We are sure there wouldn’t be a single movie buff who hasn’t heard about the legendary Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling’s famous work, The Jungle Book. Yet many people are not familiar that this book was inspired by a real-life story. A real living man who spent his early years with wild animals in a jungle. So here is the story of real-life Mowgli, the boy found living in the jungle.
Meet the real-life Mowgli, Dina Sanichar, or “the Indian wolf-boy,” a feral boy who lived in the 19th century and was raised by wolves. Most of the people believe that Dina was the real inspiration behind The Jungle Book, though it’s important to know that the original story isn’t as pleasant and entertaining as the one we read in a book or watch in a movie. The reality is far more tragic than that.
In reality, Dina was one of several feral children found in India over the years. This turns out that the country has a long history of kids raised by all breeds of animals, such as panthers, dogs, and even chickens. In 1872, Dina Sanichar was found by a group of hunters in Uttar Pradesh. Surprisingly, the boy was walking on all of his fours (hands and feet) and was following a pack of wolves.
After that, the boy, along with the pack of wolves, ran into a cave. This entire sight was both intriguing and terrifying to the hunters. Since the strange boy aroused their curiosity, the team decided to catch the boys to learn more about him. The hunters tried to get them out of the cave by setting it on fire. When the wolves and the boy eventually came out, the hunters killed the wolves and took the boy with them.
The boy was supposed to be six years old at that time. The hunters took the boy to an orphanage where he was bathed and given the name Sanichar, which means “Saturday” because that’s the day he arrived at the orphanage.
Sanichar struggled very much and he was considered to have a really low IQ. Also, he never learned how to speak. At the orphanage, many people tried to teach him to do so, but he never succeeded to learn how to speak, read, or write.
The boy communicated by making animal sounds and continued to walk on all fours. Even though finally Sanichar learned to walk on two legs, he still coped with wearing clothes and favored to be naked.
Furthermore, when he first arrived at the orphanage, he denied to eat cooked meals and would sharpen his teeth on bones. But despite bestowing almost no human qualities, he managed to make a human friend with another feral child who also grew up with animals.
One of the few humanly traits Sanichar integrated into his own life was smoking. Many think that smoking was what later led him to contract tuberculosis.
Dina’s growth was overall abnormal: even after 10 years of living among humans, he was very afraid and restless, hardly five feet tall, had quite large teeth, and a low forehead. Having spent most of his boyhood with wolves, he must have felt like a bewildered foreign, forcibly isolated from his own home.
As we stated before, there were several tales of feral children raised by animals discovered in India over the years. These tales about feral kids raised by animals have inspired many writers and poets. One such writer was Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the popular book about Mowgli called The Jungle Book. Though he never mentioned his book was inspired by Dina, many parts of his book portray the same Dina was taken care of.
Even though he was forcibly taken back to human society, he never managed to meet the expectations of those around him. Dina passed away in 1895 from tuberculosis. He was just 29 years old.