The Lakota Indians of the American Plains have various names for the Supreme Being. Among them Wakan Tanka is the most well known and widely used. What does this name mean? The answer is provided by the wisdom of the Lakota Elders.
They identify the term KAN within the word Wakan to represent the divinity, the sacredness and the mystical nature of the word. In other words, it is KAN that makes it a Godly name. It is KAN that makes it sacred and it is the actual indicator of the Divinity of God, of the Holy, the Godly and the Saintly.
The Lakota people have many other commonly known names besides Wakan Tanka for God and his/her various manifestations. However there are two names of God, Secret Names, known only to the ‘wiyan wakan’ holy women and ‘wicasa wakan’ holy men. These two names are Skan and To.
Wanka Tanka as Skan is identified as being Blue in color. Also known as Taku Skan-skan and Nagi Tanka, he represents ‘the power of all that moves.’ He has Supreme authority overall and he is everywhere. He is the Supreme arbiter, pure, spiritual, masculine and non-material. “…all that mankind can see of Him is the blue of the sky. But He is everywhere.” The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies of the Oglala Division of The Teton Dakota John R. Walker 1917
The other secret name of God ‘To‘ means ‘Blue‘. Thus Wakan Tanka’s most arcane and confidential names are Skan, who is Blue and To which means Blue.
Significantly the concept of the ‘Blueness of God’ is thus reinforced twice at the most advanced mystical levels of Lakota Religion and spirituality. There can be absolutely no doubt. The Supreme God of the Lakota, Wakan Tanka is Blue.
When combining the Blue epitath with the Lakota word KAN, (used to signify anything sacred and divine,) the nature and characteristics of their Supreme Being, WaKAN Tanka become obvious. The names, attributes, qualities and associations all correlate exactly with the universal Supreme Godhead archetype shared across the globe.
Wakan Tanka has two secret names, SKAN and TO. SKAN is Blue & represents ‘the power of all that moves’. The other secret name of God ‘To’ means ‘Blue’. Significantly the concept of the ‘Blueness of God’ is thus reinforced twice at the most esoteric mystical levels of Lakota Religion and Spirituality.
According to the Lakota Elders, the most esoteric and confidential name of God is TO-KAN or BLUE DIVINITY (GOD). The Lakota word KAN is often translated to mean “Incomprehensible. An incomprehensible fact that cannot be demonstrated.” This is the actual purport of the words TO-KAN given by the Lakota Elders. And this is how the Ancients of every culture describe God throughout history.
“The LORD is great, and to be praised highly, though his greatness is indescribable.” Psalm 145:3 Knowing Jesus
Na tasya pratima asti – “There is no likeness of Him..” Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19 Astroulagam
“This Śrī Kṛṣṇa is no other than the inconceivable, original Personality of Godhead. He is the first Nārāyaṇa, the supreme enjoyer.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1:9:18 Prayers of Bhishma – The Passing Away of Bhīṣmadeva in the Presence of Lord Kṛṣṇa
Al-Baatin الْبَاطِنُ “The Imperceptible The Hidden, The Secret One, The Inner One, The Knower of Hidden Things.” 99 Names of Allah My Islam
Lakota Belief and Ritual
The book, ‘Lakota Belief and Ritual‘ presents the James R. Walker collection of traditional Lakota knowledge. Walker spent eighteen years in South Dakota. He worked as a physician on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the home of the Oglala Sioux. From 1896 until 1914, he collected material relating to nearly every aspect of the old Lakota way of life. “This collection records teachings by men whose statements of belief show the energy, depth, and imaginative intensity characteristic of the Lakota response to specific cultural, social, and ecological challenges.” (Word ‘imaginative’ applied by reviewer should read ‘sacred’.) In fact Dr. James R. Walker was trained and accepted as a shaman and ‘medicine man’ by the very Lakota Elders featured in his book. He was both a ‘Public health pioneer and shaman”
Basically this is the ultimate “go-to‘ book and resource for understanding one of Humanity’s most ancient religious and mystical traditions. It is a collection of authentic ancient Indigenous American spirituality as preserved in Lakota belief and ritual. These teachings clearly identify the Supreme God, Wakan Tanka as Blue and his sacred essence is known as Kan.
Lakota teachings also reveal that Wakinyan or Thunderbird is the Eagle and favorite companion of Wakan Tanka. Thus we have a twice-comfirmed as Blue Supreme Godhead identified as Kan with an Eagle as his favorite companion.
Blue + Kan + Eagle = Wakan Tanka = Krishna + Garuda
Cross Cultural Commonality of Kan, the Blue Supreme Godhead
The Blue Krishna of the Vedic Vaishnava Indic Traditions is commonly known as Kanha. And like the mystical Lakota tradition, Kanha is an informal, intimate name of God. This nickname, Kanha Kanhaiya, is used by Yashoda, whom Krishna lovingly accepted as his own Mother. A mother’s pet name for her beloved son is one of the most intimate and often secret reflections of pure love in creation.
Thus this name of Kan is rooted in the concept of an all-powerful Supreme God’s loving nature. God is the source of all Love and true religion is about reviving our eternal loving relationships with God.
While many, including some Lakota people, have forgotten their own original culture, the evidence still remains. It has been preserved within the teachings and wisdom of their Elders. This wisdom confirms that the God of their tradition, To-Kan or Blue Divinity is the same God at the root of every major religious tradition of the world.
Kane and His Bird Aaia-nukea-nui-a-Kane
In the ancient Hawaiian Polynesian traditions we find Kan/Kanha as Kane. Not only is his name the same but his attributes are an exact match for both Wakan Tanka and Krishna Kanha.
Ancient Polynesian Religion recognizes Kane as the highest of all the Gods and Goddesses. “Kane is the father of living creatures. Kane is the highest of the four major gods. He represented the god of procreation and was worshipped as ancestor of chiefs and commoners. Kāne is the creator and gives life associated with dawn, sun and sky. No human sacrifice or laborious ritual was needed in the worship of Kāne.’ Ancient Hawaiian Gods.
Like Krishna and Wakan Tanka, Kane has a favorite winged companion. He is called Aaia-nukea-nui-a-Kane,, meaning Great White Albatross of Kane. This is the white albatross (Diomedea immutabilis) which used to be seen commonly along the Hawaiian island coasts and was called “Kane’s bird.” As the largest bird in a region with a species of small sized Hawks, its obvious why this massive bird fulfills the role of ‘Eagle of God’ Garuda archetype.
- Wakan Tanka has 2 secret names, Skan and To
- Wakan Tanka as Skan is Blue in hue
- Wakan Tanka as To means Blue
- The concept of the ‘Blueness of God’ is thus reinforced twice at the most advanced mystical levels of Lakota Religion and spirituality
- The word Kan in the name Wakan Tanka represents God, the sacred and the Divine
- Kan, Kana, Kanha, Kane is the name for God throughout the ancient world
- Kan of ancient American Indian religion has an Eagle Wakinyan as a favored companion
- Kanha of ancient Vedic Vaishnava Indic tradition has an Eagle Garuda as a favored companion
- Kane of the ancient Polynesian tradition has a white albatross, Aaia-nukea-nui-a-Kane as a favored companion
Global Presence of Kana, Kanhaiya, Kanu
The scholar Neil Kalia Robinson writes,“KANA, Kanhaiya or Kanu etc., is a name for Krsna; Kana means, a grain, seed, drop or spark; smaller,lesser, young, younger, and YOUNGER BROTHER’. Kana also means “to shine, to please, pupil of the eye, to wink;” KANA is linked to the Skt. word TANA, extend, propagating, offspring, race, child etc.(see definiton below); In Polynesian, TANE or KANE is the YOUNGER BROTHER’ of TANGAROA/ KANALOA. Tane/ Kane and Tangaroa/Kanaloa are the Gods who propagate mankind thus, Tane/Kane for “man;” Tanata/ Kanaka, “mankind” and Tama/Kama “child.” From Asia, Africa to Native America the TANA/KANA relation appears to continue to be in popular use. IN Polynesian lore Tane/ Kane, like Krsna Kanhaiya, is said to be a dark complexion While correspondent to Balarama, Tangaroa / Kanaloa is fair. The lord of earth is Tane while Tangaroa ruled the depths of the sea or the primordial PO. Tangaroa/ Kanaloa in His form supporting the cosmos as the Polynesian Heke, or He’e, “octopus, squid” is thus equivalent of Ananta Shesha the infinte serpent who supports the cosmos. Ananta is famously known as an expansion of Balarama the elder Brother of Krsna or Kana.”
Below are some references highlighting the use of the term KAN within the Lakota Indian Tradition. Wherever and whenever it is used it is to describe that which is Holy, Sacred and connected to God. Go here to read direct source.
Interestingly we find that the words Angel and Messenger are the same in the Lakota language. We find this conception in Sanskrit as well. The Sanskrit word Angira means Messenger and this word Angira is the source of the word Angel or Messenger of God.
ogligle wakan – messenger
ogligle wakan – angel
wakan – holy
wakan ankanta – great holy
wakan tanka – God
wakan tanan kici un – may the Great Spirit bless you
wo-wakan – supernatural
wiyan wakan – holy woman
wicasa wakan – holy man
wichasha wakan – medicine man
owanka wakan – sacred altar
minne-wakan – holy water
can wakan – sun dance
tipi wakan – church
tipi wakan – temple
mazawakan – iron or gun. (Because the shot from it is like the act of the Wakan.)
Woniya Wakan – Holy Spirit
Lakota – Maka – Sanskrit – Mata – English – Mother
Maka – The Earth and Grandmother of all things. This is Mata = Mother in Sanskrit. (K & T are interchangeable within linguistics) The name of the Earth represents the ultimate primal expression of identity in a people. Again we find a foundational cultural element at the root of geographically and historically divergent cultures.
Mdewakantonwan – Spirit Lake or Sacred Lake people
We also find the term Kan is applied consistently within the same context and manner amongst the the various Lakota and among other American Indian Tribes as well.
Chinook (Northwestern US) Ikanam – Creator god
Mahikan (Indians of the Northeastern US)
Okanagan (Indians of Northwestern US)