Ashwini Kumara – the Swift Gods of Light

sita-ashwins-staves-version-2

The Ashwinis seem to be the most energetically joyful of all the gods known to man. They hurtle through the cosmos in a dizzying effervescence of joy. They are the lords of speed, the swift rivers, the falcons of light, the riders of the fleet horse, agile and brilliant as Rig Veda says.  Speed is their keynote.  They bounce off the walls of heaven with a rush of energy, like young colts.  They are the most dazzlingly handsome personages in the universe, and they know it – ‘swift footed lords of bliss, much enjoying’. Later stories would elaborate on them as sensual gods. In some versions they marry jointly, Savitri the daughter of Surya the Sun God.  She was nominally supposed to marry Soma, lord of the moon and the sacred drink, but the Ashwins were much more handsome and cut a spectacular dash!  Other myths tell that they married the ten rays of the Sun, Surya’s daughters … But they had no time to lech like other gods.  Savitri was the only one who could keep up with their rapidity.

The Ashwini twins are Vedic gods who were once held in high esteem but have been all but forgotten. They were however, the prototype for the notion of Kumara the eternal youth, which is how both Skanda and the Buddha would be represented in future sculpture. AS healers they were emerged into Dhanwantri later.

“It is known to a few, that the Awhwinis were the first physicians, doctors to humanity as well as the gods.  They were one of many Solar deities in the Vedas; many of their attributes were taken over by Vishnu when his cult by a process of osmosis, engulfed all the solar gods in his vast embrace

“The Ashwins were not effete dandies, careering across the cosmos in solar powered Ferraris.  They were that rarest of heroes, intellectuals who could act decisively and swiftly. They were described as ‘effectual in action, the powers of movement, fierce-moving in their paths:  they embodied the Samurai dictum – ‘to think and to act are one and the same‘.  They are the power of movement itself, so speedy and firm were they perceived to be. They used their great knowledge to help the gods – which was appreciated – and also to alleviate the sufferings of Humanity – which was not. Like Prometheus they had to face an angry Indra, leader of the gods, who punished them by depriving them of the right to drink the sacred Soma, which conferred strength and immortality on the gods. Soma was only too pleased; they had cost him a wife. However, the angry gods could not punish the Ashwins – they moved too fast to be caught, and they were no pushovers. Nobody knew the extent of their strength, nor wished to risk finding out.

“The Ashwins did not care too much about being excluded from the sacred drink.  They were caught up in their experiments and always on the move, as an active life principle. They made an iron leg for the warrior named Vispala who lost his in battle.  They were physicians and worked tirelessly at their craft.  The jealous humans said they had forfeited divine honours by associating too much with humans!  In later medieval times, the physician’s job was regarded as greatly polluting as it interfered with the evil Karma which produced the disease – a cruel doctrine. It is greatly to the Ashwins’ credit that they chose compassion over the approbation of their fellows, and continued to do what they had always done. They healed countless numbers of the lame, and restored sight to many who were blind – an apt action for the Lords of the Light.  The similarities with events in Palestine many thousands of years later are also obvious.  One of the Ashwins’ most coveted boons was to restore youth and vigour to the aged and decrepit. That might explain why they did not need the Soma like the other gods did.

“The Rishi Chyavana was old, feeble and ugly. Constant immersion in meditation had covered his body with vegetation until an anthill arose around him. The beautiful Sukanya thought his still visible eyes were glow-worms and poked them out with a stick, to capture them. Instantly the people of that region were cursed with terrible pain; the only way out of this was to marry her off to the sage she had wronged.  Sukanya accepted the grotesque situation as being fair – the blind sage needed someone to care for him. One day however, at the riverbank (a liminal, threshold site) Sukanya observed the Ashwinis frolicking in the water, and sighed for her lack of such joys.

“The Twins had a rare moment of lust, and propositioned her, confident in their youth and beauty. But she rebuked them severely and abashed them.  Yet they still had their hats in the ring, and offered to cure her husband of blindness and senility, and give him a handsome form like their own.  This was the catch: she must pick out her husband correctly from the identical trio, or agree to go with them.  Sukanya consulted her husband who decided to teach the presumptuous gods that he may be old and blind, but did not become a rishi for nothing.  When they emerged from the water in which the gods dipped the old man, she instantly recognised her husband through his instructions; the gods do not blink, sweat, cast shadows or leave footprints – and the human was easily found out.

“The Twins were sporting about it, and Chyavana, grateful for his rejuvenation, instructed them in an esoteric part of the Vedic sacrifice that even the gods had forgotten.  Armed with this new knowledge, the Ashwinis marched back into the divine company and traded off the right to drink Soma for this new rite in the fire sacrifice.  They came full circle – rejected for their love of humanity and restored by it too.

“Some have mistakenly translated their name to be Horsemen, from Ashwa the horse they ride. The horse as a symbol of prana indicates the Ashwinis’ perfect control over the breath, as well as their dazzling speed. The word Ashwini is derived from a root word which means ‘to fill everything’. One of the twins pervades the universe with Light, the other with Moisture – another indication that they were proto-Vishnu, ‘he that pervades’.

“In another story, they rescued a great sage from a flood that threatened to drown his learned life. The Ashwins sent him a log to clamber up onto and float around until realising who was responsible for this providential intervention.  Then they appeared before him, blessed him and instructed him in spiritual matters.

The Twins were heralds of the dawn, lords of the fleetingly transient state between night and dawn, again an attribute of their great speed. This places them firmly as liminal or threshold deities, guardians of sacred and rare times when higher levels of consciousness may be accessed.  This peculiar aspect of their potency is acknowledged in verses where the Ashwinis are addressed as the children of the sun, of the earth, of the waters, and even as sons of the submarine fire.  All are conjunctions, especially the horizon where one space interacts with another, forming a natural threshold, and are key areas for the Ashwini to act.  They are the great facilitators of transition, but only to the Light.  They simply do not have the time for anything else.

They give that impelling energy for the great work which, having for its nature and substance the light of the Truth, carries man beyond the darkness.

“The Ashwinis represent a glorious phase of Indian culture, and there are very few gods who are so reverberant with light. They are action incarnate, joyful graspers of life and laughter, quick to act and determined in their courses, intelligent and compassionate. The thrill they get out of being alive, is magnificent; it is a great pity that India has lost the ability to be in sympathy with such an exultant use of talent, ability and power. This is life lived to the fullest, to delight in action and glory in the mind … ‘Take joy in the Word, the holders in the intellect, by the luminously energetic thought’ …

“It was a sad time when India forsook the speedy gods of Light for more sedate worship.

“In the Vedic constellations, the Ashwins are in Aries, the sign of the New.

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.

He can be contacted on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/aryayogi/

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

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

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The Buddha story – A brief overview

This piece was originally posted on Indiayogi.com {now, alas, defunct}, and also served as the basis for the storyline of the Suit of Discs {Pentacles} in the Sacred India Tarot. Speak memory….  This is one of my personal favorites and Jane Adams who resurrected it is to be  thanked greatly!

Buddhism was the dominant faith of Asia for a clear millennium, and it still holds a significant position there.  It is not normally realized that a great many countries which are Islamic now, were once strongholds of the Buddhist faith, especially Afghanistan and Iraq: the former famous for the now vanished Bamiyam monoliths, the latter for the finest monasteries the world has ever known, till medieval Europe.

Between the first century BC and the fifth century AD, Buddhism was unchallenged over Asia, with only pockets of the Confucian, Hindu and Zoroastrian beliefs holding out.  That makes the Buddha life story the most well known to all humanity, and in sheer numbers who religiously repeat it, it remains the most popular story told even today.

Before we begin recounting this tale however, one fact needs to be brought out.  The Buddha was not a prince.  That was romancing by later biographers, who could not conceive of anybody other than royalty doing such marvelous things.

Also, there was a caste agenda in place by then.  Buddhism was a Kshatriya response to a Brahmin hegemony financed by Vaisya support, and they needed a prince to be the mythical spokesman for the new faith.

The Buddha’s father was the head of a Janapada, a republican state, kingdoms merely having begun to emerge, and no real empire in place in society.  He was undoubtedly a privileged young man, but not a prince.  Since this narrative will deal with the mythic aspects of the life as popularly understood, we will go along with the prince fiction, but the historical Buddha is not the Buddha of invented memory.

He was born according to tradition as well as history, in the year 563 BC, son of Suddhodana, belonging to the Kshatriya tribe of the Sakyas, in Kapilavastu near the border of modern Nepal.  His name was Siddhartha Gautama, the latter being his family name.  His birth was attended by the usual portents that seem to grace the descent of a great Master, notably some dreams that his mother had, that the child she was carrying would be unthinkably exceptional.

The baby was supposed to have been born while his mother laboured standing up, so that his feet touched the ground;  and the Buddha is supposed to have been the only human infant who could walk immediately upon birth, as befitted a future world saviour.  The astrologers gathered around, predicted that the boy would become an emperor if he could be persuaded to reigh.  It was more likely however, that he would renounce the world as soon as he was aware of the reality of suffering.

The mother died seven days after the birth of the super child.  A human frame cannot endure the incredible strain of bringing forth a Saviour for very long.  Suddhodana married his wife’s sister Mahaprajapati, and for once we are spared the evil stepmother routine in myth, as the lady dearly loved the young child.  The doting father was not going to have his son turn to renunciation, so he began a celebrated social-control experiment.  He shut his son up in a great palace, surrounded by high walls that kept the unpleasant reality of the world out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. The young man was immersed in wine, women and song; and that his constitution as well as his mind survived such paternal solicitude, is one of the greater miracles known to humanity.

Siddhartha became the finest young warrior in the land, as well as a formidable scholar and in true epic fashion he wins the hand of his cousin Yashodara after a contest of skill in which he wipes the field of all comers at all contests, except curiously, sword play!  The ancient and enduring Indian disdain for close quarters fighting, which would be its eventual downfall, is here clearly reflected.  The hero could not do something so uncouth and dreadfully sweaty as fight well with a sword, even if he was the greatest warrior who ever lived.  The marriage was blissfully happy, and the king thought he had covered all the bases.  Siddhartha would become a world conqueror.

Then disaster struck, for the young man suddenly had an unwonted curiosity to see the world outside his magnificent prison.  The legend goes, that the gods despairing of him achieving his incarnate mission, promoted his mind with such strange whim.  In collusion with a famous confidante and charioteer, Chana, the young man slipped out and encountered the Four Sights, doddering Old Age, Sickness, a Dead man and finally an Ascetic who somehow seemed to have arisen above these inevitable and implacable miseries.  Later versions claim that in each case it was the god Indra who had assumed these forms to rouse him from his pleasure blinded ignorance.

A little digression would not be amiss here.  Many miracles would be attributed to the man later, but his appalled reaction to the sight of suffering has never got its due as the most important of all the miracles.  For we all know Sakya princes who live gilded cage existences, and it is a bitter psychological truth, that they are not particularly distressed when confronted by other people’s suffering.  They do not have either the experience or the mental concepts to make sense of suffering, looking upon it as something strange and quite unnecessary. “Why don’t they eat cake?” is not a cruel question, but a devastating confession of ignorance, of genuine puzzlement.  Siddhartha’s great leap of self transcendence was the realization that this sick person was like him, not “one of them”.  Somehow he preserved his sense of humanness against all the luxury that was stifling him.

The Four Sights could have been viewed as a freak show, the royal equivalent of slumming, a novel curiosity that amused, but did not touch in any way.  His feeling of despair at the general hopelessness of the human condition, is what should have been most exclaimed over.  In spite of genetics, environment and the prevailing zeitgeist, his spirit flared up when confronted with a moral challenge.

Back home, he became prone to brooding over the generally depressing nature of human existence – decay and pain and death, with an occasional narcotic experience of “pleasure” or “success” to numb the mind from the awful truth.

At this juncture, he was told his wife had given birth to a son, usually a matter of great joy to an Indian father.  It was the last straw.  “Yet another fetter has been born,” he moaned, inadvertently naming the son Rahula, a chain or fetter.   That night, he abandoned his new born son and wife, determined to seek out the secret to overcoming human suffering and sorrow.  It is an act known as the Great Renunciation.  He was 29 years old.

He took to the road, in an India that was an incredible intellectual adventure at the time.  Freethinking and speculation was at a peak never before achieved, or equaled after.  Mahavira the great Jain Master was his contemporary, though the two never met, in what is one of Destiny’s greatest oversights.  Originality of thought was matched by pugnacious championing of belief, and the young man soaked it all up.  However, while he was willing to learn from all, he was usually only too evidently the intellectual superior.  He used to learn, and then move on.  Tradition ascribes to him the discipleship of Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, both Brahmin sannyasis.  He seems to have accepted the need for a belief system, good conduct and the practice of meditation, though he was not convinced they had the answer.

In no time, he had accumulated five disciples himself, and they underwent severe austerities in the forest of Urevala.  Siddhartha tried to gain the knowledge of salvation through terrible fasting and overextended meditation.  The result was he became a living skeleton, and his mind began to lose its sharpness too.  So severely had he subjected his body to austerity, that when he stroked his skin his body hair would fall off, having no flesh in which to root themselves!  He even experimented with eating his own excretions, but he soon realized that this was no way forward.  Always intellectually courageous and integrated, he abandoned the path of self torture as well as the gigantic reputation for holiness it had given him.  His disciples left him, huffing with disgust at such backsliding.

Once his health had recovered, he recalled a mystical experience he had in his youth, and determined to pursue that line.  In the famous spot of Gaya, he sat under a Peepal tree, determined not to budge until he had cracked the secret of overcoming suffering and death.  His formidable will kept him there for forty days and nights, when Mara the Evil One, realizing his days of unchallenged dominance over Life was over, assaulted him with terrors and temptations.  The latter always meant impossibly voluptuous beautiful girls, and was regarded culturally as the greater threat to saintliness.

Siddhartha was unmoved by either fear or pleasure, as his Realisation was now complete.  The desperate Mara than accused him of the subtlest sin of all – egoism – the true feeling of having triumphed over fear and temptation.  Siddhartha merely touched the earth with two fingers and asked it to bear withness if a “person” was present there.  The earth announced that she did not bear on herself any human, there was only the Tathagatha, the Realised One, and ergo no human attributes.  This was the final victory, and the moment he entered into Nirvana, as well as the state known as the Buddha.  (“Buddha” is actually a way of being, a condition, not a title.)

The Buddha stayed in his seat for another forty days, unsure if his subtle and refined doctrine of transcending pain and suffering should be communicated to an uncomprehending world.  Finally, he resolved to risk the inevitable errors of the many for the sake of the few who would understand and profit from the new learning.  He went to Sarnath, a famous deer park, where his disgruntled disciples were living.  They saw him approaching, and resolved to ignore the apostle in their ascetic pride, but his transformed personality compelled them to offer him respect against their wills.  To them he preached his first sermon in the great event known as “Setting into Motion the Wheel of the Law”.  The Buddha was forty years old, and he had another forty two years of preaching ahead of him.

Having been somewhat of an extremist himself in his striving, he named his new doctrine the Middle Path, or Arya Marga, the Noble Way.  His first sermon contains all the key elements of the Megatharian structure that would become Buddhist theology.  They are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Truths are devastatingly simple.

Existence is unhappiness. 

Unhappiness is caused by desire/craving.

Desire can be overcome.

It is overcome by following the Noble Eight-fold Path

… … which are

Right Understanding, Right Purpose/aspiration, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Vocation, Right Effort, Right Awareness/Alertness, and Right Concentration.

The need for chastity, truthfulness and nonviolence were core components of this.

 

Buddha rapidly became one of the most influential figures in the country.  Even his skeptical family fell under his influence, and the whole country saw a mass movement of renunciation.  He used to wander the land attended by his nephew and favourite Ananda, a petulant weak-willed sort, and therefore under his special care.  Ananda’s recollections of his conversations with the Tathagatha made him an invaluable biographical source once the Buddha was dead, and he was much referred to in the settling of theological disputes.

The Buddha did not care, much to the disappointment of more than a few of the faithful, for miracles and magic, but only in finding the shortest way to end suffering and attain Nirvana.  In a land where spirituality was automatically equated with the ability to work miracles, He stood out as a beacon for rationality and reason.

This may seem strange in a country which produced the Upanishads, but they were a rearguard action against a country that demanded magic, or a reasonable facsimile of it, from holy men.

The Buddha therefore is not only India’s foremost religious figure, he is also first in demanding a grounded view of life, which may yet be his major contribution.

We all know the famous story of Gautami, who had come to him with her dead child, and the usual hopes of resurrecting miracles.  Was he not the Tathagatha, the Ford-Crosser and the most famous holy man of the age?  Ergo miracles were expected.  He did perform one, by assuring her the child could indeed be bought back to life, if she got him some mustard seeds from a house in which death had not occurred.  The many wanderings within the city brought the distraught mother to her senses, as she realized that spiritual giants can offer another sort of immortal life, not the impossible one she was asking for.  He had no greater miracle to offer than the realization of the inevitable truth – suffering exists and can only be transcended, not avoided.

At another time he was told of a great feat of levitation that a holy man had performed, sending his begging bowl sliding up a flag post till it reached the top.  The reporters were evidently expecting a greater feat of supernatural prowess to be exhibited as an answer to their silent reproach – it was embarrassing to be the disciples of a guru who was not doing magic!  The Buddha merely said, in an elegant, celebrated squelch, “Such is not conducive to the cessation of desires and the attainment of Nirvana.”

His most famous conversion was that of the bandit and killer Angulimala, “Finger Garland”, an interesting type who used to keep count of his victims by cutting off a finger and adding it to his grisly garland.  Kings were his disciples too, most famously the king of Magadha, Bimbisara.  His son Ajatashatru slew him when the restraining presence of the Buddha was not there, but he repented and publicly confessed his crime to the Buddha the next time he visited. (Ajatashatru was too great a king for anyone to work up much indignation at his parricide, and in any case succession was usually decided by displays of such vigour.  It was, in a sense, expected behaviour.)  Royal patronage all over the country made the Buddhist stock rise very high indeed.

The Mahaparinirvana, the great and final Nirvana of the Buddha’s long life finally came when he was over eighty.  Never in his mission had he ever asked people to be anything other than sensible and intelligent in their spiritual approach.  “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing on the touchstone, so are you to accept my words after examining them, not out of regard for me.”

He held fast to this doctrine, even on his deathbed.  His final sickness, incidentally, was brought on by his eating badly cooked pork at the house of a poor disciple he did not have the heart to refuse when invited.  The Buddha ate what was available, vegetarianism was a preference not an absolute fetish.  Three times he was ready to let the body go, but each time he was interrupted by somebody desiring instruction, and he held his Nirvana back, “lying on his side like a lion and instructing.”

Then he spoke to the disciples, “What need for the Tathagatha?  Become lamps unto yourselves.  The Buddha is a state, not a person.  Enter therein.  Decay is inherent in all component things.  Therefore work out your salvation with diligence.”

He died then, but the history of mankind had been for ever altered.

 

Jane Adams

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

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

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

Rohit Arya 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 is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator for two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

 

 

 

Teaching the Sacred India Tarot Oct 6-7 2012

I held a workshop in understanding the Sacred India Tarot and how to use it, not only for readings but also as a spiritual process. The event was held on October 6 and 7, 2012 at the World Trade Center in Mumbai. We had 17 participants – all ladies – so the infusion of Shakti into the pack was dramatic and vast.

Shown above is an altar with the two grace cards of the deck created by my friend Poonam Ahuha who organized the entire event with her typical grace and class. I cannot thank her enough.

We had decks and posters of images from the pack available for sale both days. The Ganapati was a favorite, as was the meditating Shiva.

Day One: I had to declaim a bit as some participants were having their first experience with the Tarot and also, I think, my unique take on Indian culture and spirituality! As a group they were amazingly sincere in their desire to learn and evolve.

Day 1 continues.

Day 2 second half. We had got to doing spreads – this is the Swastika spread created by yours truly! We had the inevitable debate that this is the ‘wrong way’. It is somewhat disconcerting to see how disconnected we have become from our own culture and spiritual practices that most Indians would feel the other anti-clockwise swastika is the ‘right’ one. We do our best to spread light one group at a time….

Looking up advanced meanings of the cards

I have very dramatic body language it would seem…

This looks intense but I think it was some sort of point about neatness in spread layouts as the sygil would be disrupted….

Some point being elucidated

Another Swastika spread…

It was a very high intense energy session, a veritable vortex. Jane Adams who illustrated the Sacred India Tarot says that “Readings, especially in a group, energise the deck tremendously” So much Shakti must have infused the deck. It was a real privilege for me to lead this event.

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 is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator for two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya_ Sacred India Tarot#Creating the World Cards

Creation of World Shakti & Nataraja

Rohit’s Notes:  Autumn 2003

“The World – Nataraja but as Ardhanirishwara.

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

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

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

nataraja ref

Jane’s Notes:  September 2012

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

Jane’s Notes:  2010

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

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

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

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

ritual painting 18th century ref

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

World Shakti

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

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

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

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

Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 6 April 2005

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

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

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

Minor Arcana -Kama, the god of desire)

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

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

ardhanariswara ref: sculptures

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

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

Natarajan

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

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

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

From Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

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

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

**

Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 16 April 2005

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

**

Jane

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

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

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

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

**

Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Judgment Card

Jane and I were surprised to realize we went into this with hardly any explanatory context or content and just one visual reference. The Pralaya – Cosmic Dissolution – is a staple of Hindu mythology and yoga but very curiously it is hardly ever represented. That makes this piece of art by Jane very rare and special indeed. The more I look back on this project the more I feel like a Hollow Bamboo – something vast had to manifest into the world and it flowed thru me! i didn’t have the slightest clue! This post also has a Yogic perspective on what pralaya means which I believe has not been articulated before until it flowed thru Yours Truly.  Jane’s inclusion of the Hrim bija mantra was a superb piece of insight.

Correspondence:  Rohit’s Notes – November 2002: 

“This card is going to be tough to depict, as India has no equivalent of the Judgment Day concept.  We also have no cultural imagery of opening graves and trumpets. 

“The best I can think about, is Pralaya the dissolution of the universe, with the Kalki avatar of Vishnu to provide the hopeful impetus for the future, once the upheaval is over.  We need a feel and look of a world in turmoil by water and fire, with one peaceful corner, the South, because that is where Kalki will emerge from. 

“Kalki can be shown as a man with Vishnu’s face holding a sword and riding a white horse.  The feel of Albrecht Durer’s Four Horsement of the Apocalypse is ideal, if it can be managed.”

Visual reference:  Durer’s drawing of the Apocalypse

**

We cannot find in the archive, any of our correspondence about this card, or writings from Rohit.  So here is his essay on Pralaya in the book accompanying the deck:

The Dwara reveals:  The Judgment is, strictly speaking, Judgment Day – Armageddon, where the forces of decay and evil are routed by the aroused ranks of the spiritual.  In Indian mythogy, the event is called Pralaya, the dissolution.  Vishnu takes his tenth and most powerful avatar, that of Kalki, to preside over this most significant of battles.

This time we live in, is deemed the worst age of man, the dark Kali Yuga.  When it ends, a long time in the future as prophesied, human civilization and culture will have come to a breaking point.  The whole enterprise will either go under in a cataclysm of greed and violence, or Kalki will lead the forces of good to a defensive strike in the cause of the right, and the light.  Where we stand at that pivotal stage in destiny, depends upon our Karmic inclination.  There will be no time to choose when we see Kalki thundering in upon his white horse.  The choice has to be made right now;  in every action we take, in every temptation resisted or pandered to;  in every decent thought we value and stand fast by, rejecting the seductive pull of the comfortable compromise.

For Pralaya takes place more often than people suspect.

According to the sect of the Pashupatas, Siva himself causes Pralaya occasionally to give the poor souls tied to the wheel of Karma, some much needed rest and recuperation!  When the universe manifests again, they revert to their previous Karmic state, and the cycle begins anew.  The endless turning of the Wheel of Fire, with most people merrily creating fresh Karma to bind themselves further to it – even a just God would feel compassion at this harrowing and demoralizing spectacle.

But Pralaya, in a psychological sense, takes place whenever a person is about to achieve the full awakening into Pure Consciousness.  Like the attack of Mara the foe of consciousness, the collective lower aspects of the psyche (described superbly by Eckhart Tolle as the pain-body) launch a final struggle to survive.  The seeker feels he is on a threshold of significance;  just one more determined push, and he could attain.  But first, he must fight a wounded polar bear to cross the threshold!

If you try to individually repress or suppress the eruptions that occur, you are lost.  For memories, desires and habits rise in tsunamis of desperation, as the pain-body battles to survive.

The only solution is to take up the keen sword of Viveka – the faculty of wise discrimination, wielded by Kalki, and sever one’s ego-mind from habitual identification with such muck.  The blast of the Archangel Gabriel’s horn that arouses the quick and the dead, the call to awaken to a new self, a rejuvenation of hope and energy and purpose, is accomplished here by the bija mantra HREEM! – shown pulsating at the base of the chaos.  This is the final stage of the spiritual journey before complete attainment.

As always, consciousness wins the day by refusing to accept anything other than Itself as the underlying principle of value that pervades existence.

The Light in this card, is rebirth of the psyche and personality.  New perspectives, new visions, new values … Value judgments are abandoned, they are correctly seen to be cluttering up life and preventing the blooming of the new.

The Advaita sage Ramesh Balsekar has a pertinent remark about such times:  “Our prayer should be one of gratitude.  We should thank God for our suffering knowing it could have been much worse, like the suffering of millions below the poverty line.”

This is a significant stage of life, a genuine rite of passage;  and nothing that is valuable comes without trouble.

Builders of the Adytum: Tarot Key 20 – a four-dimensional image. The gestures of the woman, child and man, form an L,V,X – meaning Lux or Light.

Jane’s Notes – September 2012

Rohit used a “wounded polar bear” analogy:  in the western deck, the scene is of the arctic, with massed icebergs across the water.  In Kabbalah, the ice is a symbol of frozen water and frozen fire – the inexhaustible potential before it melts and moves into manifestation.  Indeed, the ice is a reservoir, holding the ancient waters as well as the new.

Climate change is suggested:  but the image is multi dimensioned, and holds a layered depth of meaning.

When alpine ice melts and the waters pour down the mountain on a warm morning, there is a tremendous sound and rush and rain, an everywhere AUM:  a let-down reflex.  On the Tree of Life, tarot key 20 is placed on the Mother-Fire-Letter SHIN, (Hod-Malkuth path) which from the sky, touches the root.   It suggests the Promethean gift of fire:  which transforms consciousness.  To this path also belongs the innate song, the sound of the universe, of Siva’s drum, of dancers around the sacred fire.

The Archangel announces God’s Word, which takes root in each sensitive womb or uplifted soul.

The word “Viveka”, wise discrimination, highlights the precision with which all Karmic forces and expressions are balanced, in the cosmic Law.  This is not visible as precision, until we take a step back from our situation and perceive the pattern unfolding around and from it!   Nowhere and in no way are we apart from the Law, except in daydream.   The Judgment weighs, measures through innumerable locations and lifetimes in time and space, the balance:  the trans-formation.   This Tarot Key is ruled by Pluto.

The Archangel’s trumpet sound, addressed to each and every inmost child, changes the particles within.  That same sound blew down the walls of Jericho.  The Karmic tapestry moves from every direction, wave-train across wave, like the waters of the sea in any place.  No linear perspective can adequately comprehend it.

**

Arcanum 20 – from Jane’s Hermetic deck.  The letter SHIN is a three-pronged flame

**

Here is something I wrote last week: ON RECONCILIATION.  I earmarked it as Arcanum-20 material.

In the vessel cleaving the sea, the Maggidim in their breath of life, see things silently in full, and let them pass – my valve, the floating gate of my private reconciliations.

Join the community of the watchers and the guardians.   Join hands with the circle – the hands are there every instant.   Stop and remember this and join hands, during the day.   All of us made our personal reconciliations which qualify.   You and I know what these are, and how difficult they were, and still are, sometimes.   We ensphere, we breathe the globe.   We seem to be few, but the soul’s mansions are immense.   Only the tip of the iceberg shows.   The tip of the iceberg is drama and dazzling formations.  The bulk of the berg is vast sub-surface cliff, and it moves peacefully in the sculpting sea:  consciousness, the secret and eternal flow of events.   Sea ice.  See Ice.   See-I-see.

The bulk of the world is far more than the sum of the parts of the tinkling skittles on top.   With the media skittles is a gambling game of statistics.   The skittles they are very little, and their bones are very brittle… like icicles.

Silence … the current and the sense-ship of ever steaming onward, through, with, receive, open endedly … be loved.  This is far deeper than technology.

This isn’t about the Titanic.  The titanic was a party going on unaware, its centenary grabbed the media this year.  There is a titanic partying among hedons, but there is an “end of term awareness” also, which the early twentieth century did not have.  In the early twentieth century, war was still a glorious solution, and soldiers had not lost their ignorance.

History spirals but does not repeat.  The awareness is uncomfortable.   But the atmosphere is changed.

Sacred India Tarot 20 – Pralaya, The Judgment

I felt nervous about current global armaggedons when I painted this card.  It looks like a gigantic clean-up, flushing out every Karmic poison.  Pralaya resonates with Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and the Krishna archetype who reveals the Dharma when humanity is in crisis.  His features and figure here, are those of Vishnu, the Sacred India Tarot Magician.   Krishna, Buddha and others, are avatars of Vishnu the Sustainer.

At first, everything is unbearably polarized.  The Day of Judgment takes place at any time, and on any local scale:  a time of conscious decision, shift, a shifting.  On the one hand there is clarity;  on the other, a demonic agony and disorder is rife.

This painting is positively charged with the seed mantra HRIM, unifying male and female principles.  It is also the primal vibration of the goddess Bhuvaneshwari, Womb of the Universe.

Card 20 includes the Last Trumpet – suggesting to me the Sound which brought our universe into being – the vibration of mantra, bells and sacred dance – primordial rhythm.  This Sound is unifying.

We need to find our own sound/vibration/silence within ourselves, to prevail against chaotic disturbances of mind and media persuasion.

And so, as well as the HRIM mantra, the heart of the Sri Chakra Yantra is born from the night sky, and represents Self responsibility.  Each inmost child of God is ultimately response-able to what he or she will become, in the full picture:  the intimate fusion of our conscious modes, sub-consciously.

The card attempts to portray an emerging Law of equilibrium.  The picture is polarized;  we select our alignment, and thus create our home;  for we live in an era of parallel universes.

**

The Symbols

from an illustrated manuscript, Nepal c.1760

Siva Shakti Yantra – the heart of the Sri Chakra lattice:  two descending triangles (fem) over one ascending (masc)

“Emergence of the universe from the cosmic waters.  The interlocked triangles symbolize the male and female principles evolving from the primal chaos of elements into the micro-vision of the cosmic man.”

(From The Tantric Way by Ajit Mukerjee)

HRIM seed mantra

“HRIM (pronounced Hreem) is the prime mantra of the Great Goddess and ruler of the worlds, and holds all her creative and healing powers.  HRIM governs over the cosmic magnetic energy and the power of the soul and causal body.  It awakens us at a soul or heart level, connecting us to Divine forces of love and attraction.  HRIM is the mantra of the Divine Maya that destroys the worldly maya.  It has a solar quality to it, but more of a dawn like effect.  It is charming and alluring, yet purifying.  Through it we can control the illusion power of our own minds.

“In Vedic terms, HRIM is a mantra of the Sun, particularly in terms of illumination.  It increases out aspiration and receptivitiy to Divine light, wisdom and truth.  It opens the lotus of the heart to the inner Sun of consciousness.  It is a mantra of the region of heaven or the consciousness space in which all the worlds exist.”

Extract from “Bija Seed Mantras/Mantras – the Power of Sound in Vedic Astrology” copyright Jyotish Ratnaaker

 

Jane Adams

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

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

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

 

Rohit Arya 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 Sun card

The Sun

Rohit’s Notes – October 2002

I’m sending you an article and a somewhat unusual depiction of Surya in the chariot with a seven faced horse, rather than seven horses.  If you choose to depict Surya as you have done before, then that would be fine with me too.  If he is shown standing, then he should be clearly depicted as wearing knee length boots and, curious detail, copper gloves!  Don’t ask me why, but that is always the case in the classical sculptures.

I would prefer a depiction of a Sun Chariot moving in outer space and illumining it, rather than the typical pastoral landscape version of most tarot packs.

 

Rohit’s Article:  Surya – the Eye of the World

“Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling!”

Walt Whitman

Worship of the sun is one of mankind’s oldest beliefs, and perhaps in many ways one of the most sensible.  For the sun is the literal source of life.

All energy conversions – whether in plants, animal or in fuel sources – are after all, utilizing the rays of the sun at a few removes.  Life would come to an end without photosynthesis, and what is that but drawing nourishment for the world from the sun?  400 million years from now, we are slated to fall back into the decaying star that our planet burst out of aeons ago, though by then mankind will have to learn to find another source of life, perhaps under other stars.  Till now, the sun is indispensable, and has been instinctively reverenced as such.  The Pueblo Hopi Indians have a daily ritual which they claim nourishes the sun and keeps it, and by implication, the world alive.  Anthropologists have indulgently regarded it as a charming oddity, instead of the intrinsically wise awareness that it manifests.  They know where Life comes from only too well;  they merely focus on a preliminary stage in its unfolding sequence.

 

In India the Sun is still worshipped on a daily basis by at least tens of millions of people, and that would be a conservative estimate.  The chanting of mantras to greet the dawn is one of the really genuine ancient living traditions of the world.

The sun god, called Surya, has risen and fallen in prominence over the centuries, but his worship has not dwindled even though his stature has.  From Vedic times onwards, Surya has always been worshipped.  In the Vedas he is the chief source of light and warmth and wisdom, though he is often co-mingled with Aditya and Savitri in a manner that does not resolve itself until many centuries later.  As mythology developed, the great Vedic gods were declared to be sons of Aditi, wife of Kasyapa, and they were collectively known as the Adityas.  It is a name that is applied almost exclusively to Surya today, and is a very popular name for males.  Savitri has now become an exclusively female name, though in the Vedas it originally meant the invisible, hence spiritual aspect of the sun.  This is analogous to the concept of Helios, the invisible sun in Greek myth.  Others say Savitri is the sun at full blaze and Surya the sun which rises and sets.  Clearly, this interpretation has fallen out of favour.

(Jane comments:  I am reminded of the Osiris Isis cycle/relationship in elder Egypt.  The cultures have their distinct stories, but arise from humanity’s common root:  the worship of the Risen.)

 

The most sacred mantra in all Hinduism, the GAYATRI, is addressed to the Sun, Vivifier, “the One who enlightens and stimulates the Understanding.”

There is no great body of myth as such, associated with the sun.  It is almost as if Surya is such a visible and even hotly tangible presence, that there is no need to nourish the imagination with word pictures and long tales.  The Vedic Hymns are full of descriptions of his appearance, but they are more enthusiastic exclamations at the brilliant beauty of the sun, than anything else.  It is as though they were not blinded but drunk on light, bedazzled with illumination.

“The All seeing Eye, revealed by his beams  gleaming like brilliant flames, to nation after nation,  with speed beyond mortal understanding, O Savitr,  you create the light, and with it you illumine  the entire universe.”

 

The sun is golden haired, golden limbed and, interesting touch, golden tongued.  His eyes are golden orbs through which he regards the world and gives him his name – Loka-chakshuh, the Eye of the World.  If these names sound like titles from a Robert Jordan fantasy epic, that cannot be helped.  The mythical imagination always runs in predictable grooves, no matter if it is 2000BC or 2000AD.

 

Surya rides across the sky in a golden chariot drawn by seven white horses, personifications of the days of the week.  The solar chariot is the oldest hypothesis to explain the apparent movement of the sun across the sky.  The wheels of his chariot naturally have twelve spokes for the obvious reasons.  His charioteer is an interesting personage called Aruna.  This worthy is translucent, and is an undifferentiated mass of flesh under the waist;  sitting down on the job is about all he can do, but that is perfect for his task.

When the dawn breaks, personified as a beautiful woman called Ushas (see Sacred India Tarot Archive, the Creation of the Star) Surya is supposed to give chase to her.   His light shines through the translucent body of Aruna and that is why we have the Red Sun, Rohita, visible in the morning.

The rays of the sun are described as the many arms of Surya reaching out to bless every corner of the universe and infusing the realms of the gods with energy

In later mythology, Surya is demoted somewhat.  He is now a still powerful god, but less than the Trinity.  This by the way, was not reflected in popular belief.  The cult of Surya grew steadily until it had rivaled any of the gods, and it reached a magnificent peak between the ninth and thirteenth centuries.  The most beautiful temples in India were built for his worship, a roll call of spectacular workmanship – the jewel like wonder at Modhera, the awesome Konark, the totally ruined temple of Martand, the little one at Osian and perhaps many more lost forever to iconoclastic fervour.

It is as though the creative energies of India had a high in northern India with Sun temples, and then sank in exhaustion.  Strangely enough, the Suryavanshi Rajput warrior clans of Rajasthan, claiming descent from the sun, never built a single temple for him.  They worshipped other gods, even though they were very proud of such noble descent.  Go figure

Iconographic representation of Surya too, reached pretty high standards.  Three eyes, four hands holding water lilies, supposed to be the flower that longs for the dawn, are standard.  The sun is supposed to rise from, indeed be born of, the cosmic waters;  so the lilies are convenient symbolic shorthand.  He is the only Indian god known to be always wearing knee length boots and in some cases distinct metal (copper) gloves.  The boots are an invariable rule in his sculpture as is the atibhanga posture, the immobile erect stance of perfection, the god who is the cosmic pillar and support of the universe.

It is therefore an appalling development that somewhere from the 14th century onwards, a superstition developed that to make Surya ikons, is to invite the curse of leprosy!  In such ways do traditions turn upon themselves when they become decrepit.  Surya was actually once the LORD OF HEALING, a function the Solar gods, the Ashwinis, took over from him, and he ended up feared, as a bringer of disease.  There are no more active temples of Surya left either, except as an adjunct to some more popular deity.

 

One of the widely diffused later myths, seemingly crafted to explain his decline while the other gods rose in favour, has Surya married to Sanjana, daughter of the Cosmic craftsman Vishvakarma.  The marriage is very happy, but Sanjana cannot bear her husband when he shines in full glory.  One day she makes the mistake of closing her eyes and averting her head from this intolerable illumination and the normally gentle Surya almost becomes a supernova.

 

He curses his wife to bear the god of death, Yama, for having averted her gaze from the giver of life, and for being variable and inconstant in her opinions, to bear a twin girl Yamuna, a river that never maintains its limits – constantly shifting itself.   Fortunately they already have a brilliant son, Manu, who is to become the proto-Adam of the next cycle of creation; and he helps them to reconcile later.  Sanjana is too hurt by his behaviour to easily reconcile, so she leaves her husband in possession of her Shadow, a simulacrum called Chaaya, while she goes to the forest to perform penance and bring Surya’s blaze down. She hides in the form of a Solar Mare.  When Surya finds out, he joins her as a stallion or Ashwa.  The results of this equestrian wooing are supposed to be the Ashwini Kumara, from Ashwa or horse.

(This is a later attempt to bring all the solar gods into one coherent narrative, but the Ashwinis were independent gods in the Vedas.  See our article on them, later in this series.)

 

Vishvakarma decides to help his daughter, and puts Surya on his great lathe and cuts away an eighth of his effulgence.  This fiery power was redistributed among the other gods, primarily as weapons.  Vishnu got a discus, Siva his trident, Skanda his spear, and so on.  The shifting power structures amongst the gods, and their collectively assimilating the Surya cult, are clearly visible here.  Also notable is the remarkable symbolism of death being the son of the giver of life.  No sooner does life come into being, than death has marked it down.

 

The fiery power was distributed to other gods as weapons

In later myths, Surya sinks even further into insignificance.  In the Ramayana he is the father of Sugriva, the Monkey prince, and can do nothing to prevent his persecution at the hands of his brother.  In the Mahabharatha he is the father of the tragic figure Karna, and again can do nothing to ease the harsh destiny of his son.  It’s a long way down for the god described in the Vedas as the Great All-Knowing Lord.

The many names of Surya somehow still pulsate with power when the panegyrics to the other gods fade into staleness.

He is Dinakara, Day-maker;  Vivasat the Radiant One;  Karma-shakshi, witness of the deeds of men;  Mihira, He who waters the earth (by drawing up moisture so that clouds may form);  Savitri the Nourisher of gods and men;  and best of all, Savitr, the Impeller towards the good Light.

One cannot help feeling that somehow India lost more than beautiful temples when his worship collapsed;  an entire subculture of great vitality and creative energy went with it.  It was, by the evidence available till now, about the only faith in India that did not go emotionally overboard or assimilate so many bizarre aspects of behaviour and belief that make modern sensibilities squeamish.  The Light was sufficient unto itself, and there was no evil thereof.

It is a belief that would be reiterated in another time and place by an artist from another culture.  Many centuries later, as England’s great painter, Turner, lay dying after a lifetime of painting the light, he stated his life’s discovery and faith in four words:

“The sun is God.”

 

Jane Adams

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

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

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space. http://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

 

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 Moon card

 

This has a “sub-plot”.  Gautam Sachdeva (the publisher) on his return from a pilgrimage to the Cathars in southern France, requested some information on Archangel Michael, which Jane provided (see below).

As Rohit calls card 18 “the bad boy of Indian mythology” it seems highly appropriate to match Chandra with the Guardian Angel!

In the western Tarot, the Moon card rules embodiment, cycles of cell renewal and repair through sleep;  and cycles also of our past lives.  It has a wave pattern, because the path of evolution proceeds in waves.   But the Moon is also associated to the personal ego.   Archangel Michael guards this domain and “the path of honesty” to the transpersonal Self.  So it is timely to insert an article about Michael, in the process.  As the correspondence following it shows, Gautam was getting some awakenings from his soul’s history.

Energetically speaking, our cross cultural enterprise is particularly rich, under the aura of Soma Chandra (nectar of the Moon).  Guides and archetypes of our journey unveil themselves, as the story goes on.

Chandra-soma, Jyotish – an early and more classic version of this deity.  He carries a lily and a mace, and the chariot wheels are Yantras or visual mantras.  The horses are the nectar from his lotus throne.

Arcanum 18, from Jane’s Hermetic deck

Rohit Arya’s Notes:

“The available myths are sparse and few in number.  They seem to have been written by people who did not like this particular godform very much.  It would seem the ancient observers of the skies did not like this waxing and waning, regarding it as something sneaky in a celestial, and well worth watching with a wary eye.

“The important intervention of the Moon was noticing Rahu and Ketu (North and South Nodes/ecliptic) attempting to steal Amrita, the gods’ nectar of immortality, and warning Vishnu about it.  In return, he and the Sun got the unrelenting hostility of those malevolent beings who periodically attempt to swallow them whole – but they always emerge from the eclipse, because the attackers have only immortal heads, the bodies beneath them having been cut off.

 

Rahu Jyotish, the Moon’s North Node – his left hand holds Smar-hara Yantra, the remover of desire

 

Ketu Jyotish, the Moon’s South Node:  letting go.  The moon’s Nodes are the antipodeal points where Moon’s orbit around the earth crosses Earth’s orbit around the Sun.  When these are aligned, earth, sun, moon, as happens twice a year, there is during that fortnight, a lunar (full moon) eclipse and a solar (new moon) eclipse.

**

Rohit continues: 

“The most unpleasant myth about Chandra is when he forced himself upon Mamata(or Tara), the wife of his elder brother and guru Brihaspati (Jupiter), and made her pregnant.  The son so born from this rape was the planet Budha (Mercury).  It would seem that he used a mixture of charm and psychological dominance to keep the poor woman quiet, and only broke his silence when the child proved to be one of exceptional good fortune, which he was not going to miss out on, being the father.

“To make matters worse, he assembled an armada of allies to back his claim, mostly sages with jealous spite against Brihaspati, and all the denizens of the Dark side of hindu mythology  – Asuras, Danavas and so on.  An infuriated Siva attacked all of them, and even temporarily slew Chandra before restoring him to life, and having the crescent Moon a permanent ornament on his own forehead.  Chandra’s luck as always, saw him through, and he even got the child.

“This myth is a subconscious acknowledgement of the dark side of the moon in psychological terms – charm and beauty mixed up with deceit and willfulness, and a heedless disregard for consequences or the feelings of others.  Chandra was punished by being permanently excluded from heaven, and having to reside amongst the stars.

“However, the old texts say that ‘if a person is born under Soma or Chandra, he will have many friends, will possess elephants, horses and palanquins;  be honourable and powerful;  will live on excellent food, and rest on superb couches.’  Being in some versions born from the ocean, he is regarded as the brother of Lakshmi, goddess of fortune;  but she too is famously capricious and fickle in doling out good luck.  The Chandravanshi Rajputs claim to be a lunar race directly descended from the Moon.

“I would just suggest making the face not too pleasant, for the Moon is an ambivalent card as well as character, exceedingly charming but also capable of great misbehaviour and trouble making, as the myths are only too clear in informing us.  The misunderstandings, strife, confusions and doubts that assail us under the Moon card’s influence – it is not a totally positive card.

“..We have a paradox basically.  High honours and luck, as well as lechery and lunacy.  I had thought to avoid this by stressing the old Vedic god Soma aspect of the Moon, but even he had a problem in preferring his wife Rohini above the rest of his 33 wives, all sisters, and incurring the curse of his father-in-law – which explains the waxing and waning of the Moon.

“So it would seem that he is a deeply attractive and elegant form of god, riding the gazelle, but albeit dangerous and capable of springing a nasty surprise or two.  He is more like an old Sumerian god, capable of blessing and blighting – and both actions are driven by caprice alone.”

**

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Jane’s Notes:

This analysis suggests the Moon’s paradoxical character, as masque of appearances, healing light, romance, persona and – in the cultural context – the leading entity in Indian astrology.

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Correspondence:  Gautam – 11 October 2002

“Hi Jane, greetings from a really hot Bombay.  The weather is now 5 degrees over the usual.  Hopefully, things should start cooling down from November.

“Out of personal interest, I’m looking for any input on Archangel Michael.  Rohit was explaining to me how the Ace of Swords was a symbol of Michael.  Did you ever cover this subject, or do a related painting or the like?

“Yes, it’s amazing the Major Arcana are moving towards completion.  Do you suggest we do our corrections now, or wait till we proceed with the full deck?  I have printed out the cards to an actual size forma, and will mail you a set.  A long road ahead, but it’s been a great journey so far, thanks to yourself and Rohit.  It’s a miracle how the universe orchestrates things.   Have a good weekend – warm regards, Gautam.

“PS – do you have msn messenger?  This way we can chat real time, or get a webcam – even better!”

Archangel Michael ’92  “– after a reproduction of St Michael by Memlink, on a record sleeve of organ music by Messiaen

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Correspondence:  Jane – October 2002

Dear Gautam and Rohit – Archangel Michael, in Kabbalah, is Captain of the Hosts between cosmic evil and cosmic good.  Behind and above him is the Lord’s Name, Adonai.  Under him is Sandalphon, Archangel of planet Earth.  Michael holds a central position in the Tree of Life – he is its consciousness or beauty – and is in touch with every other part of it.  In the western Tarot, he is depicted as the angel in Temperance, balancing the essences of alchemic fire and water.  He has one foot on the ground of his own world, and the other is dipped into a pool which is the ‘watery’ human psyche, or astral plane.

Michael rules the region to the south, the fire.  He carries a lance of flame.  His face like the sun, is too bright to behold.  He has a winged aura of gold and salmon pink.  He looks after musicians and all forms of music – this means the gandharvas too – and is especially benevolent to cats from tigers to tabbies, in the animal kingdom.

Here is my understanding:

Michael is also, in western iconography, the arch slayer of dragons.  This means the dragon or ley-line of earth – the subtle current through the meridians of body and psyche.  He is probably the patron of acupuncturists.  Everywhere at power spots or dolmens in southern England, are old shrines to Michael and Mary.  These are outcrops of the secret dragon fire, and they now have churches built on them, or old towers.

The mythological Michael slew dragons that pestered humanity;  but there is also a deeper meaning.  He represents the capacity to look directly into one’s own Shadow, or unresolved Serpent powers, to  tap their source and release them creatively – in other words, to master the inner daemons through awareness or Self-enquiry. The Knights of the Temple when building cathedrals of the Gothic Art, used this alchemic knowledge along ancient ‘dragon’ meridians in earth, to raise up mass (stone) into Light (the winged arch).  They harnessed Baphomet, the creative aspect of the Devil (Tarot card 15) to transform densities, and to temper the ascending and descending force:  evolution/involution.  Baphomet is a code word whose latin, read backwards, becomes Templi Omnium Hominum Pacis Abbas – Priest of the Temple of Peace for all Humanity.  They looked Baphomet in the eye.  They were Initiates and knew what they were doing, but their Order became wealthy and a threat to the Church, which accused them of worshipping Satan.  The Church witch-hunted and burned them all.

The Templars were an enigmatic order.  Many historians link them to the Crusades:  their vow to guard the routes of pilgrimage was variously interpreted.  After the Templars were destroyed, the Black Death ravaged Europe.  The Cathedrals – not all of which had been completed –  were regarded as sanctuaries.  The black death couldn’t enter – it flowed around them.  From the human compost of the black death was seeded and grew the flower which became the Renaissance.

The Cathedrals in France are each a star in the Virgo constellation as reflected in the ground.  Their positions on the map suggest this.  That is the link of Michael and Maria.   Michael is the guardian of the initiate – the celestial sky –  and Maria is the purity of the receiving ground.

The whole thing is much older than Christianity.  It was alive in ancient Egypt, with Osiris/Isis.  As the elder Egyptian and Vedic civilizations corresponded, it has Indian roots also.  In the new Cathedrals, in the Middle Ages, the Mysteries were celebrated;  the bishops led the sacred dances.  There were no statues or depictions of crucifixion inside them, because they stood for the Living or Resurrected Christ.   The magnificent carvings of the guardians are on the porches and exterior walls, like the crusted stone of a geode.   The interior space and sacred proportion raised the entering soul to a higher, deeper level.  The root is the shoot, both ways – deep foundations were needed to support the mass of stone in flight.  Thus we stand tall;  thus we turn within.   Such is Michael Archangel.   Light entered through a prism of specially prepared alchemic glass windows, illumining the interior with a rainbow colour spectrum.

(Research, The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral by Louis Charpentier, published by Research Into Lost Knowledge Organization – RILKO – a fascinating book.)

Michael in the western Tarot Temperance, has a rainbow over him, to depict – like the Templars’ alchemic glass – the refracting of the One into seven tones of light.  In the Rider-Waite decks, this is a partially concealed secret; the rainbow is substituted by iris flowers; Iris was the goddess of the rainbow.   In my Hermetic deck illustration (see Mother Ganga in the Sacred India Tarot, and Anandaymayi Ma)  the rainbow materializes to irises by the Archangel’s feet, and a radiance around his crown.

In general, we see that Michael holds the balance of forces back and forth over long historical periods.  He is the guiding power behind humanity’s better nature, and is its greatest warrior.  But the faculty I associate with him is Patience.  Like a real warrior, he strikes us rightly at the right time.  He oversees excess and the aesthetic control of his fiery realm – as you can see, with his vessels of equilibrium.   This archetype in our lives, gives us long cycles to balance and hold in check.  Where this comes together with Mother Ganga in our present work, is the sense of always backing upstream to Source.   The holy river carries all destinies in her current from the sky.

(And in the present context, accompanying SITA 18, The Moon, this essay on Michael is another view on the embodiment process, which The Moon regulates.)

**

And re the Ace of Swords/your question:  Michael is often depicted carrying Sword and Scales.  In my understanding, the Ace of Swords refers to Destiny.  In my cultural context, and in Alfred Douglas’s interpretation, the Ace of Swords means ‘faculty of thought’.   This is a destructive card if reversed.  Power abused or mis-used, results in “restriction imposed by force or fear;  injustice;  the usurping of Divine authority by human willfulness.”

The Sword is in the deep past, for resolution.  Perhaps it is transpersonal, and means “destiny” … “Victory, the operation of irresistible force – the symbol of Divine justice and authority, the forging of strength in adversity – the faculty of thought.  This card indicates that all enterprises will succeed, despite apparently overwhelming odds.  The start of progress which cannot be halted or diverted.  Necessary change:  a breaking down in order that something better might be built.  Freedom resulting from the removal of restraints.” (Alfred Douglas)

It suggests the Executive of Divine authority, which Great Michael is.  He looks like the sun.  No power of darkness can withstand his gaze.  So your Ace of Swords may symbolize his way of action:  a single Sword held in stillness.

I did some work inspired by this in the past, and wrote a sort of book about it, still waiting to be typed – (now competed:  The Masters’ Eye 2011).   Interestingly, your email about Michael and Ace arrived just when I was writing again about Michael in my journal, as he came up in our Kabbalah group discussion.

I shall be resuming Moon, Sun etc, tomorrow.  Yes I think it a good idea to do all the detail adjustments when the Major Arcana are completed, and before we start the Minor.   SELF ENQUIRY got printed a fortnight ago – I don’t think I sent you a copy yet.  It contains Rohit’s article on Yama and David Frawley’s article on Kali, but not the illustrations!

Warm regards, Jane

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Correspondence, Gautam Sachdeva -17 October 2002

“Hi Jane – well received.  Was almost like a thesis on the same – will absorb it all at the weekend.  Thanks a ton!   Gautam.”

Correspondence: Jane – 21 October 2002

“Dear Gautam, I’ve been a bit delayed last week, so I’m starting Moon this week instead.  I shall proceed as per my earlier drawing of Chandra, and Rohit’s instructions, but I’d also like a little of Rohit’s mythology.  How long is your website closed for?  Is it possible to send me a page on Chandra? Glad you got the Michael – did it come in the attachment?  I don’t know yet if the attachment is working on this address, as they’ve messed about with it recently.”

 

Chandra, Jyotish drawing  (in “Astrology of the Seers” by Vamadeva Shastri/ Frawley

Correspondence: Gautam – 21 October 2002

“Hi Jane – will send u an article.  I spoke with Rohit on the same.  I don’t think there is anything on indiayogi.com on Chandra, though the site should be up by tomorrow.   Michael came through your private address.” 

“Rohit and I are brainstorming on a book about Krishna, in a very modern context – in the sense of how we can apply it to today’s man and living – he will prepare a concept note for the same – I will send it to you – I want it to be a small format book, something the size of ‘who moved my cheese’ – so it’s fast to read, easy to pick up, and good to gift.

“Want to be in on the same?  Could be a fun cross-cultural exercise, and may turn out to be really unique.  I guess you can decide once you see the concept note.  The closes I can think of is ‘Jesus CEO’, but of course we won’t follow that format.  Hope all else is well.  Warm regards, Gautam.”

 

Correspondence:  Gautam – 29 October 2002

Your article was fascinating.  I also shared it with my friend who recently traveled to Mont St Michel in France, dedicated to Michael.  The Ace of Swords is a card I regularly pull out in Tarot readings done by my mom or Rohit … and that is what prompted Rohit to mention to me that he felt there was some sort of connection.

“I also feel strongly connected with the Joan of Arc energy for some reason, and she too was guided by the Archangel.   So strange, all this … especially for one sitting in India!

“Thanks for the Self Enquiry received yesterday – Rohit is coming over today, and will show it to him.  Warm regards, Gautam.”

 

SITA 18:  Chandra Soma

Jane’s Notes (2010)

Acknowledging the suggested sibling link of Chandra and Lakshmi, in both these cards – 18 and 3 – a landscaped Sri Chakra Yantra represents the fortunate and wish fulfilling jewel which they capriciously bestow.

The Sri Chakra Yantra interweaves 5 descending female triangles (Shakti) with 4 ascending male triangles (Siva).  Their nuptial union sustains a centrifugal ripple-mandala pattern of 42 triangles, like the rings across a tree’s stem.  This map of the cosmos – a spider’s web of time – is invisibly projected from the central point or bindhu, and is what we handle and perceive.   The immortality of the exhaustless treasure is in the Now, around which all mythologies spin their histories.

In SITA card 3, Lakshmi the Empress gives birth to the creation.

In SITA card 18, Chandra seems to both invite and guard access to the creation.

SITA 3:  Lakshmi, the Empress

Arcanum Eighteen – an early interior journey looking up the Sefiroth of the Tree of Life.  In the Moon’s crescent are the enigmatic faces of our guides.   The path takes us through the gate of the body (two towers, the ends of a fence) into the landscape of our dreams at night.  Beyond yet from within it, rises the sun, our Self.

The pool here, is as the same as the one which the woman in the Star, card 17, gazes into.  We see with her the evolution of Life in all its forms.

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Jane

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

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

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.http://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

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Rohit

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