Sacred India Tarot Archive – 7 and 8 of Arrows: Bheeshma’s Dharma




Seven of Arrows – Rohit’s Notes

We need a picture of Bheeshma sitting on his seat of authority, while in the far corner three Kaurava plotters, out of his line of vision, are cooking up mischief against the Pandavas.  This was a generic behaviour pattern;  it does not even need to be specified which particular plot it was.  If we could show them attempting to guiltily shield themselves further from the old man’s gaze by holding up a screen of seven arrows, then we have captured the element of deceit and underhandedness that characterizes the card.”


Sacred India Tarot - Seven of Arrows

Sacred India Tarot – Seven of Arrows


Rohit’s Notes on Conspiracy – from the Book with the Deck: 
“Bheeshma enters a period where the rancour and envy of Duryodhana manifests in constant conspiracies against the Pandavas.  Out of deference, they intrigue furiously behind the Grandsire’s back, concealing their murderous intentions nevertheless poorly … … Nepotism as a cultural value triumphs over almost any other ethical imperative for a certain type of Indian, and is the Shadow of its famous familial strength.

“In one of his better moments of honest self appraisal, Duryodhana laments to Bheeshma, ‘Knowing the good I ignore it.  Recognising the bad, I nevertheless follow it.  My inherent nature is such.’

“The energy of this card is erratic, causing even sensible people to act strangely.  Matters complex and contradictory.  Restlessness, agitation, should be paid attention to.  The uncovering of plots and conspiracies, especially in office politics.   Act with stealth, cunning and strength to protect oneself, and keep cards close to the chest … Strategy forestalls the need for combat.”

Sacred India Tarot ace of arrows, detail

Sacred India Tarot ace of arrows, detail

Jane’s Notes
The failure of trust awakens war.  When I painted this card, I was struck by Rohit’s analogy that the conspirators should hold up a screen of seven arrows entangled.  It is like this lattice of red arrows which block the Ganga in the Ace.

The King however – meaning the Self – reflects uneasily, and in depth, the knotted shadows in his soul and lineage.  The burden of this King is his preparation for the future.  He carries the dharma of society.  The great civil war of the Mahabaratha broke out, and had to run its course.  The depth of human hell is like a root.  It seems to pull as by gravity, Krishna from the sky:  the Vishnu avatar represents the Dharma or cosmic law, enters the action and in due course prevails.   When we are in the dark, it is virtually impossible to see its opposite.

Reflect also on inevitable individual episodes of doubt, depression and fragmentation:  the locked-up paranoia, and what happens when it dispels: cautiously I behold the landscape around and illumining the small murk of my belief.
It is different from what I believed.

Rohit continues:  “The 7 of Arrows’ shadow is the thief – the theft of ideas, time, energy;  the conniving, manipulative politician.  A stealthy dangerous aura pervades the card, like a venomous serpent crossed with a fox … Inept and inefficient thieves, who cannot hold onto their plunder. … … Lock up your creative output well.  Where do you need to be a bit political?  What do you have that arouses envy?”


Correspondence 13 September 2004 – Arrows 7 Feedback
“Dear Jane, Given below is Rohit’s feedback for Arrows 7.  We will put together the material on the Cups and let you have it as soon as possible.  We had sent an airmail with a Comic book and some references for the Arrows.  Please let me know if we need to resend. Warm regards, Gautam.”

“I like the look and feel of the card immensely. The creepy, deceitful aspect of the energy is conveyed well.  This card is one of the danger flags in the Tarot, and the sly deception practiced on those who are too noble to realise people can be very nasty indeed, is well brought out.  Psychologically, Jane has hit an extraordinary vein of authenticity in this suit.  A few minor points.  Bheeshma’s armour should always be silver. The blue wavy tinge is very appropriate for the Air element of the suit, but so is silver, and that is what he actually wore.  Next, his beard is fluctuating in dimensions.  In others, it seems fuller.  Otherwise the card is fine.”

Jane’s Notes:
While painting the Arrows suit, I got rather bogged down, and requested the material for the Cups/Lotuses, to lift things along a bit.  So I painted the Lotuses (tales of Siva and Parvati) alongside the remaining Arrows cards.  The next Arrows card, the 8, shows that increment of Shakti or feminine energy.

This Archive follows a slightly different order than the one in the book (Disks, Lotuses, Staves, Arrows).  It is determined by strong symbols arising towards the end of a suit, which indicated the next one, spontaneously.  Thus we have:  Disks, Lotuses and Arrows, Staves.


Eight of Arrows – Bheeshma Offers his Life to Krishna

Sacred India Tarot 8 of Arrows, visual reference

Sacred India Tarot 8 of Arrows, visual reference

Krishna’s descent into the fray, with his Galactic Discus wheel, is a tremendous archetype. We see Bheeshma – representing the ego – voluntarily disable himself.  There are situations we are powerless to change.  Only the Upper Worlds have that dimension.

Rohit’s Notes for the card: 
“Bheeshma is attacked by Krishna and refuses to fight him.  The visual reference provided is terrible art (see above), but it does indeed convey what we are trying to communicate.  It should be a scene of carnage with a furiously energetic Krishna and an ecstatic Bheeshma, delighted he will get moksha (liberation) by being killed by the Lord. 

“The gorgeousness of the Thai costumes could be well brought out in this card:  Krishna could be a blaze of saffron yellow, and Bheeshma in blinding white.  Krishna should be extremely muscular, and if there is space he should be shown with Saiva markings on his forehead, as he used to pray to Siva before every day’s battle on the field of Kurukshetra.”

And from the book with the deck: 
“War has come to Hastinapur.  Bheeshma’s long life of sacrifice and peacemaking lies in ruins … His dreams shattered, he nevertheless fights for duty, loyalty, and because he is still Devavratha, son of an immortal, still invincible at this advanced age, hoping against hope to shame the foes into peace.  It is futile.  The Kings of India have leagued themselves into a Pandava camp, and they rend and devastate in a ghastly Gotterdammering.  An age, a civilization, is annihilating itself, and Bheeshma by a supreme irony leads the carnage.  The god Krishna has planned for this horrific outcome.  He wishes to dissolve a rapidly corrupting aristocracy, signally failing its nation, and replace it with a more benevolent, humanitarian Pandava rule … Krishna takes matters in his own hands, threatening to kill Bheeshma with a chariot wheel.

“… Death at Krishna’s hands is instant liberation for the soul – Bheeshma is tired of life and cannot believe his luck at being offered such a spectacular exit … His death is his grandchild Arjuna’s portion of fate.”

(Memo to Rohit – but Rohit, I thought Bheeshma didn’t have any children?)

“In a reading of this card, all 8’s are end-of-Karma cards.  The inspiration of intelligence to overcome crisis, but blood will be drawn.   Not much space to manoeuvre, but adequate.  Hold onto one thing, one thought, and it will show the way out.  Financially, a down phase, even a bad luck cycle.  Self imposed limitations can be discarded, veils pierced, so spiritually a high card;  when the going gets tough, the tough manage to escape.  Ask for help and heed the advice given.  This too shall pass.

“Are you in a co-dependent relationship?  Are you feeling sorry for yourself?  How is psychological paralysis rewarding you?” 

Sacred India Tarot, 8 of Arrows - Bheeshma offers his Life to Krishna

Sacred India Tarot, 8 of Arrows – Bheeshma offers his Life to Krishna

A chariot wheel consumed by fire in the background, represents the battle and the demolition of the old.  Bheeshma was, all his long life, an end-of-Karma 8-of-Arrows character. He put himself beyond the breeding-line, but he bore the epic Consciousness.   His full destiny awakes, together with his physical fear, as he welcomes eye to eye, the god who slays him.  The sword – representing lineage – topples from his hand.  The Wheel of divine Dharma replaces the wheel of human carnage.

Correspondence from Rohit and Gautam
Dear Jane, in addition to our earlier mail regarding adding the palm tree on the shield, Rohit asked me to mention that he just remembered the palm tree is to be depicted along with 5 stars.  Regards, Gautam.”

I didn’t rectify this, so the shield remains with three stars.  Originally it was blank.


Krishna and Arjuna

Krishna and Arjuna



I now attach these thoughts by Jung, because Rohit in India was a student of his work long before I became so.  One of the things which most impressed me when we began the project, was Rohit’s deep comprehension of the Jungian Archetypes, and their equivalent in Indian mythology.  I recognised them in his east-west Tarot translation.

When I was aspiring to my highest worldly power, the spirit of the depths sent me nameless thoughts and visions, that wiped out the heroic aspiration in me as our time understands it.

C.G.Jung, The Red Book

Jung photo2


Ice when a Companion treads the pond,
seeking the sunken Sword,
cracks, splinters and sighs.




“Incapacity prevents further ascent. Greater height requires greater virtue.  We do not possess it.  We must first create it by learning to live with our incapacity.  We must give it life.  For how else shall it develop into ability?  We cannot slay our incapacity and rise above it.  But … incapacity will overcome us and demand its share of life.  Our ability will desert us …  Yet it is no loss but a gain, not for outer trappings however, but for inner capability.  The one who learns to live with his incapacity has learned a great deal.”


(Yes, indeed!   Thus the shatterings, and being human).

Jung/Philemon said of the spirit of the times, during the first War:  “If all heroism is erased, we fall back into the misery of humanity and into even worse.  Our foundations will be caught up in excitement since our highest tension, which concerns what lies outside us, will stir them up. (see media and cellphone technology).  We will fall into the cesspool of our underworld, among the rubble of all the centuries in us.”   (See the present crises.)  … “the black serpents and the reddish sun of the depths” (the rise of Nazism then to come).  In the Red Book, this is followed by a remarkable transcending dialogue:  the paradox of God – the significance of the Whole, above small concepts of the perfect.

No one has my God, but my God has everyone, including myself … So it is always only the one God, despite his multiplicity.  You arrive at him in yourself, and only through your Self seizing you.  It seizes you in the advancement of your life.”

There is something deeply detached in prophesying the seemingly everlasting human hells, as a natural human syntax.   For the hells are actually ephemeral.  They are engraved in our habitual speech and expectation.  At any moment can be chosen the eternal non-existence of the hells.  Create Reality.   It is paradoxical, for the healer sits with the wounded.   Companions of the soul.

The Heroic is the power to discriminate:  to use the Sword correctly and with precision.

“Consequently you sin against incapacity.  But incapacity exists.  No one should deny it, find fault with it, or shout it down.”


Tai Ch'i movement

I am not a Tai Ch’i practitioner, but I intuit something of the Sword Form in this art:  and the fluid dantien in the belly around which it flows.

That point is gravity. It is surely no coincidence that Rohit initially requested a more far-Eastern flavour in the suit of Arrows/Swords.  I did not really fulfill this at the time.

The Swords, as I described earlier in this series, are the play of Light:  swords of sunlight through the dark woods, or in and out of clouds:  on the ground we play with sticks and stones.  The Sword form as a martial art, flows as the Air.

grail trees

grail trees


Last weekend, came some understanding, and I wrote:
“Move with the movement, keeping still, move with the Tao in its flow of balancing, re-equilibrating.  What seems dark to you is the water moving, and nature’s exquisite tendency to flow in and out of stress-points.   Sitting on the nub of what seems to be depression and insecurity, is a place from which to view the ebb and flow of life;  without judgement, including the mood, without the mood:  Tao is uncertainty.  Don’t make it an enemy.”

Cup and sword


The still, small voice

If you look HERE
you find.

If you play with your sword
you won’t ;  but I’m HERE
our bridge.

You may not hear
what touches you

but HERE, my songs
in your tree, are lovebirds.

from Poems of Eclipse, 1999





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 2012-2014. 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

8 thoughts on “Sacred India Tarot Archive – 7 and 8 of Arrows: Bheeshma’s Dharma

  1. Pingback: Sacred India Tarot Archive – 7 and 8 of Arrows: Bheeshma’s Dharma | Web Tech News

  2. gave some time to reading and looking including some of the pictures, saw Tai ch’i and grail trees, which I liked as well as the words that follow. I find myself distracted each time by your watery heading (too page consuming)and the surrounds of the blog which take up much of the page and sometimes clash unpleasantly with your artwork. Would strongly recommend a simpler, plainer surrounding, which would allow your works to stand out and speak for themselves without this roccoco frame. It would make the blog much more friendly and inviting for me. Love Kev

    • hello Kev, the watery sand heading is here to stay, I expect some like it, and some don’t, but it’s my room – a visual poem and reminder. The best way to find your way around my house, go to Categories for a more congenial topic – or Archives – or the good ole search button. I know Poems are your thing – red pencil in your paw!

      For an emptier room, visit my other blog, in plain WordPress template. Some templates have wider scrolls, and some are narrower. For your blog, you create or Neti-Yeti whatever you like – I can’t wait to come and see and to drop in a few ancient mammoths. Anyway, you lazy Kettlesome Critter – Thanks for your nice letter also. I don’t actually do “Academic” – I never went that way. I try to handle my upsydaisy life … with alchemy and Wise words from others – to “Ah So!” and to share. Something 4 everyone.

      Hope you find good grazing, without frightening the sadhus on Arunachala meadows, and some fine onions for the Woiks and Wurdz. My love to the Bard, and love to yourself xx

  3. “Greater height requires greater virtue. We do not possess it. We must first create it by learning to live with our incapacity. We must give it life. For how else shall it develop into ability? We cannot slay our incapacity and rise above it.”

    So true. That is why it is called the Great Work 🙂

      • Yes, I think that is a part of it, embodiment of ourselves and then locating ourselves as parts to the whole, both of which mean to me the knowledge of how deeply we belong.

        As Alan Watts used to say, “We did not come into this world, but grew out of it.”

  4. Pingback: Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of 9 and 10 of Arrows: Bheeshma Dies | janeadamsart

  5. Pingback: Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of Staves 5 and 6: Ravana Falls | janeadamsart

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