Raksha is introduced as a wolf acquaintance of Bagheera. Unlike her mate, Raksha does not speak, and her name is not mentioned during the film. Due to her short appearance, little of her personality is known, but she can be assumed to be caring and motherly, due to her adoption of Mowgli.
The 2016 adaptation of The Jungle Book elaborates on Raksha's personality and reveals her to be a deeply caring and protective mother, raising Mowgli as her son alongside her own pups, such as Grey Brother, and making little to no distinction that he is adopted.
The Jungle Book
Raksha appears at the start of the film and is seen at her den with her new pups. Though narration, Bagheera, states he knew the family, and hoped that the pack would accept the newborn mancub he had discovered. Bagheera initially leaves the baby near the den, but the wolves do not notice as they have already entered the den. Bagheera intentionally startles the baby, making him cry. Raksha comes to investigate, and immediately accepts the baby. However, when her mate, Rama, comes in, it takes some unspoken persuasion from Raksha for him to accept the mancub as well. Enamored with the baby, Rama accepts the baby, and Raksha carries the basket containing the man-cub into the den.
Raksha raised Mowgli for ten years. She is seen in a cameo, where Bagheera is describing Mowgli's popularity with the pack. However, she makes no appearances afterwards.
The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story
Raksha also appears in The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story voiced by Peri Gilpin. In this version she is killed by Shere Khan.
Raksha appears in Disney's 2016 live-action adaption, voiced by Lupita Nyong'o. Lupita Nyong'o describes Raksha as "deeply caring for her pups, including Mowgli, whom she adopts as her own, and refers to her as a protector.
Raksha serves as Mowgli's adoptive mother after Akela approves of his joining the Seeonee pack as an infant thanks to their old friend Bagheera, the panther, and is highly supportive and protective of him. When Shere Khan threatens him during the pack's drinking at the Water Truce, the watering hole where all the animals come to drink in peace during the drought, Raksha stands firm in her defense of him, defying Shere Khan's demands to have the boy handed over to him and citing the tiger's propensity to kill for sport and pleasure when he says man is forbidden in the jungle according to their laws. When Mowgli leaves for the Man-village with Bagheera in order to protect her and the rest of the pack from Shere Khan's wrath, Raksha does not want him to leave, and only agrees with Akela and Bagheera in the hope that he'll be safe. Just before Mowgli leaves, Raksha reminds him however that he will always be her son, no matter where he goes or what he is called.
When Shere Khan returns, Raksha is the first to notice and witnesses the tiger's murder of Akela in order to draw Mowgli out as well as Shere Khan's ascension to become the pack's alpha. Raksha also is witness to Shere Khan lecturing the wolf pups after he takes over the pack, and in his lessons he mentions the cuckoo, citing the bird's proclivity for placing its hatchlings in the nests of other birds. He directs this lesson to the pups intentionally at Raksha for her previous defiance at the Water Truce, for raising the man-cub as her child, and subtly threatens the wolf pups as an additional punishment. When she asks why Shere Khan is doing this, he answers that he wants Mowgli dead (due to the wounds Mowgli's father inflicted on the tiger with a burning torch) and that he'll be waiting when the boy returns.
When Mowgli returns and faces Shere Khan at the Water Truce with a burning torch stolen from the Man-village with the intent of avenging Akela ahead of a wildfire he inadvertently causes, Raksha and the rest of the pack along with the other animals gathered there, initially react with fear to his power over fire. However, when Mowgli throws the torch away to face Shere Khan on even terms, she is the first to defy Shere Khan. Raksha and her pack, along with Bagheera and Baloo the bear, face down Shere Khan, who replies that if they wish to defend Mowgli, then he will have them all in his teeth. Raksha rallies the wolves to attack the tiger after Shere Khan battles and beats Baloo in combat, and the Seeonee pack inflicts some damage to him, though he beats them off and continues his pursuit of Mowgli. When Bagheera is about to be killed by Shere Khan during the fight, Raksha and her wolves rush to his rescue, again inflicting damage and holding off the tiger before he beats them and chases after Mowgli. Their actions delay Shere Khan long enough for Mowgli to set a trap and kill Shere Khan. After the fire is put out by Mowgli and the elephants that come to his aid and with Shere Khan dead, Mowgli is recognized as a fellow creature of the jungle by Raksha and the rest of the animals gathered. In the aftermath of the events, Raksha has become the new leader of the Seeonee pack and has accepted Mowgli as part of the pack once again.
- Raksha means "protection" in Hindi.
- Raksha plays a larger role in Rudyard Kipling's original stories, and the 2016 live-action film.
- In the books, Raksha was very motherly and caring yet she was fierce (her ferocity even earned her the nickname "Raksha the Demon") and opinionated. When she first encountered Mowgli as a baby, she was curious and fascinated and immediately became very fond of him, even going as far as standing up to Shere Khan and threatening to tear him apart (as well as calling him a lame, cowardly frog-eater) when he demanded the man-cub.
- So far, the 2016 version is the most accurate depiction of the character, however, while her motherly, caring and noble personality are present, her ferocity is toned down. She also appears to be afraid of Shere Khan, unlike her book counterpart. Her cartoon version can also be considered somewhat accurate in terms of her motherly nature, as well as the fact that she quickly became fond of Mowgli.
- Shere Khan attacks and kills Raksha in The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story but it was never shown onscreen while in the 2016 version, Shere Khan attacks and kills Akela onscreen and throws him off the cliff.
- Despite being an Indian wolf, Raksha (along with the rest of the wolves) is more reminiscent of a North American timber wolf in all the Disney versions. This was possibly done to make her more recognizable to western audiences. Indian wolves are usually shorter and slimmer than timber wolves, with shorter reddish brown fur and long, pointier ears.
- In the books, Raksha's decision to adopt Mowgli was very controversial and debated among the wolves. Many wolves believed Raksha had disgraced the pack and brought potential danger to them while others believed that there was no other choice because Mowgli desperately needed a mother's care and that his death might bring man's wrath upon them. Because Raksha was Akela's niece, he was neutral in the debate. The debate was finally settled when Bagheera bought Mowgli's life with a recently hunted bull and gave the boy to Raksha.
- This debate was not in any of the Disney versions and the pack was quick to accept Mowgli. However, in the original animated film it is shown that Rama was somewhat uncertain about Raksha's decision at first. But ultimately agreed that the man-cub had to be cared for.