Lesson 9 -- Spatial Measures

Copyright 2003-2009, Michael Borden, all rights reserved.

In Vaastu science, the building is laid out according to specific dimensions. These dimensions are a reflection of specific basic measures with which the designer begins his layout of the plan. The following is a transcript of a talk given by Ganapati Sthapati on the Tala System of Spatial Measures. Copyright Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati January 1997

This part is again getting into theoretical information, but it is important for understanding the technical application of the measures.

In the domain of the creative work of any art form or object of utility, we know that "movement" and "measure" always go hand in hand. These two elements of form figuration are indispensable in the sense that they ensure a definite shape of grace and beauty to the thought-form or experience.

Every country has developed a system of measures for its creative endeavors. For instance, we find the metric system being used in European countries and the foot-inch system in the American continent. Surprisingly, in India, though we have adopted the metric system of measures, from very early times there has been a unique system of linear measures, the significance of which is not known to the contemporary technical world.

The unit of measure that India used before the advent of the British system implied a unique concept of time and space. This time-measure has come to de designated in the scientific field by a peculiar term called "Kaala maanam" and in the technological domain as "Taala maaman", each of which means "time-measure". The "Time" that is known to the Vaastu Science is independent or absolute, not solar time, which is physical or relative.

There is a Tamil expression for signifying death: "Kaalamanan". This literally means that one has merged with "Time" or "dissolved in time". This is very much expressive of the scientific concept of time as held in the Indian tradition of Vaastu. "Time" signifies growth of the physical body and the end of that body. Time creates, sustains and erases life. This concept is not only applicable to objects in the universe, but also the universe itself. The universe itself is a product of time.

Time not only creates life but also give form to life. What is it that provides form to life? Is it not measure that gives form to life and makes it visible? Yes, time gives life and form. It is time that changes itself into measure.

The physical measures as given in the table of time-units (below) and those of space measures (converted into linear measures) are indeed vibrational measures, or digital measures, which the Vaastu designers apply in their layout of spaces. They are universal measures and of universal applicability since they are derived from the vibration of the universal space. The conversion of time units into spatial measures signifies that Time is equal to Space.

In normal life situations, the vibration of the inner space of the individual beings, though this inner space is part of the outer space, is experienced as not always being in harmony with the universal space. This disharmony is due to the time under which one is born. This is with reference to a branch of knowledge concerned with astronomy/astrology: a branch of the science of the mathematics of Time. Every being is born under the influence of a particular star, the negative or positive element being the quality of Time. In normal circumstances, observing an individual's rise and fall, we comment that it is the work of Time, "kalam seiyyum kolam", meaning: it is Time that has taken such a shape. This discovery of Time as the giver and shaper of form (life) revolutionized the pattern of culture and civilization of India.

In India the Tala measure is most familiarly applied to the field of Music and Dance, but that same Tala system has been in force for centuries in the domain of sculpture, architecture and poetry. This Tala measure is also denoted by another term, rhythm, which is used in the fields of music and dance all over the world. This Tala rhythm is used in the design of residential buildings, temple structures and sculptural forms. In the past, it was also used in designing furniture, vehicles and household utensils.

A casual look at the table of units offered in the Vaastu texts would not suffice to understand its significance because they are super scientific (not superstitious) and unheard of in any of the world measurement systems. The science behind these measurements has its origin in the vibration of the amorphous space filling in and surrounding the universe. The universe itself is a hypersensitive living organism. In Purusha Sukta we have an inkling on the origin and evolution of energy into space and space quantified into numerical measure: "He. the Purusha, surrounds the Earth and yet He stands high by a measure of ten angulas." Purusha, here, means the energy dwelling in or permeating the universe and all the objects in the universe. This sukta signifies the amorphic quality of space and also the intrinsic nature of space vibrating into a numerical measure of ten angulas.

The vibration of energy is the causal element of space and spatial forms. This vibration is designated as Time or Kala in the Vaastu tradition. The inner space and the outer space feel and vibrate their feelings into numbers, which result into spatial forms automatically. The process of form generation by the vibrant spirit takes place in between our experience and expression so swiftly that we have lost sight of the effective role of Time in the making of visual or aural forms. This particular aspect of the dynamism of the Spirit or Time was identified and quantified by Mayan, the Indian scientist. It is he who has defined Time as the unit of vibration of Energy and also Time as absolute. This vibration and the process of form generation are the work of the universal spirit. The whole process of manifestation rests in the hands of Time, which is the innate quality of the Spirit -- the Viswa Brahman. Time is personified as Viswakarman (kinetic energy) and the Spirit as Viswa Brahman (potential energy). How the dynamics and the formulas of Viswakarman, the creator of the universe, have been realized and applied to create things of beauty and utility is the achievement of Vaastu science and technology. Though this science the human being is able to achieve unity with universal spirit while on Earth.

All objects of nature are rhythm-bound-forms or time-bound-forms. The generation of forms out of the vibration of energy-space is identified and quantified by Mayan as "Eight" and multiples of eight. In the table of time units and space units you will find the evolution of the measure starting from zero (then springing from the most basic form the Paramanu) and evolving forms in multiples of eight. This number eight is held very sacred in vaastu science. The nature of the number eight is to turn into form.

Eight is the basic formula of rhythms influencing the growth of all animate forms. It is the rhythm of the universe: the primal universal vibration and, as such, it is Divine. Eight is the fundamental measure adopted by dancers, musicians, poets, architects and sculptors for all the growth of artistic forms that they generate from within. This eight, as the primal Taala unit, is called "adi-taala". This, also, is the subtle taala experienced by human beings at the inner level of the heart. Vaastu measures are derived from this is Divine rhythm. All other taalas are derivatives, thus giving rise to countless forms.

The human body itself has undergone this rhythmic growth. The full-fledged human body consists of eight units of measure: This corresponds to the length of the face - 1 talam, torso - 3 talams, thigh - 2 talams and lower leg - 2 talams.

Angula Samkhya Table
The units of Time and Space
Table of Time units: Table of Space units:
8 Ganam = 1 Lavam 8 Anus = 1 Car dust
8 Lavam = 1 Kaashtam 8 Car dusts = 1 Immi
8 Laashtam = 1 Nimisham 8 Immi = 1 Ellu(sesame seed)
8 Nimisham = 1 Tudi 8 Ellu = 1 Nel(Unhusked paddy grain)
8 Tudi = 1 Kuru 8 Nel = 1 Angula(Finger measure)
2 Tudi = 1 Druham 6 Angulas = 1 Taalam
2 Druham = 1 Laghu 12 Angulas = 1 Vitasti
2 Laghu = 1 Kuru 24 Angulas = 1 Hasta
3 Laghu = 1 Puvadam 8 Hastam = 1 Dandam
4 Laghu = 1 Kaaka Padam 8 Dandam = 1 Rajju

Table of Vaastu Units
1 Angula 1-3/8 inches
24 Angulas = 1 Hasta 33 inches

From these tables we can see that the number "eight" is a very significant quality of universal measure. When "eight is taken as "Time" it is called rhythm and when it is taken as "Space", it is also called rhythm. The former is rhythmic time and the latter is rhythmic space. These rhythms are derived from universal time and space and represent a universal order. These rhythms we call Taalam.

Since the subtle space enclosed within our bodies is part of the universal space, the inherent rhythm should be the same, but, in reality, it is very rare to find an individual with inner rhythm equal to that of the universe. If the individual rhythm is in tune with universal rhythm, the individual is said to be in commune with the universal Being and enjoying spiritual growth, peace and bliss.

Now the question is how is this Taalam or rhythm applied to the architecture of a building? In architecture Time-measure is taken as Space measure. We have already introduced the fact that a building is a living organism by virtue of enclosing the energetic space and also the vibrations that it is capable of generating from within. When the building becomes the living space for an individual or family, the order attributed to the universal space should be established within the built space. Since this order or rhythm is a numerical measure - I would call it an architectural octave - the architect, with the knowledge of the science and application of this octave, designs the building with respect to it. In this way the occupants are facilitated in living in harmony with universal rhythm. (We'll get into specifics soon.)

The Taalam, as measured or derived from the space (paramanu: the most subtle form of manifest universe), is said to be the standard or universal measure applicable to all private and public spaces. One Taalam measures six angulas and from this Taala measure is evolved the hasta measure of 24 angulas. This hasta is also called "the carpenter's scale". One hasta is equivalent to 33 inches.

Application of Taalam to the human body:

The universal octave is identified in the human form as follows: the face length is one taalam, the torso is 3 taalam, the thigh is 2 taalam and the lower leg is 2 taalam. Certain parts of the body are not taken into account: hair to top of scull, neck, kneecap and foot. Each of these parts is measured as 1/4 taalam. This gives a total of one more taalam which, when added to the eight already measured gives the body a height of 9 tallam. This measure is called "Navataalam" and the eight taalam height is called "Ashtataalam". These two measures are considered to be basic, the eight height conforming to the octaval measure of spiritual taalam. The significance of the "navataalam" is that those minor parts of the body are all links provided for mobility of the human body. The Vaastu science says that in the transformation of the human body from subtle to gross, there exists no difference in quantity and quality, though physically the eight units change into nine and superficially look different. The ashtataalam is treated as the subtle measure and the navataalam as gross measure.

The architectural octave is the Vastu Purusha Mandala. The Manduka Vastu Purusha Mandala Has the layout of 8 x 8 = 64 units. This energy grid or luminous grid is the picture of the Ultimate - the unitary atom - going into a split or explosion for manifestation in the pattern of 8 x 8 units. This atom is the ultimate visual manifest form of Brahman. Brahmin is the ultimate rhythm. It is the rhythm of Brahmin that we pattern for the design of the building.

Lesson 10