The Fascinating Inca Religion

The Inca Empire arose in the 13th century, and it developed military, political and administrative centers in Cusco, a location that we all know now today under the name of Peru. The largest empire in pre-Columbian America was conquered by the Spanish armies in 1572, so the Incas assimilated some of the Spanish traditions. However, Inca religion was very strong, therefore people kept their beliefs.

The Inca people believed in reincarnation. So, they never incinerated the bodies of those who died because they thought that a certain vital force that was supposed to help them pass to the after world would disappear. They saw death as a passage full of difficulties to another world. Furthermore, most of them imagined that the spirit of a dead person would have to follow a dark and difficult road in order to make it to the next world, so the Inca religion was very similar to the Euro-American beliefs.

Human sacrifices were very often practiced by the Incas, especially during natural catastrophes, the death of important figures, or other important events. In 1527, 4,000 servants, court officials and concubines were killed upon the death of one of the greatest rulers of the Kingdom of Cusco, the eleventh Sapa Inca of the Empire, Huayna Capac. Child sacrifices were also performed in special circumstances and they were known as capacocha.

One of the biggest achievements of the Inca religion was the maintenance of social order. People believed in a moral code which involved that those who didn’t steal or lie and those who weren’t lazy would go to live in the Sun’s warmth. Those who didn’t respect these rules would spend their eternal life in the cold earth. So, just like other cultures, they saw heaven as a place with fields of flowers and snow crowned mountains.

Although people worshiped many gods and the Inca religion was a polytheistic one, Viracocha was considered the supreme creator who made the earth and every living creature. That is why people believed in faith and they assumed that everything happened with a purpose. That concept represented a good technique to keep slaves and those who were less fortunate under control.

The holy city of Cusco was considered to be the home of the sun, therefore people thought they were protected by the god of sun, Inti. The royal families claimed that Inti was the father of the first Inca ruler, so they considered to be directly related to Viracocha through the god of sun. Therefore, the sun was celebrated in many rituals, and he had many temples where Incas could go to worship him.

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