The concept of Smart Cities is not alien to this land. Smart Cities are part of the ethos of this land. The ancient Indian university towns like Takshashila and Nalanda were Smart Cities of those times.
India is embarking on an ambitious plan of building 100 Smart Cities in the coming decade.
Concepts from tradition to build Smart Cities
Our Tradition could provide lessons to incorporate sustainable time tested ideas in these upcoming Smart Cities.
What makes a Smart City?
Smart City is not just about commercial spaces, residential areas, public transports, basic amenities, hospitals, schools, colleges, shopping malls, car parkings, and manicured gardens; it is lot more….
A Smart City should have a knowledge commune, water harnessing, hinterland development and has to be ecologically sustainable and environment friendly. It has to be an alignment of all this. In other words, it has to be a skilled centre.
The present government policy being a mix of tradition with modernity, these would bring in the right balance.
The science of Indian architecture is based on the idea of living in harmony with all energies.
Bound in Boundless, Space in Space
Space is boundless. We have created bounds on the boundless.
It is the role of the Architect to create spaces in space for our dwellings.The people who built cities, dwellings and habitats were called Vishvakarma. Vishva means ‘World’ and Karma means ‘Action’. Vishvakarma were those who built the world for us to live in.
More on Indian Architecture in our work ‘Indian Architecture’.
Click on Image to read the Book
The Vishvakarma built these cities to cater to the harmonious way of living, based on the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam, meaning, ‘One World Family’.
Deva means glowing and Vasu means earth, a dwelling place, where you live in a glowing divine way and where there is a purpose to life. Kutumbhakam means Family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam is living together as family in bond, bandhan.
Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes were the Smart Cities of yore, where there was harmony with knowledgeable living.
Smart Cities of Yore, harmony with knowledgeable living
Chatur means four and Vedi is knowledge, Vidya. It need not be necessarily looked at as four Veda, but Vidya as a whole.
It is about knowledge, vidya, coming from all four directions. Mangalam means auspicious.
Ano bhadra katavo yanto vishwatah –Rig Veda
Let noble thoughts come from all directions
Noble thoughts from all directions
Chaturvedi Mangalam were truly the centres of auspiciousness. They were early models of knowledgeable Smart Cities, built on the wholistic ethos of Indian Architecture, based on the principles of Swasthi Rasthu, Healthy, Pushti Rasthu, Prosperous and Tushti Rasthu, Happiness.
4 pillars of Chaturvedi Mangalam
- Produce – Industry and Agriculture
- Knowledge and Administration
- Environment Ecology
4 Pillars of Chaturvedi Mangalam
These 4 should formed the pillars for Chaturvedi Mangalam. The same 4 are valid today for the Smart Cities.
One of the key features of these ancient Smart Cities was that 1/6th of the landspread was covered by water. This facilitated water harnessing.
India is a tropical country and temperatures are high 6 months of year. This 1/6th coverage of the land with water gave the land enough humidity throughout the year. This humidity kept down the temperature of the landscape and made the land salubrious for the people to live in.
This water body also provided the right inputs for greenery and horticulture in these Smart Cities.
Hinterland Development was another aspect of the ancient Smart Cities, for it is the hinterland that provides basic necessities for Smart Cities like water, vegetables, support services and other consumables.
Components of Smart City, A Model
In days of yore, few of the noble kings recognized the need for Smart Cities in their kingdoms, for their times and established Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes. These Knowledge Communes, Smart City were where people of knowledge lived and gave guidance for sustainable living. This knowledge was not just in Veda Samhita, but was applied in a range of subjects like architecture, agriculture, water management, languages, culture, paintings, fine arts, handicrafts, in technical expertise, sciences, mathematics and astronomy, among a whole range of other subjects like this.
In Europe and America
In the later renaissance period in Europe and in 20th century America, one of the defining features was the establishing of University Towns which were the modern Knowledge Communes. These knowledge communes gave ideas, inputs and directions for the growth of the modern world.
Knowledge Communes, Smart Cities made India prosperous
Just as Europe and America realized the need of knowledge communes to spur think and growth, the kings and people of yore in India had established Knowledge Communes, Smart Cities across centuries, over millennia, across the length and breath of the country.
When India was prosperous from ancient to medieval ages, it was these Chaturvedi Mangalam, Knowledge Communes which gave directions, ideas and vision for the land, kept the land prosperous, sustainable with its culture, practices and traditions, even when kings and kingdoms were in decline.
100 smart cities being planned
As India is now planning 100 Smart Cities, it will be prudent to have Chaturvedi Mangalam / Knowledge Commune enclaves as an integral part of the Smart Cities, which would not only give the balance, but really give them the edge of being Smart Cities.
This is through yoga. The root word for Yoga, is Yug, Yuga, meaning to align, Yoke, join. Thus Yoga is not just asanas but it is a factor of aligning and joining all aspects together in harmony, on the lines of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam.
An analogy of Cattle Yoke used to join two bulls
This is being smart. This is the true embodiment of Smart City. This is wholesome yoga that will bring Harmony and Happiness.
Happiness is not just about Quality and Quantity, but the overall ambience which humans create in coordination with Nature.