Where Karma dies in the seed – Perur Pateeshwara Shiva temple


A kshetram so powerful in dissolving karma that the sacred tamarind tree has seeds that do not sprout. The Perur Shiva temple near Coimbatore city in Tamil Nadu has sculptural marvels and is an unknown treasure for yogis. The Shivalingam is svambhu and of a quality and vibrational energy that is distinct and somewhat strange until you realize what it is doing… stilling the constant movement of karmic potential.  This temple is called Melai Chidambaram or Chidambaram of the West and while it may not match the peerless kshetram of Chidambaram it is of immense value in itself.


Elaborate carving everywhere though the current structure seems to be of late Nayak period… 17 century or so


Part of the Sthala Purana, Kamadhenu the divine cow worshiped a Shiva lingam inside an anthill hoping to become the next Brahma. Why she wanted such a thankless job is never revealed in the story. Her calf, annoyed at being neglected kicked over the anthill. Kamadhenu was appalled at this act but Shiva being Shiva was deeply amused and granted her a slew of wishes plus bonus blessings for mere mortals who visit the site. Our temples are always generous in the matters.


It is the Kanaga Sabhai, the hall of Nataraja that is the stunning aspect of this temple. I had thought that the Elephanta caves Shivas were the pinnacle of Shaivaite art but something was left in the toolbox yet and this miracle of sculpture emerged. 8 larger than life murtis, part of the stone itself… just astonishing… or they would be were they not locked up behind ugly cages now.


This comfort with the unaesthetic and ugly is a strange aspect of modern Hindusim…

the Kanaga Sabhai was built in 34 years, from 1625 to 1649 by the architect Kambanarchari… under the patronage of the Nayak kings. it is a deeply symbolic structure… suffused with Shaivaite theology…

The Kanaga Sabhai has 36 Pillars representing the 36 tenets of Saiva Sidhanta. There are fifteen steps situated at three different levels. Each set of five steps represents the Panchakshara –  the five letters of the sacred Mantra of Shiva, “Om Na Ma Shivaya” The garbha griha of Nataraja has four pillars representing the four Vedas…Nine windows stand for the nine grahas or celestial objects of Hindu thought and also the nine dvaras or openings of the human body. As explained before the temple is deemed to be capable of granting liberation from karmic influence. It is interesting to note that the Dhayana lingam created by Jaggi Vasudev at the Isha foundation which is about 20 kms from Perur is also supposed to plant a seed of liberation within you, which dries up all other karmic seeds. Must be something about Coimbatore that helps to drop karma….


Nrithya Ganapati, the dancing form


Urdhava Tandava murti, an esoteric aspect of Nataraja and his 108 karanas


One of the most brilliant interpretations of Bhadrakali ever seen


Skanda of the six faces, his sixth face is inside the pillar


Veerabhadra in his wrath at the Daksha Yagya


Old illustration showing Veerabhadra and also a rare form of Agni Veerabahdra, the one one the right


the pics are sourced from the net as permission to shoot is a huge huge pain


Bhikshantana moorti… Shiva as the nude yogi…it is also Interestingly called the Sarva Loka vaseekara murti, the enchanter of all the Worlds


19th or early 20th century photograph, of veerabhadra… it now needs protection in a cage, such is so called progress


Gajasamhara murti, just extraordinary in its power


A senseless practice that the ASI of Tami Nadu is addicted to , slathering all murtis in the name of protection and making them dreadfully ugly and even shapeless


Another old illustration

The Great Gorakshanth is also supposed to have spent significant time at this temple. His spot is a grove and is unmistakable in its fierceness. I have said this many times before, but the yogis and temples of South India are beyond belief, they actually succeeded in making a kshetram of the whole land. Today the consecrated space has fragmented but even spots remain for those who are serious about their yoga…

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European 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 was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here






Rohit Arya on Yoga Sutras Ch1V1 Atha Yoga Anushasanam


What is the very first verse? Chapter 1, verse 1, 196 verses in the yoga sutras. What is the very first word? It is the most famous. All these teachings like I said start like the explosion of a hydrogen bomb- a knock out punch!


The first verse: Atha Yoga, Anushasanam. That is the complete line.


Let me unpack the meaning of each word. This gets interesting. What is the implication? How do we engage, learn when we are given a sutra? This is how I came to this.




Atha means this sacred moment. This current moment is the only moment we have. I cannot catch what happened even two seconds ago. Life always happens in this moment. Why would he (Patanjali) start his text on Yoga not with the word ‘Yoga’ but with ‘Atha’


What does Atha Yoga mean? Yoga is the current moment! And what is Yoga? Yoga means to unite. Unite to what? Unite to the higher consciousness, unite to the self. Not to the fragmented, not to the conditioned, not to the limited. To unite to what is free, what is unconditional, to what is authentic, to what is limitless. And where do you find all that? Only in the current moment. Kalidasa says in his famous poem -The Salutation to the Dawn – ‘Look to this day, Because this is the only time we have.’ It was a salutation to the muhurta.


So, ATHA YOGA. Atha also means AND NOW. And now Yoga. Atha Yoga Anushasanam. Anu also means ‘after’. That which follows. It also implies that which is condensed. Something that was expansive has been brought to the core, the essence. The mandatory, non-negotiable, compressed level of truth and value. So much meaning in two words!


SHASANA: In Hindi it means to rule. Whom do you rule? Your family, society? No. you rule yourself. Then you achieve self mastery. Shasanam is discipline, teaching. To learn something is to be under Shasanam.


So Atha Yoga Anushasanam means, Yoga is possible in this moment after you achieve self -discipline. This is one interpretation.


Atha Yoga Anushasanam When was this written? It was put in writing about 2,300 years ago, but historically it is at least four or five thousand years old.  In those days we had the ‘Varnashrama Dharma’. Life was divided in 25 year segments. First 25- Brahmacharya where you learned, next 25- Grihastashram when you got married and had a family, then Vanaprastha where you went into the forest and then you would go into sanyasa.


So many authorities say, Atha Yoga means, after you have completed with your Bharmacharya and your Grihastashrama, after you have experienced life, achieved some success, then…And Now…Yoga. And that is probably true. Not that people were not doing sadhana and kriya, but they would come to hard core yoga around the age of 50 years. Osho Rajneesh used to say that “I want people who have succeeded in life and then realized that this success has not made me happy. I want people who have material success, I want people who have fame, I want people who have social positions. I don’t want a whole crowd of poverty stricken people looking for mental peace. That is not what Yoga will provide.’ People keep asking me, ‘If I do Yoga will I get mental peace? ‘ No, your peace will go to pieces!! It will shatter you first. This is also what Osho said, he was coming from the Yoga Sutras. You have to have achieved a certain level of success and social recognition, comfort and then realize that your body is not cooperating as much as it used to. So you have to have had that myriad of experiences, seen life. Then you are ready- Atha Yoga- And  Now…Yoga.


But this is not the only meaning. It means “Wherever you are..That Moment Yoga!’ start from where you are. Which is why Bhagwat Gita starts with the blind man. “Dhritirashtra Owachha.” Atha Yoga- no matter what your condition, your success, fame, money, health; whatever you are in this moment, please begin! How can you ever attain if do not begin? So Atha Yoga can also mean, Yoga is NOW. Don’t go looking for the most auspicious time by the horoscope. In Kautilya Arthashastra one of the sutras says “Only fools wait for an auspicious moment, for the evolved person all moments are auspicious”.


ATHA YOGA- the moment you decide, that is the moment your yoga begins. You can begin at any moment. It is like the “Avasara” . a moment in life which is a destiny moment, when your life can change, transform. Atha Yoga- the moment of transformation. What the Greeks called ‘Kairos’. Then normal time is no longer running. It is an aspect of time that can transform you. Atha Yoga- Right Now, This Moment. It is actually the only moment you have. When are you going to start Yoga? One day when you retire? When your responsibilities are over? No. these are all excuses. Yoga does not ask you to give up anything. That is all a two thousand year old practise. There were karmic cycles that required that. I explain this in the talk about Yugas. There was a reason for why things changed, went into survival mode. When yogis and spiritually evolved people stopped speaking about sexuality, money and power. They became ‘dirty’. The spiritual person was not expected to talk about society, and all this. So now those speaking about these very important aspects were those with lower level consciousness! Their values then define what the values are around sexuality, money, power and what society becomes. So Sri Aurobindo did something very profound when he said ‘All life is Yoga’. This is what Atha Yoga already encompasses, and he said it very openly. Atha Yoga- This moment. This is when we are living our life right here on this planet. It is not about bein reborn on another planet!


‘Naveenam Naveenam Kshane Khsane’- ‘New , ever new, every moment. That was another sutra that used to be given. Every moment is new, every moment is fresh, every moment is original, every moment is creative, because…Atha Yoga!



Atha Yoga Anushasana. Anushashanam means after Shasana. You can come to yoga only after self-discipline. This is also a possible interpretation. A person who is not mentally, physically and emotionally disciplined will never succeed in yoga.


Anushasanam: we do our Kriya, our system, our sadhana, the Eight Spiritual Breaths. Do you realize that every movement we have in that is for physical discipline? Don’t let your hands bend, don’t let your hands fly, they should be perpendicular etc. everything is training you in ‘Shasana’ and ‘Anushasana.


This is what makes sutras so enjoyable. You can read them in all directions. You can read them forward, backward or even in three dimensions. That is the way the sutra was supposed to play out. That is why in the Ashtanga of yoga we have the ‘Yama –Niyama’. The rules and disciplines. Don’t lie, don’t steal, be clean etc. I will speak on that separately. So this is vital. While yoga is self- mastery, but to achieve that you require a shasana or discipline. Self- mastery is an evolutionary stage of discipline. To be selfish is very easy, it does not require any discipline. To care only for oneself is very easy. To care for a larger social context requires discipline. To come to your authentic self requires the most discipline. So self-mastery is an evolution that is possible only from discipline. So “Anushasana followed by Yoga’. Anushasana Yoga. When you have Anushasana then time stops, you are always in ‘This Moment’ – ‘Atha’, the present moment awareness.


Yoga means to connect, to join, to link. It actually means to tie, to yoke you. So you are connected to the higher consciousness which happens only when you are in this one moment, the NOW. Because when you are in this one moment, then time does not function anymore for you. Enlightened people have no sense of time. They keep their consciousness about time with great difficulty. To them everything is the same. The past is the same as the present or future. Time is actually a big illusion and even physicists know that. When you travel at the speed of light, you do not start moving faster, you actually start growing bigger. You hit infinite mass. That is the paradox.


So, Atha Yoga Anushasanam- Anushasanam. Leave the ‘anu’ out of that. What do I require to do for shashana? What is the discipline I require? So we have the sadhana, the kriya, the meditation, the satsang, the sangha. These are all aspects. Shasana has these multiple meanings. Sanskrit is a polysemous language, which means one word has more than one meaning. So in ‘Shasanam” we have first discipline which evolves to mastery.


So when you are given this little torpedo, this hook- Atha Yoga Anushasanam, the teacher must have been very happy as the student will be dealing with this for anither two months at least! The student would come back and say, it means discipline. The teacher would ask, okay, so what is your discipline? What are your values? What are your habits? What is your evidence for discipline? When do you go to sleep? What do you eat? Remember our affirmation? ‘From this moment onward nothing that I shall do or think, eat or drink shall abuse this temple to the living God, my body!’ All that comes from here, this yogic vibration- anushasana.


Atha Yoga Anushasanam.  And Now Yoga. So discipline leads to self-mastery which keeps me in Yoga, which keeps me in the Now. But if you are in Now you are enlightened! So in that one sentence, Patanjali has covered all the schools of Yoga, Hatha Yoga which is about the body, Bhakti Yoga which is about emotion, Jnyana Yoga which is about the mind and Raja Yoga which is about the prana. All the possible dimensions of yoga have been covered in this first opening sentence, the first blast. It is such a simple definition of Yoga- Atha Yoga, Anushasanam.


 The most popular is ‘Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha  othe scholars and foreigners like it. But this is actually the most famous definition of yoga. Atha yoga anushasanam. Remember what I said about the Bija Mantras? Each syllable strikes at a particular point. It is not the meaning of the word or sentence, which is important, it is the sound. Each syllable, each sound has a particular vibration in your body, in your mind, in your emotion and in your prana. So in a few years, with enough kriya and meditation, you will realize what kind of a sentence this is- Atha Yoga Anushasanam. It has so much Shakti. They would not write these sutras unless they were in Samadhi. They would be written only in a waking Samadhi. In fact you may not understand these books unless you are in some kind of Samadhi, you will just  about grasp the meaning on the surface. Especially the Vedas and Upanishads. They seem to be saying something, but what is happening on the surface is far from the truth. It functions at that extraordinary level. When you really understand Atha Yoga Anushasana, then start reading the Vedas and Upanishad, as they are all mystical, at a different vibration, including the Bhagwat Gita. As you come more and more into yogic consciousness, the connected consciousness when you are connected to the force, the kundalini, the Shakti, the words start vibrating differently. So you were not allowed to read these books. Today they are widely available, that is also okay, at least the knowledge is not lost forever. But there is no real way to understand this, unless you have done some meditation, some form of yoga. Atha Yoga Anushasanam.


It is right there in the front. This is what it is going to be accomplishws, this is what is expected of you, and this is what is required to be done. Everything that you will accomplish is covered in this one sentence. The opening line of the book is therefore dramatic and important. the yoga sutra is so grand, they say that he (Patanjali) is the avatar of Shesha Naga. He was from a different dimension, he was a naga. The energy was playing out from a different dimension. This level of vibration and impact, this level of power! Just the opening sentence blows the mind.


Then you realize, “If I cross this, what I used to be cannot survive.” It is a conscious choice in evolution. Yoga is about conscious choice, to evolve oneself not only to the level of a deva but a rishi. So he put this first level barrier, to filter out those who were not serious.


Atha Yoga Anushasanam. And Now Yoga. And Now when? At what stage of life? It depends. Someone can look at it and decide they are not ready, they cannot make the commitment. That is also wisdom.  Not that their life will be destroyed (which is the usual fear). Their life will actually become much better. Yes, how you spend your time will change. Surely you may stop wasting time with people and thinking that is enjoyment!  Unfortunately for most people that is where all the psychological investment is. But if we are talking about Shasanam, when we are doing a course like the ‘Eight Spiritual Breaths’, you will not waste your life. Because the affirmations keep repeating the message, hammering it in- ‘Nothing that will lead to disease, decay, death..’ Shasanam- self-mastery, what is required for self discipline? It is implicit that you have to be in control of certain things. What will you control? Not your family! It is your body, your breath, your mind, your prana. And when do we get there? ’Anu- Shasanam’. After certain things are done. That is  Sadhana, practice, sincerity. You can have mastery over everything, if you become a BhrahmaRishi you can have Shasanam over the entire universe! They run the universe, not the Gods. Gods are just paid employees!


So when you engage, when you open yourself to the sutra and allow the power, the Shakti to flow into you, a lot happens that is otherwise not possible. A genuine sutra carries that vibration and power, if you allow yourself to be open to it, in this moment. Atha Yoga Anushasanam. In this moment I am open, I am connected, I am in yoga, I am in connection with the sutra- Atha Yoga. So what happens ? Anushasanam.



There are so many ways to play with this. Do you understand now what we were as a culture? How your mind and body and emotion used to be engaged with a teaching style like this, and how we are taught today. The catastrophic fall.


So finally, what is the Patanjali yoga sutra chapter 1, verse 1? ATHA YOGA ANUSHASANAM. It is a complete philosophy of life, a complete system of living. It has everything. Often people just say Atha yoga. That is a mistake. It is Atha Yoga, Anushasanam.


Sarvam Shivamayam.


Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European 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 was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha and leads multiple meditation circles each week.


The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi


His blogs can be accessed here










When the ‘student’ is ready the Master perspires…


The crazy demands made on Teachers by delusional people who seek to use spiritual methods as yet another tool to emotionally jerk off.

So somebody who looks like the little sister of Jabba the Hutt slithered into one of my meditation groups. Such an intense mass of Tamasic blubber caused me to cringe with the dark vibration in the aura. The skin was smelling of alcohol – the sign of the hard core just functioning drinker; when the body cannot break down the previous night’s input and starts excreting it thru the sweat glands we are in the presence of ‘ I am a social drinker’ otherwise known as complete and utter denial. This person came ostensibly to sit in the meditation circle and learn the course in spiritual breathing that I am a Lineage Master in. Actually she came to check me out; one of my students had been developing faith in me and the process and she was suspicious her friend had fallen into the clutches of a fraud. I have seen that slinking look many, many times before ‘oh I am so cool and here causally but actually to monitor you.’ One of this constant tribe  had come,  years before, to save her friend. She ended up marrying me – which did not end well for me, but that is another tale!

 This person did not disappoint; she had myriad questions supposed to prove her knowledge and intelligence but only displaying that she did not have the slightest tinge of actual spiritual experience. That is okay but the sad truth is that the most viciously ignorant always have the greatest delusions about their spiritual stature. This person had zero compunctions in using up her friend’s good will with me and with her hatha yoga teacher checking us both out in the “Prove yourself to me while I sit and wheeze in the corner” manner that the delusional have. She was so corpulent that it is doubtful if she has seen her own toes in 15 years but she had no scruple in sitting in judgment over somebody who had been teaching Hatha Yoga for 13 years and maybe the best damn teacher in Mumbai for asanas. But no our Lady of Pathetic Delusion thinks she can check her out and decide if she will graciously confer her patronage. She knows the meditation and the breaths classes have to be paid for but naturally she had ‘forgot’ to carry money that day, correctly assuming that concern for her friend will prevent me from embarrassing her.

That evening I have an email exchange with my student where I outlined my concerns that this was Trouble and anyways this sort of interaction should not have been forced upon me. Her friend loyally defended her but I knew in my bones this would not end well. I am sometimes wrong about the goodness of people, but about their dark side, their selfish greedy exploitative aspect I am always right. So one day before the next class this person calls me up and says she had a previous appointment that she could not get out of so could I teach her the second Breath, while postponing the meditation so that she could make her appointment. I pointed out that I could not inconvenience 8 other people for her, she knew very well the times the sessions were held and if she could not make it she should not have begun the course.  This seemed to deeply offend her. When I suggested that she come early the next week she announces she is going to be out of town. At which point I said that in case she should resume after she returns whereupon she comes out with an amazing suggestion that I hand over the supporting study materiel and she would learn them on her own. Then I completely lost it and told her this is not the right attitude and she is not interested in learning – whereupon she resorted to vituperation and sundry conjectures about my ultimate fate to a hot place. Since it is almost certain she is preparing a special place for herself there I guess she has expert inside information – I wouldn’t know.

So let us sum up the situation. She has stolen one meditation class, one Breaths class, not one rupee has been paid as yet, but she feels perfectly entitled to instruct me to inconvenience everybody else, to break the established teaching method of the lineage, so that she and her corpulence can continue to float in a sea of delusion. She is instructing a lineage master in a parampara how to teach the system!!! This is not delusion. This is not even entitlement. This is lunacy pure and simple.

A certain type of urban India woman has descended into this pattern. Another sample made and broke three appointments for a reading. When I said that is enough I am no longer going to read for you she was bewildered at my ‘harshness’. Again no money had exchanged hands but the mere thought that in the future they were going to pay for something seemed to place them, in their diseased minds, as the lady of the manor and me as the leprous mendicant who should be honored – first that they condescended to notice me and then that some scraps would be thrown my way withal. These women seem to meet only the sort of men that the Men’s Rights Activists call a ‘Mangina’ and yes it means exactly what it sounds like. That is what they want men to be; it is a symptom of decaying brains I think, though I could be wrong. I doubt it …but all things are possible with God.

This delusional attitude to spirituality is what causes Teachers – in pure self defense  – to set up hierarchies and difficulties of access. Certainly that is the lesson I have learnt and I will apply ruthlessly in future. Also this is not in any way confined to women. Men are just as bad, but they don’t press it so much. They know they get shorter rope perhaps!

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European 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 was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha and leads multiple meditation circles each week. The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here





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 www.indiayogi.com.  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_ Creation of Sacred India Tarot Grace card Ganesha





12 June 2001, from Jane’s diary:

“They want an artist to do an Indian Tarot which some sensitive ones have developed, incorporating Vishnu & Co, and the project is Secret, and will be produced in the same class as the new Ramesh book.  They don’t want treacle-colour Indi-Ikons, but …  the other kind of India – VEDIC INDIA.  All these years of Indian mysticism and Kabbalah training, exchanging trade –  now materializes! – we never know what next to be called upon!”

“He rolls boulders in your path aside – what could be better attributes for a god?

Correspondence, Rohit:  “The dancing Ganesha should not lose his quality of being an Earth energy first, but some sort of cosmic or outer space interpretation would be welcome.  His trunk should be turned to the left as that is the version of Ganapati that interacts with the world and welcomes and blesses people.  The sitting Ganesha can have his trunk turned to the right, as that is the spiritual version and symbolic of the inner quest.   Ganesha is always depicted not with an elephants head as really happened in the myth, but with a human head that looks elephant like.  It is usually a pink or sometimes white head.  I would like to try out an actual elephant head on a human body and see how that looks.  If it turns out to be too weird looking, we can go back to the norm.  If it does not, then we will have a unique and creative perspective, which also has the virtue of being scripturally accurate.  I love the idea of having the pentacles inscribed on the head, so please retain that for this illustration.  I really do not know what else I am to say, as your knowledge of Indian culture makes me hesitant to make anything except the broadest suggestions.  Please also look at the accompanying article on Ganesha, which we have put up on our website – it may give you some ideas for another point of view.   Emotion:  Happy, dancing Ganesha….”

In my drawing, Ganesh doesn’t hold an axe, he holds a mace.

Jane:The rat (his vehicle) I see as a humorous touch, the small one who gnaws through ropes.  Do you want Ganesh’s head as an elephant with or without headdress?  Can easily alter minor details.  You mentioned having “the pentacles” inscribed on his head.  Did you mean this design, or what?




“I have tried to combine stability with ‘pan-cosmic’ states of being, in this design;  also he should seem ever so slightly shocking and terrible as Lord of the Ganas, and guarding his mother, so I visualize the completed design (if it succeeds) with the impression of him a little against the light – the light behind him/Paradox.  Have put his trunk in his left hand, as you said.

 “I have found a friend who says he can scan and compress email images to send – I can ask him to do this once or twice a week until we have your London contact set up.   If it works OK, I can send you Ganesa and Rudra.  These two are now in colour, and complete, bar finishing touches, refinements and minor alterations to headdresses or facial expression.  I have left Rudra’s headdress vague, because it could be a Siva matted locks conch shell hairdo?  Or the proto-Siva headdress – is this the one that all the Nataraja wear?

Ganesha, now coloured in, is more gentle and playful in mood.  He dances in his OM which is in a four gated mandala, with his Rat and a little puja of incense and a few sweets.  The Sri Chakra on his trunk is now smaller.  He touches earth auspiciously.”

            Jane’s notes:


Dancing Ganesh remover of obstacles, is at first himself the obstacle:  so we worship him first before any creative process.  He unblocks the poet.  As an EARTH energy, through his dance the Spirit touches ground to manifest.  The square Yantra emphasizes this playful dance within the Tamil OM sign, with reddish and ochre tones.

Around Ganesh’s head is a circular blue aura – heaven or Spirit, entering the Earth:  the idea of squaring the Circle.

The Yantra on his trunk combines one ascending male triangle with two descending female/shakti triangles.  These male and female principles evolve from the primal element to polarize as shiva shakti – the kernel of the great Sri Chakra Yantra.

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_ Creation of the Zero card in the Sacred India Tarot

A brief glimpse of the process of creation of the Wild Card in the Sacred India Tarot. In the traditional Tarot this is the Zero card of the Major Arcana also known as the  Fool. Rudra- Shiva was the choice. It is an interesting perspective on cultural viewpoints that neither my publisher nor I ever felt there was any issue with keeping the old name. Our printer however expressed his deep reserve and hurt feelings…”How can you call Lord Shiva a fool?”  Not having the time to explain the context and the culture – the gulf in perspective was too immense – we opted for discretion and called it the Wild Card, which is actually a pretty accurate name! Self-censorship as a preemptive precaution has unfortunately become a necessity in contemporary India; people feel slighted and take offense at whim, and they have a whim of iron.


Rohit’s Notes:


“He should be of immense muscular development, an athlete-warrior-hunter.  His complexion should be white skinned with tawny or long flowing copper coloured hair.  Rudra is the Archetypal outsider god, and his expression should be a combination of humour and danger.  His clothes should either be of deerskin or tiger skin, with the usual combination of snakes as ornaments.  His head should have the horn headdress made famous by the Indus Valley Seals – the famous Proto-Shiva.  A crescent moon within the headdress would not be a bad idea.  The whole figure should communicate the same wild untamed irresistible energy that your Nataraja figure had.  He should have four arms and be in a cosmic dancing posture.  In his hands he should be holding a trident, an arrow, a bow, and perhaps the creative-destructive fire of Rudra in his left upper hand.  The bow should be the composite bow of India, a wooden hilt or grip with double curved sections of horn to make up the rest of the bow.  If that is difficult, the off centre samurai bow of Japan will do just as well.

 Bhairava dancing:  Rudra

Rudra should be accompanied in his dance across the forested Himalayan landscape by four dogs that should be red, white, black and yellow in colour.  They represent the four Vedas.  Ideally all of them should be of different breeds.  The other animals seen in the first illustration you sent, also communicate his role as the Lord of the animals, Pashupatinatha.”

Jane had drawn Rudra before in this version shown below

Correspondence: Jane:  “Rudra/Bhairava is based on a sculpture of Bhairava dancing, in the Malikarjuna Temple.  the posture slightly echoes the Western tarot Fool – the legs…  His body and limbs are pure white, he has long red-copper-gold hair streaming out to each side, he is like lightning.  His four hands carry arrow, trident, fire and bow, and he wears a tiger skin and snakes.

I hope to begin Vishnu tomorrow.  He, the Sustainer, and as The Magician, will be very still and centred.”

Jane’s Notes: 

“His cosmic dance on the Himalayas accompanied by 4 dogs – the Vedas – emerges as the creative potential when not yet focused or directed.  The energy could release anywhere.  The Wild Hunter Rudra is before space and time.  His upper body has the hunter’s awareness.  From a stormy sky he descends like lightning.  His facial expression combines humour and danger.  He is terrible yet innocent.

The snakes refer to the universal Serpent Power – Kundalini – before she is tamed by yoga.  The wavy motion of the serpent symbolism is in all the mythologies.  They flow like water, storm and grains of sand;  they are the ley-lines of the earth, the meridians of the body, the currents of creation.”


Correspondence:  Rohit: (This painting was then redone, as it was not considered wild enough -)  “… The tawny hair is a beautiful touch.  The face seems out of proportion …

  The lower right hand should hold a long trishul, not the short stabbing one depicted.  The upper right hand should have the damaru or small drum.  The figure you had given us earlier of the cosmic nataraja had a great wild cosmic-shaking energy to it with wild spirals and lines, which would be nice to have here – as the Fool is an ambivalent card expressing the creative as well as the shadow side of the soul.  Perhaps the face expression should not be humorous as much as awesome … The madness and exuberant freedom of Shiva is missing …  As you say, he should be the wild hunter Rudra before space and time.”

Rudra – Creative spirit or potential from the ancient ones, not yet focused – any which way – dances in all directions

Final version as it appears in the Sacred India Tarot

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