 5” of Aparājita-pṛcchā.

The rays, which each of the so called atmosphere is capable of emitting, assume the following colours in order:

  1. Kāñcanasama,
  2. Sphāṭikanirmala,
  3. Indranīla,
  4. Vaiḍūrya [?],
  5. Padmarāga,
  6. Vajraka,
  7. [Sarvaratnā???] with “???tejaḥ” on the top.

The abbreviation in the chart represent the intial letter of the Vedic deities as under:—

1. The deities on the Eastern periphery are—
Name—(1) Īśa, (2) Parjanya, (3) Jayanta, (4) Indra, (5) Sūrya, (6) Satya, (7) Bhṛśa, (8) Ākāśa, (9) Agni.

2. Deities on the Southern periphery—
Names—(10) Pūṣā, (11) Vitatha, (12) Gṛhakṣata, (13) Yama, (14) Gandharva, (15) Bhṛṅgarāja, (16) Mṛga.

3. Deities on the Western periphery—
Names—(17) Pitara, (18) Nandi, (19) Sugrīva, (20) Puṣpadanta, (21) Varuṇa, (22) Asura, (23) Śoṣa, (24) Pāpayakṣmā (4), (25) Roga.

4. Deities on the Northern periphery—
Names—(26) Nāga, (27) Mukhya, (28) Bhallāṭa, (29) Kubera (5), (30) Śaila (6), (31) Aditi, (32) Diti (7).

5. Internal deities—
Names—(33) Āpa, (34) Āpavatsa, (35) Aryamā, (36) Sāvitra, (37) Savitṛ, (38) Pṛthvīdhara, (39) Brahmā, (40) Vaivasvat, (41) Rudra, (42) Rudradāsa, (43) Maitragaṇa [?], (44) Indra, (45) Indrajaya.

They are 45 in all.

The thesis as propounded and presented by Mankad is corroborated by the Nighaṇṭus of the Vāstu-pada-devatas in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra and it is tabulated here under:

The Nighaṇṭus.

  1. Brahmā—Abjasambhava Sahasrānana Acintyavibhava,
  2. Vahni—Sarvabhūtahara, Hara,
  3. Parjanya—Vṛṣtimān, Ambudādhipa,
  4. Jayanta—Kāśyapabhagavān,
  5. Mahendra—Surādhīśa, the Subduer of the Danujas, the demons,
  6. Vivasvān—Ahaskara,
  7. Satya—Bhūtahita, Dharma,
  8. Bhṛṣa—Kāma, Manmatha,
  9. Antarikṣa—Nabhas,
  10. Maruts—Vāyu,
  11. PūṣanMātṛgaṇa,
  12. Vitatha—Adharma, Kalerapratimaḥ Sutaḥ—(the extra-ordinary son of Kali),
  13. Gṛhakṣata—Budha, the son of Moon,
  14. Yama—Vivasvān, the Lord of the Departed ones (Pretas),
  15. Gandharva—Nārada,
  16. Bhṛṅgarāja—Son of Nirṛti,
  17. Mṛga—Ananta, Svayambhū, Dharma,
  18. Pitṛs—The deities residing in the Pitṛloka,
  19. Dauvārika—Nandī, the lord of the Pramathas,
  20. Sugrīva—Primordial Prajāpati, Manu,
  21. Puṣpadanta—Son of Vinatā, Mahājava,
  22. Varuṇa—Lord of waters and a guardian of quarters,
  23. Asura—Rāhu, the son of Siṃhikā, the suppresser of Sun and Moon,
  24. Śoṣa—The son of Sun, Śanaiścara,
  25. Pāpayakṣmā—Kṣaya,
  26. Roga—Jvara—the fever,
  27. Nāga—Vāsukī,
  28. Mukhya—Tvaṣṭā, Viśvakarmā,
  29. Bhallāṭa—Candra,
  30. Soma—Kubera,
  31. Caraka—Vyavasāya,
  32. Aditi—Śrī,
  33. Did—?,
  34. ŚūlabhṛtVṛṣabhadhvaja,
  35. Apa—Himavān,
  36. Āpavatsa—Umā,
  37. Aryamā—Āditya,
  38. Sāvitra—Vedamātā,
  39. Savitṛ—Devī Gaṅgā,
  40. Vivaśvān—Mṛtyu, Śarīrahartā,
  41. Jayābhidha—Vajrī,
  42. Indra—Balavān Hari,
  43. Mitra—Haladhara, Mālī,
  44. Rudra—Maheśvara,
  45. RājayakṣmāGuha,
  46. Kṣitidhaṛa—Ananta,
  47. Carakī—‘Rakṣoyoni-bhavā Devatānucaryaḥ’,
    Vidārī—born of Rākṣas, these are maids of gods,

As regards the evidence furnished by other texts notably the Mānasāra, the Mayamata, the Śilparatna and the Aparājitapṛcchā, the details may be avoided. Some particular notices, however, demand our attention. The thirty two types of Vāstupadas as prescribed by the Mānasāra are tabulated as here under for an interesting reading:

Names of Padas. Nos of Plots Names of Padas. Nos. of Plot
1. Sakala 1 17. Triyuta 289
2. Paiśāca 4 18. Karṇāṣṭaka 324
3. Pītha 9 19. Gaṇita 379
4. Mahāpīṭha 16 20. Sūryaviśālaka 400
5. Upapīṭha 25 21. Susaṃhita 451
6. Ugrapīṭha 36 22. Supratikānta 484
7. Sthaṇḍila 49 23. Viśālaka 529
8. Caṇḍita 64 24. Vipragarbha 576
9. Paramaśāyika 81 25. Viśveṣa 625
10. Lana 100 26. Vipula 676
11. Sthānīya 121 27. Viprakānta 729
12. ? 144 28. Viśālākṣa 784
13. Ubhayacaṇḍita 169 29 Viprabhakti 841
14. Bhadra 196 30. Viśveśasāra 900
15. Mahāsana 225 31. Īśvarakānta 961
16. Padmagarbha 276 32. Candrakānta 1024

Similar prescriptions abound in all other Southern texts. The Aparājitapṛcchā, however, has some innovation both in the genesis of the Vastu and its terminology of the different types of the Padas. In the former the interesting details (cf. A.P. Sūtras: 53-55) are the origin of the Vastu from ‘Devāsurāsaṅgrāma’ as well as from the Dialogue between Maheśvara ānd Śukra and its constituents 16 sandhis, 8 limbs, 16 sutras and 5 kṣetras are beautifully summarized:

dvayaṣṭasandhi tathāṣṭāṃgaṃ dvayaṣṭasūtraṃ tathaiva ca |
pañcakṣetramidaṃ vāstu svarupaṃ puruṣākṛti ||

And in which the aṅgas, the limbs are elaborated as follows:

vāstūtpattiḥ pūrvamaṅgaṃ yakṣotpattiḥ dvitīyakam |
caturthakaṃ tathā sūtraṃ tṛtīyaṃ bhūparigrahaḥ ||
pañcamaṃ veśmādhikāraḥ ṣaṣṭhaṃ ca surasahmakam |
saptamaṃ [? liṅgamūrttyādyaṃ pratiṣṭhāvidhiraṣṭamam?] ||

Now the terminology of the Vāstupadas is tabulated as here under:

Name Plots Service
1. Svastika 1 Catuski—the vedi etc.
2. Puṣpaka 4 Marriage etc. and the ceremonials
3. Nanda 9 Entry into the forests etc.
4. Soḍaśākṣa [Ṣoḍaśākṣa?] 16 Pavilions and jagattīs
5. Kulatilaka 25 Worshipful initiations
6. Subhadra 36 Auspicious operations and actions
7. Marīci-gaṇa 49 All jīrṇoddhāras
8. Bhadraka 64 Hemlets, villages, towns and capitals
9. Kāaaada 81 Residential houses
10. Bhadra and 100 Temples and pavillions and palaces
11. Sarvatobhadra 1000 Other extraordinary temple structures like Meru etc.

These in the terminology of A.P. are the Vāstu-sthānāni. It has some further innovations to make. It recognises six-fold Vāstu-kṣetras akin to what we have noticed in the evidence furnished by the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra, the vṛtta; vṛttāyata etc. etc. Vāstu-padas. In A.P. (cf. Sutra 57 18-25) they are termed as Caturaśra, Āyata, Vṛtta, Vṛttāyata, Aṣṭāśra and Ardhacandra. It further enjoins their application. The square, Caturaśra kṣetra is fit for temples, towns and residences. For vāpīs and wells the Vṛtta is suitable and the tanks and the like are to be dug on the ardhacandra,

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