Dharma Deck: Wisdom from the Vedas
Photography by Shawn Laksmi
Additional photos by Angelo Dinoto
Review by Chloe McCracken
I came across this 52-card deck when looking for something to use as inspiration in yoga classes. The cards are square, 4″ by 4″ (approx. 10cm), and come in a nice cardboard box in which they sit horizontally, with a top-opening flap. The cards have a black-and-white photograph of Indian people, architecture, wildlife or scenery on one side with a keyword, and a quote from an Indian sage on the keyword topic on the other.
The production quality is very good overall. The card stock is sturdy but not too thick, the photography is lovely, and the borders and colours work very well. On the side with the photograph, the image goes all the way to the edges, but with a thin, gold line border within the picture itself. On the side with quotes the same border is surrounded by a thicker white border and outside the border are Sanskrit symbols in black on brown. The quotation is in the centre of the card on a black background with subtle lines of Sanskrit text or Om symbols in grey. The keywords are always in gold, and the main text of the quotation is in white, except the first half of the first line, which is also in gold. Overall, both sides of the cards are very nice to look at.
As the deck is intended for meditation or inspiration, and given that each has an explanatory quote, there is no LWB, and no suggested spreads. The images are beautiful and poignant, and generally well chosen for the keywords. This being the case, I find them appropriate for intuitive oracle readings, as well as for meditation and inspiration. While they might look a little strange in a Celtic Cross because they are square (making crossing cards pretty impossible), they work well with smaller readings and spreads of the kind you could do with any oracle or angel deck.
I also really like the choices of keywords and quotes made. Although based on Indian sages, the creators have managed to choose aspects which have a somewhat more modern feel to them. For example, the quote on Women does not reflect traditional sexist views, but rather brings a more enlightened side of Indian culture to the fore: “All of the gods reside where women are properly honored. Where they are disrespected, all actions are in vain.” – The Code of Manu
Similarly, the quote on Nobility, with a photograph of a well-dressed Indian young man, does not feel classist at all, but rather encourages us to look towards nobility of spirit: “There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. True nobility is in being superior to your previous self.” – Hindu Proverb
There is a card on Evil, which still manages to be fairly light-hearted: “Like indigestible food in the belly, an evil deed is its own punishment – if not experienced in this life, it will follow us to the next. No one escapes the law of karma.” – Mahabharata
There are a few images in the deck which don’t particularly chime with me. For example, depicting Hope as an older woman with extreme jewellry doesn’t say much to me. However, there may be some cultural significance I just don’t understand, and I still find the card very evocative.
Anyone with an interest in yoga, meditation, or Indian culture and wisdom would find this deck a little gem. Also, if you like the idea of an oracle, but don’t like having to look up card meanings in a book, these cards might well suit you.