Performance code of India – the ancient law of “Hrta”

School of Yoga explains Performance code of India or Hrta

Who is a successful person?

The Performance code of ancient India was a simple but complete system which conditioned society and the individual into a cohesive lifestyle system called “dharma”.

As a result, ancient India succeeded in becoming a high performing society and a center of development and progress. 

The central belief was, that excellence occurs when society and individual perform close to their natural state of conditioning or dharma.  This is was called Hrta or The Performance concept of India.

Management and the Performance code of India or Hrta:

Modern management science today is a derivation of western society. This is based on west’s perception of society, the individual, it’s industrial revolution, colonial experience, wars and religion. However, in the ascendant narrative of this western philosophy, the ancient and successful management concept Performance code of India or Hrta, which had been practiced for centuries by the ancient Indians was lost.

Introduction to the Performance code of India or Hrta:

During the Trojan wars (around 1000 BC), the hero Achilles refused to fight in the early days on account of wrongdoing by King Agamemnon, saying that he faulted the Law of Arête. The ancient Greeks called this their Law of Excellence; the definition being that a man or woman of Arête was a person of the highest effectiveness, using all their capabilities to achieve tangible results.

Arête is a cognate of Sanskrit “Hrta”,  a cognate of the Persian word “Asa” which, in Avestan means Righteousness and a cognate of the Latin word “Ariete” which means battering ram – which breaks down obstacles and ensures effectiveness of purpose.

Obviously, the old world lived by a common, well-defined and codified ideal of performance, which modern civilisation found unfashionable.

When the Aryans entered India around 4000 BC, they codified the Performance concept or Hrta. Over the next 2000 years, they honed and integrated the concept into a system and practice which defined their existence or dharma. As a result, Hrta  was woven into the fabric of ancient Indian society at a societal level and an personal level.

Concept of Rta:

The basis of Hrta came from the assumption that performance comes from sacrifice or Yagnya. 

Yagnya was considered to have three components;

  1. Truth or Satya – the objective of the sacrifice, the focus.
  2. The sacrifice itself or Homa
  3. Communication or Vaq – that critical component, which kept the sacrifice together and enabled achievement of the objective.

Elements of Hrta – The Performance code of India

1-     Truth, vision, or objective (Satya)

The first component of Hrta is recognising what needs to be done and why. Once a person is able to discriminate between truth and perception, clarity of goal is achieved and effort is maximised to achieve the goal.

First and foremost, all projects need a sponsor. A sponsor is one who determines the need, provides the resources and defines the system.  The sponsor is called yajaman (the sponsor of the sacrifice) in rta. 

Example: In the case of a football team, the yajaman or sponsor is one who pays the bills and under whose colours the team plays. The yajaman decides where league the team shall play. Obviously, if the estimation is incorrect, the team will either lose or not play to its full potential.

2-      The sacrifice itself (homa);

Once the yajaman decides on the activity to be performed, the execution of the sacrifice can start…

  • Appointment of a manager (Guru):  Often, the sponsor or yajaman would not have the capability or capacity to manage the activity directly. The sensible thing to do would be to appoint someone who has the requisite experience and expertise – a Guru.Guru can be defined as “the weighty one or anchor” or “he that sheds light on darkness”. Today, such an individual might be called SME (Subject Matter Expert).

Clearly, the quality of outcome would depend on the competence of the Guru who would need to know how to manage a project or sacrifice (yagnya).

Example: Continuing with the above example, once the sponsor or yajaman forms a football team, the key to its success of the team would be the quality and capability of the Team Manager or Coach.

The Homa process:

  • Making a commitment – Sankalpa  – (taking the vow):

Firstly, the sponsor (yajaman) and guru would need to bring the members together and explain to them, the objectives of the activity (yagnya). This will bring the team members into alignment with the goal and enable focus for a successful completion of the activity.

  • Conversion from intent to outcomeAgama (conversion technique):

Once the team has been selected and aligned to the goal, the conversion of intent to outcome requires the following inputs;

  1. Methodology, process or skill-setsShastra (knowledge):The coach of any football team should know football rules, strategy, competitive assessment, weather, health and fitness etc. Obviously, all these skill-sets, including specialist skills, training and development should also be resident in the team to make it effective.
  2. Resources: No activity can be completed without adequate resources, these are called Dravyam (components)  – right resource, tools and capital required to perform the sacrifice. For a football team, this is – right players for each position, a practice location, administration facilities, technology support etc.
  3. The activity itself – Agni (fire): the moment of truth occurs when the activity is performing and the outcomes become visible. In the case of football, this is the match! The match decides if the integration of all the elements has worked. For instance, whether the sponsor has set the correct goals and provided proper resources as requested by the coach. Similarly, whether the coach has recruited and trained the correct team, estimated the opposition or set the correct strategy. Most importantly, whether the assumptions and hard work lead to victory or achievement of the goals.
  4. Sharing the prize – Prasada (fruits of the sacrifice) – the successful team shares the fruits of a successful completion of the activity. This could be credits, profits etc. In the case of the football match, this could mean bonuses, advertising contracts etc.
  5. Thanksgiving or Kayenavacha  – The activity is completed by the sponsor bringing the team together and thanking them for supporting the successful completion of the activity.

3-     Communication or Vaq

Communication is the lifeblood of any activity. Instructions cannot be passed and feedback cannot be received without communication. Clearly, no activity can be successful if there is a breakdown in communication between the team members. This consists  of;

  • Communication between the sponsor or yejaman and the officiating manager or Guru (the officiator of the sacrifice) on the intent of the sacrifice and periodic appraisal of progress.
  • Communication between the manager or Guru and the various participants of the activity. This includes recruitment, training, performance monitoring and remuneration of team members.

Rta acts at many levels. Firstly, between the yejaman engaged a Guru. Next, the Guru became the yejaman for the next level and this continued until finally, there was no one left to instruct. This is very similar to today’s organisationsal structure. 

Integration of Hrta into society:

The Aryans realised that quality and motivation had to be conditioned into every activity and individual for ensuring performance. These elements had to be made the highest ideals worth aspiring for, the existential lifeblood or dharma of their society.

Accordingly, they gave Hrta a mythical status and equated it with a role model of impeccable standing – the Sun. Hrta was equated with the Sun’s rays or Ushas to make it the part of their existence Dharma (existential conditioning).

Hrta made mythical:

Hrta is derived from the syllable “hr” which means dynamism, vibrancy, seasoning and ownership. The derived noun “Hrtam” means order, rule or divine law. To make Hrta an unassailable concept, the aryas equated it with divinity.

  • The deityDeva  is Savita

Savita is the life giving attributes of the Sun, its excellence – light, heat etc. Since this is so central to life, alignment of all activities to this deity ensured Hrta was considered sacred and performed with adequate  quality and attention to detail. 

Example: A country is a mythical concept, and the deity of many countries is an individual or saint – like Saint George for England, Uncle Sam for USA etc. As a matter of fact, all countries universally worship their flag, and this can be called a deity.

  • The prayerSandhyaVandana

Sandhyavandana meaning veneration of twilight (daybreak, noon – when the sun crossed overhead and dusk). 

Example: In the case of the country, this might be the National Anthem.

The SandhyaVandana performs many roles; at a personal level, it enforces an element of discipline in the individual. Sandhyavandana includes pranayama and meditation; pranayama ensures equalisation of left-right brain thinking and control over emotions (vairagyam), while meditation reduces stress and improves the individual’s situational awareness (pragnya). This ensures that the person is consistently operating at peak performance.

  • The mantra or meterGayatri mantra.   

The Gayatri Mantra is a eulogy to the Sun. The meter requires focus to be chanted correctly. This ensures filtering out of extraneous sounds and increases concentration, ability to handle stress and enhances situational awareness. For this reason, the Gayatri mantra is embedded into the Sandhyavandana, so that when practiced everyday, the person’s Hrta automatically increases.

  • The exercise – SuryaNamaskar (Sun salutation).

This is an all round exercise which ensures overall physical fitness and agility of the practitioner. 

Example: In any consultancy, the customer is the sponsor. He sets the objective, brings the resources and appoints the Project Manager who is the expert in the subject. The consultant defines the parameters of the activity, team skills & composition, training, resources, time lines etc. and gets the approval of the sponsor. The team then comes together and the manager, along with the sponsor explain the activity objectives and methodology for completion. As a result, everybody is aligned to the outcome. Consequently, the manager and sponsor supervise the completion of the activity. Afterwards, the team is rewarded with bonuses and appreciation on successful completion of the project. Finally, the team finally assembles for thanksgiving by the sponsor and project manager.

The above example is a classic everyday occurrence and demonstrates how Hrta can be an effective management tool to tackle normal management or personal development activity.


In conclusion, by codifying Hrta, the ancient Indians institutionalised and integrated purpose, quality and commitment to every activity. Even today, 6000 years on, the principle of Hrta is still the foundation of all human activity, reinforcing the sagacity of the ancient ancestors of India. 

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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[…] achieve this, one must follow the law of rta (excellence)  which has been explained in Chapter […]

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