Vastu…And all that crap! | Ar. B.S. Keshav

Ar. B.S. Keshav graduated from Sir J.J.School of Architecture and is currently working with Patni Computer Systems as Senior Manager (Projects). He has previously worked with Edifice Architects Pvt. Ltd and has also been a visiting faculty at Nashik College of Architecture. Ar. Keshav is a regular blogger; his stories have been published in various books, including the Chicken Soup series.
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The other day, I was flipping channels aimlessly and finally settled on one.  A pretty anchor was interviewing an architect about an apartment he designed. The furniture was minimalist and held my interest. I ignored the words of the gushy anchor and the droning designer, till he started spouting stuff about Vastu Shastra. At that moment I tuned out. I flipped channels again and settled on a re-run of “As good as it gets” on HBO. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt are really as far as it gets from Vastu and all that crap.
I’m not against Vastu Shastra per se, but I definitely have an axe to grind with charlatans who prey on the gullibility and fear of people to make a fast buck. I concede that it is a science akin to climatology and does have limited relevance in a given context of time & place. What these rogues are peddling is something else. It is closer to those chain mails asking one to make twenty copies and send them within an hour, or death and destruction will befall us.
This brought to mind an incident that happened quite a few years ago.  I was practising in Nasik then and had a bunch of great friends, all young architects like me. We were members of a local association, which organised a lot of activities like lectures, slideshows, etc. Vastu shastra had just started becoming a thorn in our flesh around that time, so we persuaded the association to arrange a seminar on it. We volunteered as members of the organising committee.
It was decided to call three keynote speakers: A Vastu Pandit from Hyderabad, an architect from Mumbai, and an astrologer from Pune. I was landed with farming the crowd questions after each session. Before the event started, I ‘planted’ the crowd with friends with questions. This was partly insurance and partly because we had decided to needle one of the speakers. The architect from Mumbai was to be our target.
Why him? None of us could stand the guy. We had seen him in action in a seminar in Pune, earlier that year and dislike was instant. He had made a name for himself over the last few years as a ’Vastu-compliant’ architect. As things stood, we were being put to a lot of bother by self-styled ‘Vastu-pandits’ and here was one of our brethren, having crossed to the other side, so to speak. We were to find out, however, later that evening that there was more to this than what met the eye.
The seminar kicked off in the morning and the first two speakers, the Vastu Pandit and the astrologer did their bit. My ‘plants’ triggered the questions and they, in turn, inspired the crowd. The pandit and the astrologer raised obfuscation to fine art and practised the credo: “When in doubt, confuse”. Consequently, they did well. Quickly getting through with lunch, we returned to prepare for the Vastu architect.
Our man strode onto the stage confidently. He was impeccably clad. His handsome, clean-shaven visage was capped by straight, black hair pulled back into a ponytail. Closer inspection revealed the ravages of many a whisky upon his face, but he did cut a dashing figure on stage. I could see that the audience sat up and took notice, post-prandial sleepiness forgotten.
He didn’t disappoint them. He moved through a well-prepared presentation with practised dexterity and a slight air of disdain. Even my plants could not shake this man’s confidence. We did rattle him, but he did get his point across that Vastu Shastra was still relevant. My little group decided to regroup and attack later. The seminar came to a close and we were to reassemble later at a nearby Five-star Hotel for cocktails and dinner at the poolside, hosted by a sponsor.
Once there, we allowed our target to get through four drinks before we made our move. Another of our group, a guy who couldn’t make it to the seminar, had bolstered our numbers. He, we got to know, had a larger axe to grind. His wife had worked at one time in this man’s office and some unsavoury incident had made her quit in a hurry. My friend also was armed with intimate details of our man’s projects, which he had glossed over. We used this info to probe the extent to which Vastu principles had been applied. We could see our man get more and more uncomfortable. It was very clear that he was using Vastu only as a gimmick. Finally, our man lost it, sometime after his seventh drink. Badly sloshed, he blurted out:
Look my friends; Vastu is my USP, something that sets me apart from other architects. It gets me noticed. It gets me projects. That’s all it is good for. Whether it has any positive or negative effects on the lives of my clients, I don’t give a f***k!! Now bugger off, you bloody pests. Leave me alone”. Saying this, he lurched once more to the bar.
Unfortunately, the more one drinks, the louder one gets. Maybe one’s hearing gets impaired. Whatever the reason, these last words were extremely loud. All conversations ceased and silence fell on the small crowd, gathered on that cool summer evening in Nasik. My friend, the one who arrived late, chose this moment to administer the coup de grâce. As our target wobbled his way to the bar, he said in a clear tone:
Mr Vastu Architect! Does your Vastu also tell you which particular corner of an Architect’s office is good for sexual harassment of employees?”
The chap stopped in his tracks as if a bullet had hit him. The vitriolic words had penetrated his alcoholic haze. He left the place immediately without a further word. I have left Nasik since, but have it on authority that he has not been called to Nasik to make another presentation.
On the other hand, Vastu continues to be a burr under most architects’ skins. Vastu pandits continue to milk the gullible and the foolish, but we had the satisfaction that night, of exposing at least one of these characters for what he was – a hypocrite.

7 Responses

  1. Cheers! You nailed it, axed it watever. But you definitely gave me a huge amount of happiness by giving a form the anger I have been containing for the last 1 year, thanks to working in the VAASTU HUB, Hyderabad. My brain get fried everyday trying to fight common sense vs vastu.

    1. Most of the people who talk about Vastu have no basic knowledge about it. Vastu as been totally misinterpret. If you want to know the real truth of Vaastu Science and Vaastu Shastras, then study its origin in Sthapatya Veda, which in turn is a part of Atharva Veda, one of the four Vedas. [Books: 1 SAMARANGANA SUTRA DHARAM 2 VISWAKARMA VASTU SASTRAM OR VASWAKARMA VASTU PRAKASIKA 3 APARAJITA PRUCCHA 4 VASTU RAJA VALLABHAM 5 VASTU MAYUKHAM 6 MATSYA PURANAM 7 VASTU NARAYANEEYAM,AUTHER VADREVU SURYA NARAYANA SIDDHANTI BEST BOOK. 8 MANUSHYALAYA CHANDRIKA 9 GRIHA VASTU KALPADRUMAM]

  2. Losing faith in our existing culture is the biggest problem with this country people. This kind of practice is common among designers whose bread and butter primarily depends on copying foreign designs and presenting them to their idiot clients in flossy words. In-fact before creating such blogs have you ever studied the great vasstu shastra on which entire heritage of this country stands?

  3. True architects, or human beings, are hard to find with be it Vastu or ‘green’.
    In a recent conference I asked who was doing Green and the only answer I heard was: too much trouble. What about your children’s future and grand children, and the look was EMPTY.
    Any true belief system is like a ladder to build a system of knowledge, modify with experience. Working with Philip Johnson as principal designer when he was 80 to 86 years of age was immensely useful in finding out what knowledge CAN DO. He would calmly say, why should we go there and then say – oh in Paris, or in India, or a history period such and such this didn’t work, but similar with slightly different tack would.
    With great minds that grow right, any system is a blessing

  4. A key to understanding Indian Culture is to comprehend that it is this Vaastu Science that gives rise to the resultant Technology. On the contrary, in the case of Modern Science, it is the tenets of Technology, which give rise to the Science. Vaastu Science embodies the onward universal journey from the Inner Subtle Nature to the Outer Gross Nature. In other words, the marked difference is that Vaastu Science is Spirit–‐centric And Modern Science, Matter–‐centric. This Science, in its entirety and simplicity, when applied, Enables us to live in harmony with the innate rhythm of Nature. First read about your mother country & its history.

  5. I couldn’t agree with Mr. Keshav more.
    Exploitation of a Client’s fear about things unknown to him is what many, so called architects and interior designers expediently work upon, rather disgracefully,I would say.
    I am also glad you exposed the ponytail guy.
    Well done indeed.


  6. Dear friend,
    Vastu is a true science,but most of the dont know what is pure vastu satra and who spoil kerala most of the people following “thachu sasthra” as vastu and cheating clients..

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