Dina Sanichar was nurtured by wolves in the jungles of Uttar Pradesh, India, until he was discovered by hunters in 1867 and taken to an orphanage. He was the basis for the character Mowgli created by Rudyard Kipling.
The Jungle Book is a novel by Rudyard Kipling about Mowgli, a youngster who was abandoned by his parents and raised by wolves. He learned the ways of the animal realm, but he was never taught how to communicate with other people.
Kipling’s renowned story, which was later translated into multiple Disney films, ends with an upbeat message about self-discovery and human civilization’s peace with nature. Few people are aware, however, that it is based on tragic true events.
Dina Sanichar, a 19th-century Indian man known as the real-life Mowgli, was raised by wolves and mistook himself for one for the first few years of his existence. He was discovered in a cave by hunters, who took him to a neighboring orphanage.
Missionaries attempted to teach him what he had never learned, beginning with the fundamentals of walking and speech. However, Dina Sanichar was unable to bridge the gap between human conduct and animal instinct. The real-life Mowgli’s narrative did not conclude as the Disney version did.
How Wolves Raised Dina Sanichar And Humans Hunted Her
It was the year 1867. The scene is a place in India’s Bulandshahr region. A group of hunters was making their way through the bush one night when they came to a clearing. They could see the entrance to a cave beyond it, which they assumed was guarded by a lone wolf.
The hunters were getting ready to ambush their unsuspecting target, but they were stopped dead in their tracks when they discovered this animal wasn’t even an animal. It was a young youngster, perhaps six years old. He didn’t approach the men or respond to their questions.
The hunters didn’t want to leave the boy on the harsh edges of the jungle, so they took him to the Sikandra Mission Orphanage in Agra. The missionaries gave him a name because he didn’t have one. Dina Sanichar was his name, and it came from the Hindi word for Saturday, which was the day he arrived.
Sanichar Fights To Fit In With The ‘Civilized’ World
Sanichar was given a new name while he was at the Sikandra Mission Orphanage: “Wolf Boy.” The missionaries thought it would suit him because he had been raised by wild animals and had never had any human contact.
Sanichar’s behavior resembled that of an animal more than that of a human, according to their accounts. He struggled to stand on his own two feet and walked around on all fours. To keep his teeth sharp, he only ate raw meat and gnawed on bones.
“The ease with which they get along on four feet (hands and feet) is surprising,” wrote Erhardt Lewis, the orphanage’s supervisor, to a distant colleague. “They sniff food before eating or tasting it, and if they don’t like the smell, they throw it away.”
It was difficult to communicate with “the real-life Mowgli” for two reasons. First, he didn’t speak the same language as the missionaries who were looking after him. He would growl or howl like a wolf whenever he needed to express himself.
Second, he didn’t get the concept of signing. People who do not speak the same language may usually communicate with each other by pointing to various objects with their fingers. However, because wolves do not point (or have any fingers for that matter), he was likely unaware of the global gesture.
Sanichar ultimately learned to understand the missionaries’ language, but he never learned to speak it. Maybe it was because the sounds of human speech were foreign to him.
However, the more Sanichar stayed at the orphanage, the more he grew to act human. According to the missionaries, he learnt to stand up straight and began to clothe himself. Some even claim that he picked up the habit of smoking cigarettes.
Other Feral Children Who Shared Dina Sanichar’s Home
One geographer said that the orphanage has taken in so many wolf children over the years that they no longer look up when another child is discovered in the wild.
In fact, children raised by wolves have been reported all over India. The missionaries who cared for the youngsters were sometimes the sole sources of information, thus whether they were truly wild is debatable.
Some speculate that the missionaries created them to attract media attention. Others speculate that the youngsters were not reared by animals at all and instead had an intellectual or physical handicap. In that situation, the reports could have been the consequence of people making snap judgments about their actions.
The Real-Life Mowgli’s Legacy
While Dina Sanichar’s account cannot be substantiated, the stories of other feral youngsters can. After her alcoholic parents abandoned her as a baby, Oxana Malaya, a Ukrainian child born in the 1990s, was raised by stray dogs.
She couldn’t speak and went about on all fours when social officials took her into care. Oxana learned to speak Russian after years of therapy. She now has a partner and works as an animal caretaker on a farm.
Shamdeo, an Indian boy, was discovered living with wolves in a wilderness in India when he was around four years old. “He had sharper teeth, long hooked fingernails, and calluses on his palms, elbows, and knees,” the L.A. Times reported. He, too, died at an early age.
Sanichar, who was only 35 years old when his body succumbed to TB in 1895, felt the same way. He never really acclimated to life at the orphanage, despite spending the most of his brief existence in the company of other people rather than the animals that may or may not have nurtured him.
Whether or not Dina Sanichar is the real-life Mowgli, his narrative has a lot in common with Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book in terms of our fascination with the idea of someone growing up in a world that is very different from our own.