For several years i have wanted to hike up Machu Picchu and check out the amazing stonework which was, according to popular belief, way ahead of it’s time in it’s precision and sheer difficulty. The mountain side Inka village spans across about ten acres, housed over five hundred people with its advanced aqueduct systems and took only thirty years to build. Even more astonishing is that after being abandoned for over four hundred years with the powerful elements attempting to demolish it, it still stands strong as a testament to the craftsmanship of what is widely considered to be a community of inferior technological people. And if that’s not enough, there are several other large villages along the trail.
Fortunately i was able to make the trip out there this year and i was joined by four close friends who are fellow adventure-seekers. Although each of us had different reasons for taking the trip, all of us were fully satisfied and our expectations were widely surpassed.
The first thing i should say is that there is no description, verbal or visual, that can accurately depict the beauty and magnificence of the hike and the ruins. i highly recommend that everyone go at least once in their lifetime and hike the Inka trail.
One of my main reasons for visiting these majestic ruins was because for a long time i have envisioned building the village for the Bhagavat Commune in a similar way with the terraces, gardens, and simple, sturdy structures. What i found out on the trip that i did not fully anticipate is that Inkan culture and Vaisnava culture have some core similarities.
At the first set of ruins our tour came across on the Inka trail, our main guide Milton informed us that the Inkas (who were like the ksatriyas) would collect taxes from the other villages which would produce various goods and redistribute them throughout the kingdom so that each village would have the items that they could not produce in their own village. Milton also told me of the priests who would advise the kings.
Their system of government was similar to varnasrama-dharma, and they certainly appreciated all that was given to them by the Supreme Lord and acknowledged His grace in whatever way that they could understand. Although their “deities” were the mountains, the sun, the moon, etc., they had a full understanding that there was a higher power in control of their wellbeing and they were grateful for the gifts that were given to them.
The trail connecting the various Inka villages was amazing and there were parts where a single boulder was carved into an entire flight of steps. The precision of each stone in the walls of the terraces and buildings was unbelievable, but the walls of the temples were especially smooth as a sign of extra respect for their deities. Even today, the local villagers perform rituals to offer thanks to their deities at various times.
Although shaping granite the way that they did was very difficult, they did live a very simple lifestyle in that they used what was available and didn’t expect anything else. They were grateful for what they had and used it all to its full potential.
It’s no secret that i am a big fan of self-sufficient cultures, and i always look forward to learning more from the successful ones throughout history. In my heart i am a mountain man who works the land to cultivate foodstuffs and builds living structures in the most simple and God-centric way. And while i understand that this type of lifestyle is not for everyone (or for most people these days for that matter), i hope to find some fellow Vaisnavas with a similar passion to this sort of simple living and high thinking.
Tomorrow i will be on my way back to Sridham Mayapura where i will continue my work on the Bhaktivedanta course. Hopefully when i return to the states in March i will be able to find a new property to continue this dream.