What makes us human? Are we born that way, or has civilization forced us to suppress and reject our animal instincts? What happens when we refuse that touch of society and human upbringing?
Dina Sanichar is one of the people that threads that fine line between sentient beings.
Throughout history, various stories arose about the so-called wild people who could give answers to these questions. These are the people who, for any reason, have grown up without human contact. In some cases, they were raised by wild animals and seemed to have rejected all the behavioral characteristics that make up a human.
One of the most famous cases of a wild child is of Dina Sanichar from India. It is a story that offers an intriguing insight into the life of a person who grew up outside the world of humans and civilization.
Dina Sanichar – The Feral Child
Dina Sanichar was found in February 1867 when a group of hunters made their way through the dense jungle of Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, India. Here they found and followed a pack of wolves entering the cave in front of them.
Since this area was affected by wolf attacks at the time, hunters saw this as an opportunity to exterminate several vicious creatures. They made a plan, lit a fire, and drove the wolves out of the cave with smoke, where they shot them one by one with rifles.
Just when they thought they had killed all the wolves in the darkness of the cave, they heard a creature coughing and growling somewhere in the depths of darkness. Instead of a wolf, a human figure appeared from the smoke. This was a boy not older than six years. He was later named Dina Sanichar. He ran on all fours and growled at the hunters like a genuine beast.
This is how the story of Dina Sanichar, nick-named the Wolf Boy, started.
At first, the boy could not be approached because he was just as angry as the wolves that were killed. He gnawed at anyone who tried to approach him, and they picked him up only when he was exhausted. Out of grief, he buried his head in the fur of one of the killed wolves, weeping bitterly.
Even then, Dina Sanichar resisted, but the hunters managed to overpower him and take him to the Sikandra orphanage. This was in the town of Agra, where he was given the name Dina Sanichar. Sanichar means Sunday because that is the day they found him.
Dina was placed in a room, but they quickly noticed that he was not an ordinary boy lost in the jungle. Not only did he walk on all fours wherever he went, but he didn't seem to understand human language at all. He communicated by growling, grumbling, screaming, or whining.
It was quickly concluded that Dina Sanichar was left without parents in the jungle, where he created an incredible connection with the wolves and became part of their family, that is, the pack.
Integration Into The Human Society
The orphanage did everything it could for Dina Sanichar. However, they had to make special adjustments in their usual way of working. For one thing, the boy at first absolutely refused to be dressed, ripping his clothes off his body whenever they dressed him.
Dina Sanichar also ate nothing but raw meat, refusing all other food offered to him. He nibbled on bones and showed absolutely no signs of regular emotional expression, such as laughter.
No matter how hard they tried, the missionaries at the orphanage could not teach Dina Sanichar to speak. He could not understand even the simplest words, although he showed signs of intelligence outside the ordinary wolf. With time, Dina even began to drink from a glass.
Father Erhardt, a missionary at the orphanage, said the following about him:
"Although he is undoubtedly pagal (imbecile), he still shows signs of reason, and sometimes real cunning."
Although he became less aggressive and obedient over time, Dina Sanichar showed no willingness to connect with anyone in the orphanage. In fact, the only time he showed a connection to another human being was when another wild child was brought to the orphanage.
These two wild children quickly became friends, they would lie next to each other at night, play on all fours, and Dina Sanichar even taught his wild friend how to use a glass. When his friend tragically passed away for unknown reasons, Dina Sanichar reportedly spent long days howling with grief, and for the first time, showed any emotion other than anger and fear.
The missionaries continued teaching this boy how to be human, but progress was slow or non-existent. Eventually, they taught him a certain amount of human behavior, like feeding him from a plate with utensils. They managed to make him wear clothes and walk upright, even though it was visibly uncomfortable and he had difficulty dressing.
In the nearly 20 years he spent in an orphanage among the people, Dina Sanichar had only accepted cooked meat a few times. He could never write, speak, or read, although he showed rudimentary knowledge of simple words and expressions.
Bizarrely, the only human habit he gladly accepted was smoking, and Dina Sanichar was known to be a great lover of cigarettes. Sadly, this probably hastened his journey to an early grave because he died of tuberculosis in 1895.
How Dina Sanichar Inspired The Jungle Book
A person is formed from childhood under the influence of the conditions in which they grow up. And if they are for the first five years surrounded by animals, not people, they will adopt their habits and gradually lose their human appearance, much like what happened with Dina Sanichar.
Mowgli syndrome is the name given to cases of the upbringing of children in the wild. After returning to civilization, socialization becomes impossible for many of them.
Most children with Mowgli syndrome were found in India: from 1843 to 1933, 15 such cases were reported. Dina Sanichar lived with a pack of wolves and was found in 1867. The boy learned to walk on two legs, use food, wear clothes but could not speak.
Besides him, there have been many similar cases: children have been found with dogs, monkeys, pandas, leopards, and kangaroos, however, most commonly among wolves. Sometimes the children are lost, other times the parents get rid of them themselves. Common symptoms for all children who grew up among animals with Mowgli syndrome were the inability to speak, movement on all fours, fear of people, and excellent immunity and good health.
Sadly, Dina did not live a long and fulfilling life like it was portrayed in the movie. He died at the age of 35 in the year 1895. He had tuberculosis for a while, and his body finally gave up after a long struggle. Unlike in The Jungle Book, Dina Sanichar did not have a happy ending to his story.