The Incas and their godsby Rit Nosotro
Comparative Essay or Change Over Time essay
Describe how the Inca deities evolved over time to meet the political needs of the priests and kings.
Throughout history, rulers have used religion as a tool of reign. Although a few rulers realized they were but a lump of clay in the hands of God, most tried to manipulate their ideas of God as if they were molding a vessel for their own glorification. One example of this is the Incas. The Incas had deities which they used to scare and control the people they conquered.
According to Inca myth, the first Incan emperor, Manco Capac, and his three brothers and four sisters emerged from caves near the Lake Titicaca. Around the year 1200 AD, Manco Capac led ten Inca clans from Lake Titicaca into the north, to the fertile valley of Cusco. When the Incas first entered the Cusco valley, several other tribes had already settled down. The three major tribes were the Sawasiray, the Allkawisas and the Maras, who had formed an alliance that the Incas joined.
The political power of the primitive Confederation State was divided between two groups: The Hanan, which was the more powerful one, and the Hurin, which the Incas belonged to. It seems that the Hanan controlled most of the political and religious power, and the Hurin was in charge of the military. The first Hurin-leaders were called Sinchi, simply meaning military leader. The Sinchis, protected the cult of their tribe which was the Sun God cult. Religiously, Hurin stayed totally independent from Hunan.
During the 14th century, the leaders Sinchi Roca, Lloki Yupanki, Mayta Capac and Capac Yupanki led several war and raid expeditions against the neighbouring tribes of Cusco. When Capac Yupanki died, Sinchi Roca had gained political predominance, so that for the first time the Incas had total control of Cusco.
Inca Roca forced all conquered and allied tribes to worship the Sun god. This is an example of how the gods influenced the rulers, and the rulers used their religion to gain subservience. The Sun god, also known as Inti, was a very brutal god who was only satisfied with animal, and sometimes even human, sacrifices. Inca Roca strengthened his empire by further conquering.
After his death, the empire almost declined under the rule of Yahuar Huacac. Only after Inka Viracocha came to power, Cusco regained power and stabilisation. Under the rule of Inca Viacocha the Inca-state became a real power. Though Viracocha’s sphere of influence only reached a 50-km radius from Cusco, the Andean tribes soon had to fear great danger from the Cusco valley. When Viracocha’s glory reign period was moving towards an end, the future of the Inca Empire was in great danger. The Chanka tribe had expanded its territories and had become another powerful force. Soon the Chanka had formed an alliance with several other tribes and their army, which seemed to be unstoppable, was now moving towards Cusco. The aging Viracocha thought that any resistance was useless and retreated with a small group of soldiers to the fortress Calca. The rest of the army was left at Cusco to defend the city from the Chanka. The Chanka army outnumbered the Inca one, and the Chanka were very confident about their victory. After the battle started, the Chanka placed a statue of their tribe founder in the front rows. During the battle, the Inca army took control over the statue and the terrified Chankas deserted the battlefield. The legend says that the surprising victory of the Incas was the work of the sun god, Inti. Inti laid the foundations of the Inca imperialism.
Within a hundred years, the Inca conquered a number of different tribes expanding their area of influence outward from their home in the Cusco valley. The Inca Empire eventually totalled about 906,500 sq km. This territory centred on the peaks of the Andes, but extended to the pacific coast and the Amazon basin. Every territorial gain resulted in another war, which expanded the borders of the empire again. The larger the Inca Empire became, the greater the need for war to control territories the empire gained. Obviously, the Inca were a warlike people. A peaceful god like the one the coastal tribes worshiped, wouldn’t have met the needs for the Inca emperor to expand his empire. Inti, the sun god the Incas worshiped, satisfied those needs, since he was a cruel and warlike god. That is why the Inca emperor forced everyone to worship this god with the emperor himself as a incarnation of the diety.
Many things about the Incas are still unclear because of the rapid destruction of their culture. It is no puzzle however, that given the Inca’s belief that their emperor was their deity, Pizzarro was able to conquer the Inca Empire with less than a hundred men. Just like the false belief of the Chanka lead to their destruction. By controlling the false deity of the Emporer, Pizarro gained control over the whole empire. Always when rulers use religion for their own glorification, they bring destruction on themselves and their people. The created ruler can never rule over the Creator. Pizarro himself was not immune from this principle. He greedily manipulated the cross of Christ, as if it were a lump of clay, in his lust for Incan gold. He too was destroyed.
Many peoples have suffered destruction as they attempted to ursurp the role of the Creator. In Jeremiah 18:6 God says, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand..." Isreal learned this lesson the hard way at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians and yet they survived. However, the Assyrians and Babylonians, like the latter Inca Empire, did not learn the lesson and were destroyed by the master Potter.
According to Incan myth, who was the first Incan Emperor?
c. Manco Capac
Where was the Incan capital?
a. At the pacific coast
b. In the Amazon basin
c. In the Cusco Valley
What were the two political groups of the Cusco Confederation called?
a. The Hurin and the Sinchi
b. The Chanka and the Inti
c. The Viracocha and the Huacac
How large was the Incan Empire at its height?
a. 9,500 sq km
b. 906,500 sq km
c. 545,550 sq km
Salentiny, Fernand. Machu Picchu. 1979 Umschau Verlag Breidenstein KG, Frankfurt
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