Exploring the Parallels between Vedic Traditions and Native American Customs

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A comparative study of Vedic culture and Native American traditions reveals striking similarities in their customs and practices. In an interview with Felicity O'Rourke, a member of the Anishnaabi Native American tribe, we gain insights into the shared aspects between these two ancient cultures. While Felicity's family had limited knowledge of their Native American heritage, her exploration into her roots uncovered resemblances to Vedic traditions. This article examines various aspects such as sacred food, reincarnation, death rites, cyclical ages, demigod worship, mystic practices, and the significance of plants in both Vedic and Native American spiritualities.

Sacred Food:

Felicity's Native American upbringing involved a strong emphasis on spiritual practices related to food. Interestingly, she discovered parallels to this concept when she interacted with Krishna devotees in Ann Arbor. Both Vedic and Native American cultures recognize the presence of the spiritual soul in all living entities, including plants. Native Americans offer prayers to plants, expressing their intentions and seeking permission to use them for sustenance. They then take the plant or grain, prepare it, and offer it on a spirit plate, demonstrating their reverence. Similarly, in the Vedic tradition, offering food to Krishna, known as prasadam, is a central practice.

Reincarnation and Multiple Realms:

Native American spirituality acknowledges the cycle of birth and death, with a belief in reincarnation. Felicity explains that certain animal spirit guides are associated with ancestors who have become animals. This understanding fosters a relationship between humans and animals, aiding each other's spiritual journeys. Native Americans also recognize the existence of multiple realms beyond the earthly plane, leading to rituals and ceremonies aimed at guiding the departed souls peacefully to the next realm. This resonates with the Vedic concept of different lokas or realms.

Death Rites and Transition:

In Native American customs, specific rituals surround the departure of a soul from the body. To ensure a smooth transition, the deceased's name is not spoken for a year, preventing any attachment that might hinder their journey to the next realm. This practice aligns with the Vedic perspective on death and the importance of letting go of attachment to the material world.

Cyclical Ages and Creation Stories:

Both Vedic and Native American cultures perceive time as cyclical. Native American spirituality associates different colors with each age, similar to the Vedic concept of yugas. Creation stories in Native American traditions, such as the one involving a turtle, bear resemblances to Vedic tales, highlighting the cyclic nature of the earth and its rejuvenation.

Demigod Worship and Healing Properties of Planets:

Native American practices often revolve around worshiping various demigods, such as the moon, sun, and specific planets. Each planet is believed to possess unique healing properties. The Vedic tradition also recognizes the worship of demigods, and the healing aspects associated with different celestial bodies align with Native American spirituality.

Mystic Practices:

Native American spirituality encompasses mystic yoga-like practices that involve traveling to other planets or realms. Rituals such as praying to the north star and participating in sweat lodge ceremonies reflect this mystical aspect. These practices enable spiritual and physical experiences that can be shared with others, similar to certain Vedic practices.

Significance of Plants:

Both Vedic and Native American cultures hold plants in high regard. Native American traditions involve dedicating time, attention, and prayers to specific plants, recognizing the living entities that preside over them. Tobacco, for example, is considered sacred and used in prayer offerings. Similarly, the Vedic tradition emphasizes the reverence for plants, as exemplified by the Tulasi plant.


The interview with Felicity O'Rourke sheds light on

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