Let us now consider the story of Kunti and Karna, and see if it can be transformed into something else. The first thing that strikes us in this story is the impossible things, on any rational scheme of thought said in connection with Kunti, and the unnatural course of her conduct; and so, following the principle laid down in the Mimansa, we may assume that she personifies an idea or an object of life, or else a law of Nature. But, as she is not said to be a goddess, she cannot refer to a law of Nature, for it is only a god (or a demon) who can do so. On the other hand, as she is a woman, who, as the Mimansa tells us, personifies Nature or its objects, she may be said to refer to an object of Nature. But the question is; what can that be?
We find that the dictionary does not help us; nor has the meaning of the word Kunti been defined in a special manner anywhere. But the Mimansa also tells us that there are a number of suggestions in the text itself to point to the solution of the difficulty. Now Kunti is also called Prtha, which has the same root (Prth) as Prthvi, meaning the Earth. This leads us to think that Prtha also may refer to the planet Earth. But, if that be so, the word Kunti should also refer to the Earth; and we find that, if we divide it into parts, it signifies the Earth. Hence we conclude that Kunti or Prtha is our planet Earth.
The word Kunti may be divided into Ku, n, t, i, when its meaning would be "(Ku) the Earth, associated with (n) the senses of knowledge, (t) the senses of action, and (i) the mind"; or "the Earth as seen in the light of our knowledge of the senses and the mind".
As the senses and mind constitute the bases of the Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems of philosophy, Kunti may be said to refer to the creative power of the Earth (or of Prakrti, for the two are closely allied) according to these systems. This has a bearing on her character, as described in the Epic, where she is said to live sometimes with her "sons", the Pandava brothers, and quite as often dwells in the household of their enemies. This can easily be explained if we understand what the Pandavas and their enemies, the Kauravas, really mean. The five Pandava brothers are but five parts of one Man, conceived as representing the whole Animal Kingdom; and their story is an account of the evolution of Man from the lowest to the highest point of thought, ending in Vedanta, Their opponents, on the other hand, believe that we must perform only necessary actions, for the ultimate goal of life is knowledge and not actions and so they adhere to the Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems. As Man has to understand these systems too before he can rise to higher forms of thought, Kunti lives with her sons in the first part of their journey of life; but when he rises to higher systems of thought, she remains with the Kauravas, for she represents the ideas of their systems of thought. The whole story of the Epic is like that.
As the meaning of the word Kunti depends on its first part, Ku, it is possible to vary the form of the remaining parts; but its essential meaning will remain unchanged. The word is sometimes written as Kunti, and may be divided into Kum, (the letter m being changed to n, when followed by t, in accordance with rules of grammar), and ti; and the meaning would then be "(Kum, a form of Ku) the Earth, (ti, an older form of Id) that is to say". We have Kunti or "that is to say, the Earth".
The idea of Kunti as Earth with reference to the senses and the mind can be extended further still. We have observed that, according to the ancients, the energy of the mind was electric, and that of the senses magnetic, the senses of knowledge referring to the one, and the senses of action to the other, magnetic pole. The energy of the mind and senses functioning together may, accordingly, be said to be electro-magnetic; and so the word Kunti would signify that the ancients believed that there is a permanent electro-magnetic current of energy flowing through the Earth.
The idea of Kunti as Earth and all that is connected with her has already been explained.
The father of Kunti: But the idea of Kunti as our planet Earth cannot stand alone. If it is a proper clue to the understanding of the real idea of the story, it must be supported by all the other statements regarding her. If she is the "daughter" of Sara of the Yadu race, and the "sister" of Vasudeva, the "father" of Krshna, and if she also represents the Earth, the latter cannot be men, as we believe, but only symbols of great forms of life, like her.
We have observed that the relationship of father and son may be made to represent the connection between origin and end, or cause and effect; and similarly, brother and sister may represent ideas or objects arising from a common cause or source.
Yadu: We have to begin with Yadu, for the "father" of Kunti is said to belong to this "race". As we are unable to understand what exactly it signifies, we may divide the word into parts; and, if we do so, we find that the meaning it conveys is that "the exercise of our intelligence makes for a proper function of the senses of knowledge".
The word Yadu may be divided into ya, d, u, when its meaning would be "(ya) intellect associated with (d) sacrifice connected with (u) the senses of knowledge". It means that if we exercise our intellect, we understand the nature of the sacrifice of the senses of knowledge; and, as "sacrifice" means good, intelligent and joyous action, the idea is that the exercise of our intelligence enables us to understand all this with reference to our senses of knowledge. As there is no reference to the senses of action in the word, the idea is that the highest conception of life, in the light of our intellect, is that it is knowledge that makes for joy in the end.
As a proper understanding of the function of the intellect leads to the idea of action too, the latter is expressed in the idea of Sure, who is said to belong to this race (or the body of those who hold this view).
Sura: This idea, however, appears to be incomplete, for a proper exercise of our intelligence makes for a proper function of the senses of action too; arid so we are told of Sura as "a chief of the Yadus", who refers to the association of the intellect with the senses of action, or action.
The word sura may be divided into s, u, r, a, and its meaning would be "(s) the intellect (u) woven with (ra) the senses of action". It accordingly means that the intellect is associated with the function of the senses of action.
The word yadu limits the intellect to the senses of knowledge or to knowledge only; and it is necessary to conceive of it separately, because there are some who believe that, if we look at life in an intelligent manner, we can come to the conclusion that its end is knowledge and not action. But this idea is really incomplete, for we cannot separate knowledge from action; and the acquisition or attainment of knowledge itself is a form of action, as the Mimansa tells us. Hence the idea of yadu is followed by that of sura, who refers to the intimate connection of intelligence (or an intelligent way of looking at things) with action.
The descendents of Sura: Now we have seen that, if we understand the idea of intelligence in its completeness, as making for both knowledge and action, we can, by a gradual evolution of thought and by associating the idea of "sacrifice" with Nature, eliminate the difference between it and God, and so understand the most perfect idea of the Deity that is possible for man to know. As these ideas are derived from the original conception of Yadu and sura, they may be said to be the "descendants" of the latter.