Site Orientation refers to the location or position of the Site with respect to the cardinal directions(or the points of the Compass). The Site’s orientation is identified by the direction that the front of the Site faces i.e. the side facing the road. So, when you stand in the Site and face the road, the directon you face is said to be the Site’s orientation. Therefore, a Site with a road in the East, is called a East facing Site.
For the ancient Indians, Orientation played a very important role in in their daily lives because the environmental factors that affect man and his buildings, like the Sun, the Earth’s magnetic field and the direction of the monsoon winds, were always taken with reference to the Cardinal directions – The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and there is constant light from the North for countries in the Northern hemisphere during Uttaraayana (Jan 14 – July 15) and vice versa during Dakshinaayana (July 16 – Jan 14) in the southern hemisphere. Similarly, the Earth is a huge magnet with a magnetic North pole close to the actual North pole and a magnetic South pole near the actual South pole.
Therefore in laying down guidelines for the design of buildings, Vastu Shastra takes into account these factors and the orientation so that man can benefit from the positive and useful effects of these factors and is protected from their harmful and negative effects.
From time immemorial, the Sun has been considered the ‘Giver of Life’ because without the Sun, there can be no life on Earth. The Sun’s UV rays help in the synthesis of Vitamin D, a very essential nutrient/hormone in our bodies and they also destroy germs and bacteria. The Sun uplifts our spirits and improves our overall health; in fact in scandinavian countries, during the winter months when the hours of sunlight are considerably reduced, a majority of people suffer from a depressive illness called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The Sun illuminates the world. In addition the seven constituent colours of the Sunlight; VIBGYOR, are the reason we see this world in colour and they are very useful in treating several diseases. Read more in Colour Therapy. Readmore about the Sun’s positive effects.
Therefore it is important that all humans must expose themselves through the day to the Sun. However, overexposure is not good as the intense UV rays of the Sun can cause skin cancers and the Infra-red heat rays can cause sunburn. It is best to expose to diffused and indirect sunlight within the house and to direct sunlight only in the early mornings, when the intensity of the UV rays is less since they have to pass through the dense envelope of Carbon dioxide that is formed during the night, when all living things- animals and plants exhale CO2.
In Vaastu Shastra, there is a lot of emphasis on designing buildings in such a way that all rooms get maximum benefit of the Sunlight by default and irrespective of whether the occupants desire it or not. Thus the East direction (for the useful, early morning sunlight) and the North direction (from where there is constant, pleasant sunlight through most of the year in India) assume a lot of importance in Vastu Shastra as explained here.
The most frequently used rooms during the day are oriented in the East and the North whereas the rooms that are used mostly at night are restricted to the South and the West, which are hotter directions.
More Doors and windows – are placed in the East to allow the suns UV rays to penetrate into the house.
Trees and tall shrubs – are planted in the South and West of the site to protect the inmates from the afternoon heat and to provide them with oxygen.
Tall trees and plants are avoided in the North and East – so as to allow an unhindered flow of useful morning light into the house.
The open wells and other water sources are kept in the North-East – to enable the morning UV rays of the sunlight to destroy germs and bacteria before the water is used.
Kitchens – where germs thrive due to the presence of food and moisture, are oriented to the East so that the UV rays of the morning Sun kill the microbes.
Like the Sun, the Earths magnetic field, also has a significant influence on the well being of the inmates of the house. Just as the Earth is a huge magnet with it’s magnetic North pole near the arctic North pole and the magnetic South pole near the antarctic South pole, the human body behaves like a magnet with the head as the North pole and the feet as the South pole. The magnetism in our body is caused because of the presence of Iron ions in our blood. So it is impotant that at all times we should ensure that our head does not lie towards the North since like poles always repel each other. And scientifically it has been proven that if one sleeps with the head in the North, the blood circulation is affected and it causes headaches, tensions and disturbed sleep. Read more about the Earth’s magnetic field here.
To ascertain the ‘Orientation’ of the Site, nowadays we use a compass. It is recommended that one stand with the compass in the centre of the plot, which is considered the navel of the Vastu purusha and determine where the North is. Accordingly we can find out the Orientation of the Site.
However, in earlier times a procedure called Shankustaapana was followed, wherein a gnomon was erected in the centre of the plot. A circle was drawn with the bottom of the gnomon as it’s centre and a radius twice it’s length. Two points were marked where the shadow of the gnomon before and after noon met the circumference of the circle. The line joining these two points is the East-West line. Two circles are drawn at the East-West points with their distance as the radius. The intersecting points are the North and South points.
This post was about the ‘Vastu Shastra principle | Site Orientation’. Read about another important “Vaastu Shastra principle | Vastu Purusha Mandala – Site Planning”, which explains the positioning of rooms in a House according to a diagram known as the Vastu Purusha Mandala:
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