Sacred India Tarot Archive – A Preamble to the Suit of Arrows

This post is a prelude to the Suit of Swords (Arrows) in the Sacred India Tarot Archive.  Rohit Arya works and writes in India, and I am an artist in the UK;  we began work on the project in 2001, exchanging images and ideas by email, and have not yet met!

jane in yellow field

rohit arya

Rohit’s polymath vision bridges eastern and western archetypes:  the Vedas with Jung.  His 350 page book with the deck, includes a superb introduction to Vedanta, Yoga and Indian mythology, stories and interpretations for each card, and practical advice on spreads and on maintaining the deck.  The deck is published by Yogi Impressions Books in Mumbai.  More information about The Sacred India Tarot is on facebook.


SITA 5 of Arrows - detail


Rohit Arya’s Notes, 2004

We have to use arrows instead of swords, because Indian myth is primarily an archer culture, swordsmanship being mythically of no account.  This is very strange until we realise that the samurai too were an archer-noble class until the exigencies of changing warfare made them convert to the sword.  The code of combat that the samurai nominally adhered to, was also extremely similar to the rules of combat in Indian myth. 

“In any case, arrows represent the Air element too.  I have seen some Tarot packs use this option, but basically there is no other choice if we want to operate within mythological parameters.  I will use the Bheeshma episode of the MAHABHARATHA.  The whole story is impossible.  What I like about Bheeshma is that he is epitome of the Indian ideal, not just as a warrior but also in his mode of self actualization.  He does not seem to have had a single moment of self gratification in his entire life – it was spent solely in the pursuit of duty and making others happy.  His complete surrender to and total self effacement before his social unit would seem a ghastly tragedy in modern Western terms, but it was one of the paths to spiritual realization as India understood it. 

“It cannot be said that he was completely wrong.  While he lived, only Krishna could defeat or kill him in combat;  and about his wisdom and knowledge, he was said to be another Brihaspati, the Guru of the devas.  The story of Bheeshma is a uniquely Indian success story with its strain of pathos and sentiment.  Not to have such a strand represented in our Tarot would leave it somewhat incomplete.”

SITA 10 of Arrows_Udishtara


Jane’s Notes

This was a difficult Suit for me to process, and it took a very long time to complete the drawings for it.  At one point I was so stuck and depressed, that I abandoned it and painted the Suit of Lotuses, for light relief!   However, Rohit’s interpretation of the Arrows and King Bheeshma reveals some profound psychological states.

SITA 10 of Arrows - Bheeshma


About a month ago, after completing the Suit of Lotuses in the Archive series, I began reflecting on the Arrows to come.  I wrote down some alchemical ideas around the Sword and the Flower, the way they companion the Light.

aphrodite & prince sword 1956

aphrodite & prince with sword, 1956


Jane’s Notes – 10 August 2013

Swords do not appear much in Indian mythology.  Rohit developed instead the Suit of Arrows, based on themes from the Mahabharata, the Great Poem which includes the Bhagavad Gita’s 700 lines.  The Gita – Song of God – appears like a sweet kernel within a cosmic “civil war” on earth.  Lord Krishna emerges at times of extreme world stress, to restore the Dharma, or principle of Life.   To fulfil the Law, it is inevitable to harrow and to thresh, as well as to teach.

Sword & Onion..

“You seek an absolute mentor?
You seek a forgery!
Is envy the source of your being?
Look into your onion dome.
What leaf did ever separate
your ‘I’ from centre, and grow a husk?

How she weeps now
and wails the sharp
aroma to return.”


The Swords/Arrows manifest as Karma, but as the Law they act from the World of Creation (Kabbalistically).  In olden days, the metal was forged through fire and water – the  many overlapping ‘skins’ produced a blade of great flexibility and strength.

Rarely do they appear in life harmoniously.  Yet they are the sun’s swords of light into a forest clearing.   That is their operation.   They are a play of Light.

Karma is or appears discordant, due to the stuff that was hung on that play of Light in days gone by – actions, projections, fears, as they manifest.

sword in western mythos

sword in western mythos


In the western Tarot, the Sword is the symbol ZAIN of the Lovers:  the key of sane humanity and reciprocal relationship.  It parts the tangled strands and arranges them into their proper position in consciousness.  It parts the waves.

Tarot Arcana 6:  The Lovers.  Their symbol is hebrew letter ZAIN, meaning sword or phallus.  As we all know, the field of relationship and being truthful is the most challenging!

Tarot Arcana 6: The Lovers. Their symbol is hebrew letter ZAIN, meaning sword or phallus. Graphically this letter suggests a YOD on a VAV.  As we all know, the field of relationship and being truthful is the most challenging!


Thou shalt separate
from the sensual, the radiant,
gently and with wisdom.
Thou shalt let its essence soar
into heaven’s heart
then re-enter the earthly art
Then thou shalt have the power
above as below
in root potency of things.

(Emerald Table of Hermes)


So watch the Swords and their – often painful – play of light.   A flower of knives is paradoxically the golden flower – the Lotus.  A western daffodil does the job just fine!  An adept may observe and marvel at the beauty.  I feel I am in touch with adept, but i am not an adept, which is frustrating.

A painting done in 1986.  In those days there was a great deal of pain around relationships - it felt like a "flower of knives' in the solar plexus, yet it was at the same time this yellow flower of spring.  Many years later, I found the book "The secret of the golden Flower".

A painting done in 1986. In those days there was a great deal of pain around relationships – it burned like a “flower of knives’ in my solar plexus, yet it was at the same time this yellow flower of spring. Years later, I found the book “The secret of the golden Flower”. In the background is Damehole Point near Hartland, in North Devon. A valley descends to the wild sea, from a village called Stoke.

The Body of Light is the development of a spirit-body in and as the golden flower.  When we are in our body of Light, we share the perspective;  we know each other’s individual existence and ideas, and we know the things which are connected.  We are the lens:  the eagle with a wide view of the landscape;  who detects the parting of some blades of grass, far below.

Indeed we are the Avatamsaka Tower sutra.  (see end of the linked post.) A sutra is a teaching, and it is given around a seated Buddha.  The Buddha is firmly butt on ground, surrounded by light – an energised Nature.   Watch the breath, the world go by.   Compassion to living creatures is when I am not separate from them;  the natural state or gravity is love, and to care. Polish the mundane, the windows on earth.   Remain where the window is being cleaned – for who else can do this job here and now?  Obviously, the manifestation on earth is difficult.

Sacred India Tarot page of disks - Version 2

“If a man can be absolutely quiet, then the Heavenly Heart will manifest itself.  When the feeling springs up and flows out in the natural course, the person is created as primordial creature.  This creature abides between conception and birth in TRUE SPACE.  When the One note of individuation enters into birth, essence and life are divided in two.  From this time on, if the utmost peace is not achieved, essence and life never see each other again.”

Secret of the Golden Flower translated by Jung/Wilhelm

Cup and sword


11 justice - Version 2

The Sword parts essence and life:  parts consciousness and life.  (Tarot Key 11). Peace does not belong to an individual who strives for it, meditates for it.  Peace is a common commodity.  Tuning into it by whatever means, receives the savour.  Nature won’t be hurried for the seed to crack open.

Yet alchemical work is to some extent an accelerative process.   It quickens the receptivity of the interior organs, to change.   When the Light comes in, it alters the cellular memory.  And why am I this me, not your me?

Unanswerable, because you have the same problem, the unique me surrounded by this and that.   Every Sun, Star and planet is an interior axis of rotating bodies:  a Consciousness surrounded by things.  Every cat and caterpillar has this i-see-the-world.   So I am identical to a vast Sun and a caterpillar and an atom.


A Flowering Staff - detail

A Flowering Staff – detail


The Way is practice:  keep practicing the empty capacity for everything I truly am.   Watch the road and see the Way flow into me.   Like an ocean whale, I browse the living space;  it extends beyond each ear.   My face of life is space, my consuming is space, and that which is consumed, flowing into here, is open without end, a carnival.


Daffodils in Douglas Harding, 1993

Daffodils in Douglas Harding, 1993

Conscious space is infinite, through the emotional knots which cover and obscure it.   It is very hard to choose “the open-ness” over the obscuring condition. We are conditioned into a sense of profound limitation;  this became our habit.


Sacred India Tarot 9 of Arrows - detail

Sacred India Tarot 9 of Arrows – detail





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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 – see posts on Master R and his music

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