If you are one of those who’ve grown up in the 90s, then ‘The Jungle Book’ will surely be one of your fondest memories. For most of us Jungle Book just meant Mowgli. We have always known him through these animation movies and books. But did you know what the real-life Mowgli looked like?
Back in 1872, when a group of hunters were walking through the forests of Uttar Pradesh, they encountered something very unusual. A pack of wolves running through the forest, followed by a human-like figure on all its fours.
As soon as the wolves disappeared into a nearby den, the hunters planted a fire at the opening of the cave. When the wolves reappeared, the hunters killed them and captured the boy.
This boy named Dina is believed to be the real inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli.
As the legend goes, the hunters brought Dina to a missionary-run orphanage where he was given the name, Sanichar, meaning Saturday in Urdu.
Initially, Dina could not reason out things, but according to the owner of the orphanage, Father Erhardt, he occasionally did demonstrate some ability to reason.
While normal children learn to speak within first two years of their lives, Dina could never learn to talk, despite multiple attempts at it. The only way he could communicate with others was by making some weird animals noises.
Almost all the attempts to make him adapt to the ways of society failed. He despised wearing clothes and could not learn to wear pants and shirts during the two decades he lived among humans.
He couldn’t even eat cooked food and preferred to live on raw meat. This was possibly because he grew up and lived among carnivorous wolves. He would even resort to sharpening his teeth by gnawing them over bones.
All through the years that he spent in the orphanage, he really struggled relating to humans. But apparently, he did become friends with another feral child at the orphanage. Sources say that Father Erhardt of the orphanage explained their bond as:
“A strange bond of sympathy attached these two boys together, and the elder one first taught the younger to drink out of a cup.”
While Dina could not relate to or get attached to human beings, the only thing human about him was that he enjoyed smoking and soon became addicted to it.
Even after a decade of coexistence with humans, his physical and mental growth was never at par with us. He had large teeth and a low forehead. One would always find him being anxious about something.
The age of his death is not confirmed, but sources say that he died of tuberculosis in 1895.
This is all we know about the boy who could be the inspiration behind Mowgli. Now as we watch the movie we know where it really comes from.