Was there a Mowgli at all?
We all have grown up listening to and reading Rudyard Kipling’s tales of Mowgli, the jungle boy reared by the wolves.Mowgli lived somewhere in the forests of India, apparently and many of the characters of Kipling’s work have Indian names- Baloo, Sher Khan etc.
This is a continuation of my earlier post on India’s wildlife , her jungles and the fantastic tales of her wildlife.
Was there a real Mowgli?
Years ago, while working with a newspaper in Kanpur, India, I read a fantastic account of Mowgli and his tales.
During the British Raj, when India was Britain’s colony, hunts of Indian wild animals were a common affair- it is estimated that the British officers and the Indian Rajas together gunned down more than 100, 000 tigers!
Today, there are no more than 3000 tigers in Indian jungles, alas!
Britain, through East India Company had colonised India in the 18th century
During one such hunt, the hunters , in a remote Indian jungle, stumbled upon a pack of wild dogs.
Wild dogs are some of the most tenacious hunters in the jungle and can even fell full grown adult tiger!
The hunters were however not much prepared for an even more astonishing sight- crouched amongst the pack was a small boy, a human boy, that gave out sounds like a feline- whistling, roaring and even gnashing his teeth.
After a small chase, the hunters managed to separate the small boy from the pack and carried him back to their camp.
They then tried to speak with him in a language spoken locally hoping the boy would respond but, he exhibited no signs of comprehension, let alone answering back to the assembled men.
Confounded and disappointed, the men then decided to refer the boy to a doctor.Obviously, the doctor too could not get to the root of the problem.
Ultimately, the local police decided to put the small boy in a sanatorium in Agra for psychiatric treatment.This sanatorium was located in Sikandra, Agra and was just in front of the tomb of Akbar, the Moghul emperor.
The mentally disjointed boy could not cope up with his new surroundings and passed away sometime in the late 19th century.
What we read in the Junglebook today has largely been inspired by this story.Except that there are no wolves in India.
A fantastic tale, is’nt it?