Mother Ganga in “The Sacred India Tarot” & Anandamayi Ma

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Copied from Rohit’s blog today – we were working on this, yesterday.  For me it is a landmark, it has relevance to my River theme.  I also found in the process notes, to my surprise, that this was when I drew Anandamayi Ma. 

The entire work was done transcontinentally, by email: Rohit the author and Gautam Sachdeva the publisher in India and myself in the UK.  For all our previous posts on the Creation of the Sacred India Tarot, visit http://aryayogi.wordpress.com

Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Temperance card

Posted on July 20, 2012 by 

Rohit comments – This card was not very difficult to choose but Jane has many interesting observations to make about the process: “ … … There is a clarity about the cultural bridging work which went into the SITA deck.  Plainly, it was being orchestrated from the upper and inner worlds.” 

CARD 14:  TEMPERANCE:  GANGA

Correspondence:  Gautam – September 2002

Dear Jane – herewith a passable reference for Ganga, which has a kind of Oriental flavour.  Rohit thought it might just help.   Regards, Gautam

Correspondence: Jane – 3 September 2002

Stand by for Kali Mark Two – on her way to you in the next hour or two.  Ganga has begun, and proceeds temperately.

 

Rohit’s Notes:

“The article I wrote will serve for references and context. Will send a picture too.  Please convey the fluid nature, the body that flows, of the goddess.  She travels on a crocodile.  The idea of Temperance is somewhat difficult to communicate in a Hindu mythical context, as everything is dramatic.  It may seem an unusual choice, but Ganga had to learn the lesson of temperance first, until she could be of use to the world.”

Correspondence:  Jane

”Am working on Ganga now, in the upper river, i.e.above Rishikesh – the elemental things, the balance.  I note her vehicle is a crocodile.  In Egypt these are considered very evil creatures.  Can you give me a quick view today, on how India sees crocs?  This one is quite small anyway, and a worthy agent for transmutation – she’s got to ride something.”

 

 

Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam – 6 September 2002

“Let the problem with the crocodile be.  It is the equivalent of the dragon being bad in west and good in China, so we can go ahead with no problem.  Let the croc stay.  In any case, it is actually a makara, a primarily crocodile-like creature, Jane will understand if you forward this to her.”

**

Temperance, Arcanum 14 in Jane’s Hermetic deck

 

Rohit’s IndiaYogi article – Ganga, the River of Salvation

To understand the river Ganga is to understand a significant part of India.  It holds a place unique in all the mythologies, theologies and beliefs of the world.  In no other culture has a natural feature assumed so much religious and psychological significance.  Sacred sites are many, but an entire river providing salvation not in the other world, but right on this earth – that is rare.  The Ganga is so interwined with the Indian imagination, that even for people who never live near it, she will always be the supreme river.  In such circumstances, it is not surprising that the river Ganga is also one of the most popular goddesses in India.

So central is the Ganga to the Hindu imagination, that all sects have an origin story for her, that reflects well on their chosen god.  The great trinity of Hinduism is intimately associated with Ganga.  She is described as the daughter of Brahma, the wife of Siva, and the actual melted body of Vishnu.

This multiplicity of roles happens, because no worshipper wanted to feel left out from the saving grace of Ganga.  For Ganga’s supreme virtue is that she can save you from sin. One drop of her sacred waters is enough to wipe out all the sins accumulated over many lifetimes.  One single drop of Ganga water on the cremated remains of a sinner, is enough to wipe out all his sins and gain him heaven, as one popular story goes.  There is nobody who is so sinful that he or she cannot be saved by the waters of the Ganga.  The Ganga is thus the ultimate in merciful mother goddesses.

Psychologically, the mere fact that the Ganga exists, has been a comfort to people.  For hope is never lost, there is no trail of sin so dense and impenetrable that the saving waters of the Ganga cannot magically clear up, into the path of virtue and salvation.

Contrary to unsubtle and hasty thinking, this notion is not an incitement to wrong-doing.  It is not a question of sin as much as you want, and then in the nick of time have a sip of Ganga water.  There are many stories, which refute the too-easy-salvation objection, and it has never been a significant or core belief of the Indian mind.  Ganga salvation is serious business, not a trivial dip in flowing water.  Of such arguments we will deal with later.

A typical mythical origin myth, almost a representative one of the genre, runs as follows:

The divine sage Narada was a great traveler, and he loved to sing lustily as he went along his merry path.  One day he came upon a group of extraordinary beings in a forest, who were severely wounded and writhing in pain that seemed to come to them in continual jolts.  The aghast Rishi stopped to help these beings in torment – whereupon they seemed to suffer even greater extremities.

Enquiry revealed the mortifying truth;  these beings were in continual pain because of Narada’s non-stop warbling!  They were the souls of the ragas he blithely mangled with his inept rendition.  Because he was a divine Rishi, the torment caused, was actually physically torturing them.   Narada promised on the spot, to never again sing until he had mastered the correct procedures and – presumably – taken up some voice modulation.  However, the immediate objective was to restore these poor suffering ragas to health.

They told him there was only one way.  The Perfect Singer, Siva himself, must sing the ragas:  that divine rendition would cure them.  It would also teach Narada how these ragas were actually meant to be sung.  Siva had no objections, but since the numbers of ragas he was required to sing, were vast – (Narada being a prolific singer!) – he made a request of his own.  He could keep going for such a long stretch, only if he had the Perfect Listeners to enthuse him and create the ultimate aesthetic ambiance.  Only when the singer was perfectly sure that his audience understood each and every nuance that he was exploring, would a song be a true experience.  For this, he wanted Brahma and Vishnu to be his audience.  They readily agreed, as Siva is the master of all the fine arts; and a concert given by him is a treat even for the Gods.

The ragas began to heal rapidly, as the Great God sang.  His expectations of his listeners were not disappointed either.  No matter where he went with his song, they were in perfect harmony with him.

Brahma noticed something extraordinary was taking place.  Vishnu had identified with the soft, melting notes of the song to such an extent, that he was actually melting away from his feet!   Brahma quietly collected the liquid Vishnu in his water pot.

Brahma’s split attention has thus qualified him as not the equal in aesthetic sensibility.  However, from the liquid he had collected, he fashioned a divinely beautiful girl, who because of the unique circumstances of her birth, hallowed everything she touched.   This was Ganga, and she was nominally the daughter of Brahma, as he had given shape and form to her.

Ganga lived in heaven, where her privileged status and unique powers made her turbulent and uncontrollable.  She was a creature of whim, and none could thwart her, for who could oppose the power of Vishnu?   Only the mighty Himalaya, or Himavan, lord of the Mountains, was patient , and good-humouredly put up with her antics.  She became a sort of surrogate daughter to him, surging in and out of his peaks and crags.

Soon however, matters on Earth had reached a crisis.  Only the saving waters of Ganga could restore the balance that had been upset.  The entire ocean had been dried up, and this wreaked havoc on the eco-system.  This catastrophe was the unintentional result of a good deed done by the Rishi Agastya.  Mankind was being plagued by a species of demons that were hiding under the waters of the ocean.  This was an impregnable defense;  they raided and killed at will.  The great Sage however, drank up the waters of the ocean; and the gods and heroes slaughtered the demons on the dried up seabed.   Agastya however, had inadvertently digested the entire ocean – he being prone to perform miracles even unconsciously.  Filling up the ocean was one task the Earth needed Ganga for.

The other task was caused by the sheer determination of a King of the Ikshawaku dynasty called Bhagiratha.  Many generations ago, the thousand sons of his ancestor Sagara had angered a sage, and been burnt to death by his angry glare.  The souls of these unfortunates were cursed too.  There was no heaven for them, unless the waters of the Ganga could be brought down to Earth from Heaven, to wash over their ashes – the very definition of impossibility.

Since the performance of rituals for one’s ancestors is a prime duty of ancient Indian kings, it became a prestige issue of the Ikshawakus.  King after king attempted to get his ancestors’ salvation by the practice of tapasya, but all failed.  Bhagiratha however, was one of those wills before which the Universe changes direction.  His tapasya became so formidable that Brahma finally consented to allow Ganga to descend to earth.  He warned Bhagiratha that the force of the descent would be such, that the Earth would be shattered unless Siva consented to receive this divine deluge upon his head, and thus break up the impact to manageable levels.

Jane’s Notes – 19 July 2012

This drawing (see below) does not actually belong to the Brahma-Vishnu-Ganga nexus, but to the Sivaic one;  but they share resonances, so it came to my mind and merges, as mythologies often do.   The drawing (done in 1999) is called “Parvati Pestered by Sages” and it depicts her tapas to win her dharma in Siva’s love;  the sages came around and tried to trick and undermine her Yogic practice, by telling her Siva was an old good-for-nothing.  She refused to listen to them, or accept their beguiling teachings.

The Ganga in this tale, falls from the Pleiades constellation (Krrtikas) through Siva’s Himalayan dreadlocks.  The pleroma of the world cracks open.  Indeed, Rohit in the book of SITA wrote: “She flows from the Himalayas, the most potent spiritual place on earth, to the plains of India, sanctifying an entire country.  The earth would have shattered with the impact of the Divine river without Siva’s intervention.  Yogis say, the guru performs the same function for the unwary disciple;  he controls the descent of transforming energy into portions that they can assimilate.”  That is true temperance.   Parvati, dark and comely, was the Daughter of the Himalayas.  Both tales therefore, blend the flow of the mighty River as it pours from the stars down the mountain passes, wild and untamed;  towards a stream of nourishment for all humanity.   Prof. Stella Kramrisch has described this with poetic magnificence in The Presence of Siva.

Parvati Pestered by Sages may also be titled, “Mother Ganga when she was a Wild Young Miss”.   It depicts the power and turmoil of divine forces as they reach our awareness, and before they become channeled into adequate expression.

The waters are unleashed from the glaciers where they were bound in stellar time cycles.

Ragas are wounded until they are properly sung.

I tend to view the Indian mythology as a whole, as this descent through the Himalayan watershed, to the fertile plains, the mudlands, and the sea, teeming with life.   Similarly my Hermetic Temperance above, depicts the Four Worlds of the descent, through Emanation, Creation, Formation and the Physical world.

Correspondence:  Jane –  9 September 2002

I sent you earlier a scan of Ganga which I hope receives ok.  It seemed to me on the screen to be a little fainter than the drawing itself, and to have lost some of the pinky browns in the background.  The drawing has no dark areas, and is more delicate than some of the others, but is in texture quite well ‘covered’.  If it doesn’t email well, I will will send by snailmail.

Correspondence: Gautam – 10 September 2002

Ganga well received – I really liked the no dark areas/light look … milky as a Way!  Today is Ganesh Chathurthi, the day Indians bring the god home to worship, let’s hope, being our trump card, it removes all obstacles in our way for the Tarot deck.  We were viewing all printouts of the cards close to actual size, and it looks very powerful.  Rohit had an idea of putting a Yantra on the reverse side, instead of the boring checquered print, what do you think about that?  Have a good weekend!

Correspondence: Rohit – 13 September 2002

“I love the look and feel of Ganga card, especially the little touch with the sage meditating, could be Ghagirahta, could be so many of the people associated with her.  The face is so wonderful, timeless, serene.  I just love it.  However, the fact that she is unornamented, makes her look like a widow in our cultural terms.  This card has to be “fixed” in that some jewellery upon her is imperative.  I did not think this needed stating, looking at the Saraswathi and Laxmi cards, but in all future cards unless specifically stated, we need jewellery upon the women.  Fortunately, this is merely adding to a drawing already existing, and not difficult to do;  there is no reworking needed.”

Mother Ganga: Temperance – The Sacred India Tarot

JANE’S NOTES – 19 JULY 2012

I now quote quite extensively from my writings during the creation of Sacred India Tarot Temperance,  because I discover in them, allusions to an interior Contact.  This is “phenomenally” relevant.  In the western School of Tarot and Kabbalah, Temperance is a path of probation, on which we learn to hear the “Knowledge and Conversation of the Guardian Angel” – the messengers of God.   Also there is a clarity about the cultural bridging work which went into the SITA deck.  Plainly, it was being orchestrated from the upper and inner worlds.

**

Jane’s earlier Notes: 8 September 2002

I saw another being in my sleep this morning.  She was quite severe, and dressed in heavy sky-blue robes.  Across her brow was bound a horizontal fold, over the vertical side-falls of her head-dress or veil.  To each side of her seated posture, and at her feet, were living symbols.  But what these were, quickly faded.  I think this may be related to the book about Anandamayi Ma.

Later, another being appeared briefly:  not humanoid, but a round golden sphere or aerial disk like the sun, with maybe a white corona line? – something definite around it, and more living geometric symbols of depth and simplicity, which also faded.  Such types may be angelic presences.

12 September 2002

The Anandamayi Ma book (“Death must Die”) is really valuable in its intelligent and deep understanding of a real guru-disciple medium – it goes from strength to strength, and I marked many passages.  It is not my path, and the author suffers enormous and very difficult waves of entry into Indian spiritual and social culture, but it has shown me something of the esoteric background to Brahminism for instance; how the rules of caste guarded and nurtured the Sanatana Dharma;  the honesty of the struggling devotee, and the wisdom and Oneness and great kindness of Anandamayi Herself, are beyond question.  The guru-disciple relation is alchemical, but it uses a Person as catalyst.  And as the transcending Person mirrors that in the disciple which aspires, like butterfly guides the caterpillar, similarly the disciple’s own Person is one unending ache and bother, thrown into high relief.

13 September 2002 – MUDRA

This Himalayan Ganges river scene is inspired by the falling waters of Abhishiktananda’s realization in this upper region. The water foams from the melting sources of the Self:  the glacier, the hermit – pure nourishment from the gods.  This Mother Ganga also derives some inspiration from Ananda Mayi Ma.  Her right breast was showing, but I was asked to veil it with her hair.  The vases from which she pours, are tributary streams from Himalayan valleys into the Great River.  Ananda Mayi said, “Remember everything is God, you breathe God in and out.”

An email came this morning from Rohit to Gautam, about my Ganga.  He loves it, and the meditating sage on the bank behind her, and her timeless face, but says she has to have a few ornaments, otherwise she is culturally a widow.

Now who, a few days ago, was talking about sons and widows in relation to Mother Ganga and Benares?  Or where did I read it, with the uplift of connectivity to the Masonic Sons of the Widow in the western Mystery?   I don’t know.  I looked through the Anandamayi book unsuccessfully, for a reference.  There was such a beautiful “rhyme”.   The Sons of the Widow are discussed in The Great Work (a book of lessons on alchemy).

But the other day, maybe last week, when I was drawing Ganga in the River, and listening to Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes, the Rhyme came from someone, or some text bridging Indian and Western Mysteries, and is right now an un-named visual delight to me in the drawing itself, and the precision of the little meditating sage.   I copied the river and the sage on the bank straight out of this amazing photo (below)in the Maurice Herzog Himalayas book.  I knew the sage was somehow significant – Rohit confirms – as well as conveying pure Contemplation upstream near the glaciers – and in the nourishment of the whole Kali-Ramakrishna-Ganges context that bathes me now – the goodness that comes from India, without having to go there.  I can feel the song of it … the raga … but lost the words, or who they came from:   mountain ranges of mantra.

I think an Indian has taken a seat at my Table Round, to help me with that part of the world/dharma, because of the vigorous “pipelines” now ongoing with India Tarot and Self-enquiry magazine.  (A “pipeline” is antakharana, channeling a higher Inspiration.)

I remembered while in peaceful contemplation of Beauty at the Table Round (Kabbalah) that the ‘locks’ are also mudras, in the sense of gesture, or posture.  When you spiritually “lock” and become still – a frame – grace plays through you, grace is the picture unimpeded.  A specific stillness or asana is the portal to following the Inner Beings.  This is a beautiful understanding of the pipeline.  I first learnt about it in Dion Fortune’s Moon Magic.

Anyway, there’s been a requirement to draw Anandamayi Ma since the Ganga one last week, which she didn’t quite get into.  From Tifareth, I see her now with her shawl over her head, as in Douglas Harding’s story (it was she who started his paper bags), and with her hand forming a mudra in front of her chin, as in the cover photo of Death Must Die;  and so of course this morning must be drawn, and it can go in SE magazine, from my alchemy drawing-book.

Mudra: Anandamayi Ma

Jane’s Notes – 14 September 2002

The thought that is leading me now is that in the Western esoteric tradition we have our gurus and teachers, and they work on our I-thought yesod-ego(person) just as they do in India, but they are on the inner plane, and we do not necessarily know who they are.   Like with the manifest ones in India, the relationship is subtle and exacting, and the path to it is a stripping down of obscurities.

The device that stills my mind at the moment, is the graded colours of the Sefiroth and of the Tattvas.  Concentration on these colour sequences brings the point into focus.  By now all the Sefiroth colours are alive, sparkly and fiery.  I am not yet a year into this work;  it takes years through the preliminaries – remember this, and be at rest.  The Teacher is there, and leading you with the golden cord in the heart.  Breathe with him and her, in peace and joy.  The Teacher is closer to you than breathing – the Teacher is that thing that goes “ping” in the heart, like a viol string gently plucked … like that within the centre of Hildegard of Bingen’s mandalas.  He moves within and as you, and is vastly beyond you.  Such certainty of Hermes!   Recognition of the Inner Teacher and the commitment, must imply an act of surrender.  I will be shown how.   Remembered the idea of the “lock” or position of stillness, openness, in that frame.

India has definitely taken a seat at my Table Round.  Yesterday morning I drew Anandamayi Ma from the photo where she is making a mystic mudra (the lock) with her hand, from her Daat Tattva.   It didn’t come through so easily – because of working from photo – but it has arrived shining soft, and is going also in SE mag.  Worked flat out all day yesterday on SE creative details – utterly exhausted in evening, listened to tape of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and to some Dylan Thomas, slept badly, too tired.  But the Dylan Thomas you can hear like passionate music, unknowing as yet the tumbling, dancing words, in wonder;  and it kindles the fire through the weary marrow, which sings and enables rest and sleep.  The book about Anandamayi gave and refreshed a deep understanding of India.  And then there arrived another email from Vamadeva Frawley.  He says, “Over the past few years I have been working with a great guru from Andra Pradesh, Sivananda Murty.  He is highly respected in India. Not only is he a master of Ramana’s teachings, but is a master of yoga and mantra with connections to Tryalinga Swami.  He is now in his seventies.  So such teachers remain, quite unlike the current western generation of pop advaitins.  Best wishes, Vamadeva.”

Mrs B and I call him “Binoculars” because of his single minded hill-man’s blue eyes and dismissal of any small talk.  This is the carrier of Ganapati Muni’s wisdom in the west;  the only recognized Vedic teacher or Shastri outside India.  I am very pleased to be corresponding with Binoculars, and must tailor myself to his Spartan economy of language.

The beauty of it is, that I don’t have to go to India, but the Indian connectivity is energized again – the rich cross-fertilization.  So this morning I see very clearly, how it works.  In India, as in the western mystery tradition, the real work isone to one – with a sage, whether celebrated or unknown.

Sense of relief that I am again interested in and nourished by the Indian antenna, because I really do work in the bridging of these cultures.  The antenna has been cleaned of advaita-pop tinsel, and I am aware again of the vast, refreshing secret tradition sustained, like I was in Ramanananda Swami’s little cottage at Arunachala … the fraternity.  That’s why, by hook or by crook I get so ferociously committed to each production of SE mag.  I feel each time, the Companions who oversee it, gathering together into it, and the new life and purity it develops.  I put in two very funny stories by the mountaineer Frank Smythe, a snipped-down child-Krishna/cow Bhakti sketch, and Douglas Harding’s story of how Anandamayi Ma started him off on the paper bag.

As the west is unaware of the power and purity (in small numbers) of its own esoteric tradition, so is India unaware of its own.  The Gurus who hit the public eye and draw large crowds and become famous (and some of them corrupt) float about on the surface, in the age old convention of the land, and temple circuits.  They are petitioned for miracles.  The real work is done in ashrams off the beaten track:  in sadhus on the banks of glacial Ganges;  in their inner-plane Teachers, invisible or materialized.  Most of India nowadays is caught in the thrall of materialization.  The ageless wisdom slipped through the fence, to be much misrepresented in the west, but here and there taking perennial root.  “Guru” means “dispeller of darkness”.  To find and see your Teacher, you must remove your own shades.

My irritated observation of advaitapops over the last two or three years since I stopped going to any of their satsangs, is that when you have “something” and you sit there as a mirror for all the punters’ highest expectations, wisdom starts to flow through you in response;  there is nothing like it.  Then they all go home and are hungry again.

… … Chat with Alan just now, about Sparkie’s darshan tonight at Caroline’s.  Sparkie is a disciple of “Gangaji”.  Alan doesn’t think there will be many customers, I’m going along with him after the Ramana meeting.  Alan thinks Sparkie is a missionary, but the truth is (I said) the London advaita crowd has settled down happily with its home grown Roger Lindens and Nathans and Tonys, they’re all doing it for each other as companions, we’re British, we don’t need anyone from abroad.  “We won the War!” said Alan.   Hurray!

**

**

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

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