The Real-Life Inspiration For Mowgli In The Jungle Book Was A Feral Child Raised By Wolves

Many believe that Dina Sanichar, the Indian wolf boy, was the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling's famous work, The Jungle Book. Just like Mowgli, Dina was a feral boy raised by wolves, although his life was quite different from his fictional counterpart's. Mowgli the man-cub entranced readers with his fascinating upbringing. After wandering into an Indian forest, he was adopted by the animals who fed, protected, and sheltered him. Dina, too, was raised by wolves. But the boy who inspired Mowgli did not have such a fantastical life.

Kipling was born in India and lived there until the age of six. He moved to England but then returned to the country of his birth 10 years later. He wrote The Jungle Book in 1895, less than 20 years after Dina Sanichar was captured living among a pack of wolves. Unlike Mowgli, Dina was mentally stunted despite years of reintegration into human society.

Dina isn't the only one who lived an unusual life or whose story was made into a book. But he most certainly made an impact on one of Britain's most famous writers.

Photo: user uploaded image

  • Hunters Kidnapped Him And Killed His Wolf Companion
    Photo: Listopedia / Youtube

    Hunters Kidnapped Him And Killed His Wolf Companion

    Hunters first came across Dina in the jungle when they witnessed him walking on all fours, following after a wolf companion. No doubt their curiosity was piqued and they did their best to get their hands on the boy; after various attempts to lure him out of the wolf den failed they finally managed to smoke him out, along with the wolf.

    The hunters killed the wolf at the first opportunity; Dina witnessed the entire thing without warning before being carried off. 

  • He Was Labeled An Imbecile Upon Entering An Orphanage
    Photo: Rudyard Kipling / Wikimedia Commons / Flickr's The Commons

    He Was Labeled An Imbecile Upon Entering An Orphanage

    The hunters brought Dina to an orphanage where missionaries baptized him and gave him the name Sanichar, which means "Saturday" in Urdu, because that's the day he arrived at the facility. Father Erhardt was in charge of the mission at the time, and he came to know the young boy.

    Dina struggled in his new life and was considered an imbecile. However, he did demonstrate the ability to reason and was occasionally keen at performing certain tasks.

  • He Never Learned To Speak Or Write

    Children learn to speak during the first two years of their lives. Some children learn to say "mama" or "dada" as young as six months old and within a couple years will begin forming sentences. These milestones coincide with mental, emotional, and behavioral development. Dina, however, would never speak.

    Despite multiple attempts by those around him to teach him how to talk, the wolf boy never managed to learn a language or to write; he did, however, communicate by making animal noises.

  • He Adopted One Bad Human Habit: Smoking
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons / Flickr's The Commons

    He Adopted One Bad Human Habit: Smoking

    Even though Dina hated wearing clothes, struggled to walk on two feet, and refused to speak a language, there was one human habit that he did pick up: he enjoyed smoking and quickly became addicted to it.

    Some believe the habit may have led to tuberculosis, which eventually killed him.

  • He Preferred Raw Meat & Sharpened His Teeth By Gnawing On Bones

    Most children start growing teeth between four and seven months old, and usually have a complete set by the age of three. Depending on how young Dina was when he started living with wolves, it must have been difficult for him to consume his food. Wolves are carnivores and dine on big game animals.

    When Dina first arrived at the orphanage he refused to eat cooked food. He liked raw meat and would gnaw on bones to sharpen his teeth.

  • He Had An Aversion To Clothing
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons / Flickr's The Commons

    He Had An Aversion To Clothing

    After Dina was captured, his rescuers tried to to make him adapt to society by doing things that most humans do naturally, such as wear clothing. While Dina eventually learned how to walk on two feet, he struggled with wearing pants and shirts during the two decades he lived among people.

    Interestingly enough, he wasn't the only feral child who eschewed clothing: another boy, known as the wolf-child of Krondstadt, was sent to the Sekandra orphanage as well, and he too preferred to be naked.