Dina Sanichar, the feral boy found after being raised by wolves and was the inspiration for The Jungle Book’s character of Mowgli
Deep in the northern Indian jungle of Uttar Pradesh in 1872, a group of hunters stopped in their tracks, bewildered by what they were seeing. A pack of wolves loped through the forest, followed by a ghostly form: a small child, ambling on all fours. The unlikely pack disappeared into a nearby den. The hunters planted a fire at the opening of the cave and smoked the pack out. As the group reappeared, the hunters killed the wolves and captured the boy.
After the hunters captured Sanichar, they brought him to a mission-run orphanage, where he was baptized and given his name — Sanichar is Urdu for Saturday. The orphanage was run by Father Erhardt, a missionary living in India, who noted that though Sanichar “undoubtedly pagal (imbecile or idiotic), still shows signs of reason and sometimes actual shrewdness.”
Some of Dina’s behavior which led to such opinions included walking on all fours, and showing difficulty in walking on two feet. Furthermore, he also had the habit of eating only raw meat, alongside gnawing on bones for sharpening his teeth.
He was never able to communicate with the missionaries at the orphanage in their language. Dina was also unable to understand sign language, and instead used to growl and howl just like a wolf whenever he wanted to express his feelings.
As time passed, Dina was able to learn how to understand the missionaries at the orphanage. However, he never actually learned how to speak the language itself. The more time he stayed at the orphanage, he was able to develop human traits slowly. Dina started standing upright and also began dressing himself up. Also, rather unfortunately, he became a habitual smoker, having picked up the habit from the missionaries.