Sacred India Tarot Archive – the Royal Lotuses (2) – Kama & Rati


Lord Siva on his Tao

Lord Siva on his Tao

Notes by Jane & Rohit on The Knight of Lotuses – Kamadeva

Kama is the deity of desire and lust.  His interaction with Lord Shiva was picturesque, to say the least, and is followed through cards 4, 5 and 10 of this suit – (see earlier posts in this series, under Categories in sidebar).

I cannot find Rohit’s notes to me for creating the Kama card.  Originally, the Knight of Lotuses was to be Pradayumna, who is now the King of the Suit.   The plan changed when I drew and sent to Rohit, two versions of Kama’s wife Rati.  The first one got promoted to the World Shakti in the Major Arcana.  The second one required a consort:  so Rohit commissioned a new Kama – naturally the Knight.

It was important also, to show that Kama was restored in full glory, following Siva and Parvati’s marriage.  During their yogic courtship, he was incinerated for his effrontery.


Sacred India Tarot, 5 of Lotuses - Siva destroys Kama with his third eye

Sacred India Tarot, 5 of Lotuses – Siva destroys Kama with his third eye

You can see Parvati’s terror as the kundalini Shakti overshadows her.   This is a picture of the raw subconscious forces which our love-affaires and relationships arouse and “front”.

After Siva and Parvati settled down together on Mount Kailas, the story – like lines drawn on water – merges into the love-play of Kama and Rati in full bloom.


photo credit

photo credit


Rohit’s Notes on Kamadeva, from his book with the deck:

“…The power of desire is a prime moving force in the universe.  Without desire, there is no karma/action.  Unfortunately, the strongest desire is lust and, even more unfortunately, it is the easiest to inflame.  Kama shoots shafts that are burning flowers from his bow of sugarcane.  This odd imagery indicates the juicy, supple, sweet but unyielding and fiery nature of desire.  Flowers as we pretend not to know when we gift them romantically, are the sexual organs of plants.



Neither Kama nor his imagery is subtle about what is desired and in what measure.  It is the sheer irresponsibility of the pleasure principle, its wilful disdain for consequence of repetition, so long as it gets what it wants.  Hence he is named Gridhu – sharp lust!  

“As the Atharvaveda says, ‘The well directed arrows of Kama, winged with pain, barbed with longing, with desire for the shaft, pierce all hearts’.

“Yet the power of desire is a great good, being the force behind civilization and culture, the first impulse of creativity.”  (NB the identical creative/spiritual/sexual root).  “‘Kama was born the first, both the power to provoke and gratify desire.’  His name Iraja signifies his birth from cosmic waters.  His power to enkindle enthusiasm as well as passion names him Darpaka – the Inflamer!  He is called Samantaka – the power to destroy mental peace, to denote what happens when passions control one.  Desire as Kama fascinated the Indian mind for its many triumphs over the best of intentions.  

“This card in a reading … … Falling in love.  Potentially very promising and normally a fabulous future, but the shadow is very strong in this card … …  Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


Jane’s Notes

Central to this theme, is the Lovers card in the deck.

Sacred India Tarot card 6 - The Lovers: Kaccha and Devvyani

Sacred India Tarot card 6

When lovers first meet, there seems to be no shadow at all!

This card tells the story of Kaccha a divine Prince, and Devvyani, daughter of the king of the demons.   The psychology is subtle.  Between them, the ‘sugar cane’ bow buds into almond blossom:  around them, flowers and orchids push through the ground.   Devvyani lures her suitor with nature’s feral beauty.  Kaccha’s face is modelled on J.Krishnamurti.  He wears on his brow the Akasha-Tejas Tattva – the colours of Saturn and Mars.   He has a passion to fulfil through sensual Earth, but points back to his original agenda or ‘master-plan’, to discover the secret and set souls free.

The card shows the cross-fertilizing and trading of divine and daemonic nectar, fire or energy – the fruit of which is tantrically sublimated in the higher plane.  A razor’s edge discriminates the currency through equal beauties but different densities of Earth and Heaven – below and above – gross and subtle.  There is a commitment, a renunciation and change of plane, through dying and being born again.  The dove in the genital armour is a phoenix, bird of light in the Alchymical Hierogamos.

If K married Devvyani and settled with the demons, the gods would never know the secret their existence depends on.  Devvyani tries to win back by love, what her father lost by a wager.  K was no fool, and he let her down with gentle remonstrance, and returned to his proper region, with the nectar.

You can look up the full story online, or read it in full, in Rohit’s book.

Each relationship is a potential crucible.  The shadow within, as it comes to light and manifests, may transform to love.  The profound Karmic forces of mutual attraction may mature into “right action”.   Hope stands at every beginning.


Sacred India Tarot - Kama the Knight of Lotuses

Sacred India Tarot – Kama the Knight of Lotuses

Here is Kama in his glory – immersed in  female waters and roots of the blue lotus;  his seminal power erect in urdhvalinga, yogic bliss.   His candied bow is delicious as a seaside stick of Brighton rock.  The soles of his feet receive the power of the ground.   Desire in full fruit is Union:  Self-union, the union of the World and plant kingdom, the lover’s timeless embrace and sharp pull.   The Hebrew word for Union is identical numerically, to the word for Love. In the western Tarot, the symbol for the Lovers is ZAIN, a word meaning both phallus and Sword.  We all have known the sharpness.



Correspondence 6 April 2005:  Rohit to Gautam –

(this shows the shuffling of places still going on in the deck.  Originally Kama and Rati were to be the King and Queen of the suit.  When the drawings appeared, some fresh thinking happened.)

Sacred India Tarot world Shakti, 21

Sacred India Tarot world Shakti, 21

“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 (female) World card.  Rati is not so powerful, but we can rename this the Tripura Sundari – essence of feminine supremacy … 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.  

“The Kama is magnificent, but I think it underlines my point that we have to make him the Knight, as a symbol of uncontrolled sexual and pleasure principle, while Pradyumna, currently Kama reborn, becomes the erotic impulse transferred, transformed into healing.  The switch is easily made.  No need to redo anything.”

(For Pradayumna, King of Lotuses, see next SITA post.  To see Siva Nataraja and Rudra cards, see Creation of the World Shakti & Natarajan and Siva Ace of Lotuses )

“I know this Tantric image, and it is the ultimate female shakti depicted there, so we can use it as one World, the Nataraja becomes the male World card, completing the journey of the Fool – Rudra, Siva and now Nataraja.

“I think Rati needs a somewhat more conventional treatment.  The Apsara with a bow is ideal, as per the Indiayogi image.

Apsara in Krishna temple

Apsara in Krishna temple


“It will be a slight drag for Jane, but really her (Shakti) card is too powerful, there is also a Lingam which completes the Siva imagery which began in the Fool card.  I think Jane has reached an absolutely 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.   I think Jane has to be troubled to draw the Queen once more, but it is her fault for being so brilliant !!!”

(NB – 2005 was a difficultyear for me – insomnia, some depression, exhausted and over-reacting to things.  I greatly delayed producing many of the cards.   The project however, was unconcerned it seems, and drew itself along with the available material.   Rohit says in his introduction to the deck, that he in India and I in the UK suffered everything the deck could throw at us in life.)



preliminary sketch - Rati queen of lotuses

preliminary sketch – Rati queen of lotuses

Rohit’s Notes, 2004


“QUEEN OF LOTUSES – RATI;    In every way, the counterpart of Kama, down to the garlands and bow.  In her case you can dispense with the nipple precaution! She does have a greater capacity to endure faithfully as she waited cycles of time for Kama to be reborn as Pradyumna, son of Krishna. 

“The reference we provide is typical.  The joint picture of Rati and Kama used as reference for the Lovers card in the Major Arcana, may be consulted as reference, and can be used too.


The Sacred India Tarot, Queen of Lotuses - Rati, wife of Kama

The Sacred India Tarot, Queen of Lotuses – Rati, wife of Kama

Rohit often mourns the fact that “God’s Frozen People” lost the natural state’s exuberant joy as depicted in the old Temples.    Blue lotuses surround Rati also, as she plays with her husband’s bow and lifts the serpent power as easily around herself as pulling away her sari.  No thought as yet of pregnancy, domesticity or the patter of little feet troubles her soul.

From Rohit’s book with the deck: 

“Like all female consorts of male deities, Rati is regarded as the Shakti, the active and activating power of the god’s function.  Rati is regarded as sensuality and voluptuous  desire, a symbol of the sophisticated ethos that made possible the Kama Sutra, as well as the lesser known but superior Ananga Ranga.

“This is the vision of the aesthete as to what constitutes pleasure insofar as it applies to humans.  Yet. the throbbing, pulsing energy of sexual desire also has a spiritual function.  It is by transmuting the sexual drive into Ojas – spiritual fuel – that one gets the skill and power to tackle the higher reaches of sexuality. 

“The raised snake above the head is that irresistible sexual impulse catalysed into the longing for liberation.  It is a yogic triumph she has achieved here – to subvert the strongest downward dragging impulse, and make it a vehicle for spiritual transcendence. 

“Rati was punished with widowhood for Kama’s audacity in provoking Siva.  Yet she refused to abandon hope, and forced the gods to restore her foolish husband, with all the conceit drained out of him.  Knowing that Kama was going to be reborn as Pradyumna son of Krishna, destined to slay the demon Sambara, she took service at Sambara’s palace as a maid, and waited.  A giant fish in the kitchen when cut open, revealed an infant that Sambara had tried to kill by drowning.  Not recognising the child, Sambara’s fate decreed that he not only fail but that he bring up the son of Krishna as his own, with Rati’s help!  

“When the boy reached adulthood, Rati revealed his story to him, and the reborn Kama slew the demon.  Rati finally got a husband worthy of her.

“In a reading: … Potential for deep spiritual transformation … good healers and therapists … great decoder of the emotional web that exists between people….  But might become determined and insistent that all who meet them have problems so that they can ‘help’….  Everybody is not as intuitive as you are, so share your insight where it is appropriate.  Do not mistrust your feelings.”  (Copyright (c)The Sacred India Tarot to Yogi Impressions Books, 2011)


Ananga Ranga 20 - the Roaring position

Ananga Ranga 20 – the Roaring position


Correspondence 18-21 May 2005:  re Rati Queen of Lotuses

“Dear Gautam, did you receive Rati safely a few weeks ago?  I had asked you to ring me as our computer had crashed and none of your phone numbers worked either – please give me a contact number.  Anyway, up and running again now, but I shan’t be able to scan anything till the end of this week …   Regards, Jane

“Hi Jane, herewith feedback on Rati.  I did have some reservations re the eroticism of the illustration, though it is stunning.  Given below is Rohit’s feedback.  Warm regards, Gautam.”


As published - with bra and pants!

As published – with bra and pants!

I am very willing to go with the image as it is, as Rati is not in any way important to the religious consciousness, and therefore will not have any potential to cause trouble.  We could add a little dhoti trouser type covering to lower limbs if we felt the need to reduce nakedness, but I think the card is absolutely terrific.  Another magnificent effort by Jane.  The lotuses have come out at a level that is somewhat frighteningly good.  Rohit.”








The Sacred India Tarot Archive, Major Arcana 0 – 14 can be found at    SITA Major Arcana 15 – 21 are on also.   TO BE CONTINUED/


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



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.

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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


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