The construction of buildings is generally covered under the: traditional disciplines or Vastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra. The tradition records about eighteen schools of Vastu thought attributed to Bhrigu, Atri, Vashishtha, Lord Vishwakarma, Narada, Nagnajit, Maya, Visalaksa, Purandara, Lord Brahma, Kumaraswami, Nandisa, Saunaka, Bhaarga, Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Sukra and Brihaspati.
The concepts of Vastu Shastra are based on the Vedic truth that the whole creation analysed from the aspect of the Five Elements, called the Pancha Mahabhutas, viz., Earth (prthivi), Water (apa), Fire (tejas), Air (vayu), and Space or Ether (akasa), has an interactive influence on the human beings, whose physical constitution is made up of these same Pancha Mahabhutas. The external physical buildings and Nature in the form of land exerts an influence (a natural force) which can be reoriented for the benefit of the individual. It is similar to the harnessing of any other natural energies like the wind energy and solar energy and tidal forces for the benefit of the mankind.
Natya Sashtra is a classical text authored by sage Bharata consolidating the principles of earlier works, right from the Vedic times. In the second and third chapters of the Natyashastra, Bharata details the Vastu of the entertainment hall (natyagriha or prekshagriha), an equivalent for today's theatre, auditorium or cinema hall, offering public entertainment.
The entertainment hall is a place where people of different age groups, sex, temperament and disposition sit together and watch the performance. They open up totally to the presentation in the most receptive way. The time for which they sit together in the hall is a short duration (relatively). This short duration of staying together, yet not inter-acting, but open to the same influence, is a unique feature which normally does not happen in other places or other activities. The experience of the act of entertainment has a long influence on the mind of the spectator audience in the shortest duration in a subtle, yet irresistible, way. This influence is technically called 'Kanta-sammita upadesa - similar to the persuasive advice of the beloved, and it moulds the behaviour, character, personality, actions, traits, value standards, culture and language usage, etiquette and behavioural patterns of individuals as well as of society. The Vastu of the entertainment hall, therefore, should be so powerful as to promote healthy development of these aspects and deter negative aspects.
The Vastu of the entertainment hail should be so selected that it brings healthy entertainment to the mind and not cause excitement only to lead one to an evil path.
According to the traditional concepts, the theatre, technically called the Natyaranga, and the act of entertainment (natya-prayoga) are closely comparable to the Vedic sacrifice. The sage Bharata calls Natya Sashtra as the Fifth Veda (panchama-veda), which has been extracted from the four Vedas; the act of entertainment (natya) is called a sacrifice (yajna). The divinity is infused into every act of entertainment. The goals of life (purusartha) are integrated into the act of entertainment hall. Thus, the removal of vulgarity and downfall on the path of entertainment are arrested. The deterrent on production and performance of vulgar entertainment in public to cater to the baser needs of the audience are thus introduced in the section of Vastu. The responses of the inner soul and sensitivity of the mind for nobler aspects of life are points of consideration here.
Vastu Shastra states that unlike places like a house, temple and business centre wherein one primary activity in relation to a set of people can be reasonably limited for consideration, the entertainment hall has a different condition. The situation here is dynamic. It is a continuum. The audience change; the performers and the performance change. Thus, the Vastu of the entertainment hall should be resilient enough for this dynamism. After each performance there is a need to reset the conditions for the next performance. While the physical cleansing and seating arrangements refer to the external environment, a different procedure to reset the subtle (suksma) environment is also recommended. This is technically called the Nandi, the prelude.
This act of Nandi is supposed to be performed before the commencement of each act of performance for entertainment in order to please the deities in charge of the entertainment hall. Great significance is attached to the performance of these Purva-ranga activities, i.e., acts prior to the actual commencement of the performance.
The Vastu for the entertainment halls is considered in two parts: the preconstruction stage for the auditorium, and the post-construction and before the use of the auditorium for the first time.
Traditional disciplines of Artha Shastra and Kama Shastra make references to the planning of such entertainment halls for masses (as a part of the town planning) and the planning of the palace for a king. The study of the existing palaces and historical entertainment halls will yield valuable clues for the tradition of Vastu prevalent in ancient India.
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