Panraran Yacu

Hanan Chanka Quechua People – Peru


Many years ago, in the Andean community of Tapuk, which in Quechua means ‘the one who asks’, everything was prosperous. The people who lived there had crops and animals and the land produced abundantly. There was a large number of puquiales ‒ springs ‒ which supplied water, so that they could irrigate their fields and breed their animals.       

It is said that nobody could get close to a place where Tayta Wamany ‒ the Supreme God ‒ produced yacu ‒ water ‒ because it was a sacred place, and whoever tried to approach it would be bewitched. For this reason, nobody approached Jatun Puquio ‒ the great puquial ‒ which dispensed its crystalline waters to all the other puquials, which, in turn, supplied Taouk.

         One afternoon a man called Don Faustino was returning from a trip to the city. The trip had turned him into an arrogant and egotistical person, who was unaware of, and mocked, the faith of the people. From then on he said that in the city nobody believed in nonsense and they lived the best life, that they fed themselves with rich food, dressed in attractive clothes. They did not use candles, but beautiful electric lights. He even said that water flowed inside the houses. He shouted to the four winds that, if they sowed and entered these sacred places, nothing would happen and that all riches have always existed and will ever exist.

         ‘The problem,’ he said, ‘is that we’re idle and we don’t want to exploit nature. So I say let’s start cultivating all the land and you’ll see that nothing will happen.’

         Indeed, they sowed as much as they could and harvested as never before. Then they increased their sowings and harvested in large quantities. But, after five years of exploitation, despite the sowing and the hard labour, the land no longer produced as before. The puquiales had dried up. Everyone regretted having obeyed Don Faustino who had committed suicide, feeling guilty as a result of the disgrace.

         Tapuk became an abandoned village. People moved to different places in search of better living conditions, and those who stayed had to journey to faraway places to get water. There was no more water in the village. In the early hours of the day, they would set off in the direction of the only surviving puquio, more than two hours’ walk away. Carrying their mud porongos, they travelled in search of water. The men would make a lengthy journey just to bring water at home, while the women cooked and cleaned. What is more, animals would die of thirst and starvation if they were not specially brought to the puquio to drink.

         In Tapuk, the villagers relied only on the rains for the cultivation of their crops. Then, one of the community elders asked for a meeting to solve the problem, so everyone gathered in the main square to listen to him. This is when he said:

         ‘My fellow community members, for a long time I’ve observed how we’ve abused mother nature and no one has ever dared to repair the damage. In these last five days, I’ve dreamt that Tayta Wamany, the plants, the animals and the water speak to me with much pain and tears about the mistreatment we’ve caused. They ask for the repentance of all so that they may live as well as give us life. We urgently need to bring an offering to the sacred hill in order to recover the wealth.’

         ‘Ha, ha, ha, ha,’ Eustaquio, one of the villagers laughed. ‘In other words, we’re going to do what an old man dreamed of. Don’t go overboard. If that’s what we’re meeting for, it’s a waste of time.’

         ‘Just a moment!’ replied the old man. ‘Are we not aware of the damage we’ve done to nature? Just as we humans have life, nature also has life. So I ask, please, let’s gather a group of people with sincere faith and let’s go to the sacred place and make the payments… otherwise we’ll regret it.’

         Ten people then gathered in silence. Interestingly, they were the older villagers. Then they left for the sacred place carrying fruits, coca quinto, sweets, wine, cigarettes and a bunch of aromatic herbs. At midnight they arrived at the sacred place, prayed with devotion and, at the same time, made their respective offerings.

         And, as they were returning to the village at dawn, an eerie sound was heard in the mountains:

         Panraran! Panraran!

         The villagers came out of their houses in panic, shouting loudly:

         ‘Panrarán yacu tujyaramun! The water has burst like thunder!’ they said as they sought shelter.

         At that moment the old man arrived and asked them to calm down, telling them that this was normal, because Tayta Wamany had accepted the offering. He said that this sound meant that the water had burst in all the puquiales. And, once again, the water of the river flowed freely crystal clear and abundant.

         Wealth and happiness had returned to Tapuk. From then on, the people worshiped and respected nature, otherwise they will never again hear a ‘Panrarán!’


Adapted by Antony Lizardo Romero Chávez (2008).

Under license Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA.



The Chanka Hanans ethnic group was one of the three subdivisions of the Chanka people, who occupied the present-day districts of Apurimac, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and part of Junin, in Peru, after the collapse of the Wari Empire (700-1050 CE). However, their independence was cut short under pressure from the Cusco Inca Empire, which, after subjugating the Chanka Urins, met with fierce resistance from the Chanka Hanans, who were known to be terrible ‒ even cruel ‒ warriors.

         In fact, the Chanka Hanans launched a massive attack on Cusco in 1438 which, after initially putting the Inca Viracocha to flight, met with fierce resistance from the Prince Cusi Yupanqui, who would later adopt the name Pachacutec. Cusi Yupanqui finally managed to defeat them in the Battle of Yawarpampa, after which the Chanka Hanans were subjected to a harsh repression. Among other things, they had to deliver a third of their farmland to the empire whose administrators eventually took over the management and use of all their land. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence suggests that life was easier for the Chankas during the Inca Empire than it had been previously (Hyland, 2016).

         The same could not be said of the Spanish colonial period (1532-1824), when countless injustices were inflicted on the Chanka people. Prominent among them was that of the priest Juan Bautista de Albadán, who, for ten years (1601-1611), tortured the people of Pampachiri while amassing a formidable fortune. He manipulated the legal and political systems in such a way that he avoided prosecution for his crimes, which ranged from torture and rape to murder.

         There are reports of an incident in which he cruelly tortured an artist, Don Juan Uacrau, who was stripped naked and hung upside down with leather straps on a cross. In this position he was whipped for hours and his whole body was burnt with tallow candles. All this was for having protested against the sexual assault perpetrated against his daughters. According to researcher Sabine Hyland of the University of St Andrews, ‘if the artist was still alive when he was cut down from the cross, he did not live long’ (Hyland, 2016).

         The effects of the ‘decade of madness’, as Dr. Hyland calls Albadán’s rule, would last well into the 18th century, in a historical era and environment where there was a sharp contrast between the atrocities of some colonisers and the attempts of other priests and missionaries who were, according to this researcher, ‘honest, caring individuals who did their best for their native parishioners’. All this took place under the impassive watch of the Spanish Crown, which only cared about the gold and silver extracted from the Americas in order to swell its insatiable coffers.


We would like to warmly thank Elena Arquer, student of the Master in Culture of Peace at the University of Granada, for her brilliant work in the search and selection of stories for the Collection.  This story is one of the examples.



  • Hyland, S. (2016 Noviembre 23). Discovering the Chanka. University of St. Andrews News. Available on
  • Romero Chávez, A. L. (2008). Panrarán Yacu: Mitos y leyendas del agua en el Perú (Panraran Yacu: Myths and Legends of Water in Peru). Huancayo, Peru: CEDIN Ediciones. Available on



Associated text of the Earth Charter

Principle 7: Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.


Other passages that this story illustrates

Preamble: Earth, Our Home.- The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air.

Preamble: The Global Situation.- The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species.

Preamble: The Challenges Ahead.- Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more.

Preamble: Universal Responsibility.- The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.

Principle 5a: Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives.

Principle 5e: Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems.

Principle 6c: Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.

The Way Forward: Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals.