Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vastu And Feng Shui

With the growing awareness about both Vastu and Feng Shui, I often came across people who want to know whether there are any points of similarities between the two. A common confusion is regarding the appropriate use of these sciences. Sometimes people have a notion that Vastu Shastra deals with buildings while Feng Shui deals with the interior decoration. The practitioners of both arts are viewed same as an architect dealing with the building and an interior decorator doing the interiors, this is absurd. The goal in both the sciences is the designing of human habitat in a manner to achieve maximum harmony with nature.

            Vastu and Feng Shui both are closely linked to nature. It is based on the idea that chi or the energy vibrations of every place have a distinctive personality and when this energy is in harmony with nature, benefits flow in.

            According to Feng Shui, it is the environment which shapes and changes things for the better. Inner changes are brought about by external environment. The environment has several elements which according to Vastu are Jal, Vayu, Prithvi, Aakash and Agni. As per Feng Shui the basic elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Metal & Earth.

            Black Hat Sect of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism occupies an important place among Feng Shui schools, which evolved out of the long journey of Buddhism from India through Tibet into China, absorbing enroute the Chinese I-Ching and Confucianism, Taoism, folk religions, traditional Feng Shui, traditional beliefs and symbolism and the theory of chi.

            They are certain basic differences which need understanding. Greeks, Egyptians, Christians, Jews and Muslims knew the four elements – Earth, Water, Fire and Air. The fifth element, Akash or Space, was only known to the Indians. The Chinese also believed in five elements but they were Wood, Earth, Metal, Fire and Water. All of these belong to the material field. The stress in the Chinese case was on achieving worldly success, longevity and comfort, while Vedic wisdom was the understanding that mind with its worldly desires was the cause of all suffering and transcending the body was the only way of achieving the state of ultimate bliss.

            Both Vastu and Feng Shui make use of objective and subjective practices. Objective practices involved furniture and building placements, topography of land and its shapes etc. The subjective practices use mind as the medium, using your thoughts, beliefs, religious convictions etc. The Chinese use twelve animals to express Zodiacal time. Indians use twelve rashis, seven planets and two nodes Rahu and Ketu. Feng Shui uses the ba-gua to relate eight directions with eight aspects of life. Vastu uses 12 Bhavas of the horoscope and their intricate relationships with planets, directions and 12 major aspects of life.

            It is upto each practitioner to decide which science is more relevant in Indian context but a deep understanding of both sciences is a must for every competent practitioner. Another area of concern is a indiscriminate mix-and match of different techniques without an indepth knowledge.

            With increasing awareness about Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra, Feng Shui shops all over the world are sprouting selling chinese home decoration items as Chinese Vastu Shastra remedies and shopkeepers offering advice on their use and effect. It is worse than a chemist trying to replace a doctor.

            What one needs to understand here is that like Vastu Shastra there are many healing techniques developed around the world having vastly different techniques and remedies which make perfect sense in their own context only. You simply cannot mix and match creating your own potpourri.

            There is no contest between Vastu Shastra and other methods like Feng Shui, this is about indiscriminate mixing of different systems. It is important to understand the basic essence of remedies for them to work. For example, symbols are extensively used in Feng Shui. Symbols work because they from a part of the collective consciousness or collective psyche of a class of people / a race or a nation. The symbolism is usually rich with nuances and contains multiple shades of meanings. The power of symbolism is great because so much is conveyed and communicated at a glance. It works because the power of generations of traditional / folk beliefs and religions is behind it. To give an example, The dragon may be considered an auspicious animal in china but in India, it may be perceived as a ferocious fire emitting snake. In this case, I fail to see how a dragon symbol can add any positivity.

            Any fact, figure or statement without reference to the context can never make sense. In Indian context, when we say Laxmi or Kuber it automatically creates a picture of huge wealth in the Indian mindset. Same words may be meaning less is Japanese or Chinese context. Same way a fish aquarium creates a picture of wealth and prosperity for a Japanese but if it is placed in a Jain home in India as a remedy it may have a reverse effect as it goes against their deep-rooted religious instincts giving them a guilt complex.

            On the brighter side the intelligent use of mirrors, one of Feng Shui remedies can solve many a tricky situations. For example, in your office if you are sitting in a small cabin against the South wall facing North with the entry door behind you on the South wall. There is less space in front of you due to the small size of your cabin. The entrance door on your back and cramped space in front of you are Vastu defects. Both these Shortcomings can be corrected by fixing a large mirror on the North wall in front of you, thereby reflecting the door on the North side and creating visual space in front of you making your cabin look much more spacious. This in turn will gives tremendous boost to your expansion plans.

            Both these Sciences have a touch of Mysticism, as they incorporate the philosophical thoughts of their respective origin. Also, the climatic conditions of the two countries favour different directional preferences. For instance, Feng Shui favours South as an entrance direction, a high rise towards North and South East for water source. Vastu, on the other hand, puts a premium on an open North, a high rise towards South and North or North East for water source. 

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