I have been avoiding this issue as there is no sane way to speak about it which does not offend somebody. And being offended is a national pastime now. But it needs saying from a spiritual figure. Since none of the established gurus are doing it I am stepping up. So here goes. May Nataraja preserve me.

If you are a devout Hindu please do NOT say you are a bhakt of the Prime Minister. The word Bhakta is one of the greatest contributions of India’s spiritual culture. It represents an exalted consciousness and a path to mukti – liberation. It does NOT cover being an enthusiastic partisan of a politician. By using it in such a manner you have degraded and denigrated a great spiritual term.

You are NOT a bhakta. You are a partisan or a fan – which is the diminutive of fanatic. You are a chauvinist, after Nicholas Chauvin who adored Napoleon and refused to accept that Waterloo had taken place because – “The Emperor can never be defeated.” The word chauvinist has been ruined because the feminists overused it, but that crowd are all descendants of Bhasmasura so that is not surprising. Whatever they touch they befoul, but in the name of the Sanathana Dharma, why are you lending yourself to such besmirchment of bhakti? Without the spiritual effort needed, the requisite tapasya, you want the title for free?

One of the signature moves of the Breaking India forces is to demean and insult Hindu spiritual concepts as being nonsensiccal and trivial. In using the word bhakt in such a context you have handed them a crushing victory. You have fallen into a ditch they dug for you and the happiest people to see the use of this term will be the likes of Sagarika and her unspeakable husband, or the conversion agenda funded NGOS harridans like Trupti Deai and Teesta Setalvad. Evey sickularist and presstitute must be laughing their heads off every time they see this horrible usage in the mouths of their fiercest enemies.

Now this is not the same thing as picking up a insulting tag and wearing it as a badge of honor. When Hilary called Trump’s people Deplorable they reversed it in one day and made it a rallying cry. They took what was negative and made it a positive source of energy. When the word Bhakt is used in this careless unthinking manner you are taking a transcendental spiritual concept, a state of being that can liberate you, and dragging it through the mud and slime of party politics. That is unacceptable.

When this crowd began to chant “Har Har Modi” in the run up to 2014 it was to his eternal credit that he shut it down instantly. Quite apart from the trivialization of another spiritual chant there is a dangerous power in the phrase that would have devoured him. The chant is raised only in dire circumstances of war and actually it is ‘Hara Hara Mahadeva’ but it releases a certain sort of dangerous Power that is best left dormant unless the situation is critical. Fortunately he angrily instructed that such foolish demonstrations should cease and they did.

It is okay to be an admirer of somebody you think is a great man. When I saw him stand up to Vajpayee in 2002 who was mouthing liberal nonsense of ‘raj dharma’ I loved Modi instantly. I told everybody that this man was the future Prime Minister of India. This at a time when people doubted if he would get one year in the CM seat. Modi was the only success the Hindus had in the days of grahan that was the UPA calamity. So I get it, perhaps much more than most of you who clambered abroad the bandwagon only after his third term began. But your personal admiration does not trump the sanctity of sacred words or sacred concepts. So please stop this. Please cease describing yourselves as Modi bhakts. As Hindus you know better. You can and must do better.

Sarvam Shivamaym!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha. He is a yogi of the Kundalini Patanjali streams  of Parampara and a Bhakta of Nataraja.


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, 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

His blogs can be accessed here

Of hustle and mendicancy in teaching spirituality


Teaching spiritual processes in urban India has become such a sad business. I have begun teaching my Yoga only in April this year and some interactions are surreal. There are too many people peddling wares purporting to be spiritual. Which is an issue but not as important as the fact that they are dependent upon those things to survive. This makes them desperate. The purchasers of such wares – they are rarely students – thus get an inordinate position of power. This is destroying the credibility of serious teachers as well as serious processes as the marketplace logic that prevails ensures a wheedling fawning mendicancy when it is not outright hustle. Those who think they are Seekers tend to act from that assumption. It is pretty obvious most of them have never met or engaged with a real Yogi, they would have got a sharp wake up call. It is even more obvious that this cringing marketing of supposedly valuable and life transforming processes is a disaster.

So pervasive has the hustle become that people engage from a place of profound suspicion and disdain. I do not market except by accident – all new students are word of mouth – but the significant majority of them come with this weird attitude – “I have money, now sell me, you sad case.” They have been educated to be so by the prevailing ethos. When I refuse to shrink or seek alms, or apologize for my prices, all of which seem to be the prevailing norm, they are astounded. Some of them are offended. The prevailing power dynamic is so askew that cancelling appointments more than once and expecting you to accommodate them seems to be the norm. When I refuse to tolerate such misbehavior there is incomprehension. What, no gratitude for the crumbs I deign to dole out at my convenience? The second cancellation is when I drop the person. This actually bewilders them. Such are the realities.

The other commonplace is the personal meeting. Everybody seems to want one. Quite other than the fact that it indicates you place no credibility in the friend who recommended me there are other issues. They expect to be wooed. They want to be called up and persuaded, pleaded with. When told ‘this is the date, place and time, turn up,” there is shock. After four books, as many ongoing blogs and over 100 teaching videos, what further credibility will a personal meeting confer? But the norm is to bow and scrape, to submit oneself to judgment and scrutiny.  So now I quote a stiff fee for the personal meeting and that is the end of that. This entitlement to the time and knowledge of others even before a single shekel has changed hands is very educative. Teachers have to insist on their dignity. It is not only for the famous.

People are not used to be being told “You are doing so many processes, why add one more?” Strange people abound; they have taken diksha from as many as five gurus. While they are disturbed, and need therapy not sadhana, what sort of vetting or questioning is being done on the part of these organizations that give away initiations en masse?  How are the basic rules of the Yogic traditions contravened with such insouciance? Since such a situation can be explained only by the prevalence of money grubbing, the caveat emptor mindset is not entirely wrong. What about the karma involved? Does anybody care? Is anybody aware?

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, 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

His blogs can be accessed here

No, I do not have trikala jnana

red rohit

The yogic tradition has been swamped by supernatural expectations, and teachers are not firm enough about this foolishness. The sorry state of spiritual teaching in India today was illumined yet one more time in an interaction I had with a young friend. It was very revealing, and disconcerting too.

This young man from Kerala found my videos on Youtube and got in touch with me. He was bursting with enthusiasm and unrealistic ideas about the spiritual path. And a million questions. I would answer what I could and had advised him to begin a serious course of pranayama and meditation. A few days ago I discovered from his Facebook page that he had taken an Art of Living Course from the main man himself. When I mentioned that I was glad he had done so the young boy had a most incredible reaction. He thought I had found out by using the fabled Yogic power of Trikala Jnana – the insight of the 3 aspects of time, past present and future! I was stunned at the sheer magnitude of misconception. Of course I set him right instantly and called him an idiot and a silly boy to boot, which I could have avoided perhaps.

This preference for the supernatural explanation in all things over the simple and obvious is one of the major plagues in Indian spirituality. Trikala Jnana is rather like a unicorn farting rainbows, an eccentric mix of credulity and childishness that unfortunately has too much purchase in the popular mind. If at all any Yogis possess it, they are sure to be surly old men in the Himalayas avoiding human company. Let me add I am a hard core Yogi and I know siddhis are real. I myself possess Samyama to a certain degree, the ability to focus attention upon a subject or issue or person and know what needs knowing. It is a huge drain on Shakti, and physically wipes you out, so I don’t play that game at all. If it activates spontaneously, as opposed to willfully and by desire, the impact is lessened but I don’t go there if I have any say in the matter. And sometimes, when I sit in meditation, fragrance comes off the body – my students report this-which is just about the most pathetic and useless siddhi one can imagine. They get excited, I get irritated, for it does not help to move one step on the path of evolutionary spirituality and Integral Yoga. Sri Aurobindo had recommended learning whatever you could about siddhis to their fullest extent and then recognizing their irrelevance in ultimate terms. That is the right attitude, but way too many teachers encourage credulity in seekers.

If you are a spiritual teacher then people don’t want you to teach, they want miracles. This is the sad and obnoxious truth in too many contexts. I look the part, expectations as to how a teacher ought to be, shaven head, rudrakshas, articulate and knowledgeable; ergo, miraculous powers also reside within. Nothing clarified the sheer danger and temptation I am likely to run into as much as this incident. Here was an opportunity to achieve PD, psychological dominance, over an uncritical young man functioning from the foibles of his culture. He is from Kerala, fully literate state, English educated, not at all lacking in brains, but the social consensus about yogis and miracles was too much for him to shake off. Were I unscrupulous, trawling for gullible disciples and donations, this was child’s play made easy.

Teachers do not come down hard enough on this. They do not stress that evolving oneself is the greatest miracle possible. We have all experienced the other game, grooming the unwary and impressing them with supposedly miraculous abilities of the Guru. The disciples chat you up, discover interesting nuggets, searching for insecurities and weaknesses, convey it to the chief who then puts on a worried and compassionate expression, asking some variant of this. “ Is there somebody from Jhumritalaiya who has recently experienced losses or deaths? All will be well.” This is beyond contempt, but it is a shell game that endures because it is so simple and works so well. My point is that serious teachers do not push for the use of Buddhi, intellect and wisdom, as much as they could or even should. Hyper-enthusiastic students will always perceive miracles and marvels, but at least the teacher should not encourage this in any form whatsoever.

Spiritual evolution is a serious and vital business and should not be cluttered up by medieval rubbish about supernatural abilities.

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, 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 leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week. The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here

His blogs can be accessed here

Asking God for things and Manifesting in the light of Matthew 7

‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:’

I love the Bible. It is an astonishing book, being both a spiritual and literary classic. Perhaps there are about six or seven books which are both. I am a Hindu – Integral Yoga – but I love the Bible. You can get absorbed in the language – the King James version only for me, thank you very much –  and the sheer power that flows from it. Yes there are appalling passages in it, but almost all old scriptures suffer from the flaws of their human transmitters. Who cares about the rubbish? When you are a Yogi, your internal energy knows what is enduring truth and what are specific cultural limitations of a previous time.

I am trying at present to manifest a few things so i was looking up the techniques to get off the rust. In one of those by now normal co-incidences I first stumble upon words of The Mother, Mira Alfassa, shakti of Sri Aurobindo, and she stated categorically that you can ask anything you want! There is no question of appropriateness or shame, you want something you ask for it. The Divine may delay, or in some cases refuse, for your spiritual good but there was no sin in asking. Indeed unless you asked, it could not flow towards you! That was the occult rule.

Then I read Paramahamsa Yogananda saying we are all children of the Divine Mother and Father and we have the full right to ask for anything we want! He went to the extent of saying we should harass God as a child does its parents, for we have the right to do so. Again, the advice was to ask with full Power and Intent.  Now this sounded very familiar, this insistence on asking to accomplish, so I dug out my Bible and began flipping thru Matthew and sure enough there in Chapter 7: 7-11 is a comprehensive toolkit on the process of manifestation.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

There you have it, the full process. There is nothing about ‘deserving’ in there, in fact Jesus knows full well most of us do not – ‘being evil’ – but God will give if you ask Him.

This is just about the most fantastic thing ever.

He is saying this after seemingly excluding people –

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

But that is a yogic perspective. Some aspects of power and spirit are to be communicated only when people are ready. As I am fond of saying{according to my students}, “There are no secrets in Yoga but there is appropriateness.” To get what you desire however comes with no strings on the part of the Divine – you just have to ask. Jesus is a great favorite amongst Yogis for he is spiritual kin to them

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Yogis care only about personal experience and ability, not theology. If the books match their experience – they usually do – well and good. If not too bad for the books. Yoga is practically unique in all spiritual traditions in acknowledging evolution, of techniques, of Consciousness and it never puts a full stop to possibility. The living words of a Master take precedence over books.

So I am going to make a nuisance of myself asking!

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 Death card

In creating the Death card, usually one of the most feared and misunderstood cards of the Major Arcana, we had the choice of going with Yama who is the designated figure in the mythological ethos or go with Kali – who is psychologically more accurate. In the end we kept both of them in, a masculine and feminine polarities choice, and I am glad we did. I also wish to say something about the Issues surrounding the Death card. Today the  norm all over seems to be to treat the card symbolically, as a transformation, a process of change and so on and so forth.  While not inaccurate, the Tarot was created in historical circumstances when life expectancy was only about 40 or 50 years and the Death card would have been literally true in a reading for a good long while. To pretend it was not so, and could still be so, is foolish.

Sacred India Tarot

Notes on its Creation:  Card 13, Death (1):

Lord Yama

In November 2001, Rohit wrote to Gautam:  “Urgently send Jane a message that I am in a bit of a fix as to the Death card.  Yama is right, but so is Kali.  Only problem is, Kali has bad odour outside, and weight of conditionings may be too much to overcome.  On the other hand, Kali provides balance;  Laxmi, Saraswathi, Kali – red, white and black gunas, just as the male deities Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are represented.  This needs some thought, what do you feel?  I am slightly prejudiced in favour of Yama, as it gives an opportunity to give a Vedic perspective.  Perhaps we should ask Jane?  Or even better idea, have two Death cards, for various levels of awareness, with text to justify both – a male Death and female Death.  I think no pack in the world has such a concept, it would be wonderful …”

The Sacred India Tarot has indeed, two cards for Death:  Lord Yama, and Mother Kali as the shakti power.   We now tell our story of the first one, Yama.

Here to begin with, is the western Tarot representation of Death:

Death – Key 13 of Jane’s Hermetic Tarot deck.   In the west, this Arcanum symbolizes “movement” – “the Imaginative Intelligence” of Nature, associated with the sign Scorpio and the reproductive force.

Here is a poem, first drafted by Alan Jacobs:

The reaper wields his scythe of dread

to harvest life, leaving chaff for dead.

All are re-born, in heaven or earth

with Nature’s labour, time since birth.

Most fear the Enigma’s spectral tread.

But some there be, who Death don’t rue.

Death distils an essential view.

The force enquires within the quest!

To look for real ‘I’ in the bones is best

to flower a Mystery, sure and new.

“The dead must bury their dead,” said the Preacher.

The moving image is our teacher.

(Alt. – Within an apple’s flesh, the core is best, For seed itself to find, a life fecund and new.

Or:  To seek within our flesh the bone is best …


Rohit’s Article:  Yama – Forerunner, First Man, God of Death

Yama in Hindu mythology is usually known as the god of Death.  He is also supposed to conduct a Last Tribunal where the good are rewarded, and the evil get their lumps.  This does not in any way increase his stature in the popular imagination, where he has frankly, no place at all.   At best it is resignedly accepted, it is better the process of death and punishment for sins be regulated.  His realm is supposed to be dank and gloomy, filled with assistants who are visual variants on his own form – colossal, green skinned, red-robed, and of terrible appearance, accentuated by the fact that he rides on a buffalo and carries a fearsome mace and the deadly noose with which the soul is snared and removed from the body.

None of this does any justice to Yama as he used to be – a great ethical examplar of the Vedic and Upanishadic times.  He was also the first great Hero amongst Men, ascending to divine status because he was not afraid to learn the riddle of death by dying.

All the Vedic gods have lost stature, but Yama is a really sad example of decline in a culture.  The name Yama means “The Restrainer”.  Further refining it, we get “The Restrained One.”   This is not surprising, considering his origin.  In a magnificent dramatic irony, Yama is supposed to be the son of Surya, the Sun god and giver of Life.  Life cannot proceed without intimate acquaintance with death.  Indeed, death clears the old out of the way of Life.  The Veda is clear that Yama’s great achievement on behalf of the race of men was to find the way home which cannot be taken away.  It is by dying that man achieves immortality, and Yama was the first to discover this secret.

Not without trouble, however!   For Yama and Yami were the first humans to be born, the Primordial Twins so beloved of mythic structure.  Yami was in no hurry to learn the Eternal Secret.  She would much rather Yama learnt with her what it was to be fruitful and multiply.  This was acceptable by the standards of myth and all Genesis tales:  the first couple usually populated the earth through incest.   Yama is having none of it, and rejects Yami’s specious argument that even in the womb, which they shared, they were designed to be man and wife.  She also urges upon him his duty to the world.  If they are all that live, they owe it to life to procreate and trust that posterity will be indulgent with the moral implications of what they had to do.  The verses where she urges him on in this expedient course of action, are some of the most blatantly erotic written in any human language:

“Desire for Yama overwhelms me Yami –

to lie with him in a common bed

as a woman to her husband I would yield my body.

Like chariot wheels let us surge to and fro!”


Yama’s answers are a standing monument to ethical imperatives, a blanket repudiation of expediency and comfort zones.  He simply refuses to lower his standards, no matter what the emergency.  Evil has no extenuating circumstances.  “Shall we do now what has been diligently spurned hitherto?  Shall we who speak truth, now countenance wrong?”

For him all actions are to be judged in the light of Ritha, Cosmic Law.  It is better the earth remain unpopulated than be filled with the fruits of sin.  He has greater, and more justified, confidence in the universe than Yami does, for life does not snuff out, contrary to her dire predictions.  This refusal to procreate sinfully, is Yama’s true victory over death, for Men reproduce hoping to cheat Death with every new generation.  For immortality is gained not in using one’s children to cheat death, but by experiencing Death itself as a door to immortality.

Yama does not begin as a god.  He earns that distinction.  He is merely a man to begin with, but he is not afraid to grow into his full potential.  He is not afraid to travel beyond the veil.  He is the first man to die, and the first man to learn about death without any fear of it.  That makes him the Lord of Death.  Indeed, so great is his power over death, that he is even called Mrityu, Death itself.  Since he was the first sinless man to cross over, he becomes Lord of that realm, and is also entrusted with a new responsibility, guarding the Dharma.  Hence his title Dharma Raja – Lord of Dharma.

It is a remarkable concept.  Death alone can reveal the true ethical and moral stature of a human life;  while that life is being lived, the issue always hangs in balance.  The judgement seat of Yama thus evolved in later myth, helped by his assistant Chitragupta, India’s Recording Angel who has every deed of a life stored away in his infinite ledgers.  This is the classic Weighing of the Scales, a great and momentous decision that only the first Man, the Forerunner, who showed the race of man the path to salvation, is entitled to take.   It dramatically represents Shaw’s famous phrase: “Life levels all men, but Death reveals the eminent.”

Yama’s death had another interesting consequence.  For Yami went into a great inconsolable gloom, that rapidly threatened the Universe.  The gods urged her to let it go, to forget the death of Yama and get on with living.  To all their remonstrance, she had only one answer – “Yama has died but today, and you want me to forget so soon?”

Since the First Days had been created without any nights, this was indeed an insurmountable difficulty!   To help put some distance between Yami’s distress and the event causing it, the gods invented Night.  Thus came into being the morrow, the passage of time and the dimming of memory, which assuages grief.  “Night and day together let sorrow be forgotten,” says the Veda about this.   Also, Yama seems to have traveled to the south to learn about the great transition of Death;  he has been deemed the guardian of the South quadrant, and it is also the direction of death.  To sleep with your feet pointed south is regarded as an invitation to travel on the long journey, and is avoided in Indian culture.

… … …

Yama has a great role left to play in the KATHA UPANISHAD, where the boy-Rishi Nachiketas travels to his realm, seeking instruction from the only god who really knows the secret and mystery of Death.  This text is one of the glories of Indian literature as well as philosophy, and it is worth perusing in its own right.  Yama tries to dissuade the boy from asking to learn about matters even the gods prefer to avoid in ignorant bliss, but seeing that his resolution would not be shaken, he fires from both barrels in a tremendous opening statement of truths.  “The Good is one thing.  The Pleasant is another.”  He then takes the boy through ever ascending realms of Awareness and ends up with a blunt statement of reality about the Path:

“Steep as the mountain slope, sharp as the razor’s edge is the Path.

Nevertheless – Arise!  Awake!  Stop not till the Goal is reached!”

In the Mahabharatha, Yama is the father of the ethical Hero Yudhistara.  He is also famous in the text for having a contest with the wise Savitri, who is determined not to let the Lord of Death and Righteousness have the soul of her husband Satyavan.  Yama holds out as long as he can, showering boons on the devoted girl in a vain attempt to distract her from her purpose, but she is in every way his intellectual equal, and her love is too strong for him to resist.  He is only too glad to admit defeat, and restore the Prince to life.

Sri Aurobindo used this myth to write the longest poem in the English language – Savitri.  It is also a text of ascending levels of awareness of the Spirit.  In the Mahabharatha, there is also another famous section, where Yama takes on the form of a Yaksha spirit, and questions his brilliant son on virtually everything.  These questions of the Yaksha are a compendium of aphoristic brilliance and wisdom.  The final question he asks, is perhaps the most apt:

“What is the greatest wonder of the world?  Every day thousands of men go to Yama’s abode, yet no man thinks of the implications of his death.”

Yama has many names, all of which indicate in some way or other, his role as Cosmic Judge and upholder of the Just.  He is Samana “the Settler”, Dandha-dhara the bearer of the Rod – symbol of authority and punitive powers – Pitri-Pati, or Lord of the Manes (ancestors).   Yama is also known as Kritana, the Finisher.  Everybody comes to him, sooner or later, and the myriad self-deceptions that everyone thinks make up life, are of no use any more.   Greater Life is possible only if we remove all tendencies to evil.  If we do not, Yama will find them out and judge us on them.

To know Yama, is to know that you live by what dies within you.



Nachiketas:   “When a man dies, this doubt arises;  some say ‘he is’ and some say ‘he is not’.  Teach me the truth.”

Death:   “Even the gods had this doubt in times of old;  for mysterious is the Law of life and death.  Ask for another boon.  Release me from this …”

Nachiketas:    “… All these pleasures pass away, O End of all!  They weaken the power of life.  And indeed how short is all life!  Keep thy horses and dancing and singing … I can only ask for the boon I have asked.”

Death:     “… There is the path of joy, and there is the path of pleasure.  Both attract the soul.  Who follows the first comes to good;  who follows pleasure reaches not the End….


Nachiketas:   “Tell me what you see beyond right and wrong, beyond what is done or not done, beyond past and future.”

Death:   “I will tell you the Word that all the Vedas glorify, all self-sacrifice expresses, all sacred studies and holy life seek.  That Word is OM.  That Word is the everlasting Brahman;  that Word is the highest End.  When that sacred Word is known, one is great in the heaven of Brahman.  Atman, the Spirit of vision, is never born and never dies.  Before him there was nothing, and he is ONE for ever more.  Neverborn and eternal, beyond times gone or to come, he does not die when the body dies.  If the slayer thinks that he kills, and if the slain thinks that he dies, neither knows the ways of truth.  The Eternal in man cannot kill;  the Eternal in man cannot die.

“Concealed in the heart of all beings is the Atman, the Spirit, the Self;  smaller than the smallest atom, greater than the vast spaces.  The man who surrenders his human will leaves sorrows behind, and beholds the glory of the Atman by the grace of the Creator.  Resting he wanders afar;  sleeping he goes everywhere.  Who else but my Self can know that God of joy and sorrows?

“When the wise realize the omnipresent Spirit, who rests invisible in the visible, and permanent in the impermanent, then they go beyond sorrow.”

Rohit’s Notes:

“Please do not portray Yama in any sort of hell like condition.  He is the great judge, as well as the first who went forth.   Yama was the first man to die, and he became the Lord of death and Judge of all men.  He is green in complexion, while his clothes are bright red in colour.  His eyes are red too, but they are somewhat reptilian in that they never blink.  He carries a golden mace and a fearsome noose in the right and left hands respectively.  We will send a picture, but the common perception of Yama is both distressing and mistaken.  His head should have a warrior’s helm, NOT the absurd buffalo horned Viking helmet so beloved of Indian art.  He rides a buffalo, but that is an optional extra for the illustration.

“Yama’s body should indicate great muscular development, and he should be a young man.  The popular images show him to be fiercely moustached and impossibly pot bellied.  None of that.  In the Vedas it is very clear that he was in the prime of his life, and so greatly handsome and virile that his own sister fell in love with him and tried to tempt him into an act of primal Incest.  He was the first Man, as well as first god, to pass over and learn the great Mystery of death – knowledge that makes him privy to wisdom denied to the other gods.  This is clear from the Katha Upanishad and the dialogue with Nachiketas therein.

“Yami his sister refused to stop mourning for him, and answered every remonstrance of the gods who felt this was overdoing grief, by saying ‘Yama has but died this day and you want me to stop grieving for him!’  In order to help her to heal, they invented the night, so that she could sleep, so that time might be counted off in days, and healing and acceptance begin.”

Correspondence:  Jane –  “Many thanks, the texts for Yama and Kali (for the creation of Kali, see next post) are most illuminating.  I had begun the Yama drawing, and it is along those lines already.   Rohit’s essay on Yama is so good … I have a bad cold today and unable to work.

An early impression/sketch for Yama, while reading Rohit’s notes.

Jane’s Notes/Journal:  23 August 2002

“Alchemy is either deteriorating or re-arranging my formerly rude physical health.  Quite poorly yesterday, with very sore fiery inside-linings, face, eyes and streaming.   Last night I at last got going on SE (Self Enquiry the Ramana Foundation Quarterly) as the current task, inspired by Rohit’s excellent article on Yama – who I began to draw for India Tarot the day before – which I follow up by typing in the whole of the Katha Upanishad, and will include some of Aurobindo’s Savitri with Yama as well.  It works as soon as I feel ‘led’ by the Companions in this task, and no longer a disgruntled editor …

“Mrs B rang to announce she’s off to Brockwood for the weekend, and I told her of my nightmare, and she reminded me of my “little friend” here dying last week (Alexander) and the kind of demands this couldn’t help making, and what it feels like to be them, and the ABYSS we both know, which is in its way, death, the terror of indefinition;  and how fascinating it all is…   Thus:  permit this hinterland, and let it, if it will, unknot.

24 August 2002

“SE will grind along alright now that Yama gave it a kick start;  the magazine becomes automatic and time-passing work, convinced that it is useful.  I copied out the whole of the Katha Upanishad, and exciting passages from Aurobindo’s Savitri…

25 August 2002

“Yesterday I went for a walk and a doze on the Heath, and when I came back I spent the whole evening on Yama, it is now a beautiful painting, my favourite of all the cards I have drawn so far.  It combines the boy Nachiketas with the version of Mrs Yama too – the erotic Yami – and includes under Lord Yama’s buffalo, those sprouting hands, feet, leaves and flower-buds in the dark, of the Western Tarot version as death’s harvest (scythe).  In the east, Yama does it with a noose.  Yama rides mildly through the shadowed forest, his mace is like a lamp, his noose a source of Light, his green skin complementary to his eyes and the fiery red cloth that swathes him.  The buffalo is white.  Young Nachiketas, who inquires into the depth of eternity, attracts his interest and attention.   But Yami his sister, dramatizes the traditional tokens of grief and death in a twilit region.  This region however, is one of abundant fertility and transformation.  She and Nachiketas seem to represent night and day.  Lord Yama presides over these states from a region beyond them, which includes them.

The green and red of Yama himself in this painting, against flowing greys and violets, enchants my inner eye.   Magic is in it.  He is the wisdom god Yama, with young Nachiketas;  it has a deep and subtle feeling. 

“Gautam sent from Bombay by email, colour images of Kali and of Ganga.”


In the secret, high place of the heart, there are two beings who drink the wine of life in the world of truth.  Those who know Brahman, those who keep the five sacred fires, and those who light the three-fold fire of Nachiketas, call them ‘light’ and ‘shade’.

May we light the sacred fire of Nachiketas, the bridge to cross to the other shore where there is no fear, the supreme, everlasting Spirit!

This by which we perceive colours and sounds, perfumes and kisses of love;  by which alone we attain knowledge;  by which verily we can be conscious of anything;  this in truth is That …  When he knows the Atman, the Self, the inner life, who enjoys like a bee the sweetness of the flowers of the senses, the Lord of what was and of what will be, then he goes beyond fear;  this in truth is That …

The goddess of Infinity who comes as Life-power and Nature; who was born from the elements, and rests, having entered the heart;  this in truth is That.  Agni, the all-knowing god of fire, hidden in the two friction fire-sticks of the holy sacrifice, as a seed of life in the womb of a mother, who receives the morning adoration of those who follow the path of Light or the path of work:  this in truth is That. Whence the rising sun does come, and into which it sets again; wherein all the gods have their birth, and beyond which no man can go ;

Who sees variety and not the unity, wanders on from death to death.

The soul dwells within us, a flame the size of a thumb, is the soul;  the Lord of the past and the future, the same both today and tomorrow:  this in truth is That.  As water raining on a mountain-ridge runs down the rocks on all sides, so the man who only sees variety of things, runs after them on all sides.  But as pure water raining on pure water becomes one and the same, so becomes, O Nachiketas, the soul of the sage who knows.


I will now speak to you of the mystery of the eternal Brahman; and of what happens to the soul after death.

The soul may go to the womb of a mother, and thus obtain a new body.  It may even go into trees or plants, according to its previous wisdom and work.  There is a Spirit who is awake in our sleep, and creates the wonder of dreams.  He is Brahman the Spirit of Light, who in truth is called the Immortal.  All the worlds rest on that Spirit, and beyond him no one can go.  This in truth is That.

As fire, though one, takes new forms in all things that burn, the Spirit, though one, takes new forms in all things that live.  He is within all, and is also outside.


The Tree of Eternity has its roots in heaven above and its branches reach down to earth.  It is Brahman, pure Spirit, who in truth is called the Immortal.  All the worlds rest on that Spirit, and beyond him no one can go.   This in truth is That.  The whole universe comes from him, and his life burns through the whole universe.  In his power is the majesty of thunder.  Those who know him, have found immortality.


When the five senses and the mind are still, and reason itself rests in silence, then begins the Path supreme.  This calm steadiness of the senses is called Yoga.  Then one should become watchful, because Yoga comes and goes.


One hundred and one subtle ways come from the heart.  One of them rises to the crown of the head.  This is the way that leads to immortality;  the others lead to different ends.

Always dwelling within all beings, is the Atman, the Purusha, the Self, a little flame in the heart.  Let one with steadiness withdraw him from the body, even as an inner stem is withdrawn from its sheath.  Know this pure immortal light;  know in truth this pure, immortal Light.

And Nachiketas learnt the supreme wisdom taught by the god of after-life, and he learnt the whole teaching of inner-union, of Yoga.  Then he reached Brahman, the Spirit Supreme, and became immortal and pure.  So in truth will anyone who knows his Atman, his higher Self.

Extracts from the Katha Upanishad, Juan Mascaro translation

Correspondence: Gautam and Rohit:   -3 September 2002

“The Death cards are to die for.  Yama:  This is a brilliant card … only minor correction, the horns make it look more like a bull than a buffalo.  We are sending you a reference for the same.   Kali (this painting was done again) – This is the most powerful representation we have seen in a long time.   However …”  

 (See next post, in this series.)

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