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"We know you are coming back, when life return to our village. Now, you can see the miracle of the rock."

Marhan was the shaman of Mayapore village. He met Indiana Jones, Willie Scott and Short Round in 1935 when they floated down river having just escaped from a plane crash. He informed Jones that his arrival was a deliverance from Shiva, for he had seen it in a dream.


Early life[]

Marhan would be estimated by the Chinese boy Short Round to have been born around 1825, which while unlikely, American archaeologist Indiana Jones joked that his little sidekick had correctly guessed due to how old Marhan looked.[2]

As shaman, Marhan was the spiritual leader of Mayapore village and devoted to Shiva. The village itself was at peace until rumors about strange activities began eminating around Pankot, an old power base of the Thuggee. While the British had destroyed the cult's temple in the 19th century, Marhan didn't believe their assurance that the Kali cult itself was gone.[3]

Targeted by the Thuggee[]

He was proved correct in the 1930s when a band of raiders attacked the village, led by a Thuggee high priest called Mola Ram. Marhan confronted Mola Ram when he attempted to take Shiva Linga, one of the five Sankara Stones, from Mayapore's shrine. The Thuggee priest ignored Marhan's warning to leave and attempted to tear out the shaman's heart but Marhan protected himself with his own incantation. He prayed to Shiva for assistance and Mola Ram was hurled back in a blast of heat. Standing over him, Marhan again told Mola Ram to leave, which he did, laughing as he walked away.[3]

When Marhan turned back to the shrine, Shiva Linga was gone. He directed Sajnu, one of Mayapore's few warrior caste, to assemble some men and give chase but the attacking force got away. Mayapore was spiritually drained and Marhan prayed for guidance, but for the next week, life resumed as normal. Then, over the following days, the village's well dried up, the people's crops died, with the fields becoming barren with apparent supernatural speed and their livestock perished.[3]

During this time, emissaries of Mola Ram — assuring the villagers that worshipping Kali would see no-one go without food or water — had been chased away from Mayapore but villagers began to speak of moving away. Marhan told them to perservere, for Shiva would reward them for their faith. Though things were to get worse.[3]

A month after the stone's theft, a fire broke out in the fields and it rapidly spread. Containing and extinguishing the flames took all of Mayapore's men and when they returned, they discovered the village's children had been stolen. When another emissary arrived a few days later to say that all Mayapore's problems would be lifted if they turned to Mola Ram and Kali, Marhan personally sent the man to meet the goddess in hell after the emissary issued a veiled threat about the children if Mayapore didn't comply.[3]

Once again, Marhan asked the villagers to perservere and let them know of a vision he had been granted in a dream: a man from the sky would recover their sacred rock along with Mayapore's children.[3]

Recovery of Mayapore[]

In 1935, Marhan stood at the Yamuna River when Indiana Jones along with Willie Scott and Short Round floated down river on a raft following a plane crash. The shaman led the trio back to Mayapore and, along with Mayapore's chieftain, Marhan implored Jones and his companions to go to Pankot Palace to rescue the village's kidnapped children and recover Shiva Linga. Jones succeeded, and Marhan knew of the archaeologist's success long before he even returned, for once Shiva Linga was out of evil hands, life returned to Mayapore. Jones gave the stone back to Marhan and the chieftain.[1]

Later that year, Marhan met with the French mercenary René Emile Belloq, who was looking for information on his rival's exploits.[4]


In spite of Marhan assuring him that he would see how the Shiva Linga's magic worked over Mayapore,[1] Jones didn't still believe in magic a year later.[5] Even by 1969, during his hunt for the Antikythera, a much elder Jones would still refuse to admit that magic existed to his goddaughter Helena Shaw.[6]

Personality and traits[]

"They say we must pray to their evil god. We says we will not."
―Marhan, on the Thuggee[src]

As a spiritual shaman, Marhan devoted his religious life to Shiva while serving as Mayapore village's religious leader. When threatened with death to surrender the village's Shiva Linga to the Thuggee, Marhan persevered and even after the village was deprived of both its resources and children, Marhan refused to let his villagers and himself to convert to Kali's cause, insisting his people to believe on his premonitions about a man from the sky who would save them.[3]

Upon coming across Indiana Jones and his friends Willie Scott and Short Round, Marhan invited them to stay at Mayapore as his guests, even helping them when he found them stranded on a raft floating in a river before knowing who they were. He trusted Jones immensely despite being a stranger he had just met, knowing he would succeed in his mission to retrieve Mayapore's children and Shiva Linga from Pankot Palace before Jones and his friends even returned,[1] showing absolute gratefulness for what Jones did for his people instead of taking the last Sankara Stone for himself.[4]

A peaceful man, Marhan only resorted to violence as a last resort, as demonstrated when he called for Shiva's help to blast Mola Ram away just as he tried to tear out his heart with Kali's powers.[3] Following Scott taking a photo of him, Jones suggested on his journal that Marhan might not have been photogenic given his apparent lack of appreciation for a photograph in the image itself, which Scott took without asking for Marhan's opinion first.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Marhan, credited as "Shaman", was played by the late D. R. Nanayakkara in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[1] As Nanayakkara didn't speak any English, director Steven Spielberg told him his lines which Nanayakkara repeated back, in addition to mimicking Spielberg's movements.[7]

The idea of Indiana Jones encountering a shaman whilst riding an inflatable raft can be dated back to Lawrence Kasdan's first draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The draft saw Jones bailing out of a plane in Nepal on the raft and sliding down through a Sherpa village where the shaman is stood before the people. Jones waves as he speeds by and shaman decides not to mention it.[8]



Notes and references[]