American Indian Karna

Note: Originally Written in February 2007

There are many similarities between Vedic culture and the American Indian traditions. In the Pueblo (Indians of the SW USA) traditions there is an amazing tale which parallels the story of Karna from the Mahabharata. There are some variations but the similarities are striking. Here is the story, ‘Arrow to the Sun’ as retold by Gerald McDermott. He published it in a children story book form and thus many of the details have been simplified. More research will surely find the parallels an even better match.

“Long ago the Sun God sent the spark of life to Earth. It traveled down the rays of the sun, through the heavens, and it came to the Pueblo. There it entered the house of a Young Maiden. In due course, the Boy came into the world of men. He lived and grew and played in the Pueblo (village).

However the other boys would not let him join in their games. “Where is your father?” they asked. “You have no father!” they mocked him and chased him away. The Boy and his Mother were sad.

The Spark of Sun Entered the Home of a Young Maiden, impregnating her in an exact parallel with the Karna Birth Origin Story. Image Source

One day he said, “Mother, I must look for my father. No matter where he is I must find him.” So the boy left home.

He traveled through the world of men and came to the Corn Planter. “Can you lead me to my father?” he asked. Corn planter said nothing, but continued to tend his crops.

The boy went to the Pot Maker. “Can you lead me to my father?” Pot Maker said nothing, but continued making his pots.

Then the boy went to the Arrow Maker, who was a wise man. “Can you lead me to my father?” Arrow Maker did not answer, but, because he was wise, he saw that the Boy had come from the Sun God. So he created a special arrow. The Boy became the Arrow.

Karna of the Mahabharata by zdrava

Arrow Maker fitted the Boy to his bow and drew it. The Boy flew into the Heavens. In this way the Boy traveled to the Sun.

After meeting the Sun God, and passing his tests, father and son rejoiced. The Boy was transformed and filled with the power of the Sun. “Now you must return to Earth, my son, and bring my spirit to the world of men.” Said the Sun God.

Once again the Boy became the Arrow. When the arrow reached the Earth, the Boy emerged and went to the Pueblo.

The People celebrated his return in the Dance of Life.”

Anyone familiar with the Mahabharata story of Karna can see the similarities. I will point out the obvious ones.

The Death of Bhishma. Illustration from Razmnama (Book of Wars),a Persian translation of Mahabharata
Date 1598–99 AD

The Sun God is Suryadeva. The Maiden who received the spark of life through his rays is the Maiden Princess, Kunti. The Boy is Karna. The other boys who would not let him join in their games are the Pandavas who mocked Karna for not knowing who his father was.

The Corn Planter and Pot Maker represent the teachers Drona and Kripa. The Arrow Maker represents Parashurama, who accepted Karna as his disciple and made him the greatest archer on earth.

Of course there are many points in the Mahabharata story that don’t seem represented here but since the source is a modern retelling of an ancient Pueblo Indian tale, thousands of years of separation from the original version will always create variations. This phenomenon can be found in Vedic culture itself. Example: Hanuman is a well known Brahmacari yet in Thailand he is married.

It is hoped more research and cultural exchanges can be done in the ongoing search for Humanities Ancient World Vedic Heritage.

Mahabharata War – Battle between Karna and Arjuna. Hoyleshwar Mandir, circa 1100 AD

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