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

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