It is imperative that two of the well-known Eastern design methods-Feng-Shui (China) and Vastu shastra (India) are understood in a proper perspective, as both these disciplines in their own ways define the relationship between man and the cosmos.
In Chinese language Feng means wind & Shui means water, implying thereby that the technique involves balancing of the cosmic element water & the cosmic quality “wind” in a system to achieve harmony with the cosmic forces.
Vastu shastra has clear-cut definitions- Vastu means abode or a house & shastra means science or technology, i.e. it is the scientific method of house construction. Vastu shastra considers a house to be a living soul, having prana. Fengshui scripts denote water, fire, wood, gold and earth as the basic five elements forming the entire universe with ‘wind’ as the special quality attainable by these elements. Vastu shastra scriptures stress that every living and non-living entity, for that matter the entire world, is created out of the Panch-Maha-Bhutas – earth, water, fire, wind & ether.
“Ether” is considered the most important element in this system, as every possible transformation from one element to the other has to be routed through Akashtatva only. Vastu shastra has its own system of Vastu-Chakras, which is used in conjunction with Astrology; Astronomy & Yogashastra for site-selection & a magnetic compass decides the directional aspect. Interestingly, both the systems insist on N.S. orientation for a structure. Feng-Shui considers a land having reddish or yellowish soil as a good geomantic land.
Vastu shastra considers a land with white & yellow coloured soil for house construction. Red coloured soil is tolerated in Vastu shastra, but a site with black soil is prescribed for construction purposes, as such lands are prone to water-logging problems- a kind of environmental pollution. Feng-Shui insists that a body of water should flow in front of the main ent rance of the house. There is no preferred direction of water flow as Feng-shui allows positioning of the main entrance in any directions, depending on the birth year of the owner of the house. Vastu shastra on the other hand considers water flow in the direction N.E. to the Vastu as a beneficial factor with lunar-shaped (Chandrakar) N.E. directional flow as a pointer to frame & prosperity.
A major discrepancy in both these disciplines pertains to the direction of ventilator openings. Feng-shui considers N. as evil & prefers S. direction for window openings. In contrast Vastu shastra dictates the position of windows should be in the N.E.or N.E. directions only. Feng-Shui attempts to offer the households protection against yellow dust and sand which the chinese mainland receives from the deserts situated on the N. border of that country.
Vastu shastra follows scientific logic in selection of the window directions, in the sense that it considers the beneficial effects of early morning sunlight. Location & design of rooms in Feng-Shui are based on the traditional Le-Shu grid of nine squares which assigns different directions. In Vastu shastra the location of rooms are designated in the Vastu Purush Mandal, consisting of nine squares as influenced by the journey of the sun in its various phases.
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