The Basics of Vastu

This ancient theory of architecture from India deals with balancing your surroundings for optimal health and happiness.
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What Is Vastu?

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Vastu is similar to feng shui,
but not exactly the same.

Vastu, an ancient theory of architecture from India, is commonly referred to as the Indian feng shui, though it predates feng shui by thousands of years. Vastu theory, which emphasizes the harmony of nature and one's interconnectedness with the universe, is derived from the Vedas -- four volumes of sacred scripture that form the foundation of Hinduism. While vastu is based in architecture, it is also concerned with the proper placement and arrangement of property, gardens, buildings, rooms, and interior objects. Thoughtful placement and perfect balance of dwellings is thought to bring health, happiness, and wealth to the occupants.

Vastu is a complex discipline that is philosophically related to yoga, ayurveda (holistic health and disease prevention), and jyotish (an Indian astrology), all of which originate in the Vedic scriptures. Like feng shui, vastu adheres to directional guidelines. Different planets govern different directions, and each direction governs certain aspects of life, corresponding to various natural elements:

  • The northeast is the water area.

  • The southeast corresponds to fire.

  • The northwest is the air.

  • The northwest is the air.

  • The southwest relates to earth.

  • The center of the home or the room corresponds to space -- as in, the space around us.

Unlike feng shui, vastu can be highly individualized. An expert would consider an occupant's work, lifestyle, and personality before fine-tuning decisions about placement and remedies. The practice of ayurveda treats people according to their individual constitution, or "dosha," which is comprised of both physiological and psychological components. Each person can be primarily defined by one of the tri-doshas: vata (air or space), pitta (fire or water), or kapha (water or earth). The concept is that employing vastu will enhance and balance out your particular dosha.

A person's dosha is determined via comparison with complex lists of physical characteristics, personality traits, and common ailments. The doshas correspond not only to natural substances (air, fire, water, earth) but also to forces of nature and actions, such as wind, movement, transformation, balance, structure, and attachment.

The following Web site has comprehensive lists of each dosha's characteristics as well as signs of imbalance and remedies.


Vastu is gaining popularity in the U.S., largely because yoga has become a health fixture and holistic health practices have been mainstreamed by experts like Deepak Chopra. However, you'll currently find far fewer vastu resources and experts available than comparable feng shui resources. Begin by reading books. If you're serious about vastu, consult an architect who adheres to vastu's principles.

Continued on page 2:  Common Cures for Rooms


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