Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms.


(thŭgz), former Indian religious sect of murderers and robbers, also called Phansigars [stranglers]. Membership was primarily hereditary and included both Hindus and Muslims, but all were devotees of the Hindu goddess KaliKali
[Hindi,=the Black One], important goddess in popular Hinduism and Tantra. Known also as Durga [the Inaccessible] and as Chandi [the Fierce], Kali is associated with disease, death, and destruction. As Parvati she is the consort of Shiva.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and committed their murders as sacrifices to her. A pickax (representing the tooth of Kali, which she was said to have bestowed upon the organization) was consecrated after the victim's grave had been dug with it. For most of the year Thugs followed ordinary occupations, but in the autumn they went about in bands, disguised as merchants or religious mendicants. When they encountered wealthy travelers, they would ingratiate themselves and await an opportunity to kill. The murder was effected by strangling the victim with a scarf reserved for the purpose. Women and members of certain low castes, such as sweepers, washermen, and musicians, were usually exempted from attack. The Thugs, whose activities are known as far back as the 13th cent., were protected by their strong organization and by local officials with whom they would divide the spoils. Early in the period of British rule in India the decision was made to destroy the Thugs. Sir William Sleeman accomplished the repression (1829–48) by mass arrests and executions.


See G. L. Bruce, The Stranglers (1969).

References in periodicals archive ?
A source said: "There is no explanation for the beating but the theory is that the man may have been hanging outside the house and the thug got paranoid that he might be a look out for a gunman.
He explained that the incident occurred around 5:00pm on Wednesday, saying Tale led some four other notorious thugs in the town to Chief Adepiti residence where the monarch was holding a meeting.
Putin the Thug is a political-military-industrial-complex dream candidate.
The thugs have no role in forcing us out, far from it, it is just that the time to go has come.
In another act of sabotage, a minibus parked by the roadside was gutted when thugs hurled firebombs at policemen in A'ali.
Lochend have vowed on their Facebook page to identify the thugs.
The thugs in the Gulf are using lies and hypocrisy when confronted with the reality of their positions, justifying this by saying they do not care "whether the regime goes or stays.
However, what are being seen are more riots and assaults by thugs not only on private property with thefts of personal possessions, but also on public institutions.
The mindless thugs have brought havoc to our streets and shamed our country around the world.
The thugs set ablaze the tents at the center of the square and attacked the
It's really easy to discount the "harmony" elements of Bone Thugs n' Harmony, but that would be a mistake.
ARMED thugs burst into a Merseyside store and terrorised three female staff members.