Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Hanging Man

Sacred India Tarot

Notes on its Creation:  Card 12, The Hanging Man:

The Story of Trishanku

“The Hanging Man” in Jane’s hermetic Tarot deck, 1991

Correspondence: Jane – 31 July 2002

“Did you get my email on 21 July with my thoughts on Durga and card 12?  I need some visual data for 12 – how does Rohit see it?  I have been waiting for your and Rohit’s input before resuming, but did not hear from you, and our computer’s been on the blink – back in action now.   Regards to you both, Jane.”


Correspondence:  Gautam – 31 July 2002

“Hi Jane, apologies for not replying earlier.  I was away on a 2 day seminar, and Rohit has been unwell.  He did mention he had something ready for card no.12 for you, so I will check again and send the same.  Meanwhile, we will revert on Durga as soon as we meet up.  Warm regards …”

Rohit’s Notes:

The story of Trishanku has never been represented before in Indian art, so in a sense we are pioneering it here. Trishanku is to be shown keeping in mind “the spirit of ruined majesty”.  An analogue would be Odin or Wotan, not as the All-father, but as the weary and travel stained Wanderer seeking knowledge by hanging from the World Ash.  Chandalas are usually depicted with grotesque features and shaven heads, but we can avoid that if we wish.

What will be most difficult in this depiction, will be proportions.  Trishanku can be shown hanging upside down in space with a constellation of stars or galaxies around him or behind him.  It would be wonderful if he could have his legs crossed over the knee, making a Figure 4 in the standard Tarot pattern for figures of the Hanging Man.

What is difficult here, is to convey a sense of heaven from which he is being rejected, and the earth, down where there should be a miniature sacrificial fire of the Yagna visible.  Perhaps we can have the Earth section in the lower left corner, and the Heaven section in the diagonally opposite section of the card.  Some sort of cosmic gates would do to represent his expulsion from there, I suppose.  From the text we send, it will be obvious that he is literally hanging upside down, just as the hanging man always does.

The face should not express torment as much as deep lessons learnt through pain, which are deemed well worth the price.  For the rest, please feel free to do as you interpret it.

From Rohit’s Article:

“Trishanku was originally a King like Rama, ruling from Ayodhya … The King, first called Satyavrata, seemed to have led rather a typical boring king’s life … One day however, he was seized with the strange desire to ascend to heaven in his bodily form, a process that is usually possible only when the flesh falls away in death.  The usual procedure for achieving the impossible in Hindu myth, is a Yagna, a great Fire Sacrifice/festival.   Satyavrata’s guru, the great sage Vasishta, refused to officiate in a proceeding that smacked only too strongly of hubris.  Royalty is impervious to rebuffs however, and he approached the sons of the sage to act as officiating priests, calculating that they would be desirous of position and influence with him.  The outraged sages cursed him to lose his royal status and become a Chandala, the worst form of outcaste, and a punishment far worse than death.

“In this miserable condition, he chanced upon the sage Vishwamitra, the great rival of Vasishta.  This worthy was a holy terror in the literal, as well as metaphorical sense.  Originally a king himself, he felt humiliated by Vasishta’s display of spiritual might, and he set about acquiring spiritual stature in the universe with a demented determination that eventually humbled the gods.  At this point, he was only a Rajarishi, a Royal sage, while Vasishta was a Brahmarishi, the pinnacle of spiritual evolution and his ultimate goal.  Vishwamitra might have looked like no match for the other sage, but the whole world was to see how wrong they were.  He was not called the tiger amongst Rishis for nothing.  He promised to set Vasishta’s nose out of joint, and he was not the man to be above a little malicious compassion.

“The sons of Vasishta tried to thwart the Yagna (Fire Sacrifice) Vishwamitra was holding for the purpose.  The rage of the sage burst forth, and he incinerated them with a curse and condemned them to outcaste status for seven hundred more births to boot.

“That took care of all earthly opposition, but when the power of the sacrifice caused the body of Trishanku to ascend to heaven, the gods formed an unwelcoming committee at the gates, and hurled him back down to earth.  The poor man was speeding head downwards in space towards Earth, when the angry Vishwamitra halted him, upside down as he was.  He then proceeded to create a new set of constellations around the Hanging Man.  Finally he decided to replace the King of the gods with Trishanku.  By which time, the universe was in turmoil, so the gods agreed to make Trishanku an immortal, eternally suspended between heaven and earth.  They also agreed that in the next cycle of creation, he would ascend to the position of the King of the gods.  He is still out there in the constellation of stars known as the Trishanku Nakshatras.  His long inverted sojourn is spent in meditation and increasing Awareness – an accumulation of spiritual power that will get him the position of King of the Gods as his just desserts, not because of his desires and will power alone.  It is therefore a spiritual discipline he is undergoing.

“… … As a myth of what is possible by the determined application of will, and as an allegory for rising above one’s oppressive caste destiny, the myth cannot be better.  Though it becomes a story of the great sage, it is set into motion only because the King has thoughts that nobody had before, simply because they did not think it was possible.  He is a great opener up of the human spirit, unwilling to accept perceived wisdom as the last word on any subject.  It is like a living illustration of Blake’s famous dictum, ‘The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.’”


Jane’s Notes – June 2012

The abidance between the worlds, belonging to neither, is a strange ripening.

Suspended mind, suspended manas:  is a plaything of opposing forces, like a pendulum.  The quiet centre through which all moves, is the plumbline.

Trishanku hangs in a disordered way, awaiting the new constellation to stabilize itself, but his inner hands are crossed over his breast in acceptance.  He is trying to walk on heaven, but knows it will take time.

Premature spiritual activity generates an uplift of old Karmas to burn off.  The only possible posture is interior peace and acceptance while this is going on.  Liberation is in the package.  The background is deep violet, rather than dark blue, with gold ornaments on Trishanku.


Here is a story.  Trishanku’s face, and that of Lord Yama in the next card, is that of a young man who was allocated a  flat – no.40 – in our building, and died.   His features spontaneously surfaced, through the drawing;  I realized it afterward.   In the whole context of the jiva, or soul’s path through lifetimes, he suffered a temporary entrapment, and his death was a mercy.  It released him like a butterfly.  His neighbours – some of us helped him buy groceries and gave him some bedding – were relieved of a terrible worry;  for his daily life collapsed from bad to worse – a chaotic cold-turkey agony.  The drug rehab programme had dumped him brutally into an empty flat with no belongings, money or hot water, and he couldn’t cope.  Yet he was deeply touched by the kindness shown him here.  A sweetness in his personality opened our hearts.   He had been burned, and bore the scars – a casualty of the deep Shadow of our times.  He was vulnerable.   Finally, his state benefit arrears arrived;  then the dealers on the street caught him, he was almost clean;  he overdosed that same night, and died.  Yet it felt like a caged bird flying into space;  a song, Liszt’s Canticle d’Amour accompanied him.

In the contemporary paradox of the light and dark, some of the souls caught in drugs and gang culture, go to rock bottom, turn right round within the condition, become aware, and ascend.   Their strength and presence assists other lost ones, whether actively in community work, or from the hidden dimension.   Maybe they undertook, before birth, to take on the task.   There is a Power behind the story.

Surface appearances tell us very little of the generations, struggles and enlightenments in a soul – in Trishanku’s case, the King.  Sometimes their essence shines through, and the insight is contagious.   We may not know why, but we act, or we are moved, and see.   Some, like this young man, were too naïve to survive;  the ordeal is of their tapestry of experience:  one thread.

The Hanging Man, just past the Major Arcana tipping-point, marks the place where reversals happen – a change of direction.   Some call this, the most profound card of the Tarot – so profound, that prediction drowns, and a reader will terminate the session.   It is the deck’s messiah – the anointed One who submits to the world’s tight place, and allows the waters through.   The bodhisattva’s expression, as time in his strange situation ceases, is always radiant and serene.   The Hanging Man evolves revolution.

After the young man died, his features entered the deck, as a reminder of an enigma, an interaction, an intuition of where he came from, and where he was going.  It was through a dark valley.  We are not what we appear to be.

14 August 2002


We see with you

not as your linear boxes of time’s desert –

we see your trees cut back

as London’s green fire

incessant in the street springs growth.

Our ‘now’ is your grunting sow of years or hours.

We look within a jerking strand, to where unchanging,

we are born anew.

We see and seize the essence of your toil

to transmute back to you.

This is strangely, your delight as ours.


I dreamed I was on a large boat or ship, and we were on the calm, sheltered, shining sea, rather shallow, near the shore.  Suddenly, big broad waves made the ship pitch and steeply roll.  It was vertiginous and scary;  I knew if it went on, I would become very sick, like the people in Sekeeta’s ship sailing to Minos through a storm.  The body sensation was almost intolerable, the semi circular canals in disarray – a desperate search to accommodate it somehow.  The motion became more and more physical, until returning me somewhat to the location of my bed, it forced me into the only position which could hold equilbrium;  and that was upside down.   Inexorably my body turned, to stand on its head.  At which point I woke, aware of Key 12 the Hanged Man, and what this means.

For a Capricorn to tolerate the astral interface initially, means in some way to reverse the position.  The symbolism is accurate.  Key 12’s Hebrew letter is MEM, the mother-letter of the Waters;  its gematria is 40.  The Hanged Man points to the completion of the Great Work through the remaining Arcana.   He is the unmoving midpoint of the pendulum which swings, and therefore surrender.  He is in the birth position, head downwards through the MEM, a gate or womb.

The sensation was a polarity reversal.  My north and south magnetic poles flipped over.  I was rolled in the wave.  For any voyage or relationship, there are waves on entering the sea – the turbulent interface of neighbouring densities, as we cross over from the etheric into the astral sheath – from subjective to deeper objectivity;  from continental-plate into the Atlantic.  In this light I regard my intermittent dreaming of stormy seas and smashing waves.  The fishtailed Goat (Capricorn Sun, Cancer Moon) discovers and absorbs this initiatory element.  Subconscious fear of it, inhibits my sleep.

The reason I write, is that the ideas in it refurbish and refresh my etheric field with Cosmic reality.  I awake through it;  my insomnia doesn’t matter; holes are repaired with natural quicksilver, the fountain is restored, speak Lord thy servant heareth.  It sings around me like salt, like ions along the coast.  It sparkles brief points of rainbow fire – atoms – in the etheric sheath.  I inner-see it around me now, subtle white and shining.  I feel its song through me.  This is the fountain – the alchemical vessel in Hermes’ hand.

15 August

He was found dead yesterday, there were a string of ambulances …  … I became dimly aware how the fragment we knew as Alexander belongs to a great river of evolution, work and children of its own – the things he longed for, to define and earth himself.  He at 38, and for all that has happened to him, looked much younger, like a child.   We used to joke how life begins at 40.  When I last saw him a few days ago, out in the street, he was tall, upright, clean and manly, off to fetch and look after his woman from the hospital, because misguided as that might be, and leading to ever more dramas (the Karmic abyss) – to take care of someone in need and cook her meals for her, as he did before he came here, was his repeated ideal.   If death overshadowed him, it wore a garment of Light.

… I didn’t burn any incense, as that encourages fixation.  I want him to be free to travel his destiny and meet his second death, protected from astral vultures.  It is astonishing how emotional the Canticle d’Amour sounded.  It was rather like when I ‘sent off’ my grandfather from the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh – the wave of a hanky, the current released. Then I blew out two candles, left the lamp to burn down, opened the window and went out for a walk on the Green – whose grass was drenched in dew.   It was about 11.30pm.  Though I was in my thoughts, my walk accompanied this soul along the dark river, as an escort takes a ship through the harbour to the sea.

…  … He had a sensitive intelligence, and an interactive personality.  Each time he visited, he asked me about my art and writing, said he used to do some creative writing himself, and he hoped one day soon to commission me a drawing of his son.  He was an Essex cockney, with a refined charm in his battered and emaciated face, grey eyes sometimes smokey, and a wide motorway burn scar spiraling around his scalp through lumps of thick black hair. When he sat with us in the kitchen, he took off his hat to show us.  He was courteous in his wit, and painfully honest.  When he was ill or hanging out with the Finchley Road Bench Mob, he did the thin, jerky crack walk – that time I ran away and hid – but when I last saw him, he strode along the pavement like a man, and I only recognized him by his funny hat, then spoke to his clear eyes, high cheekbones and clean shave.  He had a longing for baths and cleanliness, and wouldn’t drink milk in his tea if it had any lumps in it, he said it was off.   I gave him food, aspirins and the bits of small change he needed to keep going.  I was disturbed and unsettled at night – the tension of his never ending string of incidents… …

Up Finchley Road today, I noticed my perception opens to the utterly other worlds which pass through each other.  The crack world is a reality, a way of life, a hunger, same as any other…. Their steps are quick, nervous and blind as if about to trip over, their sad little grey faces, their cloudy eyes.

There is a strange fulfillment in the capacity to see.  It is not identifying.  Souls pass through each other, their extraordinary temporary passages and confinements.  Death is an abundant advisor. Clarity of sight is compassion.  It sweeps away acquired prejudice, and feels newborn.  There is something in the world community’s having to see daily the horror of what it fears.  It is so Pluto in Capricorn (western astrology), remorselessly being brought up to the light, and affecting all our views.  We wore blinkers.  Our enormous and intricate intelligence of earth’s surface is only a tiny fraction of Reality.  No prediction can cover life.  Only one of innumerable possible ‘quanta’ can settle, at any given moment.

Yesterday I began to paint the Hanged Man for India Tarot.  The mythology is called ‘Upside down in outer space.’   My sister saw it, and said he looks like me.

24 August

The figure in the Hanged Man, and in Yama the Lord of Death, has the same face, is the same person …

Correspondence: Jane – 21 August 2002

Dear Rohit and Gautam – in your paragraphs about cards 13 and 14, you mention attached articles on the mythology.  I have one for 14, Ganga, but none for Yama and Kali, except for your guidance notes as to the imagery.  If you have them, please send them to this address?  thank you. Hope 12 was well received.  The background is deep violet rather than dark blue as on this scan, with gold ornaments on Trishanku.  I don’t know whether it comes out better on your printer than on Mr E’s.

Correspondence: Gautam – 22 August 2002

Hi Jane, am sending these right away;  we had sent them many months earlier as well, by regular mail.  Will revert on Trishanku.  Best regards, Gautam.


Correspondence:  Jane – 22 August 2002

Many thanks, the writings on Yama and Kali are most illuminating.  I had already begun the Yama drawing, and it is along those lines already.  Rohit’s essay on Yama is so good, that we are wondering if we could use it for the coming issue of Self Enquiry?  We will acknowledge your website with it.  Unfortunately today I have – unusually – a very bad cold and cannot work, but hope to be better tomorrow, so will be in touch shortly.

Gautam – 23 August 2002

You may certainly use the Yama article, although with the credit line Copyright  I will be sending pictures of Kali soon … Rohit too has been under the weather.   Will revert on Hanging Man as soon as I sit with him.  I like it a lot.  Warm regards.

Gautam and Rohit – 27 August 2002

“… this most unusual and incredible of Indian Rishis, whose sheer will defeated the gods and earned him the title of the Friend of the World.   … This illustration is absolutely fine!!!  Will revert on Yama and Kali soon.   Rgds, Gautam.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga


Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Strength card

The Strength card in the Sacred India Tarot was always going to be Durga – she who rides a lion. The western tradition had moved away from the archetype of male strength killing a lion to it being controlled by a woman’s spiritual power – a still astonishing and unexplained transformation. Durga is described as Shakti rupena the “Goddess whose form is strength” so the fit was marvelous.

Rohit’s Notes:

The article we attach should give you some interesting ideas.  There is a literal embarrassment of riches where sculpture is concerned, so we send you a few choices.  The Frenzy with which she fights the horned demon from the Ellora sculptures seems the most dynamic, and I would like that recreated.  Most representations show her at the moment of triumph impaling the poor wretch, as though there was no struggle, as though it is enough for Strength to be present without ever manifesting itself or indeed even testing itself – to see if it is in fact and deed the strength of the righteous that triumphs, and not just a pleasant delusion.  That is a dangerous fallacy, that the right has no struggle in its triumph over the wrong.   This is a Titanic, elemental clash, and the angry laughter of the goddess shakes the four quarters.  She should be a White Goddess in no uncertain terms, including her armour.  For the rest as you please.

Correspondence:  Jane – June 2002

I would like Rohit’s further notes on Durga.   I feel that for ‘strength’, Durga on her lion should not be just dashing madly into battle, but expressing the containment or discipline of her extraordinary energy.  What do you think?”

 Correspondence:  Rohit

“Dear Jane,

I completely agree with you about the manner in which Durga is to be represented.  The saying of Uyeshiba, founder of Aikido, may be relevant here, that the true stillness is the stillness found at the heart of vigorous motion.  It is not a wild battle frenzy that needs depiction as much as the overwhelming triumph of strength that is spiritual.  Durga is always in control, no matter how wild her behaviour is, she is Apollonian in her outlook, a Pallas Athena sort of remote and icy presence, pure and powerful and terrifying, because of the sheer easy perfection she represents – there is no space for weakness and indulgence of any sort.  She is the epitome of the intellectual warrior.  Kali on the other hand, is pure Dionysian, an elemental chaos force version of strength and death, titanic, chthonic, pre-rational, purely instinctual.

 “Please do not make the rakshasha (demon) grotesque, he represents not just brute force and ignorance, but also the smug self satisfaction of a sensate culture, over-achievers in material terms with contempt for all higher modes or aspects of thinking and feeling.   Such people are always superficially sleek and elegant, confident and therefore not prone to overt exaggeration in displays of strength – they would consider it a tacet admission of weakness.  The asura or sensate philosophy is very attractive.  Most modern societies are predicated on an unthinking assumption of its principles, and the virtue of strength, is precisely that it can overcome something which is so seductive and powerful, as well as point out something higher, as an evolutionary path.

 “Durga should have golden armour.  She is white in complexion, with extremely long black tresses.  As for the rest, please do as you have always done.  I trust this additional input will help you.”


Early material:  Centaur, Athene & Owl – JA 1988.    In fact Pallas Athene’s gaze is described as clear, grey, amused and profound


Rohit’s Notes (Excerpts from the article on the Indiayogi website) :

“Durga is not formidable;  she is stupendous – in the old sense of the word, co-mingling ‘tremendous’ as well as ‘stupefying’.

“… Her basic function in the popular mythology is to beat up the Cosmic bad guys, especially when the other gods have failed.  She is therefore a weapon of last resort and final appeal, an instinctive feminine answer to the problems of the world when masculine logic fails.

“Vedic India had no demon slayers in their goddesses, though Saraswathi is once described as a great warrior.  In fact the traditional Hindu framework had no place for the Great Mother religions.  Durga is an amalgamation of many local area fertility goddesses as well as India’s most significant religious import.  For the Indian mind had no such concept;  to be frank, battle queen goddesses riding animal mounts were just not part of the zeitgeist.  Once this concept had entered the country however – about 2000 years ago – it was quickly assimilated into the collective unconscious and filled up a gap in the emotional life of the people that the too-masculine nature of Godhead could not.

“Durga is almost certainly Ishtar of Mesopotamia, now the Middle East, worshipped by the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and even the Romans and Egyptians on the sly.  She has been around since 2000 BC at least, when an already old tale was set down as the epic The Descent of Ishtar.    This worthy was a very independent and headstrong goddess who roamed the wilds of forest and deserts at will, and had many lovers, constantly seeking battle and being given generally, a very respectful and extremely wide berth by everyone.  Ishtar and Isis were the two opposite polarities of the ancient mother cults, but Isis never came to India, though the Mahadevi is a good enough substitute.  Ishtar however, proved the words of the song ‘Good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go everywhere’, and she became the most popular goddess of the ancient world, even if not quite as intellectually respected as Isis.  The common man however, preferred this wild energy that was no respecter of pretensions and pomposity, and cared not a fig for show and class division – Ishtar’s lovers being an extremely eclectic assortment of professions and social classes.   India embraced this wilderness-haunting, battle-loving, multiple-armed, lion-riding Goddess with great enthusiasm, but they could not countenance the promiscuity, and quietly dropped those parts out.   Durga was the result of this strange deity being introduced, an Ishtar that has got her act cleaned up, and is also  ‘chaste as the icicle on the Temple of Diana’.

“… Durga’s behaviour (a sort of feminine Shiva) is extremely offbeat in the Hindu social context, and as such, like all rebels, she has become a symbol of freedom for all those who are resigned to their narrow grinds and call it their duty.   Durga does what is good;  and duty is for lesser beings.

“Naturally there was great embarrassment about such an independent feminine energy running around … and spreading subversive thoughts amongst her devotees, and the mythologizers got busy and married her off to Shiva.  Then they wrote many stories which show her to be the manifestation of Parvati, Shiva’s wife.  Durga is Parvati’s divine wrath which has taken physical shape.  Even as they were making up the myth, they could not avoid her essentially independent nature.  In parts of the country she is supposed to be the mother of a Divine Family with Skanda, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Saraswathi being her children.  This is an amazing example of popular feeling as to what is right and proper triumphing over the texts itself.  None of these deities are in any way connected to Durga actually, from the evidence of the texts, be they mythology or scripture.  However, a goddess could not be childless, so she had better have the best children possible.

“The old Durga, even with her Ishtar lineage, seems to have been a fertility goddess, closely connected with the harvests and wild vegetation.  There are religious ceremonies even today practiced, which ask her to hasten the growth of crops and the sprouting of the seeds.  She was obviously accepted first by the tribal and semi nomadic peoples.   Hence … she is known as VANAPRIYA, she who loves forests.  She also accepts blood offerings, in the typical renewal and nourishment ritual so well known to all ancient cultures.  That however, has become a problem today, as the faith has become uncomfortable with such beliefs.  It does not help that the great battle Queen inflames herself for combat by drinking wine till her eyes are red, and sometimes when that is not enough, she quaffs blood … (they) were very sociable drinkers indeed, as all the old texts and epics show again and again.   It is only nowadays that this kind of behaviour seems inexplicable…

“However, it is not to be supposed that Durga is a chaotic, undisciplined force of nature.  She is so terrifying precisely because she is always in control;  there is something cool and deliberate about her, that freezes the blood.  Even her attahasam, the cosmic bellow of laughter that shakes the earth, seems to be derisive mockery of the pretensions of evil, rather than the outburst of rage it would be in Kali’s case.   In fact there is something singularly chilling, a Himalayan coldness, in the descriptions of the manner she wipes the floor with demons.  Wave after wave of asuras and rakshasas are annihilated by her, and then she waits with this menacing calm for the next lot to rush up on her and meet their doom.   Kali would have been chasing them round the four corners of the Earth as soon as she had killed a few.  The battle fury is always ready to break out in Durga, but she never loses control.  It never becomes the blood lust that motivates Kali’s dance of destruction.  It is impossible for Durga to get carried away, and it is this superhuman control of hers that has rendered her The Inaccessible.

“In some myths, Durga is the skin of Parvati, which slips off and fights the demons Shumbha and Nishumba, a pair of brothers who did not know the old saying – ‘united they stand, and divided by desiring the same woman, they fall’.   Sometimes she is supposed to create helpers to fight for her, Kali being the most famous.  As Kali is an old tantric deity, the assimilative trend here is only too visible.   In other versions, she is supposed to have created the Saptamatrikas, the Seven Mothers, who are originally Yaksha gods!   However it is worth noting, that Durga, like Ishtar, never needs male help.   She is independent of all direct male influence, and she fights only male demons.   In the myth of her origin, what is most interesting and crucial, is not that she is presented as the Shakti power behind the male god, but that she takes their powers upon herself, so that she can save the universe.

“This subsuming and in a sense takeover of the formal powers of all creation is what has led the famous Hymn to Durga to extol her as the composite of all the elements.  Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu, Shakti rupena samsthitha    – “O Devi, who is the amalgam of all the elements, whose form is that of strength.”   This indicates her essential independence of all that is – as she is made of the very stuff of the universe.

“Among her powers and attributes, are listed not just positive ones like wisdom and peace, but also she whose form is hunger, sleep and thirst.  Durga therefore, is only too familiar with the Shadow of the Universe.  Durga is thus an impossible reconciliation of opposites, the aspect of divinity that will always remain out of reach of the comprehension of man.  She is the divine life force, that may not be understood, but only accepted.”

 During SITA card 11, I was working in a Celtic energy field of the Priestess of Black Isis, this is one of three drawings of her, done at the same time.


Jane’s Notes – 30 June – 2 July 2002

In this little painting of She, she has lifted her veil of night to glimmer through it nakedly like the moon.  But I don’t think I have captured her wild mystery.  She is intended to smile, or only begin to smile, like moonbeams.  In the ravens wing of her hair, and at the bottom, is another little oval like a pebble or crystal … the Lynx to her left side, is a wonderful creature, a grey feral cat with topaz eyes and tufted elven ears like horns of the Moon.  One should follow the way the Lynx moves, in all one’s alchemy.  The Lynx shows how to do it, how to dance, how to purr the moon-rays over the hill, how to stalk the prey.

“… Why does God have so many prejudices? – the dark crystallizations up and running?  God has every prejudice in the book, and is none of them.

“I wonder if my moon-drop drawing of She, is the Lady Alchymia.  The great beauty is the unfetteredness from identity.  The great beauty is cherished by the unpersoned servant.

“Today I drew Durga – STRENGTH – for India Tarot.   She’s come out as an Elven warrior-Princess – not Indian at all, even with her six arms.  Lions are always very difficult to draw, because they are almost human, or human caught in the noblest sleep of the animal kingdom, and thus deformed.   Rohit wants Durga white skinned with flowing black tresses and golden armour and Pallas-Athene eyes – so he’s got a Royal Elf.  He wants the demon to represent the sleek and seductively cynical Consumerist – like a handsome, glittering car.   My demon isn’t yet coloured in, but lies along the ground with sensual face and figure-eight serpent tail, raising a hand in salute, which looks like “Cheerio then folks.   She’s coming.”  The tall narrow format of these little paintings is a difficult compositional challenge every time, and the resolution is never what I first envisaged.

“In the contemplation of Binah – Kabbalist Understanding – is also the interrogative Hebrew name of God, “Mi” – ‘Who?’   This morning I looked out of the kitchen window to the poplar trees along the railway, heavily green with summer.  My inner vision can penetrate the clothing of the carpark and townscape, and discover in that urban space, co-incident with it, a meadow of long grass:  woods, flowers and beasts.  Why not?  This is the feeling looking out of the window at and as anything.  Create what you like.  This too shall pass.  The underlying atoms, all alike, seethe in combination and deliver belief.   I see an umbrella a few hundred years – I mean yards – away, even though it is not raining.  Minutes later, a downpour veils the poplar trees.  Rain drums swift rings of sound in puddles and wet road.”

Two earlier versions of “Strength” in the west.   In some decks, “Strength” is 8 and “Justice” is 11, the other way round from Sacred India Tarot.   This does not interfere with readings – the concepts of strength and justice interchange well and contribute mutual insights.

The pencil drawing is of Strength as  FOHAT – the universal “magical agent” or astral Light.   Note the raised five headed cobra from the coils of the lion’s tail, bridging eastern and western yogas.    Now here is Sacred India Tarot’s:

Correspondence:  Jane – 3 July 2002

“Dear Gautam, I have sent you Durga via Mr E’s mail.  At the moment, these are scanning somewhat darker than the originals.  The skyline for instance along the distant mountains in this one, is lighter and violet-pink in tone, getting very dark half way up.  The blues and greens are good, but the pink-violet and yellow-gold tones are obscured – the originals of cards 8,9,10,11 are brighter and lighter.  However it gives you a sufficiently good idea, and when we bring the whole thing together, we can research optimum reproduction.

 “The demon in Durga is based on Rahu, as being suitably glitzy as per Rohit’s description.  Durga’s strength is in her concentrated power and sighting.  I picked up your tip about Pallas Athene and ‘icy stupendous’.  She is swinging the bow round to shoot, and the dagger extended points to a higher path.  Another pair of hands are completely calm, the left hand gently restraining the Lion.  The long narrow format of the cards is compositionally challenging.  Was delayed a few days with toothache (now recovered), but couldn’t have done it anyway before Rohit’s useful note came along.  I shall start card 12 next week, after your feedback.  With greetings to you both, Jane.”

Jane’s Notes:  The rakshasha represents that sleek and seductively sufficient material over-achiever.  His hand raised – as if barring a paparazzi lens – is the gesture of an entity which grows fat on the consumerist society thank you very much!   This rakshashi or demon wears the loop (head-dress) of Rahu’s glitzy media dream of nectar, like a crown.  The serpent power is densely coiled into illusions, which trap human beings and mortgage them to the hilt.   NB – Durga’s third pair of hands behind the two active pairs:  almost hidden, the gentle hand on the lion’s head.  Strength overcomes the seductive sleek blinds of modern Ferraris and electronics.

Correspondence:  Rohit and Gautam – 18 July 2002

“Dear Jane, finally I’m back from what turned out to be a Cathedral pilgrimage of sorts, since I visited over a dozen of them in France, including the one and only Chartres.  A visit to Cathar country was undertaken as well, including the hill castle of Montegur.  Felt like I was a knight in some past life, perhaps revisiting for a recap of sorts.

 “Hope all else is well at your end.  It’s monsoon time in Bombay, but it’s not been raining much…

 “Rohit dropped in to the office today, and we discussed the Strength card.  Herewith are the comments.  We like the overall composition, it is extremely beautiful and powerful.  A few points:  the left hand on the bow should be below the arrow, and perhaps more of the arm needs to be seen in perspective.  We like the idea of casting the demon as Rahu, but unfortunately he’s too firmly associated with Vishnu.  So, should we eliminate the serpent body and leave the head as it is, or should we substitute it for a buffalo body, because Mahishasur is the buffalo demon, and mythologically the arch antagonist to Durga?

 “What is the significance of the prominent palm shown beneath Durga’s feet?   Warm regards, Gautam and Rohit.”

Correspondence:  Jane – 21 July 2002

“I have been away for a few days, and now have your email, thanks.

 “I’m afraid you gave me no indication of the demon being associated with Vishnu, though I looked right through the material several times.  The only thing I had to go by, was Rohit’s note:  ‘Please do not make the rakshasha grotesque, he represents not just brute force and ignorance, but also the smug self satisfaction of a sensate culture …’ (etc., see above).


“To me, this suggested an aspect of Rahu, the glamour glitz of consumerist media.  My interpretation was led this way, visualizing for instance, the sleek surfaces of cars and electronics!   The serpent form is lent easily to this, but doesn’t have to be Rahu, the headdress can be altered.  It is compositionally extremely difficult to fit in a buffalo body.  The serpent was the only solution (after several hours).   Incidentally, the hand palm is the demon’s own right hand in a salute, to ‘blind’ the seeker to the demon’s identity and to the presence of Durga – like a hand stretched out to put over the camera lens.  The hand is also a symbol of occult defence.   This one has almost no character lines.   The demon is adept at masking identity.   I shall definitely need more information before I can proceed, and please also send me some visual data (your descriptive stuff is fine) how you see card 12.   In 11, Durga’s left hand can be adjusted – the arrow is meant to protrude between her index and third fingers, but can lower it if you prefer – and will try to indicate more of the foreshortened arm.   Will begin 12 after I have heard from you.  What an interesting trip you have had in France.”


Jane’s Note – June 2012

There seems to have been no further correspondence on this matter.   Here, for a reference, is my drawing of the planet daity Rahu (north node, eclipse plane – see the little symbol, bottom left).  He has been lapping at the nectar of the gods.  Catching him, they cut off his head, condemning him to a disembodied eternal life, to taste, fantasize and persuade, but never quite attain.  Rahu’s general nature seemed to match Durga’s as adversary, as he stands for glamour and worldly snares.   In the light of our correspondence, the lion-power leaping from his breast is interesting, and so is the cobra north-node uraeus on his third eye, and in the palm of his hands:  Rahu is the deity of projection and illusion.   But in the positive sense, his power realizes our dreams, and drives us to create new horizons.

And here is an early working sketch for the Rahu drawing:

 This sketch indicates the Moon’s phases.   The horses in the main drawing are Rahu’s black lotus.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Wheel

Sacred India Tarot

Notes on its Creation:  Card 10, The Wheel

Rohit’s Notes

“The wheel of time itself.  You are absolutely free to represent this in any way that you feel is best to bring out the cyclic nature of time in India as opposed to linear notions of historical progressions in other cultures.  You can bring in as many religious and cultural motifs as you feel is necessary.  There is no point in giving directions here, as it is essentially a personal vision for each person, notions of the Great Wheel.

“Nevertheless, perhaps the Wheel can be something like the famous chariot wheels carved in stone of the Sun temple in Karnak.  We could have a Yogi-like sage in the cosmic background as the only class of living being who are immune to the wheel of time, even the devas, the gods, are not exempt from the depradations of time.  This yogi is more to be suggested than actually seen.  An outline, or use of shading, to suggest the sage perhaps?  On the Wheel itself there should be male and female figures bound to it, who are ascending and descending as the Great Circle spins its timeless course.  These figures should not look like they are being sadistically tortured, for life forms quite like the bondage of the Wheel.  The idea is to convey many inevitable transmutations that may seem like evolution, but actually are just finer forms of bondage and self-delusion.

“This will be difficult to convey on a simple card, the many life forms that souls take, so we should perhaps limit it to just two forms, male and female, though the male form tends to transform into female and the female into male, indicating the many changes the jiva assumes, while bound to the Wheel.

“An alternative is to show the human figures blending into animal forms.  The elephant, lion, swan and deer are the most popular animals in Indian mythology.  We need a swastika represented somewhere within the Wheel itself.  Perhaps as a series of motifs within the inner rim of the Wheel?   As for the rest, please do as you see fit.

This is the Wheel in Jane’s Hermetic Tarot deck (1990-91)

Jane’s Notes

“I like the idea of humans transforming back and forth into archetypal animals, but we shall see.  The important point of the Wheel is its quiet centre from which it rotates in every direction, and the detached yogi who in western decks is represented by a sphinx.   Let’s see how our combined vision perks out …”

Correspondence:  Jane – 6 June 2002

“I am about to begin Card 10, I am sorry for the long delay.  2 months, the work load has been most unusual.  I hope you are well.  Please can you get hold of Rohit and ask him – or maybe you can tell me yourself – which way round is the Indian swastika?

 “Second question – the swan, lion, deer and elephant that he suggests, should correspond with the Holy Animals of Ezekiel in the Western tradition.   (See picture, above.)  I would suggest the deer in the East, representing Air, the lion in the South, for Fire, swan in the West, for Water, and for Earth, the elephant in the North.   But in India it may be seen differently.  Comments and suggestions?  I have a useful idea for the design to proceed, following Rohit’s notes on the Kala Chakra.   Oh yes, one more thing – I can probably look it up, but what is the Kala Chakra in terms of male or female triangles and lotus petals?  Will be in touch as I go along.  Greetings to you both, Jane.”

  Correspondence:  Gautam – 11 June 2002

Dear Jane, thank you for your mail.  I had forwarded it to Rohit, and his answer is attached below, for your reference.  Indeed it has been a long while since the last drawing.  Rohit was keen on moving this project ahead at a faster pace, as it’s been almost a year since work began.  He has asked me to check with you whether or not this is possible, due to your other commitments.  If not, then after the Major Arcana are done, should we be looking for someone else to move the project further?

Rohit’s comment 2012 – What did I know then? I was still stupid to even contemplate such a thing!!

 I personally feel we have a great equation going, and would love to work through this whole deck as a team, and for me, no one else comes to mind whom we can work with.  Please let me have your thoughts on this, so I may share the same with Rohit.

 Meanwhile, rains have begun in Bombay, the crowds have dwindled at Ramesh’s (which is a welcome change) as most westerners have left, given the war scenario.  I really don’t think there is going to be a war, but with Pakistan you never know.  Things are very much normal here.  I plan to be in France from 20 June to 10 July, touring around the Cathar/Templar castles etc.  Of course, if hostilities break out, the trip may not happen.   My warm regards to yourself and Alan, Gautam.


Correspondence:  Rohit – 11 June 2002

Dear Gautam,

The Indian swastika is the opposite of the Hitlerian one, beginning at the top left corner of a page, instead of the top right as was the case with the Nazis. Lion has to be in the east as it represents the sun here in India, the swan and the elephant are correct, so deer has to be in south. I don’t think the kala chakra is really a yantra, so male and female triangles may be difficult here.

 Correspondence:  Jane – 11 June 2002

Dear Gautam, I have your this-morning’s email, thanks.  I’ve got the Wheel going at last, I have to say I found this one very hard to visualize, but this was partly due to workload elsewhere, which is beginning to ease up.  The astrological situation both personally and collectively has been dense, but is now passing the peak, since the solar eclipse last weekend.  Let’s hope it all eases and opens out.  I do not think there will be a war, as there are so many factors in equilibrium involved behind the scenes, and certainly beyond reach of the media, but it is delicate terrain.  The Saturn Pluto opposition has been extremely taxing, they are now beginning to detach.


Re our work, I am getting moving with it again – starting to phase out my work on the SE magazine, which is very tiring – a smaller issue I think, in August, and next year reduce to two issues only.  My situation since a year ago has altered, there are now other commitments in terms of work and study.   Ideally I would like to do one card a week in our work:  to date, they have been for me, major paintings;  so I will try to simplify the format (not conspicuously!) so as to distribute the creative energy a bit better, and to flow as a series.  I must say I have felt daunted at the thought of doing all the Minor Arcana mythologically also.

Rohit’s comment 2012 _ Other than Jane and your-not-so-humble author, the only other person who dared to do something like this was Juliet Sharman Burke. In all Tarot literature only two decks where the Minor cards are telling a unique story in sequence – without violating original story timelines as well as the integrity of the Tarot meanings for each card. The head spins at the sheer audacity- or knowledge – required for it, and I am permitted some pardonable pride when I say it is still only two decks that have done so?!!

 On the other hand, we should keep the project unified.   In some western decks the format for the Minor Arcana is simpler – or geometric only.  We must find a happy medium.  I’m sure we will.  I am very sorry for the long delay.

Rohit comment 2012 – In the interim there have been a couple of decks tangentially associated with Indian mythology but they all top out after doing the Major Arcana and in many cases with completely inappropriate choices of figures to represent the traditional Tarot archetypes. If Saraswati is chosen as the Empress – to take one of the most egregious examples – then understanding both of Indian mythology and the tarot is suspect! My whole point for the Sacred India Tarot was precisely that the great stories of the myths fit perfectly into the Tarot structure and they would be told in full. We ended up with 82 cards in the deck and only self-restraint and cost constraints didn’t make it a 100!

Would you kindly send by fax, some representation of the Kala Chakra, if possible?  Regards to you both, Jane.

If at all we could have sent anything it would have been this… perhaps good we did not


Correspondence:  Jane – 11 June 2002

 Of course – Kala Chakra is simply wheel of time, so ignore my request for faxing an example.  I am pleased with the design which is taking shape, and will soon complete – Jane.

 Jane’s Notes – 12 June 2002

“Got a kick start back into the India Tarot yesterday, and made progress on the Wheel, card 10.  Bombay was getting agitated and myself “crowded”, but the dense feeling around the planetary cluster and culminating eclipse, is dispersing, the atmosphere has changed.   Now I realize what it felt like.  So progress with India Tarot is to steam ahead without the handicap of over-involvement.   Let the angels or maggidim (inner plane) work the colours, and don’t let it wear me out.   I am made to practice moving a little faster.   Surprisingly, in the evening I worked some more on the portrait of L.Eagle, bringing through his eyes and deepening his skin colours.  His voice.

“… the battle with drawings.  How one must endure and accept the obscuring power, by trust, into the Light – the tunnel – which sees.   The struggle is in the deft hand itself of the “Organization”.   I am the lead in their pencil!

“… The Sun within the Wheel tastes our full savour.  The things we suffer and enjoy in life must be complete before they pass.  What feels like sometimes the thick end of a wedge, is a fragment of some vast and unseen ‘wholeness’, celebrated in the round, which when fully delivered, becomes a ball of joy.   But it must be fully savoured.  And this may take months, decades, or even sequences of lifetimes, to be properly explored to Consciousness and thus transfigured.  In the light of such weathers in the Wheel, I see my ordeal when I was in my twenties, and its continuing fallout.   The revelation is what God’s gift fully includes – to suffer it, to love it, to await God’s pleasure.”

Correspondence:  Jane – 18 June 2002

Did I do the swastika the right way round?   I copied it from a Yantra book.   I would like Rohit’s further notes on Durga.   I feel that for ‘strength’, Durga on her lion should not be just dashing madly into battle, but expressing the containment or discipline of her extraordinary energy.  What do you think?


Correspondence:  Rohit and Gautam – 18 June 2002

We received the Wheel well, thanks.

We really like this, the power and overall visual impact of the card.  It conveys the concepts behind the Wheel very well.  Is there a particular reason why the head of the sage is tilted?  With regard to the swastika, will send you a reference of the same for direction, separately.  We like the animals, the sun above the lion is good, but does that mean the card is east-facing?  we suppose for reasons of balance.


We look forward to the Durga card.  Rohit will also send a further note on the same.   Warm regards, Gautam

 Jane’s Notes:

“Head of sage is tilted (like Ramana Maharshi’s) to indicate fluidity rather than rigidity …  perhaps that classic South Indian gesture!

“Card faces east with the Lion, so the Sun above is dawn.   In western tradition, tarots and sacred art face east unless there’s a strong indication otherwise.  The suggestive yogi in the wheel’s centre, is immune to the Wheel of Time.  The human figures blend into the archetypal animal forms of activity. The swastika is Solar powered energy.”

Jane’s Notes – June 2012

I like this.   The swastika in the sage’s solar plexus and heart chakras demonstrates the primordial Solar Cross:  the 8 vortices around the wheel are its infinite manifestation at fluid compass points.   The Wheel is a navigation instrument, as on the ship’s bridge.    It is solar powered.   The sun’s rays penetrate every direction simultaneously, including inward.   The colours of the swastika behind the Wheel – its four gates, as with any mandala – suggest the alchemical colours for Earth, which are citrine, russet, slate and indigo.   Kala Chakra the Wheel of Time, is the template for ALL yantras and mandalas.   Chakra means “wheel”.   It is still at the centre, and rapidly turns at circumference:   the centrifugal and centripetal curve of gravity and manifestation.   Yantras and Mandalas are sections across Reality – like the concentric circles of time across a tree.   Meditation imagines – and therefore IS –  the tree of life growing up through them, as in the Sri Chakra Yantra – the above and below, as well as the compass points:  the standard weathercock of six directions.   Sun’s rays when photographed, fall into hexagonal patterns.   The hexagon forms a six point star, and also the Cube – the prime crystal of salt, and of our three dimensioned world.

In this design, the silver Swan floats forth from the golden Sunrise.  The elephant and the deer pulling in opposite directions, are an ever opening movement from the core.


– with reference to the Swan, here is Saraswathi with two Brahma Swans – the gliding forces of Creation:  the light on the water – the cream in the milk.   This is relevant to the innate creativity of the Wheel.

It is astonishing how those who are attuned to such things immediately get the vibration. On the Aeclectic Tarot Forum,  dedicated to the Sacred India Tarot  page 20 this Wheel card had been discussed a bit and the Saraswati connection was clearly brought out there… which is not in our text of the book!

F H: That Wheel card is beautiful and is a great aesthetic/meditative feast — I like the four animals in it : lion, swan, elephant, stag. I’m trying to match myself now with one of those four.

P B : The swan is connected with Saraswati (High Priestess). That is the one I would choose.

What does one say to such sympathetic harmonious vibration?

Frank Hall wrote separately to me also about the Wheel. He was very generous in his praise and it is hugely appreciated Frank!

I have two of your magical and magnificent Sacred India Tarot. I appreciate how you have bridged Tarot and Meditation. Your book includes depth and detail about India’s universal Truth, Beauty, and Good. Jane Adams’ Art is aesthetically clear and bold, with just the right thematic tones and moods and forms. The gods and goddesses speak with the Spirit behind and beyond them. One question (which you may choose to have me find ): on the Wheel card/painting, there are 4 animals, swan below, lion above, elephant left, stag right. Could you indicate the individual and combined Truth here? I have meditated on this as your book directs– I have come to Spirit above (lion) and matter below (swan) and mind left (elephant) and body right (stag). But I wonder if the gunas or other energies apply. Thank you for your consideration of this. Once again, thank you for your spiritual discernment and creativity. You have, with Jane Adams, manifested a masterpiece out of India and for the world. East and West have become wings of the Pegasus now. Thanks and blessings.  

Rohit replied:

Your kind words of praise are much appreciated!
You have caught it straight off the bat! However, since the wheel turns, what is below will in time rise to the top and so on. The lion is symbol of power also and of the stupidity, cupidity and insolence that goes with it in Indian fable. The elephant is a symbol of dirghayus, long life and intelligence; the swan in yogic symbolism is able to drink the milk alone from a mixture of milk and water… hence Viveka -the power of discernment and discrimination in a positive sense. The stag is held in Shiva’s hand in many sculptures. Both the incessant restlessness of body and mind which is brought under control by yoga is represented there.
As you guessed correctly there is a further tattva symbolism – elephant is Earth, the swan is Water, the lion Fire and the stag -Air.
The thing is the body, the physical body, the annamaya kosha contains all of these in finer gradations and most spiritual work is basically first strengthening and then freeing oneself from the Elemental Body as such so that the inner illumination can flow through at last which is also the reason for multiple rebirth  

Jane and I – only the Force knows why we were chosen to do this… but we did something great…

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_Sacred IndiaTarot#Creating the Hermit

The greatest exponents of renunciation in India were the Jains and Mahavira was the pinnacle, so he was an obvious choice for the Hermit. It is an interesting footnote on cultural transmission that the Jains never became a world religion like their contemporaries the Buddhists. Jane had no idea who Mahavira was! I wrote a concept note so as to speak, which is included here, and may be the best small introduction to the phenomenal impact the Jains had on the social, cultural and religious life of India.  In that sense Mahavira was one of the most influential people who ever lived, on par with Confucius in China.

Rohit’s Notes for The Hermit:

THE HERMIT – MAHAVIR … who is both the prototypal example of renunciation, as well as a link to Jainism.  It is after all the Indian Mythology Tarot, and the Jain faith has been around for as long as the Vedic one, if not even earlier.  The significant contributions of the Jains to Hinduism are actually conversions of the Hindus to new social principles.  These include vegetarianism, non-violence, the practice of celibacy, the forsaking of alcohol and the assumption of sannyasa before the fourth stage of life – Vanaprastha.  All of these practices are now common, and have been so for over a millennia, but anybody who knows the Vedic Hindus will realize what an amazingly contrary transformation has occurred in their character and outlook.

“We will send an original Mahavira sculpture to serve as a reference point.  There is no need to be anything other than absolutely traditional in representing him.  The base of his pedestal should have a lion carved onto it directly under his feet, that is the traditional symbol to signify that it is Mahavira and not one of the 23 Tirthankaras, or ‘ford crossers’ who preceded him.”


The Hermit – Version One:  Sage in a Cave




Correspondence:  Gautam – 11 April 2002

1 VARUNA:  We love the Varuna card …  think it is as close to perfect in expressing the notion of Justice,   No changes required.

 2. HERMIT:  Also very powerful, and we would like to go with it.  However, the Jains of India will take exception to Mahavir being shown with hair and beard, because traditionally they pluck out their  hair with their own hands;  hence he would have to be hairless and beardless.  But the point is, this is a great drawing, and we could still go with it, as we like it.  If you feel a figure without hair would be as powerful, then should we consider re-drawing this?  as Mahavir is a very important figure in the religious history of India, perhaps we shouldn’t lose that connection.  Also, if we redo this card, the pot/loin-cloth/stick is not required, as he has no personal possessions, since he is a Jain hermit and not a Hindu hermit. 

 “Would love to have your views on this.  If you prefer this drawing, then we’ll find some connection with another Hindu sage, as this is an archetypal Rishi figure.  Is the head deliberately larger in proportion as a sign of the inward spiritual growth?

 3.” WHEEL OF FORTUNE:  We are sending you a list of fresh suggestions as to how it could be visually interpreted, in a separate email.   Hope you have recovered well from your flu.”

 Correspondence:  Jane – 11 April 2002

“Hallo Gautam, thank you for yours, yes thank you, my flu is better and therefore everything.  I didn’t know anything at all about Jains, so I just went for an archetypal Vedic Rishi, thinking it would be about the same, unclothed.  The global archetype is generally heavily bearded, etc.   His head came out large, because I felt the Lion energy of spiritual development, and the very long hair expresses this vigour.   We can find a Vedic character for him?   But I am open to redoing him at a later stage if the concept of a hairless sage – never knew this – is required.    Isn’t there anyone in the major or minor Arcana who could represent this one?   A distracting chore to sit and pluck the hair each day – and painful too.   Extraordinary image of removing Karmas and Samskaras as they accrue! – like the ashes Shiva wore.

 “The Wheel will keep me busy for a bit.  I like the idea of humans transforming back and forth into archetypal animals, but we will see.  The significant point of The Wheel is its quiet centre, from which it rotates in every direction;  and the detached Yogi who in the west is represented by a sphinx.   Let’s see how our combined vision perks out.

 Warm greetings to you both.  Am producing April “Self Enquiry” magazine at the moment, but it is almost done.  Jane.”

The Hermit was re-done a year or two later, as Mahavir

Correspondence:  Rohit – The Hermit and the Jains

Dear Jane,

The Jains are a sect in India who are exceedingly ancient and are perhaps the only faith who were genuinely independent of mainstream Hinduism at all times.  They were once powerful across the land, having kings and ministers patronize them.  Their most famous convert was the first emperor of India Chandrgupta Maurya, who was the contemporary of Alexander, and indeed even met him once.  This man walked away from his throne and kingdom to become a wandering Jain hermit after 25 years of absolute power and fabulour success.  The Jains believe, like the Buddhists whom they resemble in many ways, in a succession of saviours called Tirthankaras, which means ‘the ford crosser’ and indicates enlightenment.  The Buddhist TATHAGATHA – ‘he who knows, because he is awakened’ – would be the exact equivalent.  There are supposed to be 24 Tirthankaras, most of whom are mythological, except the last two. 

The Jains are unusually fanatical about absolute non-violence, and even re-wrote the Ramayana, because they were distressed that the great Rama did so much fighting.   In their version, his brother does all the fighting.  The 23rd Tirthankara, Parashnatha, established the rules of poverty, nakedness for monks, refusal to stay in one spot, strict vegetarianism and teetotalism and non-acceptance of gifts.   Mahavira, a literal contemporary of Buddha, and like him a renunciate prince, added celibacy to the requirements. 

The Jain impact on Indian culture is tremendous, because Vedic India was a gleefully fornicating, wine drinking, non-vegetarian warrior culture, pugnacious, fiercely athirst to experience life.  Over two thousand years, the Jain ideal has completely permeated Hinduism as ideal spiritual behaviour, so much so that people miss the obvious fact that there was almost nothing Hindu and everything Jain in Gandhi’s ideas, he coming from the state of Gujarat, one of the few places where they are still influential and numerous. 

Even today, the authorities confuse the Jains to be one of the many fringe sects of Hinduism, but that is a great mistake.  They have an original theology and cosmology, and always were separate though ot above sharing some gods like Kubera or Indra.  They also contributed some magnificent temples (Mount Abu in Rajasthan) as their chief patrons were the merchant and business class.  Most Tirthankaras were Kshetriyas (they had great contempt for Brahmins) but for obvious reasons there couldn’t be too many Kshetriya Jains.

They have this incredible fear of harming any living thing – as it will add immeasurably to their personal Karma;  and Jain monks have been wearing face masks for two millennia to prevent the accidental ingestion of minute life forms.  They have this great fetish about fasting and its spiritual merit.  Senior monks literally fast themselves to death when they feel their time has come.  This is called the Sallekhana, and even the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya is supposed to have received enlightenment in this manner.  At the site of his Samadhi in Shravanabegola in Karnataka, has been built the largest free-standing monolith rock statue of another great Jain hero.  The annual puja performed there, has not become part of the International exotica media circus.   Mahavira had a world record for fasting, which was actually shattered two years back, by a monk who endured for almost 200 days without food.

There is no question of cheating here.  It was done in public with immense crowds in waiting.  Agriculture too is prohibited, so the faith is defined by existing as a community of true believers amongst a larger body of those indulging in sinful acts.  Both Buddhism and Jainism flourished in the 6th century BC.  Indeed Buddha and Mahavira were not only contemporaries;  they were almost the same age, and lived for over eighty years each.  There is no reliable historical proof that they ever met, though a Jain tradition says that they did, and had a silent conference in which each realized the other was enlightened, and went his peaceful way.

The Jains were the first to launch the habit of renunciation while still a young man, instead of waiting for the third stage of vanaprastha, as the rest of society did.  In a sense, they invented sanyasa in India.  They also invented monastic orders before the Buddhists or indeed before anybody else in the world.  The Digambaras are sky-clad, i.e. naked.  The Svetambaras wear white robes.  Lay people dress like the rest of society.  The Jain impact is still visible as they converted the Aryans into the Hindus of today.  All the values professed to be spiritual today, are Jain contributions – celibacy, renunciation, poverty, non-violence, vegetarianism – none of which was Hindu or even Buddhist to begin with.   Incidentally, Buddha was a non-vegetarian all his life.

Jain Tirthankaras or ‘Jinas’ (Conquerors over themselves) are always represented in this stiff immobile manner of the pictures we sent you.  They are supposed to be beyond all human passion and emotion, almost pure abstractions.  Indeed some of them are represented in metal as a hollow human shaped space where the person would be.  The only clue in sculpture we have, to recognize one Tirthankara from another, is the vahana or mount carved on the pedestal.     Mahavira is represented by the Lion carved on it, which was what I wanted.   Just reproduce the statue of the standing man, without the breaks of course.  It need not look like living flesh, as they believe the Tirthankaras are beyond realistic representation.  However, that is your choice.  The genitals are to be shown as small and inconspicuous as possible, as the Jains believe the Jinas have completely transcended the sexual drive.  They do believe however, that salvation is possible only as a male.  If female, then you have to incarnate one more time!

Jane’s Notes:

This Archive turns up further themes and companionships in the Sacred India Tarot.   The bearded version of the Hermit is a scion of the vigour of that Vedic culture, although pared down by his meditations.     Certainly I always pictured them as householders with large families, and the capacity to sit still under a tree and hear the Cosmic sruti.   They wrote down their Hymns by direct revelation through Nature;  they easily understood the measurements of the Universe and of atoms;   they were fine instruments.    They may have had – like Cro Magnon Man – a larger cerebral cavity.  Much of their brain power has atrophied down our ages, and become “unconscious”.

The naked version of the Hermit has pared away anything that might separate him from the element in which he bathes.  Through frost, monsoon and scorching heat, he shines, and is un-possessed.   In this picture he performs kumbakha – the ecstatic retention of the prana, or conscious breath.   He travels in space;   he journeys his inner being.   He dives into the heart.   He sits in the flowing sap, like a fountain within the tree.

“Hermit is the lamp itself of the divine,
the hidden and immortal One
Heart of all seeds.”

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_ Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Justice card

VARUNA, the Vedic Lord of Justice  – Varuna is derived from var – to cover.  Varuna therefore is he who covers the Universe.  In so doing, he is upholding and preserving Ritha, cosmic law as well as cosmic inevitability, a concept both superior and anterior to Dharma.  We will try and send you one of the rare sculptures of Varuna.  He should be a blazing figure of light, erect and tall, with the vast expanse of the Universe behind him.  Since he is both a Sky God as well as Lord of the Waters, that aspect should be sought to be conveyed.  In his right hand should be the famous Varuna-Pasha, the noose of Varuna that drags the unrighteous to their doom.  It is actually a very difficult figure to draw, because there is no cultural context for Varuna any more.  However, that is to our advantage.  We can create, or recreate, something original.

Rohit’s Notes:

The hymns in praise of Varuna are some of the most exalted known to man in any culture.  So it is a great surprise that Varuna-worship declined in the catastrophic manner that it finally did.  Most Hindus today know him as a minor godling with some power over the waters, not as the great arbiter of justice and order in the cosmos.

“Varuna is credited with finding the sun, hidden in the cosmic waters, and setting it in the sky.  He also parts the earth and sky, a creation myth most famous in Egypt, as the story of Geb and Nut.  (Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, stood for ‘the right order’.)  Varuna is praised as the King of Kings, the first Emperor concept in the mind of the Aryans, the one responsible for making it rain.  This aspect of kingship would become an inseparable part of Indian culture, the acid test for good rule was if the rains came in time and plentifully.  If they did not , then ergo, the King had failed to rule well.  Varuna is praised as the great Magician too, who strides through space and measures apart the earth with the sun, as with a measuring stick.  Which also tells something about the technological level of the society that worshipped him.

“The hymns rise to a pitch of exaltation when they contemplate the splendour of Varuna, for he is a god who never does a mean or dubious action, unlike Indra who was always in the grip of his Hero’s Destiny, and couldn’t care less how he attained it.  Varuna is ‘the victory in swift horses, milk in the dawn cows (essence of light/wisdom, the Sanskrit word gau meaning both cow and light), intelligence in the hearts of men, and fire in the waters.   He is the great Friend of man, as the word mitra means friend;  he severely punishes transgressions against friendship.  This is a unique note in Indian culture, obsessed as it is with family and deeply ambivalent about friends.  The loss of the Vedic weltenschauung reduced  the culture in many ways.

“… Varuna is described as being in the midst of the celestial waters as well as being a sky god, a juxtaposition possible only in one spot.  Varuna’s power over the water, as well as the geographical conjunction of ocean waters with the sky at the horizon, made sure that his watery aspect would remain, even when his people cast him down from the sky …  Varuna is rarely depicted in images or paintings, but when it is done he is always in the erect posture of perfection, the atibhanga posture, with a noose in his hand.   He rides a makara, a fabulous animal with the head and front legs of an antelope, and the body and tail of a fish.  Best of all he is supposed to live in a house with a thousand doors, as he is always accessible to man.  The Cosmic Friend still has a little place in the imagination of his people.

Jane’s Notes:  24 March

NB – Studying intensively at the time, the Builders of the Adytum Tarot deck, developed by Paul Foster Case.   The archetypes are translated through distinct cultural modes of the western and the eastern decks, while holding the common ground.   A very concentrated work, in tandem.   The process throws up its own meditations and ideas.   Varuna and the early version of the Hermit were painted almost at the same time..


“Began yesterday Indian Tarot Eight – or got launched.  Coming quite well.  The Eight, as in my old hermetic deck, refers to the Dharma – divine justice or Law of natural growth.  But in the BOTA Tarot, Eight is Strength and Eleven is Justice.  There are good reasons for both versions.  The number 8 has an infinite stability.  Now Eight in India Tarot is Varuna, the very ancient and decayed Vedic god of the waters and of air.  He puts the sun in the sky, parts earth and heaven, stands where and as the rain falls, and he is a being of Light and of the Four Worlds.  He discriminates levels of operation.  He is very Hermetic.  Suggest bands of cosmos behind him, a little like in some representations of Jacobs Ladder, and the rainy sky about his knees, his feet planted in wet grass with crocuses.   Not an Indian flower, but could have been in those days.  Whenever I think of Dharma, I think of crocuses, their spears and roots.  Well, they have bulbs, not roots.  They blossom and live off storage.  Varuna is a fountain divinity, and I think my “cushion shot” may have succeeded in manifesting a certain inner-plane Egyptian’s features (which I’ve been searching) – a contact.   (Cushion shot is a term used in billiards.   You strike a ball at a tangent, to bounce off the edge – the cushion – and strike another.   And so with spiritual practices!)

The Hermit following, is to be some intensely meditating divinity, but the happy idea this morning came – wondering about his lamp – to have him in the heart of a very dark earthy cave – just a darkness, even an en sof night around him:   (en sof means without end) only a small area of stone immediately in front of him will be illumined – specially after typing into Self Enquiry last night, eleven pages of Abhishiktananda’s Secret of Arunachala in its caves.   It’s strange to appreciate so deeply the mystic tradition there, and be so much at odds with its modern generation …

“I think now that Varuna should have around him an impression of the tall Belgian beech boles – the wood and he a shaft of Light.   Oh dear.  Which is it to be – horizontal bands of Jacobs Ladder, vertical harp-strings of trees, or both?   It is the Cross of Gold, of Light.   An inner painter is asked to portray these things.   The other night I was in fear, because so unawake and sterile for vision.   I can’t draw.   This happens often.  I think it will never come again.  Then it does – it was only the tiredness:  accept.   It is a comfort to write, for my inner guide surfaces and suggests things to me, and clarifies my weary eyes again.

“Speaking of which – I forgot to write this down the other day – when I’m out and about, there comes with attention, an impression that I walk in my own heart.  The street and all the world is (Douglas Harding) without a head.  My feet – the pavement – the tissue of my centre space, I am being painted. A sense of gravity wakes in my feet, and hurrying is replaced by flow.   Now what occurred to me the other day, was Kabbalistic.  I was scurrying blindly up West End Lane thinking about something, and suddenly I thought:  those POOR COMPANIONS OF THE LIGHT, what a terribly boring time they have, trying to see the physical world through our senses and lenses, and having to inhabit these murky TV-snowscreen cocoons as if inside a worm.   If I were a Companion I would want to see EVERYTHING.   So I opened my eyes and looked and listened.  I saw for instance how traffic and cars are simply a view of the demonic will in the psyche, macadamized.  I see peoples’ strangely vulnerable protective metal screens – brittle metal, not real metal. To the medieval Raven Knight within:  What is your name?

25 March

“Yesterday I brought Varuna to the verge of completion, and to my astonishment, drew most of the Hermit as well.  Having been struggling and suffering, I am at the moment drawing as guided – a great relief.  It’s awful when you can’t see, and have to approximate through hours of elimination, and lovely when you can see, and the hand flows along the lines.    I think That Page (for my tutor’s inner-plane Master) is coming into relief, though I haven’t finished drawing what is on it.  My hand is being held again.   Oh, poor child.

“… Incidentally, while working on the Hermit yesterday, I noticed for the first time that the lion had V’s face. V has an angry lion look in his old age.   Might Leo be his ascendant?   The likeness has faded now, with developing the creature.   But I am slipping into new waters, and he who ‘served me well’ is maybe under the bridge.”

28 March – 3 April

“My “Justice” India Tarot card is pure Saturn exalted in Libra…

India Tarot.  A tall order, and very difficult to accomplish alongside new tarot studies.”

Correspondence:   Jane – 25 March – 7 April

“Dear Gautam and Rohit – Varuna and the Hermit are virtually ready.  I shall try with Mr E to send them to you tomorrow evening, our time …    Trouble scanning Varuna and then a domestic emergency, so had to rush home.  I shall try a colour Xerox of Varuna tomorrow and snailmail it to you if rescan not successful.  The yellows of his robe and figure were not coming through …   …


“Dear G and R, I trust you have received cards 8 and 9.  8 is larger than the original, and 9 is smaller.  Mr E has a new computer and printer – we enhanced these on the new monitor, and they came out well in every detail, but slightly darker – probably don’t need enhancing at all.   Last time I tried to send you Varuna, it came out very faint.  Anyway, you must try to imagine the yellows as being brighter – in Varuna the folds of his garment are of a light fiery gold like sunshine, and in the Hermit (early version) the green around his figure is in the original rather luminous, with a warm lemony-gold light through it, almost sparkling.


Please give me some ideas yow you see th Wheel of Fortune – just to get me started.  Have recovered from some flu-y days.  Warm greetings to you both, J.

Correspondence:  Gautam – 8 April 2002

“Hi Jane, we received Hermit, but not Varuna.  Rohit has been traveling to 4 cities across India to promote the Money Tarot book.  We tied up with India’s leading chain of bookstores, wherein Rohit gives a free reading to those who buy the book.  I am still looking to focus on Tarot publishers in the west, especially USA, to sell the rights to his book.  Inner Traditions said they will seriously review it and revert to us.  I did send the book to M, but he was not interested, and I feel we need to focus on Tarot publishers.  Do let me know if you have any suggestions.  Rohit returns tomorrow, and we will revert in a couple of days on hermit.  Meanwhile, will send you further stuff on Wheel of Fortune.  Warm regards to Alan and yourself, Gautam.”

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Chariot

The Chariot is one of the most high energy success providing cards of the Major Arcana. That it would be Parthasarathi, Krishna as Arjuna{Partha’s} charioteer in the Sacred India Tarot was always a given. What i did not realize at the time is  the sheer Power  that was flowing and Jane was really having an interesting time managing it! She brings such immense resources of knowledge and insight from the mystical traditions that it was almost too much of a good thing. Again  having Jane on board as the artist meant that the pack would never swerve from its Tarot fundamentals. Not that it needs to, Yoga accommodates all traditions, but it required somebody like Jane to comprehend the magnitude of what we doing.In the middle of this blog we have a very intense letter I wrote her about a great tragedy in my life that had preceded this work. Perhaps  it was very apt that the victory success energy of the Chariot finally allowed me to process it and position in in my life in a manner that gave larger meaning?!

Jane’s Notes: (June 2012)

After completing card 6, I had written to Rohit about The Money Tarot Book, which he had just published.   This letter (below) from Rohit in reply, marked something of an “extra push” in the Sacred India Tarot collaboration.   The card we then produced is 7, The Chariot.   In the western tradition, card 6, The Lovers, is seen as the interplay or dialogue of feminine-subconscious with male self-conscious in our mental activity as individuals.   “She”/subconscious is like a lake – amenable to every suggestion, she faithfully reflects back every premise or suggestion “he”/self-conscious has put there:  the input creates the output, ongoingly.   However, “she” perceives the divine workings of the Higher Self or Brahman transcending them, as she is the mirror.  “He”, observing this through meditation, may act accordingly, and evolve.    “The Lovers” portray the Two Paths’ paradox of inertia and evolution – as Rohit describes in our section on The Lovers – and it is called “The Discriminating Intelligence”.

Card 7, The Chariot, has many meanings around the idea of “field”, “enclosure” or “spiritual vehicle”.  I focused on the idea of Decision – the horses move in tandem.   The Two Paths of the Lovers then move together in tandem, not in conflict.   Arjuna’s state of indecision and then progressive faith in the outcome with Lord Krishna his driver, portrays the situation perfectly.

In Kabbalah/the Tree of Life, the Chariot’s Victory is the Seventh Sefira, Netzach.   But the card itself is associated to the upper path linking Binah and Gevurah – understanding and constraint.  Its Hebrew letter CHETh is an enclosure or field.   The Tree of Life is built on the pillars of Solomon: the interplay of Three Gunas, as in Vedanta – rajas and tamas, balanced through sattva, pure consciousness.

Bhagavad Gita says:  “This body, Arjuna, is called the field.  He who knows this is called the knower of the field.  Know that I am the Knower in all the fields of my creation;  and that the wisdom which sees the field AND the knower of the field, is true wisdom.”


“Dear Jane,

“This is Rohit, who wrote the money tarot book.  Thank you for your letter, which I received on my birthday, and was in many ways the best present I ever got.  When one feels understood, the resultant mental state is simply beyond the capacity of the pathetic rubble of words to express.  To me you have caught precisely the nuances and spirit of universality I was striving for.

“To me it matters very much what you say, as you have studied Stella Kramrisch.  Most people here do not know what that means, but I do.  ‘The Presence of Shiva’ (by Stella Kramrisch) was one of the most important books I ever read, it caused a revolution in my mind, and saved me from being one of the narrow minded Hindus who clutter up too much of the planet’s space.  That you appreciated the cross-cultural approach was the most important and significant thing for me.  I am culturally a Hindu, because that is my genetic destiny, but in civilizational terms, I belong to the world.  I had accumulated the scriptures of all the major religions of the world by the age of twenty-five.  I am thirty-seven now, and finally getting it all together.  I have really come to believe that all Paths are valid, depending upon circumstance and one’s personal style.  Was it Nietzche who said, ‘This is my Way.  What is yours?  And as for the Way, there is no Way.’  Quite.

I am glad you caught the point about Eliot, a poet who has many more spiritual lessons to teach than the average guru.  Unfortunately, I am at the moment unable to confirm if the Triumphs of Petrarch are indeed the Petrarch Sonnets.  The research material which would have cleared this up, is lost forever.  This is because this book – (The Money Tarot Book) has a curious history.

“I handwrote it in a frenzy about four years back, in a two and a half month period when all my friends were convinced that I had finally become mental.  I had, in an Indian context, remarkable and unusual research material.  Once the book was over, publishers were reluctant to take it up, so I left it to the universe to arrange things in its own time.  Three years back, there was a mysterious fire that burnt down my house and everything I had ever got together in life.  Over twenty years of research up in smoke and flames, and I was reduced to the clothes I was wearing and the life that had not been taken.  I lost over thirty tarot packs and seventy tarot books in that, and as for the rest, let us not even begin to compute the losses.

“By ‘coincidence’, this manuscript was not in my home when the fire happened.  I spent the rest of the time getting back on my feet, rebuilding my collection of books, and surviving.  I never let myself be satisfied with anything but the best in my work, and it is paying off now.  Then Gautam and I met up.  It has been some time, and only now has the time been deemed ripe for the book to appear before the world.

“The Tarot we are working on now, is what really I am saving my energies for, as I am determined to rock everybody with its quality.  Fortunately in Gautam we have a person who understands such things.

At present I am primarily a mythologist, dominated by a strong Jungian streak.  I have some good workshops designed around mythic thinking and themes.  The tarot for me is of course, paramount, I do not even consider it necessary to tell people how important and significant it is in my life.  It is my ambition to publish 64 books in my lifetime, and I have already got two out.  I have written the first book on Vaastu to be bought out in the west too.  The future books range over a variety of subjects and genres, but they all have a multicultural perspective and a spiritual background.  I have 64 titles ready, now comes the hard part of writing them!  They will be done, God willing and with Saraswathi’s blessing.   Indiayogi has my articles all over the website, but I am especially proud of my Mythology at the Movies section, where I am doing work that is pioneering.

My recent insight about the tarot cards is that not only do they resemble a feudal court in structure, they are perhaps the first truly authentic attempt on the part of mankind to design a system of urban mysticism.  It is becoming common now, but the tarot was the first genuine attempt to bring the workings of the Spirit within the city and its inherent urban logic, not in the usual mystical attitude of leaving urban centres behind and fleeing to solitude in Nature.  The tarot is pure process work, and I find that the basic philosophy is similar to the higher stages of the martial arts, so that is one of my pet projects – to integrate the two in a book and perhaps pack.  If it were not for the fact that I am a somewhat exaggerated loner, and the Tarot readings force me to interact with people and to consider situations and problems other than my own selfish ones, I would stop reading altogether and simply work with the archetypal energies of the Tarot.   Also, to be honest, the money is good!   Perhaps in the future this will come true.

Thanks again for your kind and insightful words.  They encourage me to hold fiercely to my self-imposed standards, and give me added energy to do so.  In India it is very distressing to be skilled in any such thing as the Tarot or I Ching which I also do.  People begin playing the guru game with you, and they simply do not acknowledge that you are not descended from high, but a human being struggling to evolve and grow on his Path, a person who needs as much appreciation and help as the next guy.  To have even the slightest smidgen of wisdom is to be doomed to emotional loneliness, as everybody looks to you for help, never considering that you might need a human hand to hold too. People are also intimidated by me I guess, both my knowledge and my attitude, which was not very helpful, but the core issue is the guru game. A pedestal is an awful place to be on and in, you cannot help suspecting that both admirers and detractors are viewing primarily your backside instead of the real person you are!

With regard, Rohit Arya

This is a portrait of Krishna Avatar, 2009


Rohit’s Notes on The Chariot – what choice except the Gita Chariot?

“The famous Bhagavad Gita episode.  The chariot should not be one of those impossible moving pavilions so beloved of Indian art, but an actual war chariot, swift and sleek and bristling with weapons.  Krishna and Arjuna are both to be of dark complexions as the name they share – Krishna – literally means ‘Black’.  Krishna’s armour should be worn over saffron hued clothes.  Arjuna’s armour should be dazzling white or silver.  It might be difficult, but perhaps it could somehow be conveyed, the tense expectancy of battle not yet joined, which is the background to this moral and ethical crisis they are dealing with.  As for the rest, please feel free to interpret it in any way you choose.  If you want a Bhagavad Gita for reference, may I recommend D S Radhakrishnan’s translation, which is erudite and accessible.

“There is an alternative choice, in that the discussion could be presumed to be over, and Krishna and Arjuna have joined battle.  This will convey the ‘Significant Transitions’ flavour of the card’s meaning, as well as foreshadow the ‘Victory’ meaning.   In that case the horses should be hurtling along, and Arjuna should be loosing one of his many deadly shafts.  The horses should be white, in this one.”

Rohit’s Notes on Krishna:   Extract from a “Krishna Lesson” on leadership –

This touches on the thematic material later on, for the Suit of Arrows.  Krishna restores the Dharma to the world when social turmoil reaches a certain point.   He restores order and diplomacy to relationships and meetings.

“Krishna knew how to best conduct and conclude a meeting.  He could work a meeting in a manner that Sir Humphrey Appleby would have envied.  The classic example remains the most important meeting he presided over – the choice of Commander-in-chief for the Pandava side at the battle of Kurukshetra.  He suavely asked the younger members to speak first with each succeeding speaker in ascending order of seniority.  This ensured that the young and enthusiastic could voice their choice without any fear of seeming insolent, rude or upstart, like if their opinions did not coincide with their seniors.  Cultural norms, which still operate, preclude open disagreement with an already voiced opinion of an older person.

“The seniors also had an opportunity to see which way the wind was blowing, and not rush precipitately into a choice that might have been superficially acceptable, but the poor man appointed as commander would have found only sullen or no cooperation, when he actually tried to implement his ideas.  It is interesting to note that the youngest, Sachdeva and Nakula, voted for grizzled veterans Virata and Drupada;  Bheema  the most macho of them all, voted for Shikandi, an effeminate, though great warrior.   Yudhishtara sagely left the decision to Krishna and Arjuna being the best warrior settled for the extremely competent though somewhat obscure Dhrishtadyumna.

“Krishna lavished praise on all the choices, declared all of them competent and worthy of the proposed honour, and then selected Arjuna’s nominee.   This was a great stroke of policy, for what happened was that for the duration of the battle, Arjuna was the real CEO of the Pandava forces, while Dhrishtadhumna was the COO.   Arjuna was free of the daily nitty gritty, and able to take in the larger context of the battle and throw in his genius as a warrior, where it mattered.  The elevation of Dhrishtadyumna also had the very salutary effect of finally recognizing and rewarding excellence that had been in obscurity till now.   In one stroke he was publicly accepted as one of the country’s greatest generals.

“Even in other contexts, this was Krishna’s standard method of running a meeting.  When Arjuna eloped with Krishna’s sister Subhadra, the angry Vrishni clan held a meeting to decide how to respond, and Krishna was there too.  He let the angry warriors speak themselves out, and then began his summation, praising what he found worthy (the desire to respond promptly and decisively), gently mocked what was ridiculous (Fight Arjuna and Overpower him!),  held all of them to a reality check – (Arjuna was invincible, they would suffer serious casualties fighting him, and the girl wanted to leave with him) – and then suggested what was feasible and of the greatest benefit – (accepting the elopement would align them with the Pandava dynasty, and secure them the friendship and abilities of not just Arjuna, but of his heroic brothers too).   As always, Krishna carried the meeting.

“His behaviour is now standard advice in all the Influence-garnering books, but Krishna was presumably the first person in all of literature to be shown implementing it.  The only remote parallel is the cunning manner in which Odysseus manages the Greeks at Troy.

“To think about:   Are you sure you know the opinions of everybody before you voice your own?  Do you need to listen some more?  Is your advice going to reconcile all points of view, and not offend anybody?   Will your intervention successfully conclude the meeting?

Krishna knew that leadership is assumed, not gifted …  …  In later years, Krishna was given the honorific Vasudeva, which roughly means The Complete Man, as a tribute to his leadership and eminent position in the country – and he never held a formal position, ever.”

Jane’s Notes (over about 3 weeks): 

“…  See whether or not the two path systems can be run together in tandem – like Western and Vedic astrology can.  At certain times one works with one, or another.   One gets put into certain forms of harness;  Schools cross-fertilize and run together, like the two horses in the Chariot – how richly they blend, and with what results!   The integration of ancient Indian mythology with the Way of Kabbalah is extraordinarily rich.  The elder streams of Kabbalah and the Vedas flow together in harmony as one river.  Have begun to draw The Chariot, with this feeling.   The Chariot has Krishna and Arjuna in it, making the “decision”, and the river that flows is the two horses.   The drawing is very hard indeed to do.  Listened to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, which was marvelous but exhausting.  What a wild man of God.   ‘I AM the will of the Lord.’   In Hebrew, will and delight have the same meaning.

20 February 2002               “Yesterday I re-started the Tarot Chariot drawing with GREAT difficulty, and did 3 more Douglas Harding illustrations, and Watkins told me they have another job for me – to draw all the hands in a book on palmistry.”

“Darkness it has, that is good,

and darkness it is not.”


27 February 2002               “Alan and I looked with astonishment last night at the phenomenon in this small flat, of the combination of Alchemy with the piles of Sage books Alan is producing:  the activity blend of western and eastern mystic traditions;  the esoteric festival of learning, wisdom & the peculiar persons we are and how we laugh and keep it all combined and yet distinct, and M living her own style in the middle of it all – M.15 might well get curious.  We suddenly saw ourselves and our relationship AS WE REALLY ARE.”

Correspondence:  Jane –  9 February 2002

“Dear Rohit and Gautam, I have begun the Chariot, but am taking a complete rest this weekend having been working rather hard  – an exceptionally creative period.  So it won’t be ready until the end of the coming week.  Yes it is interesting, our work on the cards together is going well;  it is incorporating also from this end, an intensive kabbalah/alchemy practice, and so the traditions of the One in east and west are really cross-fertilizing.   When we get to the Minor Arcana (four suits) I imagine these might get done a little quicker.  Am deeply touched by Rohit’s letter.  To have had all that work destroyed – and yet you are a Phoenix!”


Correspondence:  Gautam – 15 February 2002

“Hi Jane, thanks for the update.  Looking forward to the chariot.  Am busy here organizing Eckhart’s trip to Bombay amongst other things.  I have sent a copy of the Money Tarot Book to M as well.   The Lovers card was truly exceptional.  Lots of subliminal stuff going on there.   Warm regards, Gautam.”


Correspondence:  Jane – 24 February 2002

“Hello Gautam, have arranged with Mr E to send chariot tomorrow evening, midnight your time – hope his computer behaves – then you’ll have it for Tuesday.  The card was extremely difficult, but has come out as a powerful version – Arjuna fits arrow to bow, and Krishna speeds the horses – the point of decision.  Hope you like it … regards, J.”


Correspondence:  Jane – 27 February 2002

Hallo Gautam and Rohit, I have just sent you the chariot.   Chariot is meant to follow on from No.6, and show “the two” being now of one heart and one resolve, one directed force.  The horses are the senses harnessed and empowered, have to be large.   This came out a little larger than the others, but hopefully same proportion.  Difficulty with narrow composition – Chariot is suggested, rather than shown.  Couldn’t give Arjuna darker skin without concealing his expression. 


“Mortals receive Divine help – ‘He has pulled the weapon from the stone.’  Turning point, he is resolute.  Commitment, focus and awakening.  Cosmic guidance, starry sky ‘canopy’.   I would like this card to have shown the point of stillness at the heart of violent yet coordinated fierce movement.  This may be attained by the archer Arjuna as his arrow fits to string.  I might have another go at a later date.  Alan requests permission to use this illustration in his new translation of the Gita!?   Regards to you both, J.”


Correspondence:  Gautam – 3 March 2002

Dear Jane, rec’d chariot drawing.  Rohit is coming in on Thur, and will discuss with him and revert.  Does Alan propose to use this illustration in colour or b/w?  Rgds, Gautam


Correspondence:  Gautam – 7 March 2002

Dear Jane, with reference to the Chariot card, we both like it very much, and think it is one of the more unusual interpretations.  Veterans of the Tarot will appreciate it, but could we lose the beginners completely by not showing the physical chariot at all?  Would it be an option to have a hint of the body of the chariot – perhaps the bar which they hold, a railing between Krishna and the horse, or perhaps a hint of a wheel?   The horses are beautiful, the perspective which they’ve been dealt with.  Krishna is looking good too!   The sky and the sun is good.   Warm regards, Gautam.”

These adjustments were made – in the end, just part of a wheel is visible.   This was a difficult design – to combine the power of the horses with the foreshortened Krishna/Arjuna psychology in the narrow format.   The horses are modeled on the beautiful Kladrubers and Lipizzaners of Central Europe – a book I have, called ‘Horses at Home’.  Krishna’s whip sketches almost a Tamil Pranava sign across the starry heavens (see Ganesh).   The picture focuses attention on the hidden worlds, while maintaining full physical body consciousness:   a Yoga or Union.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Lovers

This is in many ways one of the greatest representations of the Lovers in the history of the Tarot. Jane was so engrossed with the archetype that she accessed a deep layer of awesome! The Lovers is perhaps the most misunderstood card of the entire Arcanum – it is called the Lovers   but the older name for it in tarot history– ‘The Two Paths’ is more accurate as to intent.


Correspondence:  Rohit & Gautam                                “Next card, the Lovers:   The girl’s face should express the yearning, bordering on lust.  The man’s face should express his dilemma at the mutual contradictory choices, but he is going to clearly come down in favour of the higher purpose.  The setting should be very arcadian.   Rgds, Rohit and Gautam.”


Rohit’s Notes – The Lovers, Kaccha and Devvyani the perfect illustration of the true nature of the Lovers card, choosing between physical love and enduring wisdom


This is a not so well known story from the Mahabharata.  Its core theme however, is a perfect fit for the message of the Lovers card.  There are no visual references for it anywhere, but we have sent you a picture that shows Kamadeva, god of love, with Rati the spirit of Spring, who is his wife.  This might suggest something to base the Kaccha and Devvyani illustration on.  This is an extremely sensual card in a lot of Tarot decks, with the woman (and sometimes the man) shown naked.  We could show the woman bare-chested, if you feel it would lend well to this card.   Not necessary though.  Please do not put Kaccha in a dhoti!!


I also sent Jane this pic from Ellora showing Kama Deva and Rati. It is astonishing how many of the Majors are found already carved on the temple walls… when I first went to Ellora I had begun Tarot but I instantly grasped that the archetype was manifesting thru a different cultural filter. And now the whole world can see it….

Jane’s Notes – January 2002

“… I heard, that in forest fires in California, the cones at the tops of firs open and drop their seeds into the ground now cleared – wonderful cycle.

“Sometimes, with the upper vision, I see the entire world-stance, our stuff of dreams, countries, politics, media, pollution and precipitation as floating on a substratum of peacock’s milk … the nectar of sahasrara, the One Reality.  All our perceptive prisons are subjective changing states of form that float upon this Being – no matter how locally awful.

“Lovers card in Rohit’s Tarot.  Made a good beginning last night.  This – they said so – should have the breasts bare, as almond blossom buds.  It is the Arcanum of the Razor’s edge, for she pulls him to lie in rampant grass and flowers, melt and sink in her, daughter of Sukra, Guru of the Demons;  and he, a son of Gods, points up to Creation’s severe ecstasy, and the blossoming almond stem between them is the fountain, the Amrita, the Sanjeeva he has tricked from her tale.

(Alan sometimes says –  not all the buds on an almond tree open at once, some are earlier than others, all will eventually open:  Self realization.)

This is Rosicrucean Emblem Eight – Angel sieving chaff – which I was working on, at the same time as The Lovers

I want to say here, how it feels, to have drawings or important bits of esoteric drawings to do (Lovers and Emblem Eight.)  It is a burden onto the razors’ edge.  It is having to rev up, and hoping the concentration will enable me to walk into these places and colour them with clarity.  It is usually OK in the morning.  Yesterday for instance, after working hard at the Lovers all afternoon, there comes a time when I want very much to go on, but I know I can no longer “see”, and am all used up.

“I am drawing orchids in it.  The daemonic almond blossom nature in Earth’s Kingdom will be like deep dark grass in which she lies (even though she stands) to pull her lover down.  Her hair is dark in coppery snake like coils.  He gently resists her, loving her but pointing up … a distillation of earth landscape into the higher subtle fire, as through branches of the tree, and choosing at that point, to ascend into the brink.

Ascent into the fierce clear air, within the brink, is tejas, ojas, tapas.   It is a fountain.  Between him and her, and somewhat interwoven, is the taut stem of an almond sapling spurting blossoms.  I love doing erotic drawings of Nature.

“I always do find that in the drawing I am Helped.  They come, and they lead me and they do it.   When I am worn out, they withdraw.  So it’s not a problem of when drawings get done, but of when they connect with my hand and spirit to earth, at any time.   One at least of my Companions was a very great painter, Renaissance?  and loves drawing –  don’t always let him, though he’s been getting through a lot, lately.

“I continue to have a sense of the Powers to my left, to bring into alignment.  In earlier years I did this by drawing with my left hand.

“Now well into Kaccha & Devyani, with Messiaen’s Visions de L’Amen talking to me, and drawing a giant Early Spotted Heath Orchid by Prince Kaccha’s right shank, its top buds – suddenly remember what I saw or felt during this morning’s meditation – the opening Fir cone … because the top buds of the orchid are a bit like that, and like its strange bulbous roots.

“Orchid – pine-cone analogy, and almond – reversed from top to bottom!

“Kaccha’s face is modeled on the young ‘K’ – J.Krishnamurti: the mediatory “process” in his spine stem;  the conflict between Theosophy and independent insight, which pained him so, when he was young.   Also, at his Brockwood gatherings in the 1970s, I noticed a lot of “falling in love” going on around him – myself included!  – in the rain and tents.   It was the time (1974) the great tree fell, in a storm.   The biographies show his followers in love, around his youthful intensity.   It was the awareness, and painful.

Other than Jiddu ,we got so many great Masters of the 20th century into the pack… Ramana, Sai Baba of Shirdhi, Anandamayi Ma,  Aurobindo, even Ramkrishna and Mahavatar Babaji! It was a conscious choice not to use living masters and some of the less well known we kept out so as to not get people into a “spot the cameo appearance” mode which was not the purpose of including them.  


“Felt tired and unsheathed, so I looked around for repairs –  held and polished a Muladhara jewel – indigo charged with indigo, like a pebble in my hand to heal and soothe things.  In the Lovers card, she has at her back, this same cornucopia of earth and flower colour bursting out – a rich field of impressions and fleeting insights.  The stuff when raised, pours up and through quite impersonally and subtly.  This is why we project it onto alchemical vessels, as it is of the Sun.  The presence is felt physically, and grounded, but doesn’t get stuck.   Noticed yesterday when working on the Lovers, a strange sense of taste, mid-body-field, behind solar plexus yet connected to the back of the neck.   Can’t be located precisely, but I drew a little blue circle or oval around Kaccha’s midriff.   Listened to Messiaen.  Behind and above K’s head there is a white sun encircled by blue.  This could contain the Shiva-Shakti Yantra in yellow – will experiment.

Around Devyani is the cornucopia of eros.  Around K should be the eros of a sharp simplicity, the raised yogic seed – like a sharpened musical note?   I put the Akasha-Tejas jewel – red triangle on indigo oval, a key to the inner heart centre – on his gold helmet, over his third eye.   Wait and see.

This card shows the cross-fertilizing or trading of divine and daemonic nectar fire or energy, the fruit of which is sublimated to the Higher plane.  It is about the razor’s edge of discrimination in the flow of current through the equal beauties but different densities of Earth and Heaven, below and above, gross and subtle.   Commitment, renunciation and change of plane, through dying and being born again.  PHOENIX!    However, this also represents the Alchymical wedding or Hierogamos.

If K married her and settled with the Demons, the Gods would never know the secret their very existence depends upon.  Devyani tried to win back by love what her father had lost.  K was no fool, and he let her down with gentle remonstrance, and returned to his proper region, with the nectar.

Many people have asked me why I chose an English lady instead of an Indian artist to illustrate the pack.  The previous paragraphs show why! Jane was the only person in the whole world who had the requisite mix of artistic and spiritual sides as well as knowledge of India to do this work; she was Fated to it just as I was! I was the only person in the world who could have balanced out Yoga and Tarot like this and she was the only person who could give it tangible form frequently exceeding expectations. I was smart enough, or just lucky, early on to just give general guidelines and picture references and let Jane process it her own way – the results were spectacular.

30 January 2002 – Lovers card has come through, and despite my utter pegging out, exhaustion and depletion during it, interestingly balances licentiousness with restraint in its colour key.

Looking up at stained glass windows, I saw my new Lovers card, its story in the window.  My question was framed as the white phoenix of K’s apron genitalia, which I’ve been labouring away at, to draw it right.   Yesterday I glimpsed a little shield with jewels round it, and came to life, and it eventually came out rather like that – not a dove but a PHOENIX rebirthing through fire and light – ah yes, put some orange yellow rays in – and the entire atmosphere is filled with budlike colours around the demonness Devyani and the white almond tree – desire’s purity – anyway.   My question is now:   How can I find out who and what this job (as an esoteric artist) used to be, so that it can be continued in the proper focus and further developed ?   In other words, whose baton do I carry?


 Correspondence:  Jane – 1 February 2002   :   “Dear Gautam, this is my very first message on this gadget.  Alan got it for his work.  Please continue to back up on ec2@etc, in case we have problems receiving.   The Lovers card is going well.  But I won’t be able to send it before Wednesday earliest, can Rohit come into your office on a later weekday?  I usually seem to start Thurs or Friday, which is too late to be ready for you to see on Tuesday.


“Have gone through Rohit’s The Money Tarot Book.  It is excellent.  We think you should send a copy to M with covering letter, saying we recommend it.  Are the Triumphs of Petrarch the same as the Petrarch Sonnets? I like what you say –  ‘The cards are a feudal court in their structure.’  It is a brilliant, intelligent, well grounded book, sound and sensible, well published/presented, and a pleasure to hold and to read.   Even if one is not in the business field, one can utilize the principles and psychology of ‘compressed energy’ which are laid out.  There is deep knowledge in this book, presented authentically and efficiently.  I find I flow with it.  It dispatches spooks, doesn’t over-persuade, and gives sound indications on which to build.  I am fascinated by the breadth and depth of Rohit’s cultural interest and its integrity to bridge eastern and western esoteric tradition.


“Realism unconstrained by materalism, but alive and nourished by the teaching of the deep.  Access from whatever your point of view.   I like these observations:  ‘Death was history’s only democrat.’   And on the Devil:  ‘That force which seeks always to do the good through actions that are wrong.’   And the Shattered Tower, quote from T S Eliot – ‘ every moment is a new and shocking valuation of all we have been.’  And the Star:  ‘The Star is Sirius, the Dog Star’.   Warm regards to you both, Jane.”


Correspondence:  Jane.   1 February 2002 – “Dear Gautam and Rohit, Just picked up your email re Manu, and very pleased you like it.  I finished the Lovers yesterday and hope to send it to you at approx 9.30 your time tomorrow Friday.  This rather depends on whether Mr E’s computer is working OK.  He runs into furious problems, but his scanner is good.  We are beginning to send and receive now on this thing.   Did you receive my long email to you about the Money Tarot Book?  I may have spelt Gautam wrong in the address.  Alan’s wiped it off, so if you haven’t, I will have to write to you about it again!   I like the book very much.  Please reply to above address so we know we are up and running.  Away we go into the Space Age….


Correspondence:  Gautam – “Hi Jane, congratulations on becoming part of the cyber age.  We did not receive your mail on the Money Tarot Book but look forward to it.   Looking forward to ‘the Lovers’.   Warm regards, Gautam.”


Correspondence:  Jane, – So long as I can get to this thing under or before Alan’s wildly flailing and impulsive great hands wipe off everything as fast as he reads, I am probably able to communicate … Will send Lovers hopefully later today.  There are orchids in it, and I think the facial expressions etc reflect what you have written in your last.”


Correspondence – Jane: “Hello G and R, I do not think Sukara’s daughter should be jeweled with any other ornament than herself.  She is a wild flower more ancient than nice Indian ladies or even goddesses –


“As said before, any cards which are not quite right, am happy to re-do.  This is an enhanced image, but fractionally lighter than the original, which is on ivory paper.   Regards,  J.”

Correspondence – Gautam   3 February :   “Hi Jane, thanks for your inputs on the Money Tarot Book, really encouraging and objective.  I must admit I did a lot of research before getting into this, as the Tarot book segment was so overcrowded.  We thought since there was no book focused on money and the Tarot, this was a good idea to start with.  Then we ensured the layout and presentation was on par with international standards.  I do hope this book is valued in the West and with that intent we have sent it to some esoteric publishers.  I will surely send it to M as well.  The Tarot as a segment in India is pretty small, and for us to make anything at all on the book, we will need to send rights right across the globe.  

 “Will revert on Lovers card, well received.   Next week I am in Pondicherry and Tiruvannamalai for a few days, with Eckhart Tolle.  Warm regards, Gautam.”


 Correspondence, Gautam and Rohit, 5 February 2002

“We like Lovers very much.  It has captured the spirit of the compelling attractiveness of the woman as well as the transcending energies of the male who seeks the higher principle.  We like the upraised finger and the chakra above it, and the way you have transcreated the Sugarcane Bow of Kama into this tree, is the most significant and useful part of the whole composition.  The figures are wonderful, and the elvish ears are an international touch. 

 “The cladding of the man in all the metal is what we are looking for, as it breaks the dhoti tradition.  No changes!

 “Please go ahead with the Chariot.  Arjuna and Krishna could be covered with as much body armour as possible.  Krishna’s armour could be gold, and Arjuna’s armour silver.   Your creative energies are really flowing, and we would be delighted to just keep receiving this level of beautiful work. 


“Warm regards, Gautam and Rohit.”


 Jane’s Notes

I did not know anything about Kama’s sugarcane bow when I drew the tree.   Sounds lovely!   Goes to show the subconscious is doing this through us, pulling up the archetypes to surface.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga