On the 31st May 2012, a Vastu Shastra expert issued a warning stating that all that’s wrong with the rupee began with its symbol. He asserted that the central line in the symbol has “slit the throat” of the Indian Rupee (according to an article on the Hindustan Times) and this has led to the devaluation of Rupee. Although his remarks were ridiculed by the commenting community on the internet, the design world in India has a new issue to tackle with – Vastu Shastra experts who have added logo analysis to their list of expertise.
To the western society this might not be as worrying or I haven’t delved into how much in could harm designers outside India. But in India, anything that is borderline-spiritual, religious or superstitious has a way of spooking people into believing that if they don’t abide by it, the worst will happen.
Here is an excerpt from the website of once such Vastu-expert: “From a Vastu angle a bad logo is an unlucky logo not a badly designed one, and a good logo is a lucky logo. By improving logo design, Vastu does not mean making it look smarter or dazzling. It means fixing numerological, astrological and/or Vastu disharmonies that the logo design is causing to the company’s prospects.”
As designers, we are trained to design logos (or anything for that matter) with the audience in mind. Therefore, aspects of colour, shape, texture, orientation and such which indicate a certain meaning to people of a particular culture or region always plays an important role. Nothing is ever designed for it functional, modernist ideals alone. Cultural values are also incorporated into any designed object. Current-day Vastu Shastra experts appear to have taken upon themselves, this role, to dictate these values. Even though these value were never a part of the larger cultural-milieu. Taking the rupee symbol, for example, the claim that the central line is equivalent to the action of slitting the throat of this large body called the Indian Rupee, is an absurd view. It is highly impossible for the ancient Indian treatise of Vastu Shastra to arrive at an observation of this manner. A line in the middle can denote many other things too – bridge, passage, west-east axis and so on.
Vastu Shastra is a part of ancient collection of texts better known as the shastras that were both descriptive as were as prescriptive in its nature. They provided all the knowledge required then for architecture, to practice different arts, for music, making medicines and so on. Vastu Shastra was the text that enabled architects to construct building that was able to store within itself positive spiritual energy. The treatise gave a lot of emphasis on how architectural spaces (that is, three-dimensional spaces) have to be constructed with keeping in mind the elements – earth, water, air and fire. Therefore, it clearly defined where different rooms of a house or a temple should be constructed in order to reap maximum spiritual and health benefit. How this treatise for architecture could raise the vibration of your two-dimensional graphic device aka logo, energize your logo to become magnet for opportunity and prosperity, increase your luck factor, avoid negative subliminal influence, is beyond me.
Additionally, I would have expected spiritual experts to look into Shilpa Shastra, that has laid down rules for Indian iconography to play a larger role in designing logos. But the important thing to note is that all these texts were guidelines to provide some amount of order in the society then. It was all prescribed to help a Hindu believer grow spiritually. How does this affect logos? How can it affect logos?
But being a society that holds spirituality and religion important, it will be hard to stop people from looking into these ancient sciences. I could be a skeptic now but I am open to being proved wrong.
If logos incorporated with Vastu-benefits did work, won’t the Vastu of the logo need to change with every application – animated logo, signage, location of signage, height of the signage, position of the signage with respect to the north-south axis, position of the logo on the letterhead, position of the logo on the envelope, position of the logo on the envelope when the addressee receives it, position of the logo on the packaging and if the company has a vehicle with branding, the direction in which the vehicle travels and the side of the vehicle with the logo that needs the suns’ ray to hit it. These are just a few areas of application that I could think of. If they really are experts at Vastu shouldn’t they be looking at a logo and it is effects within a three-dimensional, non-static space?