Good evening everyone!
Today I would like to share the story about our most ambitious publishing project with you: The Sacred India Tarot. This is a tarot deck based on Indian mythology. I was not really into the subject of tarot at the beginning when my friend Rohit first approached me, but it seemed very interesting. Rohit had been developing some ideas and suggested that we bring out a tarot deck based on Indian mythology, which had never been attempted before.
The tarot has a specific structure of 78 cards and includes the major cards, called the major arcana, and the minor cards, called the minor arcana and comprising four suits similar to those in playing card decks. Each suit has a structure, and the major arcana has a structure and sequence as well. It was immensely complex to determine how to fit Indian mythology stories within the tarot structure. Perhaps due to this complexity, this has never been done before in the history of tarot. Rohit told me that he had understood how the mythology could be translated within the tarot structure, and all he needed was an artist to design the drawings for the deck. I said that we could see where it goes and try to find an artist.
The only caveat was that he wanted an artist who was familiar with mystical arts, and not just drawing Indian Gods and Goddesses. There were plenty of artists like that in India but someone who had deeper esoteric knowledge, not only familiar with tarot but also Indian Mythology and so on. It was quite an impossible task actually. Of course, the main thing was we had no money. Because this was in the early days of publishing.
Anyway, off I went on a London trip and I was scheduled to meet Alan Jacobs, the then head of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation, UK. We were meeting to discuss the rights to Ramesh ji’s book The Ultimate Understanding. Alan was connected with Watkins Publishing. They were interested in publishing this book, so we met over dinner. That was the first time I met Alan. Thanks to Ramesh ji. My sister Nikki was with me. With Alan was his wife, Jane.
Once we finished talking, I asked Jane what she was doing. She said she was an artist and one thing led to another. I visited her studio and I felt Jane was perfect for this assignment because I saw drawings on Indian Gods, on mystical aspects of Kabbalah, the tarot and various other things and it just seemed, a gift from heaven. So, I was quite excited.
When I came back I wrote to Jane and I spoke to Rohit. The three of us connected. This was pre Internet days I think or maybe the internet had just started, I don’t know. But, Jane agreed to come on board and that was great. That was the start of a 12 year journey. It took us 12 years for Rohit to write out the text, for Jane to do the drawings, for it to all come together.
During those years, each one of us went through their own cycle of the tarot as Rohit says. All the ups and downs, the journey of life, the challenges, the highs, the lows, and it was really a miracle that the publishing business survived for those 12 years. At the end of it, when it was ready, the question that arose was: where does the money come from to publish this deck? I thought to myself and said, the sheer fact that we have survived these 12 years means this deck is meant to be brought out.
It was a huge challenge to print it. Not only in terms of cost but unfortunately in India we do not have the printing science and technology for decks of cards, except the playing cards which are quite different because they are of a specific size, and with simple colours, unlike a tarot deck. So, we did grapple with a lot of quality issues which we ironed out one by one. That was a challenge and still remains one to contend with in the reprints.
I remember Rohit’s words to me, when he said, ‘Gautam, when I suggested this deck to you and you agreed, I thought to myself that this guy is perhaps batshit insane.’ Those were the words he used which I never heard before in my life. But it’s true; I think ignorance is bliss. We just said ‘yes’ to something we did not even know how we would bring about. But it was meant to be.
Why is this one of my favourite items in the Yogi Impressions portfolio? Because it is the journey of consciousness. The handbook, which is three hundred and fifty pages, is a tour de force in Indian mythology. You don’t even need to have an interest in tarot. The major arcana itself is the journey from the individual consciousness to the cosmic consciousness. It is so beautifully described through stories and as for the suits, one is a story of Shiva-Parvati, one is a story of the Mahabharata battle, one from the Ramayana, and one is of the Buddha. I mean it’s so rich, we learn so much that we had no idea about through the handbook of The Sacred India Tarot.
So even if you are not interested in the tarot, not really interested in tarot art but Indian mythology and it’s reflection, the key characters, the Gods, the Goddesses, the stories, the lessons, it is all really fabulous!
Those who are interested in the tarot will find this a treasure. Because, it is the first time they will be able to map the tarot with Indian mythology, which has never even been attempted before.
So, it was very fulfilling when this book, this deck came out. We have gone into reprinting three times. It has sold consistently. It’s expensive because it is very expensive for us to produce considering the 82 cards and we have done a very fancy outer box and so on. But it’s a delight. It’s a delight to publish. It’s a delight to see how a cross border collaboration took place between Rohit, Jane and myself.
Rohit would bring these large books and print-outs and drawings, and then we would have to scan them and fax them. Those were the days of fax machines. We would fax them across to Jane in London. References of Ganesha, Shiva in various postures, and so on. Then Jane would do rough sketches, she would fax them back to us, and then the final drawing would be done.
So, I learnt a lot. I even had to learn the tarot so that I knew when we published it what tarot was about. That was fascinating because in the process I learnt it is a misconception that it is purely a predictive tool used by gypsies and so on. It is more like a template on which the subconscious mind gets projected onto the cards dealt, which in turn can be read with the gifts of insight and intuition. So, it was quite fascinating. I enjoyed that and what it taught me was to be open, open to whatever comes naturally and to know that if something is meant to happen, it will happen. No matter what the odds are that are against it. This is what happened with the tarot deck. It had to happen. It was destined to happen. The odds were against us. An uphill task that brought forth challenges that seemed Insurmountable. But it happened.
If you see the reviews online, you will see how people, especially those familiar with the tarot, have received this product. This product from India, Indian culture and tradition, and mythology.
So this has been a high point in the publishing journey.