As we discussed in last month’s newsletter and blog, the Ṛg Veda was all about poems. Over time several other Vedas evolved. The second Veda was the Sama Veda. The Sama Veda contains most of the hymns from the Ṛg Veda but was all about how to express them through song. It is thought that this is the origin of Indian music.. If the lines were sung just right, Ṛta would happen. As Hinduism continued to develop, the rituals became more complex. The poems could no longer just be sung around the campfire, many details needed to be done exactly right for Ṛta to occur. This complexity led to a priesthood trained in all the relevant details to bring about Rta.
The third Veda is called the Yajur Veda. This Veda contains most of the same hymns but tells which time of day they should be chanted; which direction the priest should face; where he should point to make the offerings into the sacred fire; and which hymns should be sung while the sacred fire pit is built. Eventually, the Vedic rituals required four priests: one to sing the songs, one to watch the fire, one to arrange the offerings and one to oversee the work of the others.
As Hinduism continued to evolve and the temples were built to the gods, the architecture and rituals of the temple were designed to generate Ṛta. If they were done correctly, the gods would appear and everyone would feel their divine presence.
As I contemplated this concept and its evolution through history, I thought about myself as a modern yoga teacher. I plan my class and if everything is just right the magic may happen and the students and I leave the room feeling that we are walking through a transcendent plane of reality.
For me, just as I imagine it was for the ancient poets, sometimes everything is perfect and the gods grace us with their presence and sometimes everything is perfect and they do not arrive. Other times, everything goes wrong and the magic they called Ṛta still happens. This is part of our Tantra Hatha Yoga lineage.