Lesson 10 -- Orientation of Buildings and Cities

From my discussions with Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati
and an article written by him on the topic of Orientation.
Copyright Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, January 1997


Orientation is an important aspect of building design. Orientation is the act of positioning the building or city with respect to the cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.

Vaastu science attaches great importance to the basic line of demarcation by which the sphere of the Earth gets separated into upper and lower hemispheres. This line of demarcation is called the equator where the Earth is not only closer to the sun but also at a right angle to its axis. This horizontal line running east-west is called "suddhaprachee" meaning true east. The lines drawn perpendicular to this true east-west line are true north and true south. These are the four basic directions commonly know as cardinal directions.

These lines are considered as lines emanating from the center of the Earth. These directional lines are also conduits by which the energy concentrated at the center of the Earth flows out and spreads over the surface. The lines form an energy grid over the whole Earth. They are also lines of absorption of solar, lunar and stellar energies. (Remember the Earth is a living being) All planets including the Earth are suspended or soaked in the ocean of space, which is the source of energy that sustains all embodied energies including human beings. This is the vital energy that Vaastu science is keeping in mind when it formulates rules and codes for designing buildings.

The Vaastu designer uses the Vaastu Purusha Mandala as the basic pattern for the layout of the building or city. If this grid plan of the mandala is oriented to the cardinal directions of the earthly grid then the plan of the structure is said to lie exactly over the earthly grid. This establishes a kind of geometric congruency or harmony with the earthly energy grid. If there is any distortion, deviation or deflection in the grid lines of the building from the Earth's grid lines, then the built space is said to be in disharmony with the Earth's energy grid. If the respective grids are in alignment then the Earth and structure respond to each other in terms of energy spaces. This is proper orientation. This is a vital element of design technology in Vaastu science. Please remember that we are wedded to the Earth and perennially exposed to the energy fuming out of it. To be in harmony with Earth's nature is of paramount importance. If we live contrary to this natural law, we cannot escape the negative effects.

We mentioned "true east" or Suddha prachee. There is another east called "Esaprachee" which is a line deflected toward the north of the east point. Certain benefits are attributed to these two east lines. True east is most suitable for temples, factories and other public institutions and the deflected east is said to be good for dwelling places. (I have to confirm the degree of deflection with Sthapati, but it is only one or two degrees)

The cardinal directions are determined, in the Vaastu tradition, from the shadow cast on a level ground on which a circle is drawn and a gnomon (a tall, slender, cone shaped object) erected at the center. The shadows cast on the ground touch the periphery of the circle, one in the morning and another in the evening. The points touching the rim are called "bindus", the joining of which will turn into a straight line indicating the direction at a particular day of the month which would be brought to true east by corrections with respect to the month under examination. On the true east-west line, a perpendicular line is drawn to arrive at the north-south direction.

Orientation is a simple but vital aspect of Vaastu design.

Lesson 11