Saturday, April 19, 2008

Swastika engraved on stone or brick

One of the long forgotten conventions of Vaastu sastra is

the use of Sawstika engraved on stone.

We come to hear of archaeological discovery of swastika in Harappan sites

and it will be worthwhile to probe whether this has any connection to vaastu sastra.

Given that this discovery is in Bharatha,

known for its long tradition of vedic based culture,

it is imperative that we look at all possible clues from Vedic style of living,

to interpret this.

One such interpretation is related to vaastu sastra,

which was the very core of any type of construction.

Since the Harappan sites contain dwelling structures,

it is recommended that an analysis of them is done

on the basis of vaastu sastra to know whether they adhere to vaastu principles.

Vishwakarma is the name associated with vaastu sastra.

He had been associated with building many structures on this earth.

His name is connected to times even before the Himalayas came into existence.

He is said to have constructed the abodes of Shiva in Meru

and later in the Himalayas, and then in Lanka which came to be occupied by Ravana.

His name is also indirectly associated with Sethu, in that

it was built by his son, Nala.

The various rules of construction of various structures are found in a book called,

“Vishwakarma PrakAshika”, a compilation of construction rules

supposed to have been given by Vishwakarma himself.

This is the core book followed in Vaastu sastra.

According to this book,

the first stone / brick to be laid for foundation must be engraved with a swastika

and done shilanyas puja to it.

It must be placed at the center of the proposed house

and upon this only further foundation had to be built.

“TasmAnmadhya pradEshEtu shilaikAm stApayEdbhudah

Grha madhyE nAbhi mAtram kritvAgartam samantatah

ShilA madhyE likhEdyantram swasti kAkhyamsushOnam."

(Vishwakarma PrakAshikA – 12-41)

This practice is a forgotten one today.

The shilanyas puja done to the brick is mostly laid in the North east corner.

But in olden days, as per this sastra,

a stone was used with swastika engraved on it.

The puja was done to it and it was laid at the center of the house.

This swastika is the swastika yantra.

In the case of renovation of the house too, this practice was followed.

This is a must-be-done in the construction of

any housing structure made of stones, including palatial buildings.

In the case of construction of houses made of wood, grass and leaves

and in the construction of Yaaga shaalas,

the wooden pillar was first erected before starting the work.

This also goes to show that the ‘yupa’ or ‘sthampa’ (pillar) associated with yajnas

was part of foundation-puja like shilanyas,

and not for sacrificing animals as many tend to think.


drjmercay said...

I am wondering if you have given a misinterpretation of a traditional practice done by vishwakarmans when the lay the foundation stones for house or temple. The practice done is that there are five stones with tamil or sanskrit vowels placed on them. they are placed in the NE corner in the form of the swastika. That is one of the traditional ways to lay foundation deposit. I will ask my friend Santanan Krishna Shanmugan, a traditional temple architect if this is a mis-reading fo the shastra on your part. Thank you for presenting what you have.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ drjmercay,

Please check the text of Vishwakarma Prakasika that I have given - it is given 'Graha madhye' - "naabhi".

I welcome information from you and your friend. My source is only theoretical which I studied as part of Vastu sastra for my Masters, whereas the Vishwakarmas are the people who have hands on experience. However I can say the differences between Vishwakarma and Mayan school of architecture. The corner stone is Mayan school which had spread to Europe too. Read this wiki article.

Perhaps the corner stone was adopted by vishwakarma school at a later date. Earlier Vishwakarma maintained distinct differences from Mayan. I believe that everything is blended today. The Tamil letters is regional application. Sanskrit must have been oldest and original practice.

drjmercay said...

Thank you for your response. would you mind stating what you find are the major differences between the Vishwakarma (north India architecture) and the Mayan (south Indian) architecture? That is, technical differences beyond stylistic differences. I have heard that there are differences but have yet to find them. There are differences between ancient texts and more modern texts (those written in the past 500-1000 or so years). For example more modern texts mention astrological links beyond nakshatra. None of the ancient texts - north or south - mention astrology. That was something added by modern joytishis (modern meaning last 500- 1000 or so years) For example, the Brihat Samhita mentions astrology as related to Vaastu but it also mentions growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems... the fact is, beyond nakshatra there is no relationship between vaastu and astrology. People who do astrology would like to get their fingers in the vaastu pot like to propagate that false knowledge but in fact it is not in andy of the original ancient vaastu texts and Vishwakarmans do not consider it at all beyond nakshatra. The author of Brihat samhit , Varāhamihira, was a Shrigaud Brahmin. while he was a great scholar, he was not a Vishwakarman and hence did not have the technical understanding to interpret the Vaastu Shastras.

This appears to be the case with a number of modern (ancient modern) texts. For example, the Mayamata has undergone at least 5 major rewrites and currently has misunderstandings regarding construction due to the lack of understanding of technical terms. My mentor, the late Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, doyan of Vaastu Shastras, had an original copy handed down through generations via palm leaves. My point here is that the Vaastu shastras are mistranslated and misunderstood - especially more recent ones. Another related point is that my mentor and other scholars have found that Mayan and Vishwakarma are one and the same person - not different people.

Back to my point - please tell me from your research what you found to be the technical differences (beyond style) between north and south indian vaastu architecture.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ drjmercay,

The tone and contents of your comment make me think that you have lot of scripts in your mind. I would suggest that you first find out the veracity of the verse of Vishwakama Prakshika that I have written in the article and check how and when that was followed and / or abandoned.