By Swami Harshananda
Vāstupuruṣa literally means ‘personified deity of the site’.
Vāstu is the layout of a building site. Before constructing a building there, the land has to be reclaimed from the gods and goblins who might be living there for eons. This ritual of pacification is known as vāstuśamana.
Generally a maṇḍala, a square divided into 9 x 9 (= 81) or 8 x 8 (= 64) smaller squares is used for this purpose. This is called vāstumaṇḍala.
There is an interesting legend connected with this maṇḍala. When Śiva fought with the demon Andhaka, a drop of sweat fell from his forehead on the earth. It assumed the form of a fierce demon who attempted to devour the worlds. Then all the gods and spirits rushed towards him, felled him to the ground with face downwards and pinned him there, all of them being stationed on him. The vāstumaṇḍala contains him with his head in the direction north-east and with his hands and legs folded. He is now called Vāstupuruṣa. Like other gods on him are propitiated, the building will be firm and safe.
- Maṇḍala means geometrical drawing.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore