Rohit Arya_ Sacred India Tarot#Creating the World Cards

Creation of World Shakti & Nataraja

Rohit’s Notes:  Autumn 2003

“The World – Nataraja but as Ardhanirishwara.

“This is an easy card in the sense that we need only the classic Nataraja dancing figure as shown in the illustration.  The dwarf under the feet of the dancing god should NOT be left out, it is a vital part of the process.  The choice of Nataraja as Ardhanarishvara is to indicate the completion of the Fool’s journey to a transcendence beyond the roles and attitudes of gender. 

“What I would like in the arch of flame that surrounds the Nataraja, is to turn it around into Ourobouros The Serpent of Time, eating its own tail.  It is also called the Worm of Time, or the Dragon of Time.  Ideally I would like a dragon-like snake around the Ardhanariswara, but it should clearly be made of flames.  The picture we send you should be of some help in creating this flame circle round the dancing god.

The background can be the consistent cosmic background we have used in all the other cards.  This card should be kept simple, as the archetypal imagery is so powerful, we need nothing else.”

nataraja ref

Jane’s Notes:  September 2012

This card dictated its own evolution.   We ended up eventually, with TWO World cards – Siva Natarajan and World Shakti.

Jane’s Notes:  2010

The deck’s first version of the World had Nataraja Ardhanariswara (Lord whose half is Woman) inside the dragon Ourobouros, and dancing on a demon.  The illustration was somewhat cramped.  It lacked space, and none of us were very pleased with it.  Later on, an Ardhanariswara occurred spontaneously in the Minor Arcana, in the Lotuses suit (Cups).

In 2005, when completing the Suit of Lotuses, I painted the Queen of Lotuses, Rati the wife of Kama, as we planned.  But Rohit and Gautam decided to upgrade this exciting Kundalini goddess to the World Shakti Herself, and to commission a new Rati for the suit of Lotuses.

As a result, we have a male AND a female “World” – Siva and his Shakti.

Shakti is the Sri Chakra Yantra herself, centred on the linga sarira around which is coiled the World Serpent.  The design was inspired by an 18th century tantric ritual painting.

ritual painting 18th century ref

In the palms of her hands are yonis which look like seeds.  The serpents emerging from behind her breasts are the Sun and Moon – ida and pingala.  The kundalini force, wrapped three and a half times around the Siva Lingam, is just awakening;  the lotuses are a fountain of life, and so are the daisies.

World Shakti

What is expressed here, is the male vertical penetrating the female horizontal plane, timelessly;  the living combination of chakra (wheel or mandala) with the uprising sap of the tree of life.  The one crosses the other;  they are unity.

Here also is the mystery of prakriti – the substratum of all manifestation:  the ‘lattice’ of our world, in Solomon’s Song.

In the Western deck, the World card is traditionally and mysteriously hermaphrodite, being a return to the Bride dancing within the atom – the rotations of our world.

JA’s hermetic Tarot 21, The World (1991)

Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 6 April 2005

“Gautam – I think the queen is the best card ever done till today, but it is probably a waste for Rati.  We could easily put this up as a World card.  Rati is not so powerful, but we can rename this the Tripura Sundari – the essence of feminine supremacy, the female World card.  The male World card could be the Nataraja, not the Ardhanariswara, so we will have two World cards which is okay.  Hinduism is conflicted as to whether the ultimate form of god is male or female … … (correspondence continues regarding the Knight and Queen of Lotuses) …

“… it is the ultimate female Shakti depicted there, so we use it as one World, the Nataraja becomes the male World card, completing the journey of the Fool Rudra Siva – now Nataraja. 

“It will be a slight drag for Jane, but really this card is too powerful, there is also a lingam which completes the Siva imagery which began the Fool card.  I think Jane has reached an inspired vein in these last two cards, the Kama is actually the ithyphallic hunter Siva who has dalliances with the wives of Rishis in the forest of reeds near Chidambaram.

Minor Arcana -Kama, the god of desire)

“I think Jane has to be troubled to draw the Queen once more, but it is her own fault for being so brilliant.

“This feminine Shakti is the best card till now, perhaps the new Nataraja will match it.  Let her draw a Nataraja as she deems fit;  I am certain something amazing will emerge, and that will be our second World card.  Perhaps she could incorporate a Mahamritunjaya yantra in it, but beyond that I do not want to make any suggestions while she is in such an inspired state.   Rohit.”

ardhanariswara ref: sculptures

As the Sacred India Tarot has a male and female death, similarly we continue to break new ground with a male and female World.

Shakti’s consort is Nataraja.  So our new Nataraja – Lord of the Dance – was done a considerable time later than the other Major Arcana – almost the final painting in the whole project.  His face is indrawn to bliss of the newborn, like a sustained orgasm.  Like Rudra the Fool, he holds aloft the drum and the flame, which infinitely open and close our kalpa – (aeon) – with a cymbal crash.


His other pair of arms bestow blessing and protection.  In his lower right palm are the red and white triangles of the Sri Chakra Yantra.  His left hand points inward, balancing his stance.  His body is smooth and ageless, empowered by the emanations from planetary Kundalini and the cosmic yab-yum yantra created by his lower body.

This Yantra is – I think – of Bagalamukhi: the hypnotic power of the Goddess.  It is a six-point star of Siva and Sakti triangles, with an added Shakti-feminine triangle.

David Frawley writes of Bagalamukhi:  “A very beautiful woman walking by can make a man stop and lose his breath.  The cosmic feminine power has a capacity to stun, stop or paralyse.  These are aspects of the Goddess Bagalamukhi … Bagala means literally a rope or bridle – Mukhi means ‘face’.   Bagala is a Goddess of speech, and as such is related to Tara and regarded as a form of her.  When sound becomes manifest as light, Tara becomes Bagala.  When the brilliant light of speech comes forth, then Tara gains the effulgence of Bagala and causes all things to become still.  Bagala is thus the stunning radiance that comes forth from the Divine Word and puts the human or egoistic word to rest. … … What is our Self nature?  What is the I Am in itself once divested of all transient identifications with which we confuse it?  Such enquiry will bring the mind to rest.”

From Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

In the deck itself, you may notice the serpent foreground is replaced by the traditional demon which was in the earlier design:  Siva makes the personal ego his dance floor.   In the new Natarajan however, the serpent power IS Siva’s laid back rotational ecstasy.  They turn perhaps in opposite directions like the figure of eight:  an electron’s double rotation through manifest and virtual states.

Note:  the World Serpent was introduced to the deck through Vishnu, the Magician.


Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 16 April 2005

“The World is now a stunning card … What is there to say?  It is as good as the female World, the kundalini snakes add an inspired touch to this composition.  I think this card is a genuine achievement.  I am deliriously happy.  Rohit.”



My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

Rohit Arya

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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