Dasrath Manjhi, a landless farmer from India, made history after he spent over two decades chiseling away at a mountain with rudimentary tools, in order to create a road for his community, when the state government put aside the requests.
If you’re looking for some motivation, no story gets even close to that of Dasrath Manjhi. 53 years ago, he set out to carve a 1 km-long path through a rocky hillside, all by himself, in order to make it easier for his fellow villagers to access schools, markets and neighbouring villages. “This hill made our lives tougher for centuries. The villagers had requested the government many a times to built a road through the hill, but all requests had fallen on deaf ears and not even a stone was turned in years. So, I decided to take this task on myself,” Manjhi told Indian newspaper, Tehelka, in 2007. He sold his goats to purchase a chisel, a rope and a hammer.
First his fellow villagers though of it as a passing frustration of a dejected man and they would say that it will fade away with time. But when they saw him dedicatedly doing his task every single day, they called him mad and eccentric spirited with no idea of his plans. Unfazed by his critics’, and with just his chisel, hammer and shovel, this legendary man turned what was once a precarious one-foot-wide passage into a 360 ft-long, 30 ft-wide road accessible by bicycle and motorcycle. For centuries, the hill had kept the region’s villages in isolation, forcing people to trek through the dangerous terrain for hours to reach their own lands or the nearest markets. Children had to walk eight kilometres to reach the school, but thanks to Dasrath Manjhi’s handmade road, this distance has now been reduced to just one kilometer, making lives of people of over 60 villages much easier.
But what empowered a single man to accomplish such a monumental task? For Dasrath, it was the love for his wife. “My wife, Phaguni Devi, was seriously injured while crossing the hill to bring me water to a farm I was working in then. That was the day I decided to carve out a proper road through this hill,” the farmer said. Sadly, his beloved wife didn’t get to see the fruits of his labor, as shortly after the accident she fell ill and died, because she couldn’t be reached to the hospital in time. The tragic loss only cemented his dedication and made him more focused on his task. Fellow villagers recall seeing him “ hacking at the hill day and night as if he were possessed”.
But with the years passing by, his reasons changed. “My love for my wife was the initial spark that ignited the desire to carve out a road. But what kept me working without fail all those years was the desire to see thousands of villagers crossing the hill with ease whenever they wanted,” Manjhi said in an interview.
Although you’d expect people to jump in and help someone working for the entire community, this didn’t happen in Dasrath Manjhi’s case. At first, people ridiculed him and called him mad for taking on such a herculean task, but as time went by, and the unfazed farmer continued to split the troublesome hill in half, he started getting some help.
“Though most villagers taunted me at first, there were a few who lent me support later by giving me food and helping me buy the tools,” he remembered. Finally, the day came when he took his first steps through a flat passage — about one km long and 30-feet wide — to his dream, ‘the other side of the hill’. Now, the people of the Gaya district have nothing but gratitude for the “mountain man” who single-handedly made their lives so much easier.
“What I did is there for everyone to see. When God is with you, nothing can stop you,” Dasrath Manjhi once said. I am neither afraid of any punishment from any government department for my work nor am I interested in any honour from the government.” It took him 22 years to fulfill his self-undertook task, and finishing this ‘impossible’ feat has granted him immortality…
- In July 2010, director Manish Jha announced a film,Manjhi, based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi. The film has been produced by Sanjay Singh, who previously produced Udaan (2010). NawazuddinSiddiqui plays the lead role in the film Mountain Man, which is based on Manjhi’s life.
- DashrathManjhi’s story was shown on Aamir Khan’s show Satyamev Jayate.
- In Mandara, a Kannada film by Jayatheertha, newcomer Srikanth plays the role of Dashrath Manji, who inspires the young hero’s love.
- When Manjhi had met Nitish Kumar at a janata durbar in July last in Patna, the chief minister stood up in reverence to the man with Himalayan resolve and made him sit on the Chief Minister’s chair.
- The state government had allotted a five-acre plot to Manjhi in Karjani village, which he donated for construction of a hospital.
- Dasarath Manjhi left for heavenly abode on 17th August, 2007 . The government has recently announced to name the hospital after Manjhi.
If the shining TajMahal was a symbol of love by Shah Jahan, Manjhi’s work through the mountain has definitely outshone the Tajmahal with his hard work and commitment. . .