Vastu Purusha is the body on which every aspect of human activity is carried out. Whether we build a house, a factory, school, well, compound-wall, tank or playground, we are placing it upon the sacred body of the cosmic being who has come to reside with us. Every part of his body is sacred, with energies and characteristics that add to and enhance our life on earth. Therefore, it is to him we bow in gratitude when we start upon any endeavour, and to him we offer our thanks through flowers and incense, minerals and metals, herbs and colours, amidst music and chanting.
The story of the Vastu Purusha goes thus: In the ages gone by, there lived a demon called Vastu who was fierce and powerful and in the habit of terrorizing the world. As the situation became unbearable the gods came together to fight him. Yet, his powers were such that his essence continued to permeate the land causing untold misery to the humans and gods alike. In response, the gods went to Lord Brahma for help.
Affected by the grief of the gods, Lord Brahma fought and pinned the demon firmly to the ground, and as a further precaution ordered a certain number of gods to sit on him and stop his activities. The popular belief is that the Vastu Purusha lies face-down on the ground, though a few texts claim he lies face up.
Though it is a myth it can be interpreted to mean that the energy comes from cosmic space and manifests itself as the contained energy within material phenomena. The cosmic energy manifests itself as a phenomenon after moving through a series of transformation-ether, fire, water and earth. Hence the built space is created according to the impulses of the earth, in consonance with the waking and slumber of the earthly energy.
Vastu or bhoomi is vibrating and alive. This is the space of the earth or land. This energy resides in the earth and is called by various names such as Vastu Nathan, bhoomi Purusha and Vastu Purusha. This is the energy of the material sunbstance.
Similarly the energy of Akasham or cosmic space is known as Vishwa Purusha, Vishwa atman, Paramatman.
The Vastu Purusha is considered to be awake when he is oriented towards the cardinal points, and is said to be asleep when oriented towards the non-cardinal points like the NE, SW, SE, NW.
During the period of Dhanur (December-January), Mina (March-April), Mithuna (June-July), Kanya (September-October), it is considered inauspicious to begin building activities.
During the period of Mesha (April-May), Vrishabha (May-June), Kataka (July-August), Simha (August-September), Tula (October-November), Vrischika (November-December), Makara (January-February), Kumbha (February-March), it is auspicious to build.
It can be said that we too are earth or Bhoomi and the energy within us is Vastu Purusha. When the earth is dormant, the Vastu Purusha is considered to be asleep. At this time it is not beneficial to begin house-building activities. The Shastras state that this ‘wrong’ time could lead to negative effects on the residents. The face of the Vastu Purusha is oriented towards the position of the sun, says the text.
One school of thought says that the central axis or Madhya sutram that runs through the Vastu Purusha and the one which runs through the house should be one and the same.
In another school of thought, the Vastu Purusha set out on the plot and the building are superimposed in such a way that the central axes of both do not coincide. Pada Vinyasa is the method by which a site of land is divided into a uniform grid. Each part of the grid is ascribed to a god, corresponding to the gods who were to have held the Vastu Purusha down (stated earlier in the myth). Each of these modules is given an offering at the time of building, during the ceremony of Bhoomi Puja.
Every traditional culture has related to the physical environment in terms of states of consciousness of the cosmic spirit, and has built legends and myths around the gods and goddesses. There are half-human nymphs and devas, part animal or bird deities that are winged marvels or extraordinary composite creatures.