CPWD Architects To Receive Vastu Shastra Lessons

The Central Public Work Department (CPWD), a wing under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, has planned to offer a training program on the ‘Vastu Shastra philosophy’ for their architects and engineers. The one-day online workshop would see participation from 67 eligible officials along with additional interested officers and is scheduled for November 17. They would be actively discussing concepts from the traditional Indian system of architecture based on the ancient texts of Vastu Shastra and would look into how it can be incorporated into building designs.

Upskilling Through Ancient Philosophy

The National CPWD Academy based in Ghaziabad will be conducting the training course for the architects, engineers, and other officials. The academy has often been involved in similar training workshops and sessions conducted for engineers, architects, horticulturists and workers. They collaboratively hold these brain-storming sessions to upgrade and enhance the techno-management skills of the CPWD officers as well as other governmental bodies and public sector undertakings (PSUs).

Enabling a similar channel for discussion and feedback, they have scheduled an online training session on the traditional system of architecture – Vastu Shastra, to upskill government officials. As per the official notice, 67 officials have been chosen from across different states by their respective offices. Apart from them, interested officers can also take part in the session by enrolling themselves on the department portal. The standard operating procedures (SoPs) for it have already been distributed among the officials.

A report by the New Indian Express quoted an official saying, “On completion of the training, successful participants will also be provided digital certificates. They will also be requested to send their feedback in a prescribed format that will be made available during the training.” Adding on to this, they mentioned that there would be a couple of other sessions during the month, discussing topics such as “quality assurance management, conservation of heritage buildings and design of stadium and sports complex.”

Positive Or Controversial Move?

The CPWD wing is responsible for several projects of national-level importance, from the parliament and executive enclave to even roads, bridges, and residential complexes. Hence, the decision to incorporate teachings from ancient Indian philosophy into contemporary state architecture is a topic that has been received with mixed reactions.

Vastu shastra is believed to be a set of texts on the traditional Indian system of architecture, and it elaborately describes principles and concepts of design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, spatial geometry, and so on. As per Wikipedia, the traditional design aims to integrate architecture with nature by utilising geometric patterns, symmetry, and directional alignments. Several such Indian cities and architecture have been formulated under this shastra, including the Jaipur city planned by the Rajput King Jai Singh in 1727 CE to the modern era projects such as Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya in Ahmedabad and Vidhan Bhavan in Bhopal.

The use of Vastu shastra has been highly debated during the colonial and post-independence eras, with many engineers being divided about the incorporation of philosophy into architecture. Some considered it arcane and superstitious, while others argued that it creates sustainable and flexible design guidelines for a functional space.

Vibhuti Chakrabarti, a scholar of Architecture and Sanskrit literature, was among the critics who believed that Vastu Shastra lost its essence in the contemporary age. He had stated that many Vastu consultants projected the study as a “religious tradition” rather than an “architectural methodology” as actually taught in the historical texts.

Most of the understandings imparted from ancient Indian books revolve around the idea of being able to filter and take what suits best for the new age. The CPWD wing’s decision to discuss Vastu Shastra with their architects and engineers can then be seen as a move toward exploring the nuances of Indian tradition.

Also Read: State Reorganisation 1956: Revisiting The Act That Demarcated Independent India & Set Unique Identity Markers

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