From Aditya Hrdyam something made me to move to Vastu Sastra. I had been reading about it for several months now. What I present here are my understandings and in some case mappings of my understandings.
Brihat Samhita, Mayamata, Manasara et al talk about a concept of Mandalas in Vastu Sastra. If I state here that P.K.Acharya’s pioneering work on Manasara was the major driving force for protecting this arm of sthapathya Veda, it is not an exaggeration.
That was a great work that has returned us the knowledge of our heritage. I would begin my analysis of Vastu sastra with an analysis on the concept of Mandalas, as defined in Manasara, as compiled by P.K.Acharya.
In these series of blogs, my primary aim is to state the design pattern of the mandala structures (as I understand them), map it with cosmic structures, understand the gods and their meanings, map the energy flow depicted in cosmic structures to human built structures, understand the proportions and thumb-rules given in sastras and make it more usable and understable to us.
In short it is about un-covering the ‘real’ scientific aspects of Vastu Sastras.
The Hoax of Vastu Purusha Mandala
Vastu sastra as we see in the commercial form today seems to have picked up somewhere in the sixties/eighties based on the work of western scholars like Stella Kamrish on this subject, who coined terms like ‘Vastu Purusha Mandala’.
The term ‘Vastu Purusha Mandala’ does not exist in Brihat Samhita, Manasara, Mayamata or Viswakarma sutras.
There are several mandalas described in Vastu sastras. These mandalas are cosmological structures (stellar systems and objects) available in Universe. Vastu sastras define these mandalas in a ‘Graph’ and prescribe human-built structures to follow the same patterns as available in the Universe.
Some mandalas have been prescribed as structures for specific purposes that humans can use. What we see today as being ‘sold’ as ‘Vastu Purusha Mandala’ is actually Paramasayika Mandala. But it does not mean that Vastu Purusha resides only in this structure. The term Vastu Purusha itself needs to be questioned or understood in a different way rather than a simple ‘God’ or ‘Demon’, as this simplifications leads to all other errors.
Vastu sastras do not start or end with Mandalas. The most important aspect of Vastu sastras for our house is that they try to define a direction of energy flow for human-built structures based on the energy flow in cosmological structure. How to use it would be in some other blog.
A Mandala is used to indicate something with a finite set of limits/boundaries. The word mandala itself is derived from the root manda, which means essence, to which the suffix -la, meaning container, has been added. Thus, one obvious connotation of mandala is that it is a container of essence.
Hence a mandala can be in Matter(distribution of matter in space) or Time (distribution of time in space) dimensions. In any dimension, within a finite set that represent the ‘essence’ of something is called Mandala.
The Mandalas described in Manasara are in spatial dimensions that talk about how matter can be distributed in a given space.
Manasara talks about 32 different types of structures (mandalas) by which matter can be distributed in space. These Mandalas, in my view, are synchronous with 32 different cosmological structures. In other words, since there are 32 different cosmological structures, 32 human-built structures are defined.
The 32 types of Mandalas are:
- Sakala Mandala
- Pechaka Mandala
- Pita Mandala
- MahaPita Mandala
- UpaPita Mandala
- UgraPita Mandala
- Sthandila Mandala
- Manduka/Chandita Mandala
- Paramasayika Mandala
- Asana Mandala
- Sthaniya Mandala
- DeSya Mandala
- Ubhaya-chandita Mandala
- Bhadra Mandala
- MahAsana Mandala
- Padma-Garbha Mandala
- Tri-yuta Mandala
- KarnAshtaka Mandala
- Ganita Mandala
- Surya-visAlaka Mandala
- Susamhita Mandala
- SupratikAnta Mandala
- VisAlaka Mandala
- Vipra-garbha Mandala
- ViveSa Mandala
- Vipulya-bhoga Mandala
- Vipra-Kunta Mandala
- VisalAksha Mandala
- Vipra-bhakti Mandala
- VisveSvara Mandala
- Isvara-kAnta Mandala
- ChanrakAnta Mandala
Manasara not only defines these 32 types of structures, but also says which structure is suited for what purpose.
Design Pattern in Vastu Mandalas
There are two basic design patterns in the Mandalas defined in Manasara.
- Pattern with a central object surrounded by loops/rings/orbits (having matter/energy). Cosmologically, these correspond to stellar systems in which there is extreme mass difference, due to which stellar objects of lower mass orbit around the object of the very large mass, though the very large mass object itself is also orbiting in a smaller orbit. (Like Earth-Moon systems)
- Pattern of several loops/rings/orbits (having matter/energy) that are concentric or overlapping each other. (Eg: Multi-star systems). Cosmologically, these correspond to stellar systems in which the mass difference is not extreme and hence stellar objects move around in multiple orbits around each other or around a common ‘barycenter’.
In stellar systems, since a central object could itself be in a loop/orbit, it is difficult to distinguish between an object and a loop. The rule I see being followed is, if the object is at the center and indivisible meaningfully (a planet, a blackhole) it is a NOT a loop/orbit.
For eg. Earth and Moon are in piTa mandala based on this.
These two patterns are ‘graphically’ (as in a Graph) depicted in terms of ‘Pada’s of varying numbers from 1 to 32. For example structures of Pada 1, 3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31 (odd number padas) are of design pattern with a central hole/space/energy surrounded by loops that contain energy. Similarly structures of Pada 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26,28,30,32 are of design pattern of several loops of energy without any central hole/space/energy.
Pada, here simply refers to a ‘division’. In modern terms, it could be seen as a method of ‘graphically’ plotting a structure. In fact the various mandalas are nothing but graphically depicting human-built structures and cosmological structures.
The basic principle of vertical ‘division’ or graphing here is each energy loop is in only one division (one Pada) and each central object is is only one division (pada). Similarly the basic principle of horizontal ‘division’ or graphing here is each energy loop is in only one division (pada) and each central object is in only one division (pada).
For example, a structure with 3 ‘Padas’ is a structure (as shown in the figures above) which can be divided vertically into 3 divisions and horizontally into 3 divisions. This means we get a structure that is divided into 9 parts in total.
The dividing lines are run vertically encapsulating each energy loop and the object at the centre(if present). Similarly the dividing lines are run horizontally encapsulating each energy loop and the object at the centre (if present). The ‘centre object’ here may not be the real ‘central object’. It is an object that is indivisibly encapsulated or ‘boxed’ on both horizontal and vertical sides and could be located anywhere. These ‘central’ objects when drawn in a graph are encapsulated and not divided, if they are not divisible meaningfully (does not evolve further, for eg planets, blackholes). The central object, if it is divisible meaningfully (evolves further as in a star) is divided from the center in a graph, as it is always considered to be a in a loop or orbit.
Actually these ‘parts’ that are formed by the intersection of horizontal and vertical lines are not equal squares. In fact the measurements talked about clearly indicate that they are not equal squares.
The Concept of Veethis
Each loop/ring/orbit around the center is characterized as a ‘Veethi’ or ‘Path’ by Vastu sastras. The center could be an object or could be the ‘barycenter’ of the objects in orbit. ‘Barycenter’ is an imaginary center of the mass of objects orbiting around themselves.
In the Mandalas, a set of four veethis called ‘Brahma Veethi’, ‘Deva Veethi’, ‘Manushya Veethi’ and ‘Paisaca veethi’ are defined. The Brahma Veeth is around the core of the mandala, Deva Veethi is away from that, Manushya veethi is further away from that and paisacha veethi is at the edges.
The veethis are also a pattern that replicates across Universe, in every galaxy, stars and planets.
Veethis of Universe
When it comes to our Universe, according to Aitareya Upanishad, the core Brahma veethi is around the highest of energies (dyau-loka where Atma resides and from which Amba and Purusha were taken out), Deva veethi is around the paths where energy becomes particle/matter and forces manifest (deva-loka where rudras, adityas and vasus form, which I have interpreted as forces, chemical elements and biological factors in my previous blogs. This is an immortal world compared to the mortal forms of matter and life), Manushya veethi is where mortal life sustains (matter in terms elements, compounds, biological forms, Naras, Gandharvas, Yakshas etc live) and Paisaca veethi is where hidden life forms alone (paisacas which I map to bacteria, virus and other hidden primitive life forms currently) exists.
Veethis of our Galaxy
The same pattern exists in a galaxy for example, milky-way galaxy, which I map it to Paramasayika Mandala in subsequent sections.
When it comes to our Galaxy, the word ‘Devas’ morphs to indicate higher intelligent life-forms on the basis that they are divine. Paisacas morphs to indicate primitive life-forms.
I have mapped the structure of Paramasayika mandala to structure of Milky-way Galaxy in this series of blogs. The Brahma Veethi refers to paths around the central object (in this case black-hole of our galaxy) and has high energy. The Deva Veethi refers to the paths further away and may consist of first-evolved planets and life systems. The Manushya Veethi refers to paths in which we live (the orion-cygnus arm of galaxy) and paisacha veethi refers to planets/life-systems in arms of our galaxy situated further away.
A clear-cut possibility is that Aryama, Paisacha and Gandharva mentioned in this mandala could be planets/extra-terrestrial systems in the galaxy, though I should admit this is not the core of this article and this extrapolation could be true or false. More on the mapping of structure of Paramasayika Mandala to structure of Milky-way in my next blog.
Veethis of our Solar System
When it comes to our Solar System, around our sun we have a Brahma Veethi which probably encapsulates Mercuy, Deva Veethi which encapsulates Venus and Manushya Veethi which encapsulates Earth and Paisaca veethi which encapsulates Mars. Again
Veethis of our Planet Earth
When it comes to our planet earth, the Brahma Veethi is around the core of our Earth (with high energy). The Deva veethi is around the mantle of Earth, which is rocky. The Manushya Veethi is around the crust, where life forms evolve. The Paisacha veethi is around the atmosphere, in which hidden life-forms of bacteria/virus propagate.
Similarly on the Earth;s crust, any man-made structure that is made, of a temple or palace or village or town or even our house has the same pattern.
The concept of Padas and Orbits
In these series of blogs, I would be describing the various mandalas primarily from a cosmological view-point. Hence I would use the terminology of orbits primarily and not the ‘padas/divisions’ as done in traditional definitions.
The concept of mandalas is primarily used in site plans for courts, temples, multi-storeyed buildings, wells, granaire etc. Since each Mandala is bigger than the previous mandala in size and complexity and the mandalas are primarily used as plans for bigger and bigger layouts, the pada/divisions usage is able to give a ratio of proportions to the layout.
For eg., in the jAti type of courts (a type of Court specified in Manasara), where the edifice is to be in a sakala Mandala, in a five-courts structure, the first court is of pItha Mandala (9 divisions), second court is of Sthandila Mandala (49 divisions), third court is of Ubhaya Chandita Mandala (169 divisions), fourth court is of Susamhita mandala (441 divisions), fifth court is of Isvarakanta mandala (961 divisions). Thus one is able to make sense of the proportions of various courts.
The same can be seen in terms of orbit structures as defined here. The piTha mandala is of 1 orbit around a central object, Sthandila Mandala is of 3 orbits around a central object, Ubhaya-Chandita is of 6 orbits around a central object, Susamhita is of 10 objects around a central object, Isvara-Kantha is of 15 orbits around a central object.
Note that the orbits increase in terms of Triangular Numbers, when we plot it in the orbital way, which explains why these Mandalas are chosen for the jAti type of courts. The formula for this is (n(n+1)) / 2.
Similarly in the Chhanda type of courts, where the edifice is in Pazaka mandala, which starts from MahapiTha mandala as the first court, the orbits go increasing by ((n(n+1))/2) + 1.
Hence while Padas/divisions help the architects to plan, the concept of orbits could help the researcher to understand why these mandalas and proportions are prescribed in the first place.
The Division of Mandalas
Though there are 32 mandalas, I see there are four broad categories. Sakala Mandala to Paramasayika, Asana to Tri-Yuta, KarnAshtaka to Vivesa and Vipulya-Bhoga to ChandraKanta.
Division of Universe :Manduka
The Sakala Mandala to Paramasayika depict the entire Universe by dividing the entire Universe into four broad loops/orbits.
Sakala Mandala depicts the energy object at the center. It actually thus depicts the core Atman, from whom the entire Universe is said to be originated from (according to Aitareya Upanishad). Atman is supposed to be present in every thing deep inside, as everything has evolved from it including the space, force-fields, matter, energy.
Pazaka Mandala depicts a single loop/orbit. Pitha Mandala depicts a single loop/orbit encapsulating an energy object. These Mandala structures depict the Brahma-Veethi of the Universe that encapsulates the Dyauh-Loka
MahaPita Mandala depicts two loops/orbits. Upapita depicts two loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object. These Mandala structures depict the Deva veethi of the Universe that encapsulate the Deva-Loka.
Ugrapita depicts three loops/orbits. Sthandila depicts three loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object. These Mandala structures depict the Manushya Veethi of the Universe that encapsulates the Boo-Loka.
Manduka/Chandita depicts four loops/orbits. Paramasayika depicts four loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object. These Mandala structures depict the Paisacha Veethi of the Universe that encapsulates the Patala-Loka.
Thus these mandala structures divide the Universe into four overall divisions.
Division of Dyauh-Loka : Padma Garbha
The mandalas Asana to Tri-Yuta divide the Dyauh-Loka (inside Brahma Veethi) into further four divisions.
Asana Mandala (which means Sitting Asana posture of Shiva who is the force of Purusha on Amb a) has five loops/orbits. Sthaniya mandala that has five loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object along with Asana mandala is the first sub-division of Dyauh-Loka.
DeSya Mandala that has six loops/orbits and Ubhaya-chandita Mandala (which means loops/orbits on both sides of chandita) that has six loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the second sub-division of dyauh-loka.
Bhadra Mandala (that means attendant mandalas) that has seven loops/orbits and MahAsana mandala (the seat of Amba as symbolized in Sri Yantra) that has seven loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the third sub-division of dyauh-loka.
Padma-Garbha Mandala (that means the most honorable uterus from which Maha-vishnu comes) that has eight loops/orbits and Tri-Yuta Mandala (which means united three, a combination of Shiva, Amba and Vishnu) that has eight loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the fourth sub-division of dyau-loka.
PadmaGarbha Mandala symbolizes the Uterus in the sense that dyau-Loka is the uterus from which Universe evolved. Hence it is called the Padma-Garba.
Division of Deva Loka (Immortal world) : Vipra-Garba
KarnAshtaka Mandala (that means eight loops with an ear lobe) that has nine loops/orbits and Ganita mandala that has nine loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the first sub-division of Deva-Loka.
Surya-visAlaka Mandala (that means wide-reach of sun) that has ten loops/orbits and Susamhita Mandala (means well united with chief) that has ten loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the second sub-division of Deva-Loka.
SupratikAnta Mandala (that means most attractive form/shape) that has eleven loops/orbits and VisAlaka mandala that has eleven loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the third sub-division of Deva-Loka.
Vipra-garbha Mandala (means source/uterus of the awakened/wise) that has twelve loops/orbits and ViveSa mandala that has twelve loops/orbits encapsulating an energy object form the fourth sub-division of Deva-Loka.
Vipra-garbha Mandala symbolize the Uterus of the awakened in the sense that particles and forces emanated from this Loka. Hence it is called Vipra-Garba.
Division of Manushya Loka (Mortal world): ChandraKanta
Vipulya-bhoga Mandala (means large/abundant consumption of resources) that has thirteen loops/orbits and Vipra-Kunta Mandala (which means abundantly awakened) form the first sub-division of Manushya Loka.
VisalAksha Mandala (means large eye) that has fourteen loops/orbits and Vipra-bhakti Mandala (which means devotion of the awakened) that has fourteen loops/orbits around an energy object form the second sub-division of Manushya Loka.
VisveSvara Mandala (means universally spread force/space along with matter) has fifteen loops/orbits and Isvara-kAnta Mandala (which means attractive Isvara) that has fifteen loops/orbits around an energy object form the third sub-division of Manushya Loka.
ChanrakAnta Mandala (means the night blossoming lily) that has sixteen loops/orbits forms the fourth sub-division of Manushya Loka. It symbolizes the awakening of life in the darkness of knowledge.
Chandrakanta mandala symbolizes the attraction/awakening of life in darkness of knowledge. Hence it is called ChandraKanta.
Roughly from scientific view also, if we start from Earth/Solar system/Galaxy and go towards origins of Universe, we will see the Manushya Loka region (where awakened particles of matter and life exists, in terms of stars, galaxies etc), Deva Veethi (where pure particles are seen) and Dyauh-Loka (beyond our vision, probably a primordial matter condensate exists).
Next in Series..
In the next series of blogs, I would discuss each and every Mandala in detail and their relationship to human built structures.
- Architecture of Manasara series – P.K.Acharya
More posts by this author:
- Vastu Sastra Redefined – Part II
- Top-level Summary of Hari,iSa,Asvins
- The Mantra Tantras of Sandhya Vandanam – Pranava Japam
- Learning physics through Vedas and puranas – 3
- Learning Physics from Vedas and Puranas -2