Hindu architecture always begins by laying the cosmic body of God (purusha) over every building site (mandala). This is call the Mandala Purusha. The accompanying diagram illustrates this and shows how this cosmic body is positioned in relation to the site. Notice that the head of “God” lays in the northeast corner. The basis behind this orientation is the principle of maximization of light that is described by the metaphor: the sun equals light, which equals knowledge, which equals consciousness and ultimately spiritual enlightenment. The east is the source of light and of all the points along this eastern axis the north-east point is the most important because it is the point of maximization of light. On June 21st of every year the sun rises in the north-east and this is the day when daylight is longest and darkness is shortest. There is maximization of light at this point and so the north-east corner is called God’s corner (isha-kona). The cosmic head, which is a symbol for enlightenment, is placed in the northeast. It is perhaps a little crude to mention, but notice where the cosmic anus is located. Ancient Hindu culture includes everything! This is the position reserved for the negative forces of the universe, personified as demons. The south-west corner, which is the exact opposite of the north-east corner is not considered an auspicious place and so when arranging a home one should avoid placing the meditation, kitchen, or financial areas in this place.
In addition to the sun, there are, of course, many other powerful forces that affect the life of man, and so these forces have also been considered in Hindu architecture and given their respective places. One of the most common features of Hinduism is its tendency to personify all things and so these forces are personified as Gods and given their proper “seats” in the various directions of Hindu architecture according to how they are positioned in the macrocosm, the greater universe. See the accompanying diagram that illustrates the sitting places of these powerful forces. Agni, the god of fire, sits in the south-east corner and so this is the ideal direction for a kitchen. Kuvera, the god of wealth sits in the north, so this is the best place for keeping financial matters. In this way, knowing the places of these forces, the next illustration shows the basic arrangement of how any building should be designed to create an alignment with the forces of the universe. This is the basis of Hindu architecture. Beyond this there are, of course, a large number of details. Below I provide just a few details found in Vaastu Shastra along with my explanations (in italics) to help the reader get an idea of how the system of vaastu works. Exactly how a building is designed will vary greatly according to the site and the needs of the family in the case of a house for example. There is a lot of flexibility built into this system of architecture.