feng shui, there was vastu shastra
Indian science has formulas to
align a home with nature
Interiors, décor can be modified to best advantage
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
The next time you want to rearrange
the furniture, let a 3,500-year-old Indian science called vastu
shastra help with the project.
vastu for short (vastu meaning "place of dwelling" in
Sanskrit and shastra meaning science), it originates in the Vedas,
which are ancient sacred Hindu scriptures. It's only recently
being embraced by Westerners, who are finding that there is a
connection between the spaces that they live in and their bodies,
minds and souls.
has formulas for planning and constructing a home to align it with
nature's five elements: sky, air, earth, fire and water.
element is associated with a particular direction: water in the
northeast, fire in the southeast, earth in the southwest, air in
the northwest and space in the centre.
principles are also based on the sun's influence, the wind's
direction, the position of the moon, the earth's magnetic field
and the influence of the cosmos on our planet.
the way we are in modern cities, there's not much scope to get
land and make structural changes," says real estate agent Suresh
has also been a vastu consultant in Toronto since 1995. "But
you can change the use of rooms, furniture placement and if
possible, re-do the interiors."
you look over your décor, pause to consider this: Is the
fireplace against the south wall? That's the fire quadrant and
vastu advocates placing heavy objects in the south and west of
your home to block the negative energy of the midday sun.
other general rules, the door to your home should be in the
auspicious east or north, the kitchen in the southeast corner and
the bed in the southwest corner of the house. (The southwest
corner is the earth quadrant and is considered to have an
east-facing kitchen gets the morning sun, which is filled with
energy, while the orange rays at dusk filtering into the bedroom
are conducive to rest.
with one's head to the north is a no-no. According to vastu
principles, the human body acts as a magnet with the head as its
North Pole. If the head points north while sleeping, the North
Poles of the body and Earth will repel each other, affecting the
blood circulation and causing disturbed sleep and stress.
beyond generalities, come the specifics. How will a particular
consultants, like Jaura,
to personalize their advice. Others, like Manhattan-based Kathleen
Cox, use ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical science that examines
a person's constitution to decide what kind of décor complements
his or her health.
who calls vastu "yoga for the home," would recommend
water-based décor such as an indoor fountain and using earth
colours to calm and ground a person with a fiery temperament.
be hard-pressed to avoid Cox even with the most desultory Internet
searches on vastu. She has studied the subject extensively, having
spent more than a decade living in India. Cox brought the science
to North America, has written two books on it and is persevering
in her efforts to make it part of the mainstream.
not an easy task, being faced with resistance from skeptics.
"Vastu today is where yoga was 25 years ago," she says.
"People don't want to acknowledge that space has an impact,
that space is powerful."
circle is a dynamic shape. So a circular table is ideal for
president of Versatile Microsystems, which integrates computer
systems for retail stores, says his budding interest in vastu was
further sparked when he consulted
about his Toronto workplace.
expanded and moved into a south-facing office in his building,
creating two spaces for work. His business "literally dropped
to zero" for three months after that. Jaura
then advised him to use only his original office. In vastu, south
is the most inauspicious direction for an entrance — the
direction where the god of death dwells
me, the results were dramatic," he says of the change. He
landed a big
deal within a month.
obtained vastu advice for his home, too. He had to tinker with his
existing décor — his home office was moved to one of the
bedrooms on the top floor of the house from the basement, since
basements are not conducive to proper energy flow. Anand also
changed the placement of some of his furniture. Did it make a
difference at home?
have a smooth-running family," he says. He doesn't know how
much of that is due to vastu, but something is working. "Vastu
doesn't do everything. But it is one more tool one uses to fix
things," says Anand.
is vastu just another word for feng shui? No, say the experts,
citing inherent differences. "Unlike feng shui," says
Cox, "vastu isn't prescriptive — it simply tells you the
consequences of your actions."
instance, it tells you a circle is a dynamic shape. So a circular
table is ideal for brainstorming or can be used in restaurants
that want a quick turnover. But a square-based dining table is
conducive for eating leisurely. However, "it isn't a
malevolent science,'' she says. It doesn't say do this or you'll
face bad luck.
is another school of vastu thought that views décor changes as
merely cosmetic. If changes must be made, start from scratch —
from choosing a suitable land for your home, to constructing it
according to vastu principles.
Maharishi Global Construction (MGC) does just that. Inspired by
one-time Beatles' guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — who is said to
have introduced transcendental meditation to the world — the
firm offers vastu-based design plans and consultation on issues
ranging from the ideal topography of the land for your home, to
the colour of your walls.
Doug Greenfield is a private developer and a partner in an oil
company in the U.S. Midwest. He was "completely shocked'' by
the effect of moving his oil company to a Fairfield, Iowa building
built on Vedic principles. The company became more coherent,
employee-broker disputes were resolved and sales went up 20 per
cent every year except one, when it was impacted by the 9/11
holds the volunteer position of president of MGC. Building a house
the Vedic way, using environment-friendly materials, can cost up
to 10 per cent more than usual homes. But there is interest, he
says, among "forward-thinking people that want to protect the
earth and the environment and society."
company has built homes in the U.S. and Canada for blood and
cancer centres, offices, condos and "hundreds of residential
of these homes is in Sarnia, Ont. owned by Shannon and David
Bourke, who teach transcendental meditation.
colours on our walls are cream and gold, pastel pinks and peach
... with no dramatic contrast especially in the bedrooms,"
says Shannon Bourke. "There is no black, no grey. We have to
use very clear colours and keep the home light and airy.
is so much light in the house, we notice the changes in the sun
and moon every night. We feel very connected to nature," she
use all-natural materials — silk curtains in the meditation room
and bedroom, granite kitchen countertop, marble fireplace and wood
floors. The home faces Lake Huron to the north, the best location
for water in vastu.
cost of building their house 11 years ago was in the $400,000 to
precious of all, Bourke says she experienced a miracle. After
multiple miscarriages, she was told she could have no more
children. After moving into this house, she had another baby. It
was a girl.