Before I came to Amma, I was studying and practicing the spiritual beliefs and rituals of my ancestral heritage, the Indigenous Americans—the original Americans: Native Americans. Amma has said, “There are still spiritual Masters among the Native American people.” Even though I had met Amma in 1988 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it took me a few years to come to Her as a disciple. What sealed the deal for me was the suffering of my people, my race. I could not bear to see the suffering and injustices that the Native American people in Mexico, USA, Canada and Alaska had to endure. Their suffering was my suffering, and it broke my heart. I felt so hopeless; what could I possibly do?
I knew the only way I could really help was to become a shining light myself, through the grace of God. I knew Amma could guide me to that place. I knew She could show me how to really serve, how to really help my people. So, a few years later, I put my head at Her Feet, declaring Her my Mother and spiritual guide.
On this journey of learning, by God’s grace, I was able to partake several times in a very sacred ceremony called The Sun Dance. This sacred rite was given to the Lakota Sioux by a Holy Woman, named Pte Ska Win, which translates to White Buffalo Calf Woman. The Lakota are a Native American tribe whose homeland is the central Great Plains of United States.
The Sun Dance entails fasting from water and food for four days and four nights, and dancing to the Sun from sunrise to sunset as he makes his journey from East to West.
The buffalo, to all the plains tribes, is very sacred and a symbol of Mother Earth, the universe and the four yugas. Each foot of the buffalo represented a yuga or age, and each hair on the buffalo represents a year. The holy people of the Lakota Sioux Nation say, at present, the buffalo stands on one leg and is almost bald, representing the coming end of the fourth age or the Kali Yuga. The buffalo is a symbol of abundance, the Mother and the central figure of all the Lakota sacred rites.
(In Hindu mythology, the “Kali Yuga” is the final age of maximum degeneration followed by a return to another golden age. The Hindu conception of time is cyclical rather than linear.)
The Story of White Buffalo Calf Woman
This is the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman narrated by the Sioux Holy Man, Black Elk, in the book, The Sacred Pipe:
“Early one morning, very many winters ago, two Lakota men were out hunting with bows and arrows, and as they were standing on a hill looking for game, they saw in the distance something coming toward them in a strange and wonderful manner. When this mysterious thing came nearer to them, they saw that it was a very beautiful woman dressed in white buckskin and bearing a bundle on her back.
Now this woman was so good to look at that one of the Lakota had bad intentions and told his friend of his desire. The good man said that he must not have such thoughts, for surely this is a wankan (holy woman). The mysterious person was now very close to the men, and then, putting down her bundle, she asked the one with bad intentions to come over to her. “As the young man approached the mysterious woman, they were both covered by a great cloud, and soon, when it lifted, the sacred woman was standing there and at her feet was the man with the bad thoughts. He was now nothing but bones, and terrible snakes were eating him.
‘Behold what you see!’ the strange woman said to the good man. ‘I am coming to your people and wish to talk with your chief, Hehlokecha Najin (Standing Hollow Horn). Return to him, and tell him to prepare a large tipi in which he should gather all his people, and make ready for my coming. I wish to tell you something of great importance!’”
“The young man then returned to the tipi of his chief, and told him all that had happened: that this wakan woman was coming to visit them and that they must all prepare. The chief then had several tipis taken down, and from them a great lodge was made as the sacred woman had instructed. He sent a crier to tell the people to put on their best buckskin clothes and to gather immediately in the lodge. The people were, of course, all very excited as they waited in the great lodge for the coming of the holy woman. Everybody was wondering where this mysterious woman came from and what she wished to say.
“Soon, the young men who were watching for the coming of the wakan person announced that they saw something in the distance approaching them in a beautiful manner. Then, suddenly, she entered the lodge, walked around sun-wise (clockwise), and stood in front of Standing Hollow Horn. She took from her back the bundle, and, holding it with both hands in front of the chief, said, ‘Behold this and always love it! It is lela wakan (very sacred), and you must treat it as such. No impure man should ever be allowed to see it, for within this bundle there is a sacred pipe. With this, you will, during the winters to come, send your voices to Wakan-Tanka, your Father and Grandfather.’
“After the mysterious woman said this, she took from the bundle a pipe, and a small round stone, which she placed upon the ground. Holding the pipe up with its stem to the heavens, she said, ‘With this sacred pipe, you will walk upon the Earth; for the Earth is your Grandmother and Mother, and She is sacred. Every step that is taken upon Her should be as a prayer. The bowl of this pipe is of red stone; it is the Earth. Carved in the stone and facing the center is the buffalo calf, who represents all the four-legged who live upon your Mother.
“The stem of the pipe is of wood, and this represents all that grow upon the Earth. And these twelve feathers which hang here where the stem fits into the bowl are from Wanbli Galeshka, the Spotted Eagle, and they represent the eagle and all the winged of the air. All these people, and all the things of the universe, are joined to you who smoke the pipe-all send their voices to Wakan-Tanka, the Great Spirit. When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.’
“The wakan woman then touched the foot of the pipe to the round stone on the ground, and said, ‘With this pipe, you will be bound to all your relatives: your Grandfather and Father, your Grandmother and Mother. This round rock, which is made of the same red stone as the bowel of the pipe, your Father, Wakan-Taka, has also given to you. It is the Earth, your Grandmother and Mother, and it is where you will live and increase.
“This Earth that He has given to you is red, and the two-leggeds who live upon the Earth are red; and the Great Spirit has also given to you a red day, and a red road. All of this is sacred, and so do not forget! Every dawn as it comes is a holy event, and every day is holy, for the light comes from your Father Wakan-Tanka; and also you must always remember that the two-leggeds and all the other people who stand upon this earth are sacred and should be treated as such.’
“After teaching the people and giving them her gifts, White Buffalo Calf Woman left them, promising to return. She let them know that she wouldn’t return for a long period of time and asked the Lakota to integrate the rites into their lives till then and work with them eagerly.
“Regarding her prophecy, her return would be in a time of big crisis and great upheaval, shortly before the “great cleaning of the earth“ is about to start. She will be there to support nature and all tribal people, the Hopi say: “Pure hearted people”.
to be continued… (click here to go to Part 2.)
Author: Nirupama Orona
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