Vastu-shastra (4): Palace Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 13,158 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes Accessory Structures: Ashva-shala (royal stable) which is chapter 2b of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) fourth part (Palace architecture). This part deals with (1) the construction of Royal establishments, (2) Accessory Buildings, (3) Palace pleasure-devices such as yantras (mechanical devices), etc. and (4) Other public buildings.

Chapter 2b - Accessory Structures: Aśva-śālā (royal stable)

The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra gives an elaborate description of the royal stable (Aśva-śālā Ch. 33) and with its minutest of equipment most suited to horses the hobby of the princes of those times and the only most convenient royal conveyance of the period.

In this chapter we have to dwell upon the following four topics, namely:

  1. Planning of the stable proper, with its component parts,
  2. The equipment of a stable.
  3. The housing of horses.
  4. The accessory chambers to the stable.

1. Planning of the Stable Proper.

It should be laid out on the site of Gāndharva or Puṣpa-danta in the compound of one’s house. It admits of three classes, the largest type being in the measurement of one hundred Aratnis (an Aratni is equal to one hasta) i.e. 150 ft.; the intermediate one the eighty aratnis i.e. 120 ft. and the smallest type only sixty aratnis i.e. 90 ft. Again it should be so placed that the horses housed in it keep to the left of the owner, while he is passing out of it. The stable forming a component part of a palace, should be laid to the south of the Inner Chamber (Antaḥpura) so that while entering into it, their neighing should be heard on the right and this is deemed as auspicious. The main gate of the edifice should be laid either in the east or in the north and it should be decorated with arches. It should have four compartments—(śālās) each having a ‘prāggrīva’. Its height should be ten aratnis i.e. 15 ft. and its breadth eight aratnis i.e. 12 ft. and in the wall the Nāga-dantas are to be constructed.

The principal components of a horse-stable are:—

  1. The Yavasasthāna.—It may be called granary—the place where grass was stored.
  2. The Khādanakoṣṭhaka.—manger where horses were fed with grass.
  3. The Kīlakas—the pegs, khūṇṭās with which the horses were fastened with ropes.

These were all finished architectural establishments. This Yava-sasthāna is a wooden structure. It should be placed in the Brāhma corner. The wood employed in it should be of one of these treesDhātakī, Arjuna, Punnāga, Kakubha and it should be examined and approved by the attending physician. It should have a height of at least three Kiṣkus (one Kiṣku is equal to 42 aṅgulas). The length and the breadth of the Khādana-koṣṭha should be equal to 3 hastas. For the fastening of all the five-fold limbs (technically called the Pañcāṅgī) several sets of these pegs should be placed on intervening spaces and one principal wedge should be secretly laid out.

2. The equipment of a stable.

The list of the equipment of a stable is simply formidable. It consists in the first instance of the place for fire keeping (South-West corner), the water pot (North-East), the place for mortar, Ulūkhala (North-West); secondly it consisted of a number of implements like Niśśreṇī (stair-cases), Kuśa (sacred grass), wells covered with planks, Kuddāla, Uddāla (spades etc), Guḍakas (balls), Śukta-yogas and Khuras (hoofs), hair-cutters, horns, hatchets, Nādyās and the lamps—all these to be placed in the South-West, Again there should be a good number of pots for storing water etc, to be used in the event of outbreak of fire etc. Thirdly, the Hasta-vāsī, Śilā (the stone) lamp, Darvī, Phāla and shoes, manifold varieties of Piṭakas and Vastis should also form a part of the equipment, of a stable.

3. The Shed

There is an interesting account of how the horses are to be housed in a stable. The places where the horses were fastened, were called Sthānas (modern thana—even today we call it thāna). Only the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra has credit to mention it (Ch 33. 21-24). A series of Sthānas planned in a row formed the Aśva-sālā, which was always long (cf. Raghu-vaṃśa V—“Dīrgheṣvamī niyamitāḥ paṭa-maṇḍapeṣu”).

These were well decorated. Their dimensions (indicated in Ch. 33.22) are one Kiṣku in Āyāma and three Kiṣkus in Vistāra. These Sthānas are always to be laid facing either to the East or to the North. Again they are so constructed that their ūrdhva-bhāgas—the frontal parts should have the higher levels than those of hinder ones. Further again they should be quadrangular in shape.

Now as regards the fastening of the horses, the first direction is that a space of four hastas in all the corners of śālā, the chamber, should be left vacant before the fastening of the horses is to be undertaken. The second direction insists that comfortable position and enough space should be allotted to each horse, so that they may not touch one another and feel congested. This is only a general direction. Orientation of the directions has always been a matter of supreme importance, not only to the building-planning of India, but to any planning in ancient India. Here in the stable, placing of the horses must have due regard to this institution of orientation. Here it may be noted that the orientation of the chamber and the orientation of the horses stationed in it are two different things. For example, the orientation of the chamber to the South while acclaimed good, is bad for the horses The horses can be stationed facing the eastern direction. This being the most auspicious in all matters—in giving bath, dressing and decorating, worshipping and other auspicious performances of the horses. These prescriptions are not dogmatic. They relate to the hygiene of the place, the morning rays of the rising sun would be a perennial source of health and longevity to the horses. Similarly the southerly orientation is also acclaimed as auspicious. The chamber facing the South and the stable being placed on the pada presided over by Fire God—the soul of the Horses (Ātmā vahniśca vājinām), were both deemed as auspicious. The horses so placed never get old and feed well (Ajaro bahu-bhoktā ca). The Northerly orientation is also not bad, because in this position too, the rays of the sun make a circulation as it were and so are beneficial from the point of longevity and health. The southern direction and western direction of the stables are deemed inauspicious. Similarly the South-East, South-West, North-West and North-East are also bad.

4. Medical Home.

The text is emphatic that even for a moment sick horses should never remain with the healthy ones for the simple reason that they may develop infection (vide verse 74). Therefore, as many as four accessory chambers are needed and are termed as:—

  1. Bheṣajāgāra—the Dispensary.
  2. Ariṣṭamandira—the lying-in-chamber.
  3. The Vyādhita-bhavana—the hospital or sick wards.
  4. Sarva-sambhāra-veśma—medical stores, where-in should be stored all kinds of medicines—the salts, the oils, vartis, etc. etc.

All these structures (veśma-catuṣṭaya, 33, 78 are to be laid adjoining the stable proper and constructed beautifully with wall made strong with plaster (“sudhāvandhadṛḍhakuḍya”) and having high gate ways and porches (prāggrīvakas). They need not have partitioned rooms in them (viśālāni) but be simple rooms (sugamāni)

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: