Or, more likely, you probably don’t but someone might have called you ‘thug’ after you were seen setting fire to a bin or rough housing with your mates outside the kebab shop or jumping the queue in Starbucks, you whacky little nihilist. The word ‘thug,’ or ‘t’ug’ as Professor Green might have it, has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. Tupac had Thug Life tatted over his tum tum. One film critic called Daniel Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale a thug.
Chances are when you hear the word you think of a bit of muscle, someone who might be inclined to bully the weak but where does the word come from? What are its origins? Like pukka, shampoo, bungalow and a shitload more, the answer is India. What? They had thugs and secret societies in India? They did, but not the type we’re used to. God no.
â˜› Less Lethal But No Less Whacko – The Federation of Damanhur
Thugs, or ‘Thuggees’, were members of a secret society that were thought to have plagued the travellers of India from the 1300’s to the middle of the 19th Century, when the British decided enough was enough so stopped swilling gin and buggering each other, and toddled off to wipe them out. In Sanskrit, their name roughly translates as ‘deceiver.’
So what are we talking about here? A bunch of turbaned-up wide boys, happy-slapping the odd spice trader? Hardly. These latter day bandits worshipped the goddess Kali, the ‘black one’; mother goddess, goddess of destruction. While many saw her as a power for nurturing and love, the Thugs took one look at the skulls swinging around her pert chebs and decided the best way to show their devotion to her was by slaughtering fuckloads of people. Obviously.
For some reason, that seasons on-trend murder method was strangulation, and the Thugs decided to go with yellow scarves called Rumal. They’d travel round in packs, befriending lone merchants or groups of travellers, spending a couple of days winning their trust then, while everyone was having a rest stop, the leader would give the signal — allegedly saying ‘fetch me the tobacco’ — and the Thugs would whip out their rumals and choke their unfortunate victims to death.
Like many groups of believers, they did the nasty deeds in the name of their god, so they jazzed up the psychotic murderthon with a load of rites and pazzazz to make themselves feel special, so the corpses — once they’d been stripped of loot — were buried in a ritualistic way, using a magic pickaxe! That’s alright then. Bones were often broken so the graves didn’t have to comply with the EEC standard regulation 3’x8’x6’, and the bellies were split to stop swelling.
â˜› More Indian Madness – The Clothes Shop Called Hitler
Thinking about this for a minute, I reckon we might carry an innate fear of groups of men with scarves, travelling en masse, and maybe this explains the fear and suspicion carried around by anyone driving along the M1 on a Saturday in the 1970’s, back when service stations resembled one of Danny Dyer’s wet dreams set in a Stasi barracks.
The loveable idiots of the British Army, on hearing of travellers going missing with some regularity, ignored the rumours and portents and blamed wild animals. However, as the numbers carried on increasing, they had to look into it further – in some cases even stopping giving their servants a shoeing for up to two minutes – to ponder the imponderable. Finally, something had to give.
In many cases this was whatever implement the sadistic colonial wanker was using to beat his poor bloody manservant with, but in this instance it was the fingers-in-the-ears-and-blame-the-leopards, stiff upper lip, stupid inbred toff insistence that Indians couldn’t get their shit together for long enough to stand up, let alone organise mass murder.
â˜› More Sneaky Burial Shizz – Peruvian Shaman Hides Tourists Corpse!
And mass murder it was. Since the 1300’s, operating in bands of between 10 and 200 all over India, the scarf wearing Kali-mental two-faced psychorobbers were thought to have killed…. wait for it… well no one knows, obvs, but it was estimated that they topped around 40,000 poor blighters a year during the 1850’s, which adds up to 2,000,000 in 50 years. Remember I said earlier that they were suspected of having been around since the 1300’s? You do the maths, I literally cannot be arsed, but whatever the total it makes the Thugs, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most lethal secret societies in history.
So, next time someone calls you a thug, deny it and if you have the time chuck some history at them.