Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of 9 and 10 of Arrows: Bheeshma Dies


9 and 10 in the Suit of Swords/Arrows mark a dark nadir in the deck – an ultimate defeat in the Mahabharatha epic.  Letting this theme speak for itself, I will add to it the ancient concept of “Sword Form” as a martial art, converting aggression to power, grace and courtesy.

taichi sketch from Great River website

taichi sketch from Great River website


Rohit’s Notes in 2004 – Bheeshma confronts Shikandi
“He is unable to fight back, because they are using Shikandi as a shield, a true nightmare for a warrior.  Krishna and Arjuna use Bheeshma’s chivalrous refusal to fight women to set Shikandi as a shield before them.  Arjuna can now shoot at will and there will be no retaliation.  (Bheeshma is aware that Shikandi was born a woman and changed gender through penance.)  On the field Bheeshma should be shown riddled with eight arrows and Arjuna about to release the ninth.  Arjuna too should be depicted in white or silver armour.

“Shikandi is usually depicted as an effeminate type, and played by comedians in movies, but in the actual text he is a great warrior in his own right, though he can be depicted as slightly smaller and less muscular than the other men.

“If there is space, then a thoughtful Krishna observing the consequences of his suggestion to use Shikandi as a shield can be included.  Arjuna should be shown in great trauma as he releases his arrow as Bheeshma was the person he loved and respected more than any other human being.  It is a ‘nightmare’ for him too, the meaning of the card, as his skills and ability make him the only person capable of killing Bheeshma, and duty does not allow him to refuse.”

SITA 9 of arrows. visual reference from comic book

SITA 9 of arrows. visual reference from comic book


From Rohit’s book with the deck:
“Bheeshma faces his biggest nightmare – combat against a woman.  He would never descend to such an act, and prefers to desist from fighting …  He ceases combat and allows Arjuna the only feasible chance of striking him down. This masterstroke originated in the smiling wisdom of Krishna – quick to seize a legal advantage, and never mind its fundamental unfairness.  An outraged Ganga watches her invinicible son brought low by cynically exploiting what is noblest in his nature … 

“The poet Ved Vyasa says, ‘As the mother crab recognises with joy its childrens’ pincers tearing it apart, so too did Bheeshma mark out the deepest embedded arrows, saying: These belong to Arjuna!’

“When he finally falls, Bheeshma does not hit the ground.  So many arrows have pierced him, that they hold him aloft in a glorious warriors’ bier.  He does not die either;  his father’s boon keeping him alive until an auspicious moment arises to cast away the mortal shell.

“In a reading:  Nightmare.  Culmination of effort for good or bad, but it is over now.  Karmic repayment.  Sorrow and mental pain, but gaining of spiritual insight.  Need to show love to a suffering person, as Bheeshma does to Arjuna … Begin healing process or sadhana. Time heals all wounds, and wounds all heels … Brooding is infinite, action is what saves you.  What has emerged from the past to distress you?”


Sacred India Tarot, 9 of Arrows

Sacred India Tarot, 9 of Arrows


I think Krishna displays profound detachment, with the liberation of this tough old warrior from the drama.  Deep within us, through whatever turn of events, the One observes. When painting this card, I felt that Mother Ganga – her stream blocked by humankind’s epic War with Arrows – flows free at last, and comes into her own, from the depths to the heights.


In my 2004 journal I found this – concerning 8, 9, 10 of Arrows: 
“Arrows restarted.  Bheeshma lets his sword fall, and offers his life to Krishna who spins the great Wheel of Dharma.  We live in such a time of longing for Vishnu to restore the Dharma … I did this rather profound drawing of the 8 of Arrows last night while watching TV  – the best ones often come so, unconsciously.  Wheel and sword:  surrender.  The next one – Nine of Arrows – will depict Bheeshma who cannot shoot Arjuna because of a woman warrior shield.  So at last the dammed-back feminine has returned to the manly Arrows, which is why I can continue.”



24 February 2004 – The Sacred India Tarot Archetype transcends the Indian continent. Advanced play with swords here on earth, is a martial art.  It becomes graceful and precise.

For a few basic T’ai Chi principles … for it is a Yoga … I quote here from Han Returns to Earth by Barbara Brown, published last month by . I shall review the book here, very soon.

Jack – a T’ai Chi teacher – instructs east-end youths with knives – after a street fight – to ‘up their game’ and start to learn a discipline:

“‘Raj and Skipper, please stand like me.  Right leg forward, left leg behind, shoulder-width apart, left foot angled 45 degrees.  Body facing squarely forward.’  Raj takes position, still glowering, shooting quick glances of reproach at Jack;  Skipper’s face is impassive as his body settles.  

“‘Now – watch me.  Shift your weight backwards and forwards so that we get the sense of right leg full, left leg empty.  Additionally, allow a sense of pushing from the floor, as if a coiled spring of energy rises from the floor into your right foot up the leg, through the Tan ti’en – and then as you shift weight, the energy, the spring, moves into the other leg.  Now the left leg is full.’
 “Jack is in the courteous, detached mode he adopts when teaching, fully absorbed.  ‘Okay – now from the left to the right.’  The three men move slowly and with increasing gravity backwards and forwards.
 “Satisfied, Jack calls a halt.  ‘That’s the first principle – the shifting of weight.  The second principle is the receiving of the weight and force of the other – and the third is to use the weight and aggression of the other to your advantage, by the dropping into the Tan t’ien and turning the waist.  With the turning of the waist comes the circulation of the hand – hence the term Pushing Hands.’  Jack stands opposite Skipper.  ‘Let me demonstrate.’

“The large, angry man stands opposite Jack.  Now a sickly smile hangs on his lips, his body is peppered with the resentment and unease.  He is bigger than Jack, stronger, broader.  He looks at Jack with disbelief.  He has heard about the capacity of this pale man, but he is new to the class and hasn’t seen it …  ‘Okay, Skipper,’ says Jack. ‘Raise your right hand about chest height … now, turn your hand and push against my arm as hard as you can.’
 “The smile turns into a willing grimace as Skipper puts all his aggression and tension into pushing the irritating man in front of him.  Jack receives the push.  After years of practice, he knows – don’t brace the arms, the upper body.  Keep it all soft, fluid.  Take the push down, receive it into the Tan t’ien, move it through as the weight shifts from forward leg to back leg, and then let the back leg and the central column of the torso drill themselves into the floor, earthed, powered by the energy they have received.  With a vivid corkscrew turn of the waist, and his right hand flipping to show the palm outward and guide Skipper’s body away from him, Jack releases charged-up energy and feels a rush as Skipper’s heavy weight spins past his right side.  Skipper is moving as if blasted by a powerful wave, juddering and bouncing.  Jack’s hand completes a half-circle and then snaps onto Skipper’s wrist, steadying him.  

“Panting, startled, Skipper rights himself and stares at Jack.  Jack looks at him and then bows to him.  ‘Thank you.’  Everyone watches, breath held, to see if Skipper will respond in kind.  An endless second passes.  Then – a very small bow – a mumbled thank you.”



4 November 2004 – “The Ten of Swords (Arrows) marks a Completion, Malkuth in the western tradition.  The old King instructs the young in the art of government (Sacred India Tarot 8 of Lotuses, 8, 9 and 10 of Arrows were all done last weekend.)  Use the Sword for cutting ties that bind.”


Rohit’s Notes  – Ten of Arrows:  
Bheeshma on the bed of arrows discoursing to Yudhishtara on Niti
“We would like to communicate a positive feel to a horrible end.  Normally the Ten of Arrows is a miserable card, but in keeping with India’s unique take on this sort of thing, this Ten of Arrows is slightly upbeat as from all this suffering and pain comes an opportuinity to convey the essence of the knowledge and wisdom gathered over a long life.  The arrows form the bed, and ten of them should be prominent, but basically he looks like a porcupine, so many shafts have penetrated him.

“From this bed he teaches Yudhishtara the art of government.  So Yudhishtara in a meditative attentive pose should be seated beside him.”

SITA 10 of arrows - visual reference

SITA 10 of arrows – visual reference


Jane’s Notes 
As I painted this, I was aware that Bheeshma’s chakras are open – his spinal Kundalini “rests” along those pointed arrows – releasing his soul from the burden of war to the art and speech of wise government.  This is an unusual and positive “take”  on the desperate situation which this card normally depicts.  Bheeshma counsels and guides from the ground, the wise ruler who will succeed him.  As the seed goes into the ground and dies, the generational transmission is unbroken.

Sacred India Tarot 10 of Arrows - Bheeshma instructs Yudhishtara in the art of government

Sacred India Tarot 10 of Arrows – Bheeshma instructs Yudhishtara in the art of government


Correspondence:  Jane to Rohit and Gautam
“As enclosed, thanks for your email.  I think it’s in keeping for the early Arrow cards to be rather introverted in tone, and to open out with the arrival of the feminine Shakti – after all, he dammed back the Ganga in the Ace ! – but we shall see, on completion. All best, Jane”

Rohit and Gautam to Jane
“Dear Jane, we like this card very much.  We especially like the Krishna, and is it Ganga watching from the sky?  The horror on Arjuna’s face at the ‘nightmare’ of what he’s doing is beautifully depicted.  No changes required.   Warm regards.”

And:  “Hi Jane, Arrows Ten is Ten on Ten!   Gautam and Rohit”




Priestess, King of swords  and Fool, 1988

Priestess, King of swords and Fool, 1988

Jane’s Notes on Sword and Arrow Symbols – THIS IS ADDITIONAL

From my Journal during January 2014:  The fragment gleamed to me in an open, contemplative way, rather exposed and childlike.   It was existential, it was an awakened dream work, in an inner journey;  I retained always its pictorial essence.  Again it is the light on a bright sword, kept untarnished.  The sword seen only as a gleam, is for ever whole.  Bright sword is the Word.

Sword & Onion

The sword seen only as a gleam is yet a profound healing element, helping to transform areas of life and humanity beyond our ken.

Curious:  the YOD and the HEH.  The Yod is the sword-man:  the Heh is the lake.

These subtle details prompt me yet again to see the Play of the Swords in Beriah the Air element;  we human beings as we draw together, are drifts of that Weather.  We have faces, but  before we have faces, this is happening. So everything I see and am dismayed at in the world, has another Picture entirely from what is believed.

Truth comes together from far beyond our partial vision:  from beyond the belief system.

bota key 11


Sani Saturn Jyotish, with oxen and raven

Sani Saturn Jyotish, with oxen and raven

The Tarot Key is 11:  Justice.  Equilibrium, the raised Sword.  There is actually a temple of wisdom there, a vaulted Cube.   I can go into it when I like.  The Hebrew letter is “LAM’D” – an uncoiled serpent, or ox goad, the Law which drives the strongest beast of the ancient world;  it ploughed the field and harnessed the Light:  here is Sani’s ox in Jyotish (Indian astrology).   Saturn’s T or TAV is upon the breast of the Queen of equilibrium, above the Karmic scales.   The sword held upright in Her right hand:  initiation.   Saturn is exalted in Libra.

Relationship is strong in the subtle kingdom;  it was difficult to adjust the lens of life to see and be it clearly.

Lenses are two – as in the Amber Spyglass. (His Dark Materials volume 3, by Philip Pullman.)
You bring them into alignment, and keep on doing so

And the lens itself is made from layer over layer of the amber sap to dry, bond and polish – like the making of magic Swords;  and that is why you can see through it, the Golden Dust  – the stellar current.


Moments spaced out, such as this, are human understanding.   All conditions.  See, I have an acorn, which glows psychedelically, like an avocado stone.  I have an amber lens, which forms layer on layer, sheath on sheath, a Sword Form in the martial art of life.   I have Master Han’s teaching on sweet respect and courtesy with each difficulty …   Ask Han a Question … With his questioners, the intimate is released.   Their wisdom-dance together is BREATHTAKING.

Tune in to this:  the collective needs this intimate way of sharing.   The diamond roots sent down into the under-soil, are the rose deep down inside the garden, a red little cavern of white-fire.  The violet delta system.  The venous network:  the invisible brilliance of our organs.

Himalaya - infrared satellite photo from Earth, a Journey through Time

Himalaya – infrared satellite photo from “Earth, a Journey through Time” (by Nicholas Cheetham, published by Quercus)


But specifically, an exposed and open intimacy is homeopathic, an acupuncture needle of consciousness.   It is the hermit in the black dragon.   It starts to dislodge age-old Karmic carbons to break them up a little:  the lumpish Academic Protective Religious Gear habit that humans got themselves into.   It is an alchemical compound:  a chemistry.   Altering the chemistry in the black dragon, reaches and radiates profoundly into Life and humanity.

I am astonished with what I am learning today, of the Sword Form in the tao martial art.  I sometimes saw Barbara practice with her wooden sword.  Since October also, posting the Swords in the Sita Archive:  life was challenging and delicate to negotiate.   From the start, I knew the Suit of Swords is, in Hebrew, Beriah, Air, World of Creation.

avocado stone '94 j&d11

On Earth those blades of light are misunderstood.  They orchestrate great fields of Karmic weather pattern and their real gesture is beauty.   But they are sharp, like light through the trees, and we project onto them our fear, our clouds, our resistance, our wars, and so they appear to us dark and wounding … until we learn to forge our very own Sword of Light (through plunge of fire and water) layer by layer from Life itself.   Love, Light and Life.

In my life, the drawing near … is a gesture of the Sword form:  just about now, it begins to integrate fully. That is an interesting word!

bottic.mercury sketch

It always was so:  but I had to recreate the lens to see it.  Then through the lens, a deep past is perceived:   the resonance.  The lens, bringing two slides together, springs into life:  three dimensionally.   I saw last night on telly, Flinders Petrie do this (in the 19th century) with his magic photo box.   Basically, there are two identical pictures, and a hole for each eye to look through.  The left and right eye “slide” the pictures together, and suddenly I am in the full room with human-ness  – the depth of field.

The depth of field is an unknown PERCEPTION, and this may be practiced by looking at the depth of space and perspective between any two objects:  a chair and the chest of drawers:   my feet and a book lying open over there:   a swirl of leaves and their tree trunk.   This PERCEPTION when practiced, regulates our human endeavours and intimacies, for it slows down the desperate blind monkey. Just look at the space between … the things.  See between the thoughts, which all are constructed on A-Ka-Sha, interior space.



portrait of the artist

portrait of the artist





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.


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 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


3 thoughts on “Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of 9 and 10 of Arrows: Bheeshma Dies

  1. I discovered a kind of…angerless rage energy….specific in how it is felt. It is like rage stripped of malice and anger… do I even explain it, and yet, I sense that this is Kali in her best form…the churning power of the storm of us that clears the path so fast. Most shy away or see it as anger but it is not. It is like what anger is in its divine form. Is that possible? It is something like that. And it moves mountains. It is the thunderclap. The lightening bolt, the gale force wind. Good to see you delving it…

  2. Yes. For aeons before our humanness flickered into itself, Earth – our atoms – knew a violent elemental friction of volcanic fire and ice. This is in our cellular memory. Our learning curve is to contain it consciously. Yes, it is the fiery rage energy of the gods, and the Indian and Tibetan archetypes recognise and honour it … without anger which is caught up in the thought about it. And if we can let the lightning or the storm blow through us, as you say, it clears the path. Thank you for the insight!

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

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