Wolf boy: The feral child who inspired Mowgli in ‘The Jungle Book’

If you thought The Jungle Book was a fictional children's story, think again.

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book was first published in 1894, but the story of the wild child has travelled far and wide since then. Over the years, countless cartoons and movies have been created to showcase the amazing story of a boy who was raised by wolves in the jungles of India.

While it may seem entirely fictional, because of all the talking animals, very few people know that the story was actually inspired by real life events. During the 19th century, a handful of feral children—children who have grown up isolated from human contact—were discovered in India, and many believe that one of them fuelled Kipling’s creativity.

The story of Dina Sinachar, the 'Indian wolf boy,' has been told and retold countless times throughout history and in the process various versions with differing details have been recorded. Nevertheless, the basic story has remained intact, and it's definitely a doozy.

Indian wolf boy

Back in 1872, hunters were roaming around the jungle of the Bulandshahr district in Uttar Pradesh when they came across a pack of wolves. The pack was rather peculiar because it had a member that looked unlike any canine they’d seen—it was a young boy walking on all fours.

When the pack noticed the hunters, they retreated to their den, and the hunters followed. They were adamant on getting the boy out of what they thought was danger, so they set the den on fire. In one version of the story, the hunters even killed the female wolf who had raised the boy in order to ‘rescue’ him.

Long story short, they got the boy out of the wild and put him in an orphanage in Agra.

Readjusting to society

At the time of the rescue, the boy was already six years old. He had no name, spoke no language, and didn’t know how to walk like other human beings. So, as soon as he got to the Sikandra Mission Orphanage, he was bequeathed a name—Dina Sinachar. However, he was also known as ‘the wolf boy’ in the orphanage.

According to Historic Mysteries, when Sanichar first arrived he could only walk on all fours, he ate raw meat, and chewed on bones to sharpen his teeth. He would howl and growl, like his previous family members did, when he wanted to express his feelings.

Dina Sinachar Listopedia

Even though he came back to human civilisation at the age of six, Sanichar was never fully able to integrate back into society. Communicating with others continued to be a hassle, as he apparently never learned how to speak their language. He did however learn how to stand up and dress himself.

Strangely enough, he also picked up the habit of smoking from missionaries in the orphanage. It is believed that this habit led him to develop tuberculosis which ultimately killed him when he was only 29.

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