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The Great Blue Spirit Nagi Tanka Skan Skan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brannon Parker   

  Excerpt from the Upcoming Book "The Serpent, The Eagle, The Lion and The Disk  

"The word Wakan Tanka means all of the Wakan beings because they are all as if one. Wakan Tanka Kin signifies the chief or leading Wakan Being which is the Sun. However, the most powerful of the Wakan beings is Nagi Tanka, the Great Spirit who is also Taku Skanskan; Taku Skanskan signifies the Blue, as in the Sky. Wakan Tanka is pleased with music. He likes to hear the drums and the rattles. When any of the Wakan beings hear the drum and the rattles they always give attention. The Wicasa Wakan or priests, speak for all the Wakan beings. Wakan Tanka gives them the power that makes them Wakan and by which they can put ton into anything. Each priest has an object for himself into which ton has been put. This is called a Wasicun. A Wasicun is one of the Wakan beings. The earth and the rock and the mountains pertain to the chief Wakan. We do not see the real earth and the rock, but only their tonwanpi."  Sword, Lakota Sioux Medicine Man & Elder interviewed in 1913

Here again is yet another Supreme God at the center of a major religious tradition that is directly identified as “The Blue, as in the Sky.” In his form as Great Spirit he is called ‘Nagi Tanka’ and ‘Taku Skanskan.’ Though the meaning of these words may have changed within the Sioux language the similarities of ‘Nagi’ and ‘Skanskan’ with ‘Naga’ and ‘Sankarshan’ (names of the Cosmic Serpent Ananta Shesha) are remarkable. Also we see a compelling linguistic link between ‘T-hakur’, a Sanskrit word for Lord and the Native American word ‘Taku’ being applied to its primal deity. It is not in name alone that there exists a direct correlation. They share key elemental attributes and characteristics as well. Both ‘Nagi Skanskan’ and ‘Naga Sankarshan’ represent the power keeping the planets in their place within the vastness of space. Ananta Shesha is the law of gravity and he is the power of movement and awareness present within all life forms.

 The expansion of Wakan Tanka known as ‘Inyan’ or ‘Inyankan’ is Narayan Kana and his worship is also found in Japan in his form as Nyoirin Kannon. They are the same exact deities not in name alone but in their attributes, associations and characteristics.The term ‘kan’ is another important indicator of divinity found throughout the ancient world. Within the Native Americn usage the ‘kan’ in the word ‘Wakan’ is used to refer to the actual divinity of the being. Again we find an allegedly disconnected civilization using ‘Kana’ in reference to their chief deity. The Polynesians call him ‘Kane’; he was called ‘Wel-kanos’ in Crete, ‘Kannon’ or ‘Quan Yin’ in Japan and China and ‘Bal Kana’ in India. Within the Mayan language Wakan means ‘Heart of the Sky’, a name fully expressive of the term ‘Kana’.

The Sioux Elder Sword elucidates on the concept of ‘Kan’ and the expansions or Avatars of Wakan Tanka, the ‘One but Many’ which is also a common appellation of Lord Vishnu.

The four times four are: Wikan and Hanwikan; Taku Skanskan and Tatekan and Tob

Kin and Yumnikan; Makakan and Wohpe; Inyankan and Wakinyan; Tatankakan; Hunonpakan; Wanagi; Waniya; Nagila; and Wasicunpi. These are the names of the Gods as they are known to the people. Wakan Tanka is like sixteen different persons; but each person is ‘Kan’. Therefore, they are all only the same as one . . . . All the God persons have ton. Ton is the power to do supernatural things.”

Linguisticly the letters D and T and B and V are interchangeable. The Sioux name for God, ‘Tob-tob’ and ‘Deva-deva, a Sanskrit name for Vishnu, meaning the ‘God of gods’ are the same, both linguistically and in their theological significance as well. Wakan Ankanta, is the name given to the ‘Superior Gods’ who are all Avatars of Wakan Tanka, among whom ‘Inyan, the Rock, the All-Father’ is one. This form of God is also congruent with Sada Shiva who is the very glance of Narayan (God) by which Mata Durga, the Universe, is impregnated.


Wakinyan is the Winged God and the associate of Inyan, one of the primary four expansions of Wakan Tanka. He is known as ‘Wak Inyan’ because of his close association with ‘Inyan’.  Inyan is the ‘Rock’ upon which ‘Turtle Island’ rests; for he is the ‘Turtle’ as well. He is Narayan as Kurma, the Tortoise Avatar of Vishnu who supports the world upon his back. He is Ananta Shesha who holds all the planets upon his hoods. Wakinyan is the Eagle. He is Wakinyan, the Divine Mystery Flyer and he is the expansion and associate of Inyan, the ‘All-Father.’ Again the ever present Eagle is seen within its same role and connotations be it Wakinyan the Eagle of Inyan, the Eagle of Helios or Garuda the Eagle of Vishnu. Referring once again to ‘Secret Instructions for a Shaman’ we find many key elements identifying Wakinyan and Inyan, the All-Father. They exactly parallel Garuda and Narayan, the Primeval Father.

“Wakinyan abides in his lodge on the top of the mountain at the edge of the world where the Sun goes down to the regions under the world. He is many, but they are as only one; he is shapeless, but has wings with four joints each; he has no feet, yet he has huge talons; he has no head, yet has a huge beak with rows of teeth in it, like the teeth of the wolf; his voice is the thunder clap and rolling thunder is caused by the beating of His wings on the clouds; he has an eye, and its glance is lightning…He flies through all the domain of the Sky, hidden in a robe of clouds…Yet, if He so wills, He may appear to mankind in the form of a giant man, and if so, He is then the God, Heyoka…His functions are to cleanse the world from filth and to fight the Monsters who defile the waters and to cause all increase by growth from the ground.


The prophetic traditions of the American native are filled with intriguing and mysterious predictions. There are in truth a multitude of prophecies found within the ancient American traditions. The prophecies invoking the return of beloved leaders maintain a prominent place in the lore of the people. Two particular prophecies relate to two key religious figures in the history of the ‘Red People’.
One is related to the ‘White Buffalo-calf Woman’ the same Mother Earth Goddess of the Vedic tradition who assumes the form of a White Cow. She is also Hathor of the ancient Egyptians, the Goddess who takes the form of both a human being and a White ‘Divine Mother’ Cow. The White Buffalo Woman is a manifestation of Maka (Mata for linguisticly the letters k and t are interchangeble) the Mother ‘Earth Goddess’ who like the Vedic Earth Goddess Bhumi Devi, also known as Dharti Mata (origin of the English word dirt), appeared as the White Ever Bountiful Divine Cow/Buffalo. In fact the Buffalo woman presented herself in this form at the end of a final series of revelations.

Dekanawida, the Heavenly Messenger was also a direct representative and a manifestation of God. Prophecies regarding these figures prominently influenced native religion, history and culture. These prophecies are not just for the Sioux or Iroquois. According to the spiritual teachings of the American natives this wisdom is for everyone and specifically for all those who strive to walk harmoniously and in balance with all life. Before leaving his people, Dekanawida spoke to them one last time. Both Dekanawida the Heavenly Messenger and Peace Maker and the Buffalo Woman, prophesized they would return. In his final words, Dekanawida spoke of the appearance of a ‘young leader’ and a ‘choice seer’.

"The Iroquois will face a time of great suffering. But a great message will come to them and make them ever so humble, and, when they become that humble, they will be waiting for a young leader, an Indian boy, possibly in his teens, who will be a choice seer. Nobody knows who he is, but he will be given great power, and will be heard by thousands, and he will be the accepted leader ... A light many times brighter than the sun will be coming from the East to the West. I will be that Light." When Dekanawida finished speaking, he blessed the people and turned to climb into a snow-white bark canoe. They watched him for the last time paddle away across the water of Lake Onondaga, into the most brilliant sunset they had ever seen.” This prophecy was central to the Iroquois tradition and still resonates with their people to this very day.

The Indian Scholar and Author John Fire Lame Deer depicts the final farewell of the White Buffalo Woman. Again as she departed she left the people with a message of hope centered upon her eventual return.

 “She spoke one last time to Standing Hollow Horn, the chief, saying, "Remember: this pipe is very sacred. Respect it and it will take you to the end of the road. The four ages of creation are in me; I am the four ages. I will come to see you in every generation cycle. I shall come back to you." The sacred woman then took leave of the people, saying: "Toksha ake wacinyanktin ktelo, I shall see you again." The people saw her walking off in the same direction from which she had come, outlined against the red ball of the setting sun. As she went, she stopped and rolled over four times. The first time, she turned into a black buffalo; the second into a brown one; the third into a red one; and finally, the fourth time she rolled over, she turned into a white female buffalo calf, the most sacred living thing you could ever encounter The White Buffalo Woman than disappeared over the Horizon."

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