When Princess Kunti is twelve years old she tries reciting a secret mantra for inviting the gods into her life. She gets more than she bargained for when the Sun himself swoops down out of the sky in a golden chariot and presents her with a baby. “Take him back,” she cries. “I’m not ready to be a mother!” But it’s too late; the Sun says the baby is her responsibility now. However, he points out the child’s golden earrings and the golden shield upon his chest and tells Kunti that as long he wears them, the child will be protected. Kunti tearfully puts the baby in a basket and sets him afloat on the river, where Adhiratha and Radha, a poor and childless couple, find him and take him in.
Karna: The Greatest Archer in the World introduces the reader to the heroic but humanly flawed character of Karna, who grapples with issues of right and wrong, truth and lies, loyalty and abandonment. It tells how Radha helps her adoptive son, Karna, solve the mystery of his birth; how she and her husband give Karna the courage to follow his heart in the study of archery; how Karna faces his birth mother in the final days of his brief but brilliant life; and how his loyalty to a friend and his unparalleled generosity and sense of honor ultimately cause him to give his own life so that good may triumph over evil.
Vatsala Sperling, Ph. D., fluent in a number of Indian languages and Sanskrit, learned these traditional stories at her mother’s feet and enjoys introducing them to children of the Western world. Before marrying and moving to the United States, she was the chief of Clinical Microbiological Services at the largest children’s hospital in India. She is the author of How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head, How Parvati Won the Heart of Shiva, Ram the Demon Slayer, and Hanuman’s Journey to the Medicine Mountain. She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.
Sandeep Johari was raised by his uncle Harish Johari who taught him classical Indian painting. He used a traditional wash technique for the illustrations in Karna, combining transparent watercolors and opaque tempera paints in a multi-step process for each painting. He also illustrated Hanuman’s Journey to the Medicine Mountain and is the creative director in an advertising agency in New Delhi, India.
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