Mythology refers to the sacred tales and fables of various cultures that deal with numerous aspects of human life. Since time immemorial, Mythology has played a significant role in shaping the customs of civilizations around the world. Although myths are often associated with religious and sacred beliefs, yet they are not merely limited to them. In ancient times, Myths formed a binding social element that urged the members of their society to cooperate. These myths were therefore extremely crucial for the survival of the community and were often given a physical manifestation in the form of art and architecture.

Is mythology relevant in Modern Architecture in India - Sheet1
To be placed at the end of Paragraph named “MYTHOLOGY AND VAASTU SHASTRA” Vaastu Shastra Grid ©Myth= Mytha, Devdutt Pattanaik

Since ancient times, cultural landscapes have been developed and shaped by the people around them. The beliefs of the people are not just reflected in the built forms but are also evident in the landscape surrounding them. While there is abundant evidence of the use of mythology in Ancient Indian Architecture, Mythology in Modern Architecture is rather limited. Yet, there are many examples of Modern Architecture and Town Planning that incorporate various elements of mythology, either consciously or subconsciously. 

Is mythology relevant in Modern Architecture in India - Sheet2
To be placed at the end of Paragraph named “THE MYTH OF VASTU PURUSHA MANDALA” ©Vastu Purusha Mandala,

Mythology and Vaastu Shastra

Vaastu Shastra is a collection of traditional Indian concepts on design principles and architecture. It is also known as the ancient mystic science of designing a building. All ancient structures such as temples, palaces, public spaces, and houses for the common people were made, keeping in mind these principles. Dating back to the Vedic Era, Vaastu Shastra has close links with the Hindu Mythology. It is based on 5 main elements, these are Aakash{sky), Vaayu(wind), Jal(water), Agni(fire) and Bhoomi(earth). Initially, it was developed to manipulate the forces enclosed within a space. It was believed that “By placing doors, windows, walls and water tanks in various directions, it was possible to enrich a dwelling and make fortune flow in a particular direction (Devdutt Pattanaik, Mythologist).” “Negligence or failure to adhere to these principles would result in unnecessary travel, bad name, loss of fame, disappointments, and sorrow (Er. Rameshwar Prasad, Vaastu Shastra Specialist).” Hence the implementation of Vaastu Shastra was deemed necessary for the overall benefit of the Universe. To achieve this, each cardinal direction was associated with a God, who was regarded as the guardian of that particular direction. Over time, the function of each space was associated with the God that it symbolized. Hence a complex grid of spatial arrangement came into being, which is still used to date for designing all kinds of spaces. Surprisingly, it was noted by the Modern Architects, that in some instances such an arrangement was climatically more responsive and provided better daylighting and ventilation in the building. To this date, many buildings, especially residences and offices are built on these principles, as Vaastu Shastra is considered sacred and auspicious in Hindu Mythology. Below is a grid that has been developed from various sources that denote the spatial constraints in each direction for building a residence.  

Is mythology relevant in Modern Architecture in India - Sheet3
To be placed at the end of Paragraph Named “JAWAHAR KALA KENDRA” Jawahar Kala Kendra Plan ©

Vaastu Shastra in Town Planning

Yet, Vaastu Shastra is not just merely limited to residential and commercial buildings but was also considered while planning several ancient and medieval towns. The ancient cities of Jaipur and Shahjanabad were built on these principles. The city of Chandigarh was also planned by Le Corbusier on the principles of Vaastu Shastra and Modernist Architectural Theories. The master plan of the city is similar to the “Vastu Purusha Mandala.” 

Is mythology relevant in Modern Architecture in India - Sheet4
To be placed at the end of Paragraph Named “JAWAHAR KALA KENDRA” By Quietsong – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 ©

The Myth of Vaastu Purusha Mandala

Vastu Purusha Mandala is the metaphysical plan of a building that incorporates the course of the heavenly bodies and supernatural forces. Purusha refers to energy, power, soul, or cosmic man. Mandala is the generic name for any plan or chart which symbolically represents the cosmos. This concept is based on an ancient Indian Myth, which also traces the origin of Vastu Shastra. In the myth, Brahma while creating the universe created a man, who was enormous and ate everything that came his way. Alarmed, all the Gods asked Brahma to contain him before he destroys everything. Brahma then asked “Ashta Dikpalakas”, the Gods of 8 directions to come and help him. Together, the Gods grabbed him and pinned him to the ground in such a way that his head was in the North-East direction and his legs were in the South West Direction. This man was named as ‘Vastu Purusha Mandala” by Brahma. Since then, he is worshipped and referred to, while construction. 

Is mythology relevant in Modern Architecture in India - Sheet5
To be placed at the end of Paragraph Named “JAWAHAR KALA KENDRA” Jawahar Kala Kendra ©

Jawahar Kala Kendra

Another striking example of the use of Vaastu Shastra in Modern Architecture is the Jawahar Kala Kendra, built by Charles Correa. Jawahar Kala Kendra is an art gallery in Jaipur that is based on the archaic notion of the cosmos. The plan of the building is divided into 9 grids, where each grid represents a Mandla (planet). The plan has also been inspired by the city plan of Jaipur, which was also based on the concept of the 9 grids. 


Mythology Definition-

Vaastu Shastra and Mythology= Mithya, Devdutt Pattanaik

Vaastu Shastra And Negative Energies-

The myth of Vastu Purush Mandala-



Rishika Sood is a student of architecture, currently in her third year. She has a keen interest in exploring buildings and aspires to work towards the conservation of historic monuments. She is particularly drawn indigenous art, craft and lives of the craftsmen associated with it.