The Architecture Involved in Viṣūvant, i.e., Equinoxes

Atharva Veda Confirms with Climatology and Astronomy of the Dwellings

In the previous story I had shown the Riwat site 55 evidence of a footing of a wall, an archeological find from 45,000 years before present. Today, I discuss an interesting dwelling reference from the Atharva Veda.

There is a Sukta in Atharva Veda, whose Devatā is śālā and draṣṭā is Bhṛgvaṅgirāḥ, which describes removal of a house that has been presented to a priest as sacrificial reward. The sukta describes fastenings of the buttresses at the ridge of the roof, the supports, the beams, which were to be loosened. It also describes fastenings of the dove-tailed joints, of the reed covering, and of the frameworks. They use the ropes to tie and hold the dwelling firmly.

Vazhappally maha Shiva Temple — in stone. Many of the Chaitya, Stupa Architecture are forerunners of architecture in wood, reeds etc.

“इदं मानस्य पत्न्या नद्धानि वि चृतामसि ॥५॥….do we loosen here from the ‘mistress of dwelling”5

…O mistress of dwelling, after thou hast (again) been erected! 6,….O goddess house! 7, O mistress of dwelling, shall live attaining old age! 9..

The dwelling is said to be a “mistress” and it appears that the VaastupuruSha concept of dwelling has not yet been conceived as an idea which is quite prevalent for some centuries in India. Why, Mistress, Goddess because she bears progeny and she is the one who guards her children, in this case the dwellers are her children.

The dwelling, which is now loosened, encompasses a receptacle for Soma, a house for Agni, a seat for the mistresses (of the house), a seat (for the priests), a seat for the gods. The dwelling is inspired by a she-elephant, firm of foot, enveloped in grass, clothed in the reeds, frame-work etc.

This gives a vivid imagery that the building of a ‘House’ has come a long-way from the constructions done by the earlier species or from our Archaic Homo Sapiens, usually cave dwellers, who may have erected very crude dwellings. Riwat site shows the maturity amicably drawn by 45,000 yBP.

A dwelling by Homo Erectus with central support system upon which a crude ridge is placed to support the buttresses.

Architects of ancient India mastered many sciences. They had been engineering the skills from time immemorial. They were turning into geologists of those times and era who dealt deeply with soil conditions. They had to be conversant with the botany, and foremost, they required to be proficient in Astronomy for using the daylight factors as well as heat insulations in Pleistocene-Upper Paleolithic times. Geography was also one of the key factors for the safety and proximity to waters and forests, etc. However, I know much about where to place Rg Veda but I am not much into the studies of Atharva Veda. We don’t know how and where to place Atharva Veda in Chronology yet it appears that the text is posterior to Rg Veda. Below is the sense of direction employed on the dwelling. The sense of direction was already present in the Rg vedic people. It says of many facades in a house starting from two to ten in number. The dwelling would look like something as shown in the picture below.

Single ridged dwelling in NE, India, a very common scenario in rural India

From 25th to 31st mantra the directions are being lauded.

25. From the easterly direction of the house reverence (be) to greatness, hail to the gods who are to be addressed with hail!
26. From the southerly direction of the house, &c.!
27. From the westerly direction of the house, &c.!
28. From the northerly direction of the house, &c.!
29. From the firm direction (nadir) of the house, &c.!
30. From the upright direction (zenith) of the house, &c.!
31. From every direction of the house reverence (be) to greatness, hail to the gods who are to be addressed with hail!

It is interesting to note that the dwelling is feminine and the gods, from all direction to be held and lauded for, are masculine. This gives a philosophical impression and sense of protection savored by the males towards women, and women towards her children. Probably, the similar concept came for the ecliptic where all the twelve Aditya appears are sons of Aditi. The year used to begin from Spring Equinox and thus they had mastered to see the Sun due east in their dwelling. The Sun due east can only be seen on the Equinox day irrespective of their latitudes.

Thus, this equinox day became the first day of their calendar system. I will bring more interesting short notes in future.

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Rupa Bhaty

Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor at School of Indic studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, MA, USA