By Kurma Dasa
We all know what a kitchen is, but what's kitchen Vastu? Vastu, or more correctly Vastu Shastra, is the ancient Indian art of living in harmony with the environment, and attracting the most positive influences into a living structure.
With the benefits of its Chinese counterpart Feng Shui becoming evident, Vastu Shastra is now having a worldwide revival. It's being hailed as a highly effective architectural science promoting health, happiness and prosperity. In response to the increasing demand for more ecologically sensitive and healthy housing, modern architects are now drawing on ancient architectural traditions such as Vastu Shastra in order to create contemporary buildings based on thousands of years of empirical wisdom.
Within Vastu Shastra is the concept that the cosmos is composed of the five great elements namely ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements interact in the microcosm of the human body and the macrocosm of the universe according to the energising flow of the spirit. Just as the body utilises these five elements to maintain life, Vastu shastra views a building as a living organism with it's own life force that when properly constructed acts as a receptor for the benefit and harmonious interaction of these five elements.
The flow of the five elements through a house carries positive energy, sustaining life, and imbibing the residents with a deep sense of peace and vitality. In contrast, a building that traps a chaotic interaction of elements is said to bring disease and misfortune to the residents. Those of us that have cooked in a variety of kitchens will agree that some kitchens just don't feel good to cook in. Interestingly, the huge Indian hotel chain, the Taj group, are employing Vastu architects to build its kitchens according to these ancient principles.
Vastu Shastra points out the specific benefits of designing a kitchen according to such principles. It points out that when designing a kitchen, the primary concerns are to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, provide a large area for food preparation, and ensure the safety of the cook. If you are designing and building an entire house or restaurant from scratch, Vastu Shastra points out the many factors that should also be considered. The shape of the block of land, the direction the building will face, it's slope, the proximity of gardens, water and soil quality, neighboring houses and buildings, and the room plans themselves, to name but a few, must all be taken into consideration.
The ideal area for the kitchen is the southeast corner of the building. Vastu Shastra explains that the sink and taps are best located at the north-east corner, while cooking and eating utensils are to be kept in the south or south-west. Electrical appliances are placed in the southeast corner. The fridge is ideally positioned in the northwest area. The stove or oven is placed at the east or north wall, not touching the south or west walls. Cooking whilst facing east is considered the best arrangement.
Traditionally, in order to maintain cleanliness, eating is never undertaken in the kitchen.
Kitchen bench tops are traditionally made of marble or stone. Toxic pollutants such as chemically treated materials, chemical cleaning agents and residue from improper heat combustion should be avoided. Good ventilation and good cooking equipment are high priority. Compost and recycling can easily be incorporated into the Vastu kitchen layout.
The instinctive human drive to create a comfortable dwelling or workplace can be satisfied by imbibing the principles of Vastu Shastra, thus enabling us to maintain a balance between our inner world and our interaction with the external environment.