Architectural style can bring more to a building than meets the eye, say proponents of the Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architectural style. In fact, they claim that properly attuned architecture can promote health, happiness and harmony.
The design principles for Sthapatya Veda architecture, also know as Vedic architecture, were adapted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an elderly guru who now resides in the Netherlands. This style is said to have originated in the philosophies of Vedic religion, an ancient religion of India that predates Hinduism.
The proper directional alignment of the home is at the foundation of Sthapatya Veda architecture. A south-facing home will bring only bad things to its inhabitants, while an east-facing home is ideal, according to promoters of this style.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who has led a global movement in transcendental meditation and promotes natural law as the key to peaceful living, has a major following in the area of Fairfield, Iowa, which is home to Maharishi Global Construction, a 272-acre Maharishi University of Management campus, and other related centers. The Maharishi moved to the United States in 1959 and returned to India in the late 1970s before moving to The Netherlands in the 1990s. The Beatles were among his followers during the 1960s.
Maharishi Vedic City, a community that was founded to incorporate Vedic philosophies in its architecture, health care, agriculture, education and government, is also taking shape in the Fairfield area. All of the homes in this community were built in the Sthapatya Veda style – they face east, feature a central silent space called a Brahmasthan, and have a golden roof ornament called a kalash.
Jonathan Lipman, senior architect for Maharishi Global Construction who specializes in Sthapatya Veda architecture, said the rules are quite different from Feng Shui, a traditional Chinese practice relating to the arrangement of the human and social world with cosmic forces. Feng Shui consultations have reportedly become popular in some real estate markets, as home buyers and sellers seek to improve the balance of their homes with the natural elements.
The Sthapatya Veda style, said Lipman, has roots in the ancient architecture of India, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan and Korea, and even in the Moorish architecture of Spain.
“Principal number one is that orientation has a big effect. Even the direction the building faces translates to a very real effect on us,” he said. “Different activities within a house should be aligned with differing energies of the sun. Communication between mind and body occurs at different rates depending on orientation. The first rays of the sun are the most nourishing.”
Lipman said that architectural instruction tends to overlook important connections between buildings and occupants. “They don’t teach you what is the effect the house is going to have on your clients. The great, successful architecture – is great because of the profound effect it has on people. Buildings are not just arbitrarily better and worse than others. There are laws of nature.”
He said residents of Vedic homes have expressed to him that they simply feel better in homes built in this style. And Maharishi Global Construction’s Web site suggests that Vedic-inspired homes can improve a range of qualities in individuals – everything from digestion to clear thinking.
The first home that Lipman designed in this style was in 1996. There are an estimated $250 million in Vedic-style building projects completed or in the works in the past decade, he said, and these projects range from single-family homes to a high-rise office building.
For existing buildings, Lipman said his firm can conduct “rectifications,” or renovations that can bring some Vedic elements to a home that was not built in that architectural style.
Git Patel, director of business development for the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center in Bakersfield, Calif., which was completed in 1998, said the clinic was built in the Vedic style. “It’s got positive energy in it. It works. It’s a healing effect for us,” said Patel. “Initially we had some feelings that it would be tough to get (all of the design elements) in there. Everything just fell in place.” Patel’s brother, Ravi, built his home in the Vedic style, he also said.
Homes built in the Vedic style typically cost a bit more than standard homes, Lipman said, and some lots do not allow for proper Vedic buildings.
The cost, he said, is offset by the benefits. “It’s a bargain. This to me is the most important discovery in real estate, in architecture, in construction, since the invention of the roof. It’s that important,” Lipman said.
“The truth is that this is profoundly spiritual. It awakens something in the individual…we feel at peace, we feel coherent, we feel bliss that we didn’t know we could ever experience in a manmade environment.”
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