Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Nagara included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Nagara

In ancient days there were rules and principles regulating the construction of a city. The name 'city' could be applied to them only if they conformed to the rules and principles in vogue. The principles and rules of the erection of a proper city are given below:—

One yojana or a half of land should be selected as site.* The planning of the city should be commenced after worshipping the deity of Vāstu. There should be four main gates on the four sides, East, West, North and South. The South gate should be in the position of Gandharvapada, West gate in the place of Varuṇa, the North gate in the place of Soma (Moon) and the East fort gate in the place of Sūryapada (the position of the Sun). The haṭṭas (minor gates) should be wide enough for elephants etc. to pass through. The main gates should be six rods wide.

When the city is completed goldsmiths should be settled in the Agni corner** (i. e. South East). The courtesans who live by dancing etc. should have their houses on the south side of the city. The houses of actors, those who extract oil, fishermen etc. should be in the corner of Nirṛti (South West). Sheds for chariots, weapons, swords etc. should be on the western side. Dealers in liquor, carpenters, blacksmiths, masons etc. and servants should be given houses in the Vāyu corner i.e. North West. The houses of Brahmins, hermits, sages, saints, and such others should be on the north side. In the Īśāna corner (North East) merchants of vegetables and on the eastern side, the authorities of the army should have their houses.

The army (Infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants) should be put up in the Agni corner. On the south the goddesses who are protectors of women-folk should be consecrated. Archers should live in the Nirṛti corner. Most honourable people, Treasury officers, Leaders of the people, Brahmin groups and such others should have their abodes on the western side. So also Kṣatriyas should have their houses on the eastern side, Vaiśyas on the south and Śūdras on the west of the city. Vaiśyas and horses should be placed on all four sides. The army also should be placed thus. The movable wealth should be placed on the east side and the funeral place on the south. The cattle etc. should be kept on the west, farmers on the north, and the outcastes on the corners. This should be the plan of a city as well as that of villages too.

On the east fort-gate of cities and villages Vaiśravaṇa and Śrī Bhagavatī should be consecrated. They will confer prosperity upon those who visit them. Temples dedicated to Gods should be erected on the western side facing the east. If temples are erected on the east they should face the west and those erected on the south should face the North. For the protection of the city, there should be temples dedicated to Indra, Viṣṇu and such other Gods. If there is no worshipping place in a city, a village, a fort, or a house, such places will be haunted by devils and troubled by diseases etc. If cities are built according to this plan they will afford both salvation and prosperity.

On the east there should be the house of Lakṣmī, in the Agni corner, the kitchen on the south, bedrooms in the Nirṛti corner the weapon-house, on the west the dining hall, in the Vāyu corner, the granary, on the north, the treasury, and the place of worship in the Īśāna corner.

Houses could be erected with four blocks, three blocks or only one block. Houses with four blocks could be made in two hundred and fiftyfive ways by making changes in each block and the open verandas. Houses with three blocks are of four types; with two blocks are of five types; and houses of only one block are of four types. There are houses and cities with twentyeight open verandas. There are fiftyfive types of houses with four open verandas and seven open verandas. Houses with six open verandas and eight open verandas are of twenty types. In cities houses should have eight open verandas (Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 105).

*) A yojana is approximately twelve Kilometres.

**) To know the corners see under Aṣṭadikpālakas.

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