The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book Summary and Analysis of "Servants of the Queen," "How Fear Came," and "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat"


“Servants of the Queen”

Thirty thousand men and animals are gathered at Rawal Pindi to be reviewed by the Viceroy of India. It has been raining for a month. The Viceroy receives a visit from the Amir of Afghanistan, who has brought eight hundred of his own men and camels and horses who do not quite understand camp life. Every night the horses bray and stampede or the camels break loose.

One night, the narrator hears a man say to run because the animals are coming. He and his fox terrier, Little Vixen, run out of their tent into the night. He nears the artillery lines to take cover and settles down to try and sleep. Near him are a mule and a camel, and since he knows a bit of beast-language, he can hear them talking.

The mule asks the camel, annoyed, if he and his friends disturbed the camp. He gives the camel a kick and the camel whimpers. A troop-horse joins them, complaining about the camels racketing through the lines. The mule agrees with him that the camels are sickening.

The camel says quietly that he and his friends simply had bad dreams and were afraid. The mule says that the gun-bullocks are now awake, which is not a common thing.

Another battery mule dragging a chain comes near, calling for “Billy.” The old mule tells the horse that he is Billy and the young recruit is calling for him. Gun-bullocks also walk over and join them. Billy rebukes the younger mule for his querulous behavior but the troop-horse says all recruits are like this.

Billy gruffly tells the younger mule that the situation is always like this and he ought not to be afraid of having to wear a harness with chains. The young mule blubbers that he was more afraid of hearing things and having his head-rope break and not being able to find Billy.

The gun-bullocks mumble that they knew to come here and wait in the mud when the camels went crazy. The young mule is afraid of the bullocks, clearly, but also appears embarrassed and angry. The troop-horse councils him not to be angry because he is afraid, as this is the worst type of cowardice.

The troop-horse and Billy talk about being taught to be bridle-wise. Billy explains stiffly that they are taught to obey the man at their head and to step when he says so. The troop-horse explains that they must trust their man because the situation is perilous when there is noise, knives, and chaos. Billy harrumphs that it is best to stay away from knives and go as far up a mountain as possible. The troop-horse is impressed that the mules can do this and Billy says they prepare for a long time and must learn not to be visible on the skyline.

The camel nervously adds that he has fought too, but not by running or climbing. The others ask what he means and he says that the camels sat down in the center square and the men piled things on and around them and then fired over their heads. All he has to do is sit still and wait no matter how much smoke or fire there is. Billy is impressed but says it is odd that they have bad dreams at night and disturb the camp if they can handle such fighting.

A gun-bullock lifts his head and says the only way of fighting is to yoke twenty of them to the guns as soon as Two Tails, the camp elephant, trumpets. They do not climb or run, but move and then stand and graze, and then do the same thing again. Sometimes some are killed, but that is Fate. Actually, he adds, Two Tails is a great coward, but the bullocks are brothers from Hapur and their father was the sacred bull of Shiva.

The troop-horse says he has learned a lot tonight and that “every one is not made in the same way” (136). However, he alludes to Billy’s father being a donkey, which angers Billy, who in turn calls the troop-horse the insult of “Brumby” (wild horse). They almost come to blows until Two Tails arrives and tells them to be quiet.

Both the horse and the donkey agree that they do not like Two Tails. The bullock asks the elephant why he is afraid of the guns when they fire and he says, “I can see inside my head what will happen when a shell bursts; and you bullocks can't” (137). He knows he is big and if he is hurt he will have to be taken care of and he does not trust his driver.

They all discuss how they know what blood is and how it disturbs them. Two Tails muses that if he were wiser he would king of the forest as he once was. He grows angrier and trumpets, which bothers Billy and the troop-horse.

The narrator realizes Vixen has come to him at last. Two Tails is annoyed and scared by the little dog. Vixen runs up to the narrator and yaps her story, though she does not know he knows beast-talk.

The young mule wonders aloud why they have to fight at all, and the troop-horse snorts that it is their orders. Billy adds that all they have to do is obey the man at their head and do not ask questions; Two Tails agrees.

The bullocks say morning is coming and they will go back to their lines. They also state solemnly that they were the only ones who were not afraid this evening.

The troop-horse asks where the little dog is, and Vixen bursts out that he is here. The bullocks become agitated because they know that a white man must be near and that white men eat bullocks.

Billy and the young mule depart. The troop-horse nuzzles the narrator and he gives him biscuits while Vixen yaps false tales of how many horses they worked with. The troop-horse says he must get back to Dick and prepare for the parade.

The big parade is held in the afternoon and the narrator and Vixen sit near the Viceroy and Amir. The narrator watches all the animals he heard the previous night. Rain begins to mist. The massive numbers of troops and animals are actually quite frightening in their immensity and power, and spectators would be forgiven in thinking it was not just a review.

The review ends and the regiments return to their tents. The narrator hears an older Central Asian chief ask a native officer how this wondrous thing was done, and the officer says an order was given and they obeyed. Every creature obeys his or her superior up the line. The chief muses that he wishes this were so in Afghanistan, where they obey only their own wills. The native officer smiles that for this reason the Amir, whom they do not obey, must come here and take orders from their Viceroy.

“How Fear Came”

The Law of the Jungle is the oldest law in the world and is as perfect as time and custom can make it. Mowgli is learning this law but does not think too deeply about it as a young boy.

However, the Law becomes very real to him the winter when the rains fail. Sahi the porcupine is the first to realize what is happening, and tells Mowgli the yams are drying up. Mowgli tells Baloo and the bear is grave. He says he would change his hunting grounds if he was alone, and that they must wait and see if the mohwa blooms.

The mohwa, sadly, does not bloom in the spring. The heat creeps into the jungle. Green things wither and die. The birds and monkey-people feel what is happening and go north as early as they can. Chil the Kite grows fat with the dead. The sun kills the jungle for three days’ worth of miles each way.

Mowgli has never known real hunger until now. All game is skin and bones, and water is extremely scarce.

Finally, Hathi the wise elephant declares the Water Truce as his father had done fifty years prior. The news spreads throughout the jungle. This truce declares that it is death to kill at the drinking-hole because all creatures must have water. In normal times creatures who drink here must be wary for their lives, but not during the Truce.

Mowgli comes here in the night for companionship and the cool air. He is thin and naked and his hair is bleached blonde. His eye remains serene and alert, though, as Bagheera advised him “to move quietly, hunt slowly, and never, on any account, to lose his temper” (153).

One night, Mowgli worries about the rains never coming back and Bagheera assures him they will. Upstream Hathi, the wild elephant, and his two sons stand drinking and rocking to and fro.

More animals arrive, talking and drinking. Someone says the men are suffering too. Baloo asks Hathi if he has seen drought like this and the old elephant says it will pass.

Not long after, Shere Khan creeps down, enjoying the sensation of fear that ripples through the other creatures. He sneers that the jungle is a place for naked cubs now, and begins to grumble that Mowgli is neither a man nor a cub.

Shere Khan then states coolly that he killed a man an hour before. This shocking news spreads rapidly, especially when Shere Khan adds that it was for choice, not food. The tiger tells Hathi it was his Night. Hathi is grave but understands, and tells the tiger it was his right to kill but that he should leave now and not defile the river. Shere Khan slinks away, annoyed but aware that Hathi is the true Master of the Jungle.

Because the other animals are confused, Hathi decides to tell the story of why it is the tiger’s right. Everyone quiets down. Hathi begins by saying that in the beginning of the jungle, all the animals walked amongst each other without fear. They ate only plants. The Lord of the Jungle was the elephant Tha, who rose the jungle up out of the deep waters. The Jungle People knew nothing of Man. Over time they began to quarrel and get lazy. Tha could not control everything so he made the tiger the master and judge of the Jungle. The First of the Tigers was large and beautiful, but had no stripes at that time. One night, two bucks got into a grazing quarrel and the Tiger forgot his place and leapt up and killed one. Until that point, no one had seen death. The smell of blood made everyone foolish. The Tiger ran away and Tha asked who now would lead, and the Gray Ape said he would. Tha laughed and left.

The Gray Ape was not a good leader and began to mock and cajole. Tha brought everyone back together and chided them for bringing Death and Shame. It was time for a Law, and now they would know Fear. The animals did not know what Fear was, but the buffalos said they saw Fear in a cave. Fear had no hair and walked on his hind legs. Some traveled to see Fear and when this Man sees them and cries out, his voice fills them with Fear. The animals then began to separate by tribe.

The First of the Tigers decided he will go kill the Man, but as he neared the cave the creepers and trees marked him with stripes, which his ancestors still bear to this day. The Man saw him and identified his stripes, and the tiger ran away in fear. The Tiger returned to Tha and asked for his power back, but Tha told him that when he killed the buck, he brought Fear into the jungle and now all others feared the tiger. The Tiger’s pride was broken when he saw that it was true and he begged Tha to let him exist once more without shame or fear. Tha said he would give him one night a year as it was before Death, and he will meet Man and not be afraid.

The Tiger was content first, but then nursed his hatred throughout the year. His appointed night came and he found Man and killed him. He was happy because he thought he had killed Fear itself, but when he told Tha the elephant as angry and told him now more men will come.

Overall, though, Hathi concludes, there is only one night a year when the Tiger walks through the village and boldly looks men in the eyes and they fear him. Other times he kills by jumping from behind. Mowgli says that he is not a Man but one of the Free People and is thus not afraid. He also asks Baloo why, if Baloo knew this story before, he did not tell Mowgli. Baloo smiles that there are so many jungle tales to tell.

“The Miracle of Purun Bhagat”

Once there was a man named Purun Dass. He became the Prime Minister of one of the semi-independent states of India and was a Brahman. He realized as he grew up that he must stand well with the English; this was not difficult because he had an English education at Bombay University and was quiet and polite.

Purun Dass as Prime Minister is in high standing with the young successor of the old king who had been suspicious of the English. The English were delighted and surprised that an Indian state was taking up their ways without reservation and that they believed that what was good for the Englishman was twice as good for the Asiatic.

Purun travels to England to study its ways and how things are managed and when he returns he has to pay enormous sums to the priests because his caste status dropped. The English had found him charming and interesting, and he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire.

About a month or so after his return, he returns his knighthood and steps down from being Prime Minister. The English would never have been able to dream of such a thing, but in India it goes without question.

Purun Dass walks happily out of the city gates as the city cheers for his successor. He is now a Sunnyasi, a homeless and wandering mendicant. He had always dreamt of peace and quiet and is pleased to have it. He travels and spreads his antelope-skin down for rest wherever he happens to be on a night. He calls himself Purun Bhagat and finds everyone and everything equal.

One day, he arrives on the edge of the Himalayas and starts to near them, his hill-person blood from his mother drawing him. He takes the road over valleys and hills until eventually no one else is on it and he is alone with his thoughts.

He crosses a high path and sees a line of snow-peaks and a dark, dense forest. There is a shrine to Kali, or Durga/Sitala. It has been abandoned for a time, so Purun cleans it up and looks below at the tiny little village. He feels a sense of fulfillment; he knows he will be at peace here.

The village priest travels up to meet Purun Bhagat, and when he looks into his eyes and is affected by the power (after all, he once commanded thousands), he states reverently to the villagers that the village has a holy man at last. The villagers concern themselves with his food and warmth and tell him they are honored he is there.

This is the end of Purun Bhagat’s wanderings. He never goes into the village but occasionally the villagers come to see him. The wild things of the mountains also come to see him and decide he is harmless; many sleep near him or keep him company throughout the day. These include a royal stag, a musk-deer, and Sona, the Himalayan black bear. Sona decides he is not a threat and becomes quite attached to him, following him about the mountainside.

Typically, holy men carry out miracles, but Purun Bhagat thinks all things are one big miracle. Seasons pass. One summer there is torrential rain, and Bhagat cannot even see his village below him for a month. All he can hear and see is rain.

One night, one of the monkeys appears, agitated. Purun Bhagat asks what is wrong. A deer also comes crashing in. Purun Bhagat realizes that the rain is making the mountain come down and that the animals have come to warn him.

The animals lead him down the mountainside for the first time. The rain pours around them. Purun Bhagat is no longer a holy man but Sir Purun Dass, K.C.I.E. and Prime Minister. When he arrives, he yells out to the villagers. They hear his cries and gather their loved ones and run as fast as they can to the highest ground across the valley.

Purun Bhagat is exhausted and collapses with the villagers. That moment, a crash incomprehensibly loud sounds, and the mountain comes down.

When day breaks, they look out over the devastated terrain; there is no trace of the village, the shrine, or the mountain. The villagers creep forward to pray over Purun Bhagat, who sits cross-legged against a tree, dead.

The priest says they will build a temple to their holy man at this site. They call it Bhagat’s Hill, but they never knew Purun Dass’ true identity.


These three stories are quite different from each other, with only one featuring Mowgli and one taking place wholly in the world of man.

We will look briefly at “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat” first, as it has inspired perhaps the least critical analyses of The Jungle Book. It is a relatively straightforward tale of a “good” native, Purun Dass, who resigns his position as Prime Minister to live as a holy man in the mountains. He is depicted in an extremely heroic fashion, for he is wise, humble, kind, and ultimately a savior of the poor villagers who do not know the mountain is coming down. However, even though he is Indian and not English, he is still described in a way that puts him squarely in the English camp. This wise and humble man, in fact, loves the English. He travels to England to study, gets an English education at Bombay university, and embraces English policies when he is Prime Minister. Kipling writes, “Very few native States take up English progress without reservations, for they will not believe, as Purun Dass showed he did, that what is good for the Englishman, must be twice as good for the Asiatic” (170). Clearly, this is an absurd statement that ignores the real history of imperialism and its deleterious effects on the colonized, but it serves to instruct the reader that what truly makes Purun Dass great is his embrace of English ways.

“The King’s Servants” seems, at least on the surface, a thoughtful look at how different species (or cultures/nations/races) are all unique and valuable. After hearing about the ways in which the camels, bullocks, and mules are organized and fight, the troop-horse comments that “every one is not made in the same way” (136) and that he certainly learned something that night. While this is a nice sentiment, there is still a very clear sense that Kipling believes there is a hierarchy in place and that difference is not necessarily supposed to be celebrated without reservation. There is certainly a nationalist/imperialist hierarchy. The camels and horses of Afghanistan belong to “a wild king of a very wild country” (128) and are the ones that disrupt the camp. The mules and the bullocks are Indian “natives” and are dependable and obey orders well but are not particularly intelligent. The troop-horse, while a “native,” is the most civilized of the group; it is no surprise that he belongs to an Englishman. He is taught to be “bridle-wise,” can handle danger and high pressure situations, and always knows to “trust your man” (133). He is the animal to emulate, Kipling suggests; he is the “good native.”

The final story in this grouping is a Mowgli tale – “How Fear Came.” This is the origin story for the jungle, the Edenic time, and then the time when said Eden fell. The story arises out of a terrible drought and heat wave in the jungle that renders all the animals equal in their suffering and thus able to consent to the Water Truce at the stream. Hathi, the ancient and wise elephant, tells of Tha, the first elephant, and how he reigned over a time when the animals lived in harmony and did not eat each other. This is broken when the First Tiger obeys his instinct and kills a buck. Trouble heightens even more when Fear, as embodied by Man, enters the jungle. The First Tiger decides to kill Man but is eventually made to be afraid of him and feels a powerful sense of shame commingled with rage.

What is compelling about this tale is Mowgli’s position, for as a man himself he embodies that fear. He can look at the animals directly in the eye while they cower and look away, and he can wield the Red Flower of fire to frighten and maim them. He does not think he is a man, but the dramatic irony of this is that the other animals certainly know he is, and his friends know that he will one day return to the world of Man.