The Sankara Stones were five smooth-polished stones shaped like lingams, rounded columns used as a symbol of the fertility aspect of Shiva.
According to legend, five stones were given to Sankara by the Hindu god Shiva on Mount Kalisa, along with the message that he should go forth and battle evil with them. The stones contained diamonds inside, which would glow when the stones were brought together, as a way to recount the legend of Shiva emerging from the fiery pillar. The diamonds could give warmth and life, but the stones could also be used for fiery destruction for those who betrayed Shiva.
Sankara used the stones to convert many in India to the worship of Shiva. After his death, however, the stones became lost, scattered by wars and sold on by mercenaries over hundreds of years.
The last of the five had ended up in a small village called Mayapore located in northern India. It was found in a river and revered by the people of Mayapore because it brought happiness and prosperity to the village. They called it Sivalinga or Shivalinga, and it served as the town's lingam. It had three notches on the side, representing the three levels of the universe according to their beliefs.
Sivalinga was taken from Mayapore by members of the evil Thuggee cult, under the command of Mola Ram, who also kidnapped Mayapore's children. In 1935, Indiana Jones — who had recently survived a plane crash — ended up at the village, and was sent to recover the stone at the behest of Mayapore's shaman, Marhan, and its chieftain. The Thuggee priest Mola Ram had brought his two and Sivalinga to Pankot, and set them in an underground temple dedicated to the goddess Kali, located below Pankot Palace. With the final two stones lying in the caverns below the palace, Mola Ram forced the kidnapped children to work in a mine to locate the last two stones, believing that with the power of the stones, Kali Ma would rule the world.
The three located stones were placed in the alcoves of a large statue inside the temple, until stolen by Indiana Jones. While escaping the mines with the three stones, two of the stones were lost to Jones over a large chasm when he was pursued by Mola Ram. They burned a hole through Jones' satchel and plummeted down into the crocodile-filled waters below. Sivalinga was recovered in time but instead of taking it for himself, Jones decided its home was in Mayapore, not a museum, and he returned it to Marhan.
Unbeknownst to Jones or the Thuggee, the remaining two Sankara stones sat just a few feet away from an excavated area in the mine's wall.
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