Monday, January 14, 2013

Thuggee cult

Following down the trail of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a bit more, the main antagonist, Mola Ram, and his henchmen are portrayed as adherents to the Thuggee cult. The Thuggees, or thugs for short (that's the origin of that term), were a brotherhood of thieves and assassins in India from the 14th to the 19th century. At least some of them had a religious conviction in addition to their motivation to kill and steal (or perhaps it is possible that they used a religious story to cover over their baser motivations). They believed they were the offspring of Kali, created out of the sweat of her battle with the demon Raktavija. In their view, their victims were human sacrifices to Kali. This is complicated by the fact that very few Hindus, indeed very few devotees of Kali, were Thuggees, and also that not all Thuggees were even Hindu (some were Muslim). There also appears to be some claim that the whole association of Thuggee crime with Hinduism in any form was more of an invention of the colonial British than rooted in fact.

Here's a great depiction of the Temple of Doom by Nick Nitro Brick. There's Kali again in the backdrop. I should also note that the Thuggees of the movie were a highly fictionalized version of the real assassins. The Temple of Doom was banned in India for a time as being an offensive depiction of India and Hinduism.

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