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Old 07-09-2010, 12:01 AM   #1
Stoo
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Thuggee - Fact & Fiction

If any of you had empty pockets and were given a penny for each thread here discussing the history surrounding G_d, the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail, you would be rich man/woman. Were you given $100 for each thread dedicated to Kali or Thuggee, you'd be an extremely poor beggar on the street.

Here we can discuss the truths, innacuracies & gross artistic lisence about this severely, wicked cult. This thread is a direct offspring from these recent conversations:
What was in the blood of Kali?
Is Indy an atheist (in Raiders)? (Page 10)

There are so many warpings of the real history in "Temple of Doom" that I don't even know where to begin. Much more than the anachronisms concerning the Germans in "Raiders", the fallacies about Thuggee in "Doom" are rampant. (The back-story, their mode of operation, their dress...the list goes on.)

First things first...

In no way am I slamming "Doom"! It's my #2 favourite Indy film and *ONE* of the main reasons for my interest in this particular subject.

Just in case anyone doesn't know, the modern word 'thug' comes from 'Thuggee'. Phonetically (in English), it's closer to 'Tug-kee" or "Tug/Tuk" for the singular, although the characters in "Doom" pronounce the H. (This is fine for Indy, Blumburtt, etc. but not for the Indians.)

In the "Blood of Kali" thread, Montana Smith posted some info from the "Temple of Doom" Sourcebook by West End Games. Much of it was was altered to match with the events in the movie (which clearly indicates the PULP aspect of IndyWorld) but almost every paragraph can be taken to task. The same can be said for the explanatory dialogue IN THE FILM because some of it goes against the grain of real history.

Much more to say but I might be be out of it for a few days due to travel. I just wanted to get the ball rolling...
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:43 AM   #2
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Okay, here are the paraphrased highlights from the West End Games Temple of Doom Sourcebook:


The Thuggee are either thieves and murders who preyed on travellers or merchants in the countryside; or they are protectors of pilgrims.

The Thuggee became over-zealous until by the late 1700s most people were afraid to travel by road. Later, the development of India's railway system also meant there were less travellers to attack, so pilgrims became a target. Once not even the faithful were safe from attack, the Thuggee became known as oathbreakers and murderers, and were soon despised by almost everyone.

The book records that the Thuggee were closely associated with Kali, and that they didn't originally attack pilgrims because the priests of Kali didn't want to earn their goddess the wrath of another deity. As the number of travellers diminished this consideration became secondary to providing Kali with ther blood she demanded.

The Thuggee then adopted their own secret language, Ramasi, to identify themselves to each other. They also began ambushing people near small towns and villages, taking them alive to a predetermined location where the ritual was performed.

Since discovery of the ritual location was a constant risk, the Thuggee leaders established severe punishments for those who betrayed the location of a temple. They also made joining the Thuggee extremely difficult.

To join the recruit had to be related to his sponsor, then initiated at a ceremony involving both Thuggee and Priests of Kali: ingesting the consecrated Cozur, or heart of Kali.

Punishment for betraying the Thuggee or Kali involved the ritual staking of the betrayer in the centre of a circle, who would then be crushed by an elephant sitting on them.

Between 1820-1850 when the British learned of the Thuggee attacks they took little interest in the matter, believing the assaults were committed by wild animals. After several army patrols disappeared and merchants began refusing to travel other than by railway, the army commanders found both royal and company officials demanding an explanation.

The British then effectively exterminated the Thuggee in a massive sweep.
First, they made it a crime punishable by hanging to support the Thuggee or to worship Kali. Temples were destroyed and followers of Kali were captured. Important priests were interrogated and publicly executed.

Second, the army forced the Thuggee who lived in the forests into open combat.

[In Pankot it is said that the army raided and destroyed an enormous Thuggee temple complex, killing over 300 priests and followers.]

The Thuggee and the Kali cult were broken within three years, becoming so fragmented that the groups effectively ceased to exist.


Kali is a strong and proficient warrior, but her weakness is her desire for human flesh. It is this craving that drives her into fits of destruction and rage. Shiva, her sonsort, exerts a calming influence over the goddess.

Bengal is Kali's strongest area of worship, though before the British broke the power of the Thuggee, she was worshipped all over India. Most of her followers tend to be from the low caste or are people who live outside India's major cities. When not forming temples in the countryside, worshippers of Kali can be found near cremation grounds.

Shiva is the Disintegration Principle, that which will in the end of all things lead to destruction. The important difference between Shiva and Kali, is that Shiva embodies the concept that through destruction will come new life. Kali, on the other hand, is the representation of the void at the end of time, often translated as annihilation or entropy.

Sankara, often called the corruptor, is the god of false teachings, and a cruel manipulator. He delights in starting major battles between other gods, or between different religions. Some even call him 'lord of the demons.'

Sankara has two powers that can effect humans. The first allows him to possess someone and to use the individual to make trouble or to disrupt an occurrence he doesn't want to happen. His second power is his ability to cause people to lose control of themselves, which usually lasts for no more than an hour.

Sankara's ultimate goal is to corrupt humanity from the tru path so that the world will fall into anarchy and be destroyed.

In the Vedic version of Hindu mythology the amount of favour gained by offering a blood sacrifice is dependent on what is offered.

"The offering of a horse gives the worshipper 10 years of favour. The offering of a cow gives the worshipper 15 years of favour. The offering of a man gives the worshipper 50 years of favour."

___________________

This was the pulp fiction version of Thuggee history and culture from Indy's world. As Stoo already noted, much of it is warped from our own knowledge of history, just as 1930s German history and technology was anachronistic in ROTLA, and also the existence of an American bar in Nepal patronized by foreigners at a time when Nepal was a closed country.

All this is evidence that the world of Indy is an alternate world, yets the ideas presented are a great jumping off point to explore our own history, and here particularly, the facts about the Thuggee and their beliefs...
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:20 AM   #3
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YES! FINALLY! Great thread, guys...
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoomTown
YES! FINALLY! Great thread, guys...

I know very little about the real Thuggee, beyond the popular myth, so thanks to Stoo for starting this one.

I'm just as wary of web-historians as I am of of ink and paper historians, but this site seems to be presented in an authoritative manner, with a short bibliography at the end:

http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Secr...e-Thuggee.html

Stoo wrote in the 'Blood of Kali' thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
Probably the biggest misinterpretation is the blood, itself. The spilling of blood is completely contrary to what the Thugs believed in. That is why they strangled people to death! Going back to original legend, Kali fought a demon. After every wound she inflicted, if a drop of blood hit the ground it would create another demon...and so on and so on. (More on that later...)

The site mentioned above writes on this subject:

Quote:
The strongest rule of the brotherhood was the one prohibiting the shedding of blood. According to Thuggee beliefs, the goddess Kali taught the fathers of thuggery to strangle with a noose and to kill without permitting the flow of blood. All victims of the Thuggee were sacrificed to Kali, and the members of the secret society would have been greatly incensed by an accusation that they killed only for booty.

Reading between the lines, the Thuggee strangled to preserve all the blood and flesh for Kali. To spill blood or take flesh would be depriving Kali of her full sacrifice?
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:00 AM   #5
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Indiana Jones: "Mola Ram, prepare to meet Kali, IN HELL!"

It seems some of you would have jumped on Indy for making that statement.

I am sure Indiana was aware of the theological complexities of Kali and might have just said that because he was sick and tired with dealing with the bastard Mola Ram and perhaps should not be taken literally, as in Indy believed Kali is to be found in Hell. However I am sure that Indiana Jones viewed what Mola Ram was planning on doing as evil and that if there is a hell he is going there.

As per the original topic I would think that by the end of KOTCS skull Indiana Jones has a respect and understanding for the diverse religious beliefs found across the globe and probably believes (via firsthand observation) that many religions have some truth in them. He certainly believes in some kind of higher power(s) and an afterlife. He is probably a member of some Christian denomination (i.e. the church he got maried in), probably the same his father was and he was raised in but is perhaps an infrequent churchgoer.

At the end of each movie in a sense Indiana believes more in something than at the start of the movie. In ROTLA he thinks the ark "is an artifact of incredible historic significance" at the end he sees its true power firsthand. In TOD he is a bit skeptical of Sheeba bringing him to the village and at the end he says of the Shankara Stones "I understand its power now". In TLC he is skeptical of his father's strange obsession with the grail but by the end he makes a leap of faith and sees his father's life saved by the holy grail and bonds with his father. In KOTCS he is skeptical of the idea of aliens when Spalko talks about them but at the end he sees the power of the transdimensional beings firsthand and professes that he believes his deceased father to be looking down and smiling from another transdimensional realm of sorts (afterlife). All the Indy movies are a spiritual journey in that sense without being in your face fundamentalist and dogmatic. The movies are really a model of intereligious tolerance and diversity.
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Old 07-12-2010, 09:28 PM   #6
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@chicago103: ??? Are you sure you're in the correct thread? This one has nothing to do with "Crystal Skull" nor Indy's religious beliefs in any of the films.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicago103
In TOD he is a bit skeptical of Sheeba bringing him to the village and at the end he says of the Shankara Stones
Just to let you know, it's 'Shiva' and 'Sankara'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
All this is evidence that the world of Indy is an alternate world, yets the ideas presented are a great jumping off point to explore our own history, and here particularly, the facts about the Thuggee and their beliefs...
Well said! The article you linked to is a good one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoomTown
YES! FINALLY! Great thread, guys...
Hi, Keith. Nice to know there's at least one other interested person besides Montana & myself. If you have anything to add, feel free.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
Reading between the lines, the Thuggee strangled to preserve all the blood and flesh for Kali. To spill blood or take flesh would be depriving Kali of her full sacrifice?
Precisely. According to the original legend, to stop the blood from hitting the ground and creating more demons, Kali drove a spear into the enemy beast and raised it above her head in order to catch every drop in her mouth. Because of this, she is known to have an insatiable desire for blood...which brings us to a specific point of misinterpretation in the film.

The only man who really acts like a Thug is the guy who tries to strangle Indy in his room. The problem is that he is using what appears to be a wire garrotte which could possibly slice the skin and draw blood. (The real weapon of Thuggee was a silk cloth called a 'rumal' which usually had a knot tied in the middle. One end might have had a stone or coin tied into it to act as a weight for whipping it around a victim's neck. The knotted centre would press up against the throat for a quicker kill.) Too bad that the one instance in the film which attempts to properly portray a Thug, isn't exactly right.

Next up: the backstory as presented in "Doom" vs. the actual dates.
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Old 07-12-2010, 09:32 PM   #7
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While no more historically accurate than "Doom", the film "Gunga Din" is required viewing for anyone interesting in analyzing the depiction of the Thuggee.

A highly entertaining film that, in many ways, can be seen as a "prequel" to "Temple of Doom" and was obviously a huge influence on the writers of Indy's second filmed outing.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo

The only man who really acts like a Thug is the guy who tries to strangle Indy in his room. The problem is that he is using what appears to be a wire garrotte which could possibly slice the skin and draw blood. (The real weapon of Thuggee was a silk cloth called a 'rumal' which usually had a knot tied in the middle. One end might have had a stone or coin tied into it to act as a weight for whipping it around a victim's neck. The knotted centre would press up against the throat for a quicker kill.) Too bad that the one instance in the film which attempts to properly portray a Thug, isn't exactly right.


Found this, thought it may be of some interest...

The garotte is often depicted as the common weapon of the Thuggee. It is sometimes described as a rumal (head covering or kerchief), or translated as "yellow scarf". "Yellow" in this case may refer to a natural cream or khaki colour rather than bright yellow. Most Indian males in Central India or Hindustan would have a puggaree or head-scarf, worn either as a turban or worn around a kullah and draped to protect the back of the neck. Types of scarves were also worn as cummerbunds, in place of a belt. Any of these items could have served as strangling ligatures.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance Quazar
While no more historically accurate than "Doom", the film "Gunga Din" is required viewing for anyone interesting in analyzing the depiction of the Thuggee.

A highly entertaining film that, in many ways, can be seen as a "prequel" to "Temple of Doom" and was obviously a huge influence on the writers of Indy's second filmed outing.

Yes indeed, a fantastic film! After watching it on AMC one night, I did a little research on the Thuggee myself. I always thought that it was just made up for ToD and it wasn't until I saw Gunga Din that I realized that there actually was a real Thuggee cult.

Of course, one could say that, in ToD, Mola Ram and his followers are supposed to be a resurgence of the original Thuggee as there is mention of the original cult being wiped out, so maybe they don't exactly follow the same set of rules.

Last edited by Billy Ray : 07-13-2010 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Ray
Of course, one could say that, in ToD, Mola Ram and his followers are supposed to be a resurgence of the original Thuggee as there is mention of the original cult being wiped out, so maybe they don't exactly follow the same set of rules.

Neo-Thuggees?

Not sure if anyone here has read Confessions of a Thug by Philip Meadows Taylor. I got it from my local library about 2 years ago, and I remember not being able to put it down. I never did it finish it though, I was going through a job change and what have you, so I returned it and have yet to finish it, been meaning to finally pick it up on amazon. Every bit I did read was fascinating. How the protagonist (Ameer Ali) descends into the lifestyle as a kid was incredibly interesting.

Here's some info on it taken from Amazon & Wikipedia:
Quote:
Confessions of a Thug is an English novel written by Philip Meadows Taylor in 1839 based on the Thuggee cult in British India. Ameer Ali, the anti-hero protagonist of Confessions of a Thug, was said to be based on a real Thug called Syeed Amir Ali (or Feringhea), whom the author was acquainted with.[1]

Confessions of a Thug went on to become a best seller in 19th century Britain. The book also became one of Queen Victoria's favourite novels. The story of the Thuggee cult was popularized by Confessions of a Thug, leading to the Hindi word "thug" entering the English language.

"A strange page in the book of human life is this! Thought I, as he left the room. That man, the perpetrator of so many hundred murders, thinks on the past with satisfaction and pleasure; nay he takes a pride in recalling the events of his life, almost every one of which is a murder, and glories in describing the minutest particulars of his victims, and the share he had in their destruction, with scarcely a symptom of remorse! Once or twice only has he winced while telling his fearful story, and what agitated him most at the commencement of his tale I have yet to hear."
http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-of...9024337&sr=8-3

I'd say besides an actual history book about the Thuggee life, this would be the one book to acquaint yourself with.
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michael
Neo-Thuggees?

Not sure if anyone here has read Confessions of a Thug by Philip Meadows Taylor. I got it from my local library about 2 years ago, and I remember not being able to put it down. I never did it finish it though, I was going through a job change and what have you, so I returned it and have yet to finish it, been meaning to finally pick it up on amazon. Every bit I did read was fascinating. How the protagonist (Ameer Ali) descends into the lifestyle as a kid was incredibly interesting.

Here's some info on it taken from Amazon & Wikipedia:

http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-of...9024337&sr=8-3

I'd say besides an actual history book about the Thuggee life, this would be the one book to acquaint yourself with.


Thanks for that, michael.

I found a free Google ebook version, though it's not a perfect scan as some of the words are jumbled:

http://www.archive.org/stream/confes...wgoog_djvu.txt
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:38 AM   #12
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EDIT:

The full text version was horribly slow, so I downloaded the book in PDF, which also looks a lot nicer:

http://books.google.com/books?id=0HwEAAAAQAAJ&oe=UTF-8

The PDF link is at the top right of the screen.
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:52 AM   #13
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Awesome, Montana! I will download that when I get outta work!
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:58 AM   #14
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Awesome, Montana! I will download that when I get outta work!

It's all three volumes and the whole lot runs to 1,122 pages! (34.3 mb)
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:28 PM   #15
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Post Filmography of Thuggee

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance Quazar
While no more historically accurate than "Doom", the film "Gunga Din" is required viewing for anyone interesting in analyzing the depiction of the Thuggee.

A highly entertaining film that, in many ways, can be seen as a "prequel" to "Temple of Doom" and was obviously a huge influence on the writers of Indy's second filmed outing.
"Gunga Din" is one of the greatest adventures flicks in film history. Like Lance said, while not historically correct it is REQUIRED viewing. It does have the edge over "Temple of Doom" in the accuracy dept., though. These Thugs don't wear uniforms and pretend to be traveling merchants which is exactly how they operated; mixing in with other travelers of the road (preferably rich ones). Another plus for "Gunga Din" is that it features a Thug pick-axe. Even though it wasn't used as a weapon like in the movie, the pick-axe is an important part of their culture. Will get into that later...

Thugs also make an appearance in the '50s film version of "Around the World in 80 Days" but they are only Thuggee by name and don't actually do anything Thug-like. The ritual depicted (sati/suttee) is a completely unrelated practice.

The 2 films to watch are "The Deceivers" (1988) and "The Stranglers of Bombay" (1960). Too bad the audio is out of synch on the "Deceivers" trailer but these films are much closer to the real cult. Check 'em out, if you can!

The Deceivers (1988)



The Stranglers of Bombay (1960)



In filmdom, "Temple" is the probably the least accurate of them all. There is an Italian movie from the '50s and 2 Indian films but I've yet to track them down. (One of the Indian releases is new and takes place in current times.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by michael
Not sure if anyone here has read Confessions of a Thug by Philip Meadows Taylor.
I had heard of this book before but never read it. Thanks to yourself & Montana, it's within my reach.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
In filmdom, "Temple" is the probably the least accurate of them all.

Well, unless you count this one.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
In filmdom, "Temple" is the probably the least accurate of them all.

If for no other reason than the ToD Thugs used actual magic whereas the real ones obviously didn't.
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Old 07-15-2010, 10:38 AM   #18
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Ok, so this thread prompted me to do a Google search on Thuggees to see what else I could find on them and I came across this link, with several images. Of course there are lots of images from ToD, Mola Ram, a Gunga Din poster, and some old illustrations, but what I don't get is the inexplicable image of Doc from Snow White

http://www.lexic.us/definition-of/thuggees
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Old 07-21-2010, 06:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Well, unless you count this one.
No, I don't count it and I KNEW that you'd bring this up! Now is an appropriate time to post a link to a related thread: ToD Hindi translations where Attila brought up The Beatles' film, "Help!", once before.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance Quazar
If for no other reason than the ToD Thugs used actual magic whereas the real ones obviously didn't.
Indeed! Public Enemy #1!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Ray
Yes indeed, a fantastic film! After watching it on AMC one night, I did a little research on the Thuggee myself. I always thought that it was just made up for ToD and it wasn't until I saw Gunga Din that I realized that there actually was a real Thuggee cult.
I actually saw "The Deceivers" before seeing "Gunga Din"!!! Back in '88, an Indian co-worker of mine was very aware of my fondness for Indy and recommended this new film about the 'real story'. About 1 year later, my interest in colonial history led me to "Gunga Din" and I was very pleased with the Thug connection! It still stands as one of my top films, even today.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Ray
Of course, one could say that, in ToD, Mola Ram and his followers are supposed to be a resurgence of the original Thuggee as there is mention of the original cult being wiped out, so maybe they don't exactly follow the same set of rules.
Good thinking, Billy Ray and that is the only explanation (even though it's still problematic...) Why? Because...

Original Legend: AFTER Kali dealt with the whole blood-drop-producing-another-demon affair, she conjured/created 2 men and gave them cloths of silk (the rumal) to go forth with and fight evil without spilling blood.

As seen in "Doom", death by fire wouldn't produce any spillage but throat-cutting & heart-extraction would. This would make their new methods go against the main rule of Thuggee. In the movie, the heart extraction is bloodless but when Mola Ram holds the organ above his head, at least ONE DROP must have trickled down...

Anyway, in order to dicuss this further we should start with the origins of the "Doom" backstory...where the historical screw-ups really BEGIN! Stay tuned...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Ray
what I don't get is the inexplicable image of Doc from Snow White

http://www.lexic.us/definition-of/thuggees
I don't get it either...
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
Anyway, in order to dicuss this further we should start with the origins of the "Doom" backstory...where the historical screw-ups really BEGIN! Stay tuned...
O.K. Continuing, here we go...Another example of artistic lisence in "Temple of Doom"...

Indiana Jones: Pankot is not on the way to Delhi.
Indiana Jones: Well, if memory serves me correctly, this area, this province, was the center of activity for the Thuggee.

All accounts confirm that the origin of Thuggee is not precisely known & cloudy but it appears to have begun in the north-WEST region of India (modern-day Pakistan) sometime around the 13th-14th centuries and flourished in the 1700s, spreading southwards & eastwards.

The province of Pankot is fictional and its location in the film is very vague but from what we can tell during the map sequence, it must be situated somewhere in north-EAST of India (quite possibly Burma, modern-day Myanmar*). The plane leaves Shanghai, stops in Chungking and starts to cross the north border of Burma before the pilots bail out. In 1935, Burma was a province of British India (and had been so for about 60 years). Delhi is in mid-north India. If Pankot is "not on the way to Delhi" then Indy & Co. may have travelled south or east to reach the palace. Point being, Pankot would probably NOT have been the "center of activity for the Thuggee".

In post #2 of this thread, Montana Smith quoted the West End Games Temple of Doom Sourcebook: "Bengal is Kali's strongest area of worship." According to my knowledge, I do NOT agree with this at all.

*I could make a whole new thread about why Pankot's location is most likely NOT in present-day India!

Last edited by Stoo : 11-01-2010 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:43 PM   #21
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Exclamation Pankot not in Burma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
The province of Pankot is fictional and its location in the film is very vague but from what we can tell during the map sequence, it must be situated somewhere in north-EAST of India (quite possibly Burma, modern-day Myanmar*).

*I could make a whole new thread about why Pankot's location is most likely NOT in present-day India!
Please, SCRATCH my idea of Pankot possibly being in Burma. My imagination must have been running wild last night...

(Still, it doesn't change the fact that the province of Pankot is somewhere in northeast India.)
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:19 PM   #22
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Quote:
In post #2 of this thread, Montana Smith quoted the West End Games Temple of Doom Sourcebook: "Bengal is Kali's strongest area of worship." According to my knowledge, I do NOT agree with this at all.


Well, I'm not an expert or anything, but Calcutta, aka Kolkatta is named after Kali. And it's in the Bengal region. I was told this by a Bengali (N.E. Indian) co-worker who viewed Kali as her patron goddess. Further northeast, of course is what is now Bangladesh, which is a predominately Musilm country. So they're not so much on Kali.
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:49 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Stoo
Thugs also make an appearance in the '50s film version of "Around the World in 80 Days" but they are only Thuggee by name and don't actually do anything Thug-like. The ritual depicted (sati/suttee) is a completely unrelated practice.


It wasn't just in the 50's film version. The actual novel by Jules Verne does indeed have the Thuggee. There are more conversations on Thuggee in the book before the sati occurs, which are more on the money about the Thuggee, and the scene of the ritual does occur on the outskirts of Calcutta, so obviously Verne did some reading as he was famous for being an "armchair adventurer" (he had some kind of illness that stopped him from travelling as widely as he would like to have).

In terms of reading up on the Thuggee in general, the book "Why did it have to be snakes?" has a very good chapter about the Thuggee.
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:24 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Dig Site 1138
Well, I'm not an expert or anything, but Calcutta, aka Kolkatta is named after Kali. And it's in the Bengal region. I was told this by a Bengali (N.E. Indian) co-worker who viewed Kali as her patron goddess. Further northeast, of course is what is now Bangladesh, which is a predominately Musilm country. So they're not so much on Kali.
Dig Site, I didn't know that Calcutta was named after Kali so thanks for that bit of info! The thing is, I'm not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing that Pankot in the northeast region would NOT be the centre of Thug activity (as Indy states). One point of interest is that, even though Kali is a Hindu deity, not all Thugs began as Hindus since there was a percentage of Thuggee who were Muslim!
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Originally Posted by Violet Indy
It wasn't just in the 50's film version. The actual novel by Jules Verne does indeed have the Thuggee. There are more conversations on Thuggee in the book before the sati occurs, which are more on the money about the Thuggee, and the scene of the ritual does occur on the outskirts of Calcutta, so obviously Verne did some reading as he was famous for being an "armchair adventurer" (he had some kind of illness that stopped him from travelling as widely as he would like to have).
Hooray, Violet is back in town! Being an avid Jules Verne fan, please allow me to clarify a few things.

I haven't read the book in years but just checked my copy (Oxford World Classics 1995 edition) and must retract my comment in the Stranglers of Bombay thread about Verne messing up. Not because of what Violet wrote but because...

In the novel, the ritual is carried out by traditional, Kali-worshipping Hindus. I don't think Verne ever mentions Thuggee in connection with this chapter so it's the films (1956 & 1989 & various animated versions) that get it wrong by portraying suttee as a Thug ceremony. The only time Thugs seem to be mentioned is in one, descriptive paragraph while the train passes near Aurungabad/Aurangabad in *West* India, very far from Calcutta in the east. This fits with the real history in that the center of Thug activity was NOT in the EAST. (If there is more than that, please let me know, Violet.)

According to the explanatory notes in my edition, Verne's account of the Thuggee seems to derive from Eugène Sue's book, "The Wandering Jew", due to the use of the name, Feringhea, for the Thug leader in the area.

(Side note: In the novel, the ritual is being performed in Bundelkhand which is quite central to India's geography and nowhere near Calcutta.)

Re: illness & "armchair adventurer"
Hmmm, I know he developed diabetes later in life but have never heard of Verne having an illness which prevented him from travelling. Where did you hear that, Violet? He did do a fair amount throughout his life. Before writing "80 Days" he went to Scotland, Denmark, Norway, England & the United States. He also loved to sail and owned his own boats. After "80 Days" he sailed to Portugal, Algeria, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands & the Mediterannean (for the last trip in the Mediterranean, he was about 55-56 years old) so he did get around somewhat. When he was around 11, he tried to go to INDIA by stowing away on a clipper. Unfortunatley for young Jules, he was discovered before hitting the high seas and was later whipped by his dad for attempting the trip!
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Originally Posted by Violet Indy
In terms of reading up on the Thuggee in general, the book "Why did it have to be snakes?" has a very good chapter about the Thuggee.
After thumbing through that book in a store, I decided not to buy it but would be interested in reading what that chapter has to say.
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:48 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Stoo
Dig Site, I didn't know that Calcutta was named after Kali so thanks for that bit of info! The thing is, I'm not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing that Pankot in the northeast region would NOT be the centre of Thug activity (as Indy states). One point of interest is that, even though Kali is a Hindu deity, not all Thugs began as Hindus since there was a percentage of Thuggee who were Muslim!

Oh, I'm not insisting that NorthEast India was the center of Thugee activity, but I am corroborating that it would be a likely place, as Kali is a very important deity there. And that would jibe with Indy, et al crashing in the mountains.

As to the other, not all Kali worshippers are Thuggee, but all Thuggee are Kali worshippers.

Except, I guess they weren't, since many of them seem to have also been Sikhs and Muslims, both of whom are monotheists.

Still, the insistence on strangling and drowning, to kill without spilling blood is definitely tied to Kali Ma. It should be reiterated that Kali and Kali worship are not inherently evil. The Thuggee are a murder cult.
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