Saturday, August 04, 2007

Causa and Andean Cosmology By Rodolfo Tafur

A gourmet causa.
Photo: Perú Mucho Gusto

This article delving into the nexus of Andean cosmology and this unique Peruvian potato dish, by Peruvian gastronomical historian Rodolfo Tafur, originally appeared at the RPP: Radio Programas del Perú website.

Dr. Tafur has kindly allowed me to translate it and post it here on Peru Food.

Kausa or Causa by Rodolfo Tafur

Many students of Andean cosmology say the name kausa or causa comes from the Quechua word kausay, meaning 'life'. I consider this a simplistic interpretation.

In the Andean worldview, there exist various types of energies.

One of them is called kausay puriy, which means 'walking (or, traversing) through life'.

This energy, kausay puriy, is generated by the capacity to integrate, teach, and comment on the different experiences, both spiritual and material, of all the individuals and cultures in the world.

The personal power of each individual only changes by the permanent exchange of energy with his or her entire surroundings. This exchange nurtures and develops that power. Not unlike a plant, it is seed each one of us carries within.

The Cuzco anthropologist José Nuñéz del Prado tells us: "In my tradition, when two initiates meet, it is natural there be a challenge. But in this challenge, what each person demonstrate is not who has the greater physical strength, but rather who possesses the stronger energy.

When one of the two demonstrates they possess the stronger energy, the 'winner' is then obliged to show the other how they 'won' and how they learned to do so. This is what competition means to us."

People carried out this type of exchange by eating the most humble of foods, the potato, accompanied by the Peruvian hot pepper, ají. This maintained a balance, because in Andean cosmology, the potato is considered a female food while ají is male.

Growth is only attained by teaching and sharing, development is only attained by exchanging energy, and endurance is only attained by giving.

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