Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of 2 of Arrows: Bheeshma’s Training

This post includes a tribute to the late Doris Lessing..

Krishna drives the chariot:  Arjuna aims the arrow - detail from Sacred India Tarot Arcanum 7

Krishna drives the chariot: Arjuna aims the arrow – detail from Sacred India Tarot Arcanum 7


In Tarot, the suit of Swords represents the celestial Dharma which we experience in our earth-humanity as the Karmic battleground.   Dharma is the law of growth, ripeness and change.   In India the Sanatana Dharma very broadly down the millenia, is the Way of the Good, the way which works through nature and humanity.

Karma is the revealed action and reaction:  the visible play of swords.

I am in a period of personal turbulence, which is not surprising when touching the energies of this Suit.   I try my utmost to hold the pieces together;  in fact they all fit together perfectly!   No stone is left unturned.


Visual reference from comic book, for SITA 2 of Arrows - Parushurama trains Bheeshma Parashuruma

Visual reference from comic book, for SITA 2 of Arrows – Parushurama trains Bheeshma Parashuruma


Rohit’s Notes (2004) – Bheeshma’s Early Training – Parashurama versus Bheeshma

“They are at a deadlock, as his skill matches his teacher’s, and prefigures the later inconclusive fight they have.  His father is glumly watching this training combat, as he realises he will never be as great as his son.  That explains a lot about Shantanu’s cruelty to his son later.  Since Parashurama was a Rishi, he can be depicted in traditional style, but somewhere around, his huge battle axe should be visible, as his very name is derived from that …  Bheeshma is still a young man here.  We could have a classic two arrows crossed in mid air, to represent the blocked or static feel of the Two of Swords.”


At this point, I would like to include a Tarot Celtic Cross reading done for me in 1974.  In 1988, I drew two maps of the same reading.  I was working out laws of reincarnation, which are no different from the way thoughts “arise, settle, change and vanish”, in the mind right now.   There isn’t space here to go into what it was all about in my life then.  What interests me, is the polar tension of the Two of Swords:  they resound as cymbals: the symbol.   Abstract images like this, struck my profound chords of feeling:


A few months later in that year, I discovered my “working form” – the Tree of Life.  I was  curious about magnetic equilibrium, polarities, masculine/feminine and the waiting fertile ground and its problems in rebirth:  the work of the soul.  I saw an interaction of The Fool (ego) and The King of Swords (entity) in the self:  it featured the Ace, Two, Four and Seven of Swords, together with 6,7 and 2 of Pentacles and the World (represented by a wreath).

Here is another interesting sketch in the same red notebook:

Fool and Priestess 1988.  The Priestess was in an earlier reading.

Fool and Priestess 1988. The Priestess was in an earlier reading.



An interlude.  Today’s general news is that Doris Lessing died, age 94;  this portrait to honour her: 


In the two initial sketches, I am fascinated by the woman’s age – 94 – and its weathered beauty.   What will be my essence when I am very old, like that?  What will yours be?  I embrace someone or something I don’t know.   “Thou art infinite:  no words can tell”.  A conversion is a conversation.  An alchemist’s daily business is to extract essence.   

She was a great lady, and I feel she passes over to become one of the Guardians.  For this reason I include this impression of her, in this SITA post.   Sketching her, I feel her a little inside, and I catch sight of an old Sufi Master.  

Doris Lessing, a Universe:  what vast universi people are!  Their immense and unique frames of discourse and of life matters and of countries, politics, sexuality and vision – rub elbows – the daily stuff of washing up and caring for her elderly son who died three weeks ago.  Death as always brings an intimate contact in the subtle body:  an appraisal:  a silent knowledge.  That soul now moves into the atoms everywhere.   Prana.   I am breathing her.  Prana is the conscious breath of Life.

In western Tarot the Sword guides destiny.  It is in Key 11 Justice, and in Key 6 The Lovers (as the Hebrew letter ZAIN: Sword).  It is also in Key 10 The Wheel – in the Sphinx’s paws.



Additionally in the news today: the UK government at long last agreed to act, to block and close down child-abuse and child-pornography websites.  The inertia there was outrageous.

This is topical for me at present.  I suffered psychic and emotional abuse;  I know persons who were sexually abused.   The damage – particularly to a child – can retard social development, for it afflicts an area in the front of the brain.   Under attack, or under its triggers, I am mute and stupefied – the words don’t come.  Then there is an anguish that I didn’t defend myself:  that I allowed a lie.   My therapy is to write – it brings me through: it joins up broken threads.   It puts me in touch with an objective wisdom and humour; a field of insight is illumined.  True or false?

Persons who suffered or witnessed abuse, do an immense amount of inner work for the rest of their life.   The inner work, when undertaken, connects with every other individual on Gaia Earth who is doing likewise.  Paradoxically, the ordeal which initially isolates, becomes a bonding agent.   Subconsciously, we may have volunteered into this field of growth and extended humanity.  The agonizing life situations were part of the deal.   I repeat this, because it really is my bottom line.   The Black Raven – the negrido – is essential to alchemy.


We never “get over the pain” – but we transform with it.  The pain of the abuse is not contained in one life, it goes back into the centuries, collectively.   To sum up what I do:  I try to bring my coals out into the light, where they slowly turn to pearls.  I shake out the old rug and let the sun get in.   It is a healing work, in solidarity with all healers.

The Tarot suit of Swords – the Sacred India Tarot’s suit of Arrows – has a difficult press, because its lessons can be painful.   The play of swords in the Creational world appears beautiful, like shards of sunlight in a forest clearing.   The process there is four-dimensioned;  it returns through an entire Mahabharath, the Gita and the song of arms, to Source:  a vast clearing-operation in history.    In this suit, Lord Krishna – avatar of Vishnu the Sustainer –  is the ultimate Dharma instrument.   The Archetype enters our world when we are in dire straits.

This is no mere fairytale.   We live out our destiny, mostly blind to its wider implications …  Behind the worst moments in my twenties, I knew an angel smiled!

An angel raises the Captive Knight from a well of lifetimes

An angel raises the Captive Knight from a well of lifetimes

In the western tradition, sword-play illustrates medieval chivalry and the quest for the Grail:  the orders of Knighthood:  the Round Table.

In the Psychological and Physical worlds, through lifetimes, I encounter those sharp points;  I make terrible errors;  I live to rue and to transmute them in space and time.  I live to grow, to understand and to become more humane.

I learn also … not to exaggerate!   but to rediscover, and keep perspective:  proportion:   compassion.

(See my Watershed Tale – The Knight )

Here is the finished card:  The Training of Bheeshma

Sacred India Tarot, 2 of Arrows - Bheeshma's training

Sacred India Tarot, 2 of Arrows – Bheeshma’s training

In the book which goes with the deck, Rohit writes:

“The young Bheeshma – known as Devavratha in his youth –  is being trained further in the martial art of Kalari-payyattu, still extant in India after millenia, by its legendary founder, the Brahmin warrior-sage Parashurama, avatar of Vishnu.

“… The irascible avatar hated the warrior caste of Kshatriyas, yet condescended to train the young prince, awed as all else were, by his supreme prowess.  Bheeshma has just fought his invincible enemy to an impasse.  This inspiring scene of the greatest master successfully transmitting his skill to his most brilliant pupil, has a calamity encoded within.”

As we saw in the Ace of Arrows, the young Bheeshma held back the Ganga waters with a raft of arrows.

“Years later, the wrathful Parashurama will come championing the cause of the Princess Amba.  His conflict with Bheeshma is a variant of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, and the very world is in danger of being consumed by such titans.

“What seems to be a moment of reconciliation and social harmony, will deepen the fissures further in the future between the dominant social classes.  The spiritually evolved Shantanu (Bheeshma’s father) seems unaware of the horrendous cost lying in ambush.  

“There is also some ambivalence in Shantanu’s admiration.  He has just realised his son will effortlessly outshine him in all aspects of life, and the knowledge must be bitter for a supreme ruler.  Some form of pain is inevitable as the Karmic price for such knowledge and ability.”

This statement concords with my sense that the Swords or Arrows “improve the breeding stock” while inflicting the pain and labour of progress and change.


Rohit continues:  “In a reading, the Two of Arrows is an attempt to resolve insoluble conflicts:  resolute application of positive thinking against the evidence … head and heart in contention with equally compelling reasons. … Any action is better than this stuck feeling.  A curious meaning of the card is good friendships and/or imperfect reconciliations… 

“Shadow:  a stalemate or false balance in an impossible situation – extricating oneself will cause pain – this card is not known as ‘The Scissors’ for nothing … Illusion of stagnation – it is actually a time of dangerous developments – Lies told for mistaken advantage … …  What is the one thing nagging you the most, that you refuse to bring into the light of day?  Focus on solving just one thing, not everything.”


Rohit’s reflections affirm my past experience of the Two of Swords as an impasse situation.  I love his expression: ‘the calamity encoded within’.  When I was young, I set out blithely into an extremely challenging relationship-terrain.  I am aware, while writing this post, of the pressure, the push and pull of the Archetypes, the slowly melting tension of that Two of Swords:  a symbol crash of cymbals:  the concentric fallout from that time.



“The oak tree – with the red queen pulling Alice along – is too vast to be run past, however fast you run.   The oak tree is your entire life and understanding.”  (Lighthouse Keeper Part One)


We take our time – we do time – with what Beriah (the Upper World) creates for an instant unfolding:  space.   So the Swords above are beautiful;  and here below, they are problems, whose resolution and beauty as a whole,  is intuited just beyond the horizon.

So Jacob wrestled the Angel.





For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, Search, 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 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.


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.

Aquariel Link

All original 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

2 thoughts on “Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of 2 of Arrows: Bheeshma’s Training

  1. Pingback: The Eternal Sparkle | Aquariel

  2. Pingback: Sacred India Tarot Arrows – Transition | janeadamsart

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