The Philosophies of Dhakkan'guini



Dhakkan’guini Kira’bera Mu’lung-Kgai’ya-‘ra
(David Kgai’ya)

“The Grasstree Boy”
- The last Ka’bi Kgai’ya warrior and clan Ngat’ja-Guru –

The following translated extracts (c.1890-1938) have been taken from the only collection of spiritual conversations with Dhakkan’guini (David Kgai’ya), the last Ka’bi Kgai’ya clan warrior of the Mary River Valley north-west of Gympie City in S. E. Queensland, Australia (the  Glastonbury - Widgee - Brooyar - Oakview region).
These philosophies were recorded at the Gayndah “Tongara-Lin” property in the Central Burnett region of southern Queensland where David Kgai’ya had lived until his passing. This record was compiled from c.1931-1938.

If we must consider the spirituality of the Aborigine (no matter who wrote their cultural histories in the past) – it can all be said through the deification of Dhakkan’guini (David Kgai’ya) in 1931 by his life-long European friend who became his Ka’bi clan’s cultural historian. Seven years later and a week apart, both men passed into the great Sky World:

"His persistence and belief in the spirit world, paths of destiny, god-spirits governing the upper, middle and lower worlds, and living with the harmony of the worldly planet, belittles any spirituality within me of the European kind, for it pales into insignificance. He is no savage. He holds himself high and proud despite his age. The twinkle in his eye is his soul. The touch of his hand is like the caress of velvet. His voice sounds like the musical rise and fall of winds in the trees. His smile blinds one with glowing teeth like rays from the sun. He is but a god in union with his environment. He is a physical spiritual being who can see into your soul and on trust, give you his heart of undying loyalty and compassion. His knowledge and understanding of the cosmos and worldly energies is his life force. I wish I were he in the next world."
These are the Philosophies of Dhakkan’guini:

"You are a free spirit. Become one with nature and you will live long."

"... the physical body may pass through but only the pure soul will continue the journey."

"Life is nothing but a continuous learning journey through dangerous shadows."

"One must be in union with all around for without the spirits you will not survive."

"The soul of the man of the soil shares the heart of the land and is in union with it."

"The gift of yourself is essential to the star place of man's soul."

"Strong affections are like burning coals in a fire - get too close and you can be burnt."

"On leaving this world, our spirits travel to wherever we are commanded because we are one with all around us."

"To destroy any part or living thing around us destroys the soul of a being that once was."

"One must have spiritual harmony with the land for without, he will be a nothing."

" If the waters are kept pure, then so is the body."

"If you fight your brother and sister, your soul will become dark and cold."

"Dha'rramulan is God of the Earth, son of the Sun God Dhirumulumanbu, and grandson of Bpirali the greatest creator god-spirit of all. He is the darkness that can be lit and instructs the men in men's things. His wife is Murrungini the Earth Goddess mother who is an egg full of milk. She instructs the women for they may not see or hear of Dha'rramulan and must creep away...."

"(The Milky Way) is the Great River of Life where the sky gods come down in their great sky-cloud dugouts and return with men's souls. Look, you can see all their spirit lights going upwards in the great sky river to Birali."

"When people die, they are brought up to a large tree where Mireeroolgan the good woman spirit examines and judges them for Bpirali the Creator Spirit. The good she takes up to the sky gods. The bad she sends to another place (with the demons) to be punished. The women say to their children when they are naughty, `Mireeroolgan will not allow it'. Yo-wi: Yow-wee are the lost spirits wandering over the face of the earth at night to learn of their fate."

"The first lesson on becoming a man is not to possess earthly things that serve no purpose. Only keep those imperative for survival."

"The Sky Wind Father is the great eagle of the sky. He is a great protector of men. The Sky Wind Mother is another sky eagle not far from him. She is a great protector of women. They often visit Dhar (the Earth) and as eagles, catch their evil prey, and rise back up into the heavens."

"The second lesson is that unnecessary possessions taken with you will be a burden impeding your hunt. Why then is it necessary to have great numbers of possessions they are asked? I say foolish men gather possessions."

"Boo'dangee, the great earth serpent who sleeps in the underworld has all the knowledge and if you awaken her, she will show you the way."

"My spirit is like a seed of a plant. If it receives good food and water for its body to grow tall and strong, when it dies, its seed will grow into stronger trees. The ancestor spirits grow stronger each time they travel the great sky river from up there to here because they learn well ... (pointing to the sky) ... this is also where the gods of Kgonnai in the sky come down in their sky cloud-dugouts and return with the spirits. See! You can see all their spirit lights going upwards in the great sky river to Birali. This is the river of all spirits travelling between the Earth World and the Sky World. This is the pathway of the Sky Gods."

"Land is never owned. Land can never be claimed. It is honourable to live on it and protect it but not a right."

"Even as we sleep beside the campfire, we are in touch with the Sky World as we roll over from side to side, on the belly and on the back, so that we always look at the great sky river as it passes the Earth World each night. Everything is everything and we are tied by the ancestor strings to the Sky World from the Earth World."

"The first sacred bag of Dhakkan stones came from an origin beyond man. The shining magic stones were left in waterholes between star spirit worlds and man."

"At first, all men were of their totem name. He was present in all forms of food. There was bird, wallaby, bee, tree bear, opossum, fish, emu, iguana and many others. His spirit was tied to his totem and could not be parted. He was bound to guard the other's life existence. Man was first with the food totem. This is very important. The great creator Birali made no seed to continue each man, animal, fish or bird like that of the grasses. The man-totem makes certain that all men, animal, fish and bird continue to grow in number. Man is the guardian. Without them, he is lost. Man, like all his totems, walked on the Earth World. Man cannot survive without his totem spirit."

"Souls are placed on the great Ngan'dala/Ngan'darla: Ngan'data/Ngan'darta tree. This is the great ancestral spirit-child tree that reaches from the Underworld to the Sky World. It is a shimmering tree with all the colours of the Dhakkin stone Rainbow Spirit. Only when a baby is made from the man-seed does a soul choose to return at the point of conception. This place becomes his personal place of ownership. He must return at death to reclaim his place on the Ngan'dala tree of the spirit world. Not to return to his place of conception condemns him to the form of a Yow'i, an evil spirit wanderer of the darkness. There he shall stay until his remains are interred at the place of conception."

"Everything is a living soul including the planet itself. The earth and all of its creatures have seven lives of existence."

Dhakkan’guini’s Explanation of the Seven Times
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