Sacred India Tarot Archive: 5,6,7 Pentacles – Buddha’s Enlightenment

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What is a Chakra?  The word means literally – “wheel”.

Chakra spiral, centrifugue and OM

Chakra spiral, centrifugue and OM

The seven chakras in the Yogic body are centres where the Life-force flowers.  Chakras are transmissions of energy in the Earth vessel.  The story of the Buddha’s enlightenment aligns the chakras, bringing them into the sublime cosmic harmony which is compassion – the natural state.


Waite 5 Pentacles

This post will cover the creation of SITA 5,6 and 7 of Pentacles, or disks.  Here is A E Waite’s traditional interpretation for Five of Pentacles:  “Two mendicants in a snow-storm pass a lighted casement … It foretells material trouble above all, whether in the form illustrated – that is destitution – or otherwise.  For some cartomancers it is a card of love and lovers – wife, friend, husband, mistress;  also concordance, affinities.  These alternatives cannot be harmonized.  Reversed:  Disorder, chaos, ruin, discord, profligacy.” 

Disks buddha 5 ref

We will therefore reflect on the Sacred India Tarot 5 of Pentacles as the misfortune and sense of deprivation which shadows and precedes a realisation of the Truth which is 6.   In 7 of Pentacles, the realisation is mature and mobilized.  It becomes a transmission.


Rohit’s Notes 2003

“The starving Buddha is a famous trope in Buddhist art.   We include a few visual references! Basically a sort of pastoral scene under a tree would be ideal. The discs would be a little difficult to fit in easily, perhaps in a ring around the tree? He is usually depicted as clean shaven, though if he was not eating for weeks, perhaps shaving was not his highest priority.

“The skeletal gauntness and meditation are important here – mental peace at the expense of physical torment, which he realized was not an adequate tradeoff. It is a mistake to torment the body.”

Meditation - the withdrawn Buddha

Meditation – the withdrawn Buddha


Sacred India Tarot 5 of Disks: the Buddha Fasts

Sacred India Tarot 5 of Disks: the Buddha Fasts

Rohit’s Notes:

“The Five is a very unusual depiction of the Buddha in the starving state, but I realised that actually this is more liable to be the truth than the traditional representations.  He did tapasya as  a Hindu, and the beard is more likely to have been his true condition, than the gaunt clean-shaven skeleton so beloved of Buddhist art.

“The disk as the solar plexus chakra is another beautiful touch, linking Buddha up with his nature as an incarnation of Vishnu, solar god.  (See Vishnu The Magician in Sacred India Tarot Archive series,

“I just love the composition of the card;  the manner in which the disks form the quintessential question “Why?”, seen in the card as the giant letter Y, which after all was the purpose of such starvation, to find answers to the whys of life.

“That banyan tree is one of the most remarkable things I have seen drawn.”


Jane’s Notes

The banyan was inspired by the trees at Ramanasramam – the shaggy condition of the sadhu in full tapasya.   The sheer force and focus of the meditation is given back to Nature.  Nails, hair and beard grow unimpeded!  In the end Buddha fulfilled the whole history of Hindu spirituality by showing that the via negativa has its limitations.

To reverse the laws of inertia, a sage at first backs up into them, against the body’s need for nourishment. Towards realisation, that effort becomes irrelevant, and reverts to a more natural alignment with the Fountain of Nature.  The 5 pentacle disks are arranged to suggest the growth of the life force through the tree.  In the autumn, it falls to the ground, like the fountain, and circles through winter, up into the stem, year upon year.

The physical body no longer denied, blossoms as the bodhi tree in all its beauty;  for the impending enlightenment is seamless:  no separation.


Visual reference - The bodhi

Visual reference – The bodhi tree


Rohit’s Notes 2003

“6 of Pentacles/Disks should be a dynamic sort of card, as the moment of Awakening, becoming the Buddha, arouses the last attack of the Evil One, Mara. He sends his daughters, along with natural calamities, wild beasts and venomous things, to disrupt the massive shift in Consciousness that was about to be achieved.

“While all around the Buddha there can be chaos, he should be depicted in stillness at the centre of course, under the famous Bodhi tree!! His fingers should touch the ground in the mudra shown in the illustration, the famous Bhoomi Sparsha mudra, calling on the Earth to witness his attainment and confirm there was no ego present.”

Visual reference for Buddha's enlightenment

Visual reference for Buddha’s enlightenment


Here is a recent impression in my companion blog, Aquariel:

So who are you then, whomever I meet and fear?  You look like Mara’s face, in the SITA Buddha enlightenment card.  Mara is the Buddha’s opponent – the force which tried to stop the enlightenment.  So get it out, and look at the devil, sex and death.  Through all the blandishment, Buddha sits under his tree and keeps touching the ground with his open hand … the same as FOOT – keep walking, feel the ground –  (like baby Buddha did when he was born – straight out from under his labouring mother.  If you turn to the Ace of Pentacles, she too is hung upon a tree!)

Mara goes BLAH …

When I am tense and full of think, I am frightened of this stranger – Mara going BLAH – and above all, ASHAMED of admitting anything about it here, ashamed and scared of my panic and projection, lest it get worse.  My panic and projection is a disguise –  a whirling dust devil.   But go to the root –  does it really exist?  No wonder it harries and drives me away from telling about it.   Does it exist?  Look at Mara, depicted below.  Has he a body?   Is he not just my scurrilous mind going WAH from behind a bush?   Has he any root at all?  Why, no ! just confusion.   That is what he thrives on, when I let him settle in my city; and just about anything can inflate to look like him and drive me nuts.   Confusion is the disorder.  Confusion is the tension – giving it the power to damage and hijack my life.

This is seen in all the world’s trouble spots, cancelling Consciousness.

Well, good, good, keep going, this inner exercise will help my mind to clear.  Mara forms a Grand Trine around Buddha, with a sly serpent and a siren woman.  The serpent and the woman proceed through chaos, but the Buddha’s serenity is firmly established in the green and golden ground as Tifareth of Pentacles – his spine with the bodhi Tree of Life: the wheels of the cosmic Law.   Death’s skull leers from behind the woman.   Men consider Eve to be the gate of death because she gives them birth.

The  Sacred India Tarot 6 Pentacles/Disks - Buddha's Enlightenment

The Sacred India Tarot 6 Pentacles/Disks – Buddha’s Enlightenment

Enlightenment on whatever scale seems to follow on a jolly good clearout of the Shadow in one’s cupboard.  Enlightenment happens as the projections clear.   Every obstructive interior terror from his innumerable lifetimes must have bombarded Buddha as he quietly attained his peace.  For the lower mind is in love with its own drama.

Such is the Great Wheel depicted here – the card itself is a life-mandala.  The design was inspired by the film Little Buddha, starring Keanu Reeves.


Correspondence 2003 – Rohit to Jane 

“… The Six is a spectacular composition, depicting the triumph of the Buddha over all the forces of Evil and negativity;  and what forces they are!

“At the moment of his greatest challenge, he calls upon the earth to witness that he has transcended, he is Awake.  The card captures that feeling perfectly, as well as the futility of attempting to shake one who is awake.  This is really beautiful.”

blue float


Rohit’s Notes 2003

“7 Pentacles/Disks. The first sermon ever given is regarded as the complete Buddhist teaching in itself. In the deer park at Sarnath, verdant surroundings seem to be mandatory. 

“Traditionally, he has always been shown as being much larger physically than the students in religious art – his stature being gigantic as a representation of his achievement. It is famously called ‘Setting the Wheel of Dharma into Motion‘ –  so one disc could perhaps be rotated. We need to convey that he was radiating immense energy from that point on… a sort of translucent skin…?”

Buddha 7 of Disks, visual reference

Buddha 7 of Disks, visual reference


7 of disks visual reference

7 of disks visual reference

This is the pose I used for the card:  his former disciples felt a little shocked and betrayed by their Guru’s illumined evolution to full stature.  They preferred to go on starving.

Ramana Maharshi’s story followed the same general pattern.  When he was very young, his continuous samadhi remained detached from the world.  After his second conscious death experience on Arunachala, his state became “sahaja” – that is, unconditional.  The realisation unbroken, he engaged fully in everyday life, as chief cook, bricklayer, engineer, bookbinder, poet, counsellor and friend.


Sacred India Tarot 7 of Pentacles/Disks:  The Sermon in the Deer Park

Sacred India Tarot 7 of Pentacles/Disks: The Sermon in the Deer Park


Jane’s Notes 2012

7 in Tarot is The Chariot.  On the Tree of Life, the 7th Sefira (emanation) is Netzach, the Life power – a spark which wakes the physical and emotional worlds.   The Wheel/disk in Buddha’s hands indicates the binary force turning the chariot wheel – an upward and a downward pressure – as in the Sri Chakra Yantra:  duality.

Sri Chakra Yantra - 4 Siva triangles through 5 Shakti triangles form a radiation which is simultaneously concentric and up/down.

Sri Chakra Yantra – 4 Siva triangles through 5 Shakti triangles, forming a radiation which is simultaneously concentric and up/down.  It is like the sap through the seasonal cycle of a tree’s rings.


As the One however, every point radiates concentrically –  the rings of a tree, a ripple on water, a sound-wave.  The point has a spherical geometry, for it is infinitely reducible, as well as expanding to an atom, aura, planet or star.

The nature of the Enlightened One is everywhere, in all places, all times:  Tathagatha.

Buddha teaching in the Tree of Life, showing chakras

Buddha teaching in the Tree of Life, showing chakras


Rohit’s Notes – 2003

“The Seven is yet another creative breakthrough, in that all the disks are spinning, as the Great Wheel of Dharma has been set into motion with this first sermon.  I have an idea, should we call the suit the Suit of Chakras then, as that is what the disks seems to represent? 

“I particularly like the touch of the Buddha’s halo being a Great Wheel too.  I have seen many representations of this pivotal Buddhist event, but I feel that Jane has managed to capture something new and fresh about it.  

“This suit is turning out marvellously. Again the Vishnu/Solar element is conveyed in the placement of the disk in the hands of the Buddha.”

buddha in the grass


water and light

The blue “Buddha light” – a healing radiance – enters these russet-brown, Taurean waters.




For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

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. 

Earlier posts about the creation of the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

flower sermon

flower sermon

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 also 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). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address

3 thoughts on “Sacred India Tarot Archive: 5,6,7 Pentacles – Buddha’s Enlightenment

  1. Jane is a rare genius, who has the ability to provide a clear understanding and insight into every subject she writes about . She has woven her magic once more .
    A fascinating read, beautifully explained and illustrated . Most enjoyable !

  2. Hi Jane, As I was going through your most recent posts on the Buddha’s enlightenment, I was struck by a detail which I do however wish to bring to your attention. I hope you do not think it is too futile and too much off topic to consider sharing your thoughts about it. You are overlaying the Tree of Life on the Sitting Buddha teaching. However, since you are also versed in the classical Kabbalah of Halevi, as Buddha is facing towards us, the viewer, should the sepiroth not be reversed? As we look to the Tree of Life in Halevi’s version, we are looking at the back of Adam Kadmon, right? But here it is depicted in reverse. I made this observation also elsewhere (not in your work). Could it be that this led to a lot of misinterpretations and applications? I am not saying in any way you do it in this illustration of the Tree, however, I wish to know your ideas on what the effect might be if it was done deliberately, which I think is the case in the more hermetic and magical forms of the Kabbalah that evolved out of the classical tree. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, love and blessings, Bart / Nathanael

    • Hi Bart, thank you so much for your comment, I appreciate any topic for discussion.
      Yes, I pondered this matter of the Sefiroth being placed on the back of Adam Kadmon. I worked for a while in the magical way which puts them to one’s own right and left, so that one is the Tree, and I did some drawings, then I reverted to Halevi’s view, which is that whatever we observe, it is with our own left and right as Yin and Yang. The crossing-over from unity to duality in all teachings at this point is one which we learn to take in our stride – like the way the eye sees things in reverse.
      For myself I saw that people find it confusing to switch right and left sides, so I decided to keep the Sefiroth the same way round in my artistic work, whichever way the figure was facing.
      You are right, that the Sefiroth placed on the Buddha’s “subjectivity” in this way, reverses them, like a mirror.
      However, this image was commissioned for a beginners’ contemplative group in Kabbalah who were OBSERVING the Tree and its principle in life. The object was to show where the Sefiroth and triads are, in relation to the Chakras. So the basic sacred geometry alone was required, otherwise the teacher of the group would have had a lot of extra explaining to do. We are looking here at the Buddha as if he were our own reflection in the mirror.
      I find one has to work flexibly, sometimes carrying two “languages” in mind.
      I shall ponder your thought, and I really value your bringing this point up for clarifying! Good to hear from you.

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