Far Cry 5

Kalinag, Robert Barclay, and the Thangkas – Truth vs. Myth

FarCry7 - Kalinag, Robert Barclay, and the Thangkas - Truth vs. Myth
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So I recently finished Far Cry 4, and waited until I had all of the Lost Letters and Mohan journals respectively before actually taking the time to read them. Part of my thoughts here come from reading a possibly erroneous line on the Far Cry wiki claiming that Robert and Kalinag were apparently the same person. But that line and the collectibles got me to thinking about what is actually true and what's not concerning Shangri-La.

Two things we know about Kalinag in the present day are that Pagan Min certainly does not believe he was ever real ("Sadly, some citizens mistakenly believe this tale to be true. These poor deluded individuals cannot see that the only true hero they need is the glorious King Min."King Min's Kyrat), but that Yuma Lau is convinced he was and that she is trying to find the mystical land of Shangri-La. But who's right?

First, let's look at the story of Lieutenant Robert F. Barclay. In his letters to his wife Charlotte, he is constantly talking about his visions of Kalinag. Beginning with his letter in December of 1819, he pays the Guru Kabir to see the various pieces of the thangka, to which he says there are five. Upon glancing at each piece, he envisions himself as the ancient Kyrati warrior Kalinag. Nearly two hundred years later, Ajay Ghale would find the same pieces and see the same visions.

In Barclay's last letter (July 1820), he envisions himself as Kalinag killing the winged demon Rakshasa, and purifying Shangri-La, something Ajay also saw when he found the fifth piece of the thankga in 2014. At the end of the last of those missions, we hear Kalinag talking to the painter of the thankga. This leads me to believe that the thangka has existed since well before the time of Barclay, that Kalinag was likely real, and that the aforementioned line on the wiki is wrong. But continuing on…

Each time Robert Barclay looked at a piece of the thangka, he grew more and more mad. At the end of it all, after Rakshasa was slain in his visions, he was left completely broken, remembering that he was indeed Robert Barclay, but still somewhat of a babbling madman, begging no one in particular for Charlotte to take him back. Ajay was much luckier. Each time Ajay found a piece, he simply woke up sometime later in his family home, no less sane than he was going in. This is certainly odd. Why would a young man with little to no world experience before arriving in Kyrat with his mother's ashes be able to keep his sanity more than a seasoned British Lieutenant? Perhaps it's less dangerous for people with Kyrati blood. Yuma certainly went more than a little insane over the years just trying to find the pieces.

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The other inconsistency is described in Mohan Ghale's journals. Sometime in 1988, after Pagan seized power and brought in Yuma, he was collecting artifacts (likely to create the golden statue that Ajay blows up at the end of the game), and storing them in Jalendu Temple. To keep the Kalinag Thangka out of his and Yuma's reach, Mohan instructs Darpan to break it up into five pieces and scatter them in temples around the country, where Ajay would eventually find them.

Now wait a minute. This raises a new problem. The thangka wasn't separated until 1988. But according to Barclay's letters, it was already in five pieces as far back as 1819.

So to recap, here's what we're sure of:

  • The thangka is real, and in pieces by 2014.

  • Viewing the broken pieces of the thangka cause one to envision themselves as Kalinag.

  • The thangka is in pieces because of Mohan Ghale and Darpan in 1988. Yuma supposedly spends nearly 30 years looking for them, while Ajay finds them with ease because a couple of stoners pointed him in the right direction.

This leads me to an odd conclusion, yet the only one that seems to make sense:

Kalinag was real. Robert Barclay never existed.

He's the only outlier in this entire mess. He couldn't have paid to see the broken pieces of the thangka because it wasn't broken. So who wrote the letters? It had to be someone with knowledge of the pieces of the thangka, and someone who knew about the visions they caused. Someone had to create "Robert" and retell the story of Kalinag from the point of view of this 19th century lieutenant who was slowly driven into madness by them. Which leads me to the next part of my theory:

Yuma Lau wrote the letters between Robert and Charlotte. She found the Thangkas, and saw the visions herself, but ended up not taking them back with her.

Of course, it's never even explained how they ended up on the wall to the Ghale Homestead if Ajay was apparently unconscious, or how he even gets back there in the first place. Perhaps our favorite stoners find him in each location and bring him and the piece back before he wakes up. It's also equally possible that sometime before Ajay's return to Kyrat, members of the Royal Guard did the same for Yuma, but left the thangka pieces where they were.

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Assuming this is what happened, the next question of course is "why?" Why would Yuma write those letters and leave them by supposedly British skeletons? Perhaps she wanted Ajay to find them. Maybe she wanted Ajay to find Shangri-La, learn the truth of Kalinag. Or maybe they just drove her insane and she created Robert as a way to justify or explain her madness. Maybe it's all of the above. Who can say for sure? I'd certainly like to read anyone else's interpretations.

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