“I Wanna Be Like You”: The Jungle Book, Revisited

Being a parent gives you a chance to go back over the children’s stories you grew up with and even, in some cases, learn about new ones. The following post consists of somewhat scattered thoughts on “The Jungle Book,” including a 1967 Disney animated film version, as well as Kipling’s original book.

lockwood kipling tiger.jpg

I did not grow up with Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” — either adaptations or the original story — but my son has really gotten attached to the 1967 Disney animated film version of the story, and it’s gotten me interested in both it and Kipling himself.

The biggest attraction for us initially were the great jazz/swing songs that were made for this particular version: Bare Necessities, Colonel Hathi, and I Wanna Be Like You (with the great Louis Prima on vocals).

My wife grew up in India, watching Indian television, and she says she has fond memories of the Hindi animated version of “The Jungle Book,” which you can also see on YouTube here. It’s a cartoon serial meant for kids, which means the story kind of branches off on its own. Still, it made me curious: do readers know whether Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” is popular in South Asian languages? Are there readers who grew up in South Asia hearing the Kipling stories about Mowgli, Bagheera, Bhalu, Shere Khan, etc.? (Or, growing up abroad, did your parents tell you these stories in a “desi” context?) I somehow didn’t know about the Disney songs growing up, and it’s too bad, because both my son and myself are now thoroughly addicted to them. Looking at the music a bit critically, I was earlier a little put off by “I wanna be like you,” where I initially thought the singer was Louis Armstrong. The idea of a monkey-king, who liberally throws around African-American slang, kidnapping the “man cub,” in order to learn the secret of being human, seemed a little uncomfortably like an allegory of race relations in the real world:

Now I’m the king of the swingers
Oh, the jungle VIP
I’ve reached the top and had to stop
And that’s what botherin’ me
I wanna be a man, mancub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men
I’m tired of monkeyin’ around!

Oh, oobee doo
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you, too
You’ll see it’s true
An ape like me
Can learn to be human too

It’s hard not to think of the analogous human race-mimicry situation: “I wanna be like you/ I wanna walk like you/ Talk like you, too” could be the voice of an under-class minority asking the “man” for access to privileges (here, embodied in the technology of “man’s red flower,” fire) that make him supreme over the rest of society. It’s a little better that the singer is Italian-American rather than African-American, but there’s still a slightly off-putting race angle here if you’re looking for it. (I’m sure some readers will think I’m reading too much into this.)

Also, just to be clear, I still play this music for my kid all the time, and have no qualms about doing so. I also don’t mind that “The Jungle Book” is a good excuse to teach him a few Hindi words: Bagheera, Akela, Shere, Bhalu, Hathi, Bandar, etc. As I riff on the stories with my son, I’m also trying to sneak in some new ones, which Kipling doesn’t use: Gainda (rhinoceros), Bheriya (wolf), Magar-much (crocodile).

Some of the race stuff, of course, comes directly from Kipling’s other writing. As people who know his other works are already aware, Kipling was obsessed with race (this is the guy who invented the term, “white man’s burden,” among many other things). He was born in India and spent his first few years there, before being sent to England for boarding school, as was the norm in late Victorian British India. Though he hated his experience in boarding school, he still always thought of England as “home” — and strongly supported the British Imperial project in India.

As a young man, Kipling returned to India to work as a journalist, and lived mainly with his family in Lahore. He published his first short stories (mainly on the Anglo-Indian community in India) in the newspaper he wrote for, and frequently used material related to his journalism work as fodder. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was the principal of the art school in Lahore for many years, as well as the curator of the Lahore Museum (Lockwood Kipling is the model for the museum curator in the opening chapters of Kim, incidentally). Some part of Rudyard’s interest in animals in India — which would later nourish one of the best-selling children’s books of all time — probably came directly from his father, who drew and wrote about India’s animal life himself in a beautifully-illustrated early book, called “Beast and Man in India”. (And Rudyard Kipling’s original published version of “The Jungle Book” has great illustrations by John Lockwood Kipling.)

Kipling’s own The Jungle Book is a little different in structure from the Disney adaptation of his story. For one thing, the Disney version only uses material from the first three chapters of Kipling’s book; “The White Seal,” “Servants of the Queen,” and “Rikki-tikki-tavi” go in different directions. “The White Seal,” for instance, isn’t even based on an Indian jungle, but rather involves seals in a northern ocean.

Even in the “Mowgli” chapters, there is a big difference in the fact that, in Kipling’s story, Mowgli actually meets his mother and lives in the human village for a time, before being excommunicated because of his ability to communicate with wolves (“Tiger-Tiger”). Disney doesn’t get into this potentially dark situation (i.e., the boy being forced to separate from his mother by a mob of angry villagers who are ready to stone him to death), and rather chooses to end with just a hint of Mowgli’s repatriation into human society and inevitable future adulthood preoccupations — as he ogles a village girl getting water from the river.

There are other differences too. Kipling’s story is more unabashedly violent, and the most dramatic story arc in Kipling’s version in my reading is the battle against the monkey-people, which ends with hundreds of dead monkeys, not so much the killing of Shere Khan.

In Kipling, the society of the Jungle has several different respectable species who adhere to the “Law,” including Bagheera the panther, the wolves, Kaa the snake, Balu the bear, and Chil the kite. Shere Khan, the Tiger, behaves a little like an Oriental despot, whom the other people of the Jungle are right to want to depose.

By contrast to the animals who follow the law, the Monkey-people (“Bandar-Log”) are sociologically anarchic:

“Listen, man-cub,” said the Bear, and his voice rumbled like thunder on a hot night. “I have taught thee all the Law of the Jungle for all the peoples of the jungle–except the Monkey-Folk who live in the trees. They have no law. They are outcasts. They have no speech of their own, but use the stolen words which they overhear when they listen, and peep, and wait up above in the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter and all is forgotten. We of the jungle have no dealings with them. We do not drink where the monkeys drink; we do not go where the monkeys go; we do not hunt where they hunt; we do not die where they die. Hast thou ever heard me speak of the Bandar-log till today?”

“No,” said Mowgli in a whisper, for the forest was very still now Baloo had finished.

“The Jungle-People put them out of their mouths and out of their minds. They are very many, evil, dirty, shameless, and they desire, if they have any fixed desire, to be noticed by the Jungle People. But we do not notice them even when they throw nuts and filth on our heads.”

He had hardly spoken when a shower of nuts and twigs spattered down through the branches; and they could hear coughings and howlings and angry jumpings high up in the air among the thin branches.

“The Monkey-People are forbidden,” said Baloo, “forbidden to the Jungle-People. Remember.”

“Forbidden,” said Bagheera, “but I still think Baloo should have warned thee against them.”

“I–I? How was I to guess he would play with such dirt. The Monkey People! Faugh!”

Because they have no social hierarchy, no memory, and above all, no “law,” the other animals treat them as “outcasts” (loaded choice of terms!). The Bandar-log themselves treat the other animals with contempt. (I don’t see an obvious “race” angle here, incidentally, though it does seem like there is a rationale for Imperialism: the people who follow the Law are justified in either excluding or attacking those who do not.)

When the Bandar-Log kidnap Mowgli, they take him, interestingly, to an abandoned, formerly human-occupied city in the middle of the jungle. Their reasons for kidnapping him are given as follows:

They never meant to do any more–the Bandar-log never mean anything at all; but one of them invented what seemed to him a brilliant idea, and he told all the others that Mowgli would be a useful person to keep in the tribe, because he could weave sticks together for protection from the wind; so, if they caught him, they could make him teach them. Of course Mowgli, as a woodcutter’s child, inherited all sorts of instincts, and used to make little huts of fallen branches without thinking how he came to do it. The Monkey-People, watching in the trees, considered his play most wonderful. This time, they said, they were really going to have a leader and become the wisest people in the jungle–so wise that everyone else would notice and envy them. Therefore they followed Baloo and Bagheera and Mowgli through the jungle very quietly till it was time for the midday nap, and Mowgli, who was very much ashamed of himself, slept between the Panther and the Bear, resolving to have no more to do with the Monkey People.

The motivation parallels, roughly, the “I wanna be like you” song in the Disney version of “The Jungle Book,” except here the focus is not so much on the “Red Flower” of fire, but on adopting Mowgli as a king who would bring “civilization” to the Bandar-Log.

(It’s hard not to think of Hanuman and the monkey-warriors of the Ramayana when reading Kipling’s description of the “Bandar-Log.” In the Ramayana, of course, they are loyal servants of Rama and brave warriors; in Kipling they also seem to have anthropomorphic qualities, but have none of the positive attributes one sees in the Hindu epic.)

36 thoughts on ““I Wanna Be Like You”: The Jungle Book, Revisited

  1. Amardeep,

    They made us read Jungle Book in 5th grade (K5) in Aitchison College, Lahore. In other news we’re in ATL. Come out to Lenny’s Bar tonight, doors at 9pm if you’re in Atlanta.

  2. oy! my first disney movie.

    we are the jungle patrol its a matter rather droll putuooputputput putuooputputput eeenggh…

    no end of fun when you’re young. i’m sure it’s a whole new joy seeing it thru your son’s eyes, A-deep. yenjoi.

    but you point out a neat thing. the vocals were amazing. it was only later i found out of the stellar careers of the voices behind the scenes.

    my recollection of the jungle book as the novel is quite different. shere khan running off with a fire on his tail is quite different from him getting trampled underfoot a herd of emaciated gais.

  3. Kipling mentioned the “law” in another context:

    If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe– Such boasting as the Gentiles use Or lesser breeds without the law– Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget – lest we forget!

  4. Ikram — yes, “The Recessional.” I think Kipling got less interesting (and more domineering) as he got further from India.

    Even his best Indian stories, “The Jungle Book,” and “Kim,” are often interesting to me because of what seems to be sneaking out unconsciously, namely, a love of play and adventure, outside the province of the “Law”. The conscious moral of the Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book is that you have to follow the Law of the Jungle. But Mowgli’s existence, like Kim’s, flouts the requirement that everyone remain in their station.

  5. AAArgh, thanks a lot for the post Amardeep, now I cannot get this song out of my head!

    Jungle jungle pata chala hai, chaddi pehan ke phool khila hai

    The Disney version seemed to be the only version people had seen or read when I grew up. Everyone knew that it it was based on Kiplings work, but few had read the original. If you turned in the right Goldspot bottle caps (filling up the characters), you could get the comic book based on the movie. (which I kept for years)

    Later on, after Star TV came, there was a new cartoon version of Jungle book shown (it was one of the first cartoons to be dubbed in Hindi as well on Star if I remember right). And the Jungle book characters like Baloo were also in Duck Takes.

    BTW: Jungle book in Project Gutenberg:


    By Rudyard Kipling

  6. Amardeep,

    I have read stories from original Jungle Book, and they are amazing (forget the hidden message for sometime or so).

    In bits and pieces, Jungle Book stories are very popular in India too, not Gunga Din though.

    This said, my Jungle Book (Penguin Classics preface has a profound thought: Disney movie did biggest disservice to Jungle Book. It mucked it up totally in a simplistic gue.

  7. The Jungle Book cartoon serial had nothing do with Kipling’s work. And no I didn’t do Kipling in school in the “Non-Detailed” class (English 2 – Grammar, ND, Composition) and English-1 Prose and Poetry). Jerry Rao hass\ an interesting take on Kipling’s Kim, that it is Kipling’s reimagining a modern day Krishna in India.

    Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu. Kipling’s view of India is distinctly vaishnavite. Vishnu is the preserver of the world order. And of course, the ‘order’ that Kipling supports is the British Raj. With the help of his companions, Kim thwarts the evil plans of the Russian asuras who would destroy the peace of the Raj. From a contemporary perspective, we may not approve of the Raj. But for Kipling it is a warm secure place where the rulers and the ruled live in harmony.

  8. I live 1 hour away from Kipling’s large mansion. Very interesting place. Kipling was born in India though..

    No, to my knowledge his Just So Stories and Jungle Books were not translated into the major Indian Languages of Tamil, Tengulu, Bengali, Punjabi, Hindu or Gujrati

  9. Don’t forget Disney orginally made Jungle Book as a proper film, staring Indian actor Sabu, in which he does meet his mother, and later there was a half related update with Jason Scott Lee

  10. Jungle Jungle bat chali hai pata chala hai Chaddi pehan ke phool khila hai hai

    I have some very fond memories of Jungle book growing up in India.

  11. The non-Mowgli stories in the two Jungle books are must reads. I’ve always wondered how they would sound translated into Urdu or Hindustani. My gut instinct is that they would be fantastic. You can fault Kipling on many grounds, but not for an absence of feel for the ‘old’ India.

  12. In late 80s I think, Jungle book was dubbed in Malayalam too as TV series and kids could not wait for that time slot. everythingelse could wait. was very very popular

  13. Wanderer (# 10), the original Jungle Book was a British film, made by Alexander Korda. Back then (1942) Disney was only making animated films. The Disney version was released during the height of fractious race relations in America (1967). In Mark Harris’s fascinating book Pictures At A Revolution, he mentions that one of the contemporary commentators said JB promoted status quo by showing different animals (races) live in their own separate areas in the jungle (ie. no intermingling, inter-marriage etc.)

    My father was a big fan of Kipling-sahib. Made me read Just So Stories, JB & Kim when we were growing up.

    Don’t miss Christopher Plummer as Kipling in John Huston’s briliant Man Who Would Be King.

    On a different note, I recall a joke a friend told me in college: boy asks girl, do you like Kipling. Girl blushes & says, you naughty boy, I have never kippled before.

    It was funny back then :-)

  14. I’ve always tended to be more charitable toward Kipling’s imperialism, in particular “Recessional.” Yes, when pushed (as the National Review piece points out) he did show his colours as an ardent supporter of Britain’s imperial mission, but in many of his writings the overwhelming sentiment is not triumphalism, but fatalism. I would argue this is even true with “The White Man’s Burden.” The obsession with the failure of empire seems to animate more of his work than a utopian belief that the British will succeed. In other words, he would never have said what Dick Cheney said before Baghdad, that we would be greeted with flowers or like liberators.

    Amardeep I wonder if you have read David Gilmour’s supposedly excellent biography: http://books.google.com/books?id=eEDmhvPvAlEC&dq=david+gilmour+kipling&client=firefox-a&source=gbs_navlinks_s I myself have not but Ram Guha (if it matters, which I don’t even know at this point) speaks highly of Gilmour.

  15. We have all been told how much Kipling identified with the land of his birth well into adolescence until when he would not speak in anything but Hindi/Urdu unless forced to. But he seems may have let his upbringing and associations let that love turn into condescension in his later years. At a stretch Kipling may even come to to see Ceney and the neocon vision as a more more perfect empire than the British experiment. Kevin Phillips’s American Theocracy clearly lays bare the religious zeal that drove the expansion of the two earlier empires the Dutch and the British, as well as the actions of the New World settlers and event he Confederacy.

  16. Jungle Jungle bat chali hai pata chala hai Chaddi pehan ke phool khila hai hai.

    Used to watch it, even won a T-Shirt from the sponsor Parle. It was huge back then.

    Also saw the older Jungle Book movies.

  17. The geography described in the Jungle Book (Seonee Hills, Bari Gunga river, etc) actually corresponds to an area in Madhya Pradesh I believe…there was an India Today article about that a few years ago. That area apparently has barely any jungle left nowadays…a lot of population growth since Kipling’s day, and lots of expansion of villages and towns, lots of deforestation. Much of the fauna is gone too. Kipling for all his faults really captured some elements of 19th century India.

  18. I hate kipling and jungle book. i too was spared this literature in my formative years in india, and could safely flirt with being an anglophile for a while in my youth (soemthing i doubt i’d even have considered had i met kipling before i did). and though i do admire the near-universal appeal and creativity of disney, i don’t like all their work, and jungle book is one of them. snakes slither and hiss along my spine when i am in its presence.

  19. I think the exposure to the Jungle Book varies in India. Many of us did read (at least parts of) it in school (the ICSE board then had a number of stories from the JB in one of the english texts). But many other kids (from different school boards) would never have read it, or any other work of Kipling for that matter. The hindi animated cartoon was a rage in the mid 90s. That cartoon also largely followed the book, and had many stories from the book (as opposed to the disney version), including later ones like red dog and so on. But it remained “light” and for kids, and didn’t go into the ostracization of Mowgli etc. Come to think of it, the Disney version, apart from having a jungle kid called mowgli, and bagheera, bhaloo, sher khan and Kaa, didn’t have much in common with the book. But that is like most disney adaptations (think Alladin or the little mermaid).

  20. Every time I am in Delhi, I can’t help but think of Edwin Lutyens, the other Kipling.

    They both believed in white supremacy, not necessarily out of hatred towards the browns but as a self-evident truth of the day. Kipling wrote about the white man’s burden. Lutyens wrote, “Personally I do not believe there is any real Indian architecture or any great tradition. These are just spurts by various mushroom dynasties.” Yet Lutyens was so heavily influenced by Indian architectural traditions when designing New Delhi that latticed windows (jali), the umbrella dome(chattri), the chajja and other Indian details of Rajput and Mughal architecture are visible all over his work.

    Kipling, though he lived in India for only seven of his seventy years, was a creature of India. Hinduism, Buddhism, the Gita, even the brutal Indian summer that most foreigners despise but he glorified in his poetry, all formed Kipling’s literary sensibility. It is too bad that he is best known for his most condescending work – Gunga Din. He was no Indophile, but he was of India. It may not be completely irrelevant that this christian man had chosen to be cremated.

    One can’t help but think of Kipling as some sort of an Indian poet and writer. If anybody is compiling an anthology of Indian poetry written in English, not having a Kipling or two in the book would be a serious ommission.

    I can’t be in New Delhi and not think of Lutyens. I can’t see forests in India and not think of Kipling.

  21. Oh No! Gunga Din is an immensely honest piece of work. Leave aside its riveting tempo and cadences, dropped aiches and all, for which alone I could read it over ad over again. It is an old time coloniser talking the truth and almost questioning the tradition that is holding him back. So Kipling was cremeated? I didn’t know that.

  22. Kipling was a fine writer, his short stories are all over the place, especially the first ones he wrote in Lahore during the 1880s. Rikki Tikki Tavi is one story I have read many times to my kids, it is a very ripping animal/human take, scary, fun and real.

  23. Mowgli’s Brothers

     Now Rann the Kite brings home the night
        That Mang the Bat sets free--
     The herds are shut in byre and hut
        For loosed till dawn are we.
     This is the hour of pride and power,
        Talon and tush and claw.
     Oh, hear the call!--Good hunting all
        That keep the Jungle Law!
     Night-Song in the Jungle

    It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big gray nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived. “Augrh!” said Father Wolf. “It is time to hunt again.” He was going to spring down hill when a little shadow with a bushy tail crossed the threshold and whined: “Good luck go with you, O Chief of the Wolves. And good luck and strong white teeth go with noble children that they may never forget the hungry in this world.”

    It was the jackal–Tabaqui, the Dish-licker–and the wolves of India despise Tabaqui because he runs about making mischief, and telling tales, and eating rags and pieces of leather from the village rubbish-heaps. But they are afraid of him too, because Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt to go mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through the forest biting everything in his way. Even the tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We call it hydrophobia, but they call it dewanee–the madness–and run.

    “Enter, then, and look,” said Father Wolf stiffly, “but there is no food here.”

    “For a wolf, no,” said Tabaqui, “but for so mean a person as myself a dry bone is a good feast. Who are we, the Gidur-log [the jackal people], to pick and choose?” He scuttled to the back of the cave, where he found the bone of a buck with some meat on it, and sat cracking the end merrily.

    “All thanks for this good meal,” he said, licking his lips. “How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that the children of kings are men from the beginning.”

    Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces. It pleased him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.

    Tabaqui sat still, rejoicing in the mischief that he had made, and then he said spitefully:

    “Shere Khan, the Big One, has shifted his hunting grounds. He will hunt among these hills for the next moon, so he has told me.”

    Shere Khan was the tiger who lived near the Waingunga River, twenty miles away.

    “He has no right!” Father Wolf began angrily–”By the Law of the Jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due warning. He will frighten every head of game within ten miles, and I–I have to kill for two, these days.”

    “His mother did not call him Lungri [the Lame One] for nothing,” said Mother Wolf quietly. “He has been lame in one foot from his birth. That is why he has only killed cattle. Now the villagers of the Waingunga are angry with him, and he has come here to make our villagers angry. They will scour the jungle for him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when the grass is set alight. Indeed, we are very grateful to Shere Khan!”

    “Shall I tell him of your gratitude?” said Tabaqui.

    “Out!” snapped Father Wolf. “Out and hunt with thy master. Thou hast done harm enough for one night.”

    “I go,” said Tabaqui quietly. “Ye can hear Shere Khan below in the thickets. I might have saved myself the message.”

    Father Wolf listened, and below in the valley that ran down to a little river he heard the dry, angry, snarly, singsong whine of a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the jungle knows it.

    “The fool!” said Father Wolf. “To begin a night’s work with that noise! Does he think that our buck are like his fat Waingunga bullocks?”

    “H’sh. It is neither bullock nor buck he hunts to-night,” said Mother Wolf. “It is Man.”

    The whine had changed to a sort of humming purr that seemed to come from every quarter of the compass. It was the noise that bewilders woodcutters and gypsies sleeping in the open, and makes them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.

    “Man!” said Father Wolf, showing all his white teeth. “Faugh! Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must eat Man, and on our ground too!”

    The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too–and it is true–that man-eaters become mangy, and lose their teeth.

    The purr grew louder, and ended in the full-throated “Aaarh!” of the tiger’s charge.

    Then there was a howl–an untigerish howl–from Shere Khan. “He has missed,” said Mother Wolf. “What is it?”

    Father Wolf ran out a few paces and heard Shere Khan muttering and mumbling savagely as he tumbled about in the scrub.

    “The fool has had no more sense than to jump at a woodcutter’s campfire, and has burned his feet,” said Father Wolf with a grunt. “Tabaqui is with him.”

    “Something is coming uphill,” said Mother Wolf, twitching one ear. “Get ready.”

    The bushes rustled a little in the thicket, and Father Wolf dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful thing in the world–the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then he tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left ground.

    “Man!” he snapped. “A man’s cub. Look!”

    Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a naked brown baby who could just walk–as soft and as dimpled a little atom as ever came to a wolf’s cave at night. He looked up into Father Wolf’s face, and laughed.

    “Is that a man’s cub?” said Mother Wolf. “I have never seen one. Bring it here.”

    A Wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary, mouth an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf’s jaws closed right on the child’s back not a tooth even scratched the skin as he laid it down among the cubs.

    “How little! How naked, and–how bold!” said Mother Wolf softly. The baby was pushing his way between the cubs to get close to the warm hide. “Ahai! He is taking his meal with the others. And so this is a man’s cub. Now, was there ever a wolf that could boast of a man’s cub among her children?”

    “I have heard now and again of such a thing, but never in our Pack or in my time,” said Father Wolf. “He is altogether without hair, and I could kill him with a touch of my foot. But see, he looks up and is not afraid.”

    The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cave, for Shere Khan’s great square head and shoulders were thrust into the entrance. Tabaqui, behind him, was squeaking: “My lord, my lord, it went in here!”

    “Shere Khan does us great honor,” said Father Wolf, but his eyes were very angry. “What does Shere Khan need?”

    “My quarry. A man’s cub went this way,” said Shere Khan. “Its parents have run off. Give it to me.”

    Shere Khan had jumped at a woodcutter’s campfire, as Father Wolf had said, and was furious from the pain of his burned feet. But Father Wolf knew that the mouth of the cave was too narrow for a tiger to come in by. Even where he was, Shere Khan’s shoulders and forepaws were cramped for want of room, as a man’s would be if he tried to fight in a barrel.

    “The Wolves are a free people,” said Father Wolf. “They take orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped cattle-killer. The man’s cub is ours–to kill if we choose.”

    “Ye choose and ye do not choose! What talk is this of choosing? By the bull that I killed, am I to stand nosing into your dog’s den for my fair dues? It is I, Shere Khan, who speak!”

    The tiger’s roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan.

    “And it is I, Raksha [The Demon], who answers. The man’s cub is mine, Lungri–mine to me! He shall not be killed. He shall live to run with the Pack and to hunt with the Pack; and in the end, look you, hunter of little naked cubs–frog-eater–fish-killer–he shall hunt thee! Now get hence, or by the Sambhur that I killed (I eat no starved cattle), back thou goest to thy mother, burned beast of the jungle, lamer than ever thou camest into the world! Go!”

    Father Wolf looked on amazed. He had almost forgotten the days when he won Mother Wolf in fair fight from five other wolves, when she ran in the Pack and was not called The Demon for compliment’s sake. Shere Khan might have faced Father Wolf, but he could not stand up against Mother Wolf, for he knew that where he was she had all the advantage of the ground, and would fight to the death. So he backed out of the cave mouth growling, and when he was clear he shouted:

    And so begins the original Jungle book for those who have not reade it, and just seen the various movies..surprised they have not made a Bolllywood version yet

  24. I recently did researched something…Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, borrowed permission of Kipling, to use characters of The Jungle Book, for younger Scouts (now known as the “Cub Scouts”) in the organization, in addition to Native American “Indian” elements also.


    A Cub Scout troop is called a “pack”. The Cub Scout Leader of the pack is called “Akela”, the alpha wolf who leads the Seonee Wolf Pack in The Jungle Book.

  25. 28 Wanderer – Yes, you are right, it is a US production. The Korda brothers came to the US because of the war in UK to make this movie, which is why I always thought it was British.

  26. When are you guys going to write up on genuine desi literature? By that I mean in Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil et cetra?