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

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