Our favorite protagonist 'Mowgli' from 'The Jungle Book' is not just a fictional character. Yes! Mowgli is real. The Feral Boy who inspired Kipling's story behind 'The Jungle Book' is India's wolf boy Dina Sanichar.
Raised by wolves in the Indian jungle in Uttar Pradesh, hunters found a little boy in 1867 (later named Dina Sanichar). The hunters found him lying in a cave and took him to a nearby orphanage. No one knew that one day he would serve as Rudyard Kipling’s inspiration for the most famous character of Mowgli.
In his famous novel ‘The Jungle Book’, Rudyard Kipling portrays Mowgli as a little boy abandoned by his parents and was then adopted and raised by wolves. To survive in the Animal Kingdom, one must learn how they live and thrive living in that ecosystem. Being a part of the wolf’s family, he never got a chance to learn and interact with another human being.
Kipling’s famous tale and films by Walt Disney were about self-discovery, harmony, and how there can be a balance between nature and civilization. It was a reason for many children to show compassion to animals and value what they have.
Socializing with the Wolves
Animal Kingdom is based on the principle of survival of the fittest. However, they don’t harm a human until they are harmed. As a crawling little boy Dina Sanichar resembled to be an animal, hence was adopted by the herd of wolves. Raised and thinking to be one of the wolves, he spent the first important years socializing and learning to live like an animal, devoid of human lifestyle.
In 1867, a band of hunters made their way clear through a jungle of the Bulandshahr district, India. They encountered a lone wolf who was guarding the entrance of a cave. Curious and overwhelmed that they might find a hunt for the day, they stopped by and prepped to ambush their prey. Unexpectedly, they discovered that their assumed prey wasn’t any animal. It was a little boy of approximately five to six years of age.
Dina didn’t approach these men, and when asked questions, he was confused as he had never communicated with humans before. The human language was alien to him. The hunters brought Dina Sanichar to ‘Sikandra Mission Orphanage’ in the famous city of Agra on a Saturday. Hence, Dina Sanichar was named after the Hindi word for Saturday.
The orphanage started his humanizing process. They tried to teach him the necessary things he never learned being a part of the herd of wolves. They focused on bridging the gulf between animal instinct and human behavior which seemed a little wide for Sanichar to overcome, starting from walking to talking.
Adjusting into the ‘Civilized’ World
During Dina’s stay at the Sikandra Mission Orphanage, he was called the ‘wolf boy’ nickname. He was soon known to be India’s wolf boy raised by wolves and had never experienced or communicated with humans before.
According to the missionary account, his behavior resembled more that of an animal as it was difficult for him to adapt to the changes. He walked around with the help of his hands and feet. He faced difficulty while standing on his own two feet. He ate raw meat by the wild and gnawed on bones to sharpen his teeth like wolves.
Teaching the human lifestyle and communicating with Dina Sanichar was difficult as he missed the vital years of his life and had imbibed animal behavior over experiencing life as a human. For him, growling or howling was the way to express himself, just like wolves do.
Human language was an Alien thing for him, so the missionary tried to communicate by gestures and signing. However, they failed because he didn’t understand. Like wolves only howl or growl and do not possess fingers like a human child, he didn’t even understand this universal gesture. He eventually struggled to understand what was being told to him.
But slowly, Dina Sanichar started behaving like humans and was influenced by other humans in the orphanage. He learned to walk on his two feet, learned to stand upright, and most surprisingly, he learned how to dress. He also adapted to smoking cigarettes as a remarkable human trait.
But the story of feral children didn’t end with Dina. Dina Sanichar was not the only child brought to the Sikandra Mission Orphanage. There have been two other boys and a girl who were also said to have been raised by the wolves.