Contemporary uses of Vastu Vidya, the traditional Indian knowledge of architecture.
This study is the first to explore the secular uses of Vastu Vidya or the traditional
Indian science of architecture, at the levels of both theory and contemporary practice.
It is also the first to treat Vastu Vidya as constituting a coherent and complete
architectural programme within the Indian tradition. In providing a comprehensive
overview of the corpus of Vastu Vidya, the study makes ample reference to the
representative texts on the subject of architecture, and also to those on allied subjects
that fall within the same tradition, such as astrology, medicine, philosophy, the visual
and performing arts, and codes of conduct. Structured like the layout of a typical
Vastu Vidya text, the work covers all of the primary prescriptions for dwelling design.
Today, the use of Vastu Vidya as a complete architectural design methodology
has diminished value, but this study identifies various fragmented uses of the corpus of
Vastu Vidya which continue directly and indirectly to influence architectural practice;
and it analyses the new roles which such fragments take on. The architectural tradition
of Vastu Vidya stands apart from the recognised architectural profession and is being
modified and rewritten, adopting meanings and uses unprecedented in its history.
Aspects of Vastu Vidya are being redefined to facilitate their uses in the mainstream
contemporary architectural practice. The study examines how modern architects view
and use Vastu Vidya; how Vastu consultants, in their redefined role, negotiate some
aspects of Vastu Vidya for the contemporary architectural practice, assisted by their
indifference towards architectural design; how craftsmen, whose skills and knowledge
fall outside the ambit of mainstream architectural practice, struggle to survive and
confront modernity; and how priests and astrologers continue to perform rituals and
offer advice on the suitability of elements of construction, without interfering with the
architectural envelope. Some of the new roles of Vastu Vidya are so remote from its
traditional role that it may be unrecognisable as a part of Vastu Vidya; but each of
these uses, albeit fragmentary, are generally projected as authentic uses of Vastu
Vidya. This is the only study to examine mutation in the application of fragments of
Vastu Vidya, while viewing it in the perspective of the whole and original body of