Remembering a man who moved a mountain – alone.

People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fibre called courage. – McLaughlin

On Friday, 17th of August, after prolonged battle with cancer, a man breathed his last inDelhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He was Dashrath Manjhi, the 78 year old legend who has now become the part of folklore in Gaya District of Bihar, India.

The courage and will of this man is one of those rare real life incidents which will continue to inspire mankind for ages to come. This simple man from Gayahad the fortitude and conviction to move mountains and he made it happen by his sheer perseverance and faith in his efforts to move the mountain. He is an inspiration for all us and just when you feel chips are down and the road ahead seems insurmountable, put yourself in his shoes and imagine the courage it would take to move a mountain.

Yes, this man literally moved a mountain! Alone, just by his sheer will and perseverance.

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Over four decades ago, a frail, landless Dashrathgot hold of a chisel and a hammer and decided to change the face of his village nestled in the rocky hills ofGaya. He almost tore open a 300-feet-high hill to create a one-km passage. Instead of endlessly waiting for the apathetic administration to do something for those formidable hills that virtually cut his village off from civilization, Manjhi, then in his early 20s, took up a chisel and hammered at the rocks for 22 years.

It all started from Manjhi’s love for his wife. For, when she slipped off the rocks while getting food for him as he worked in a field beyond the hill and broke her ankle, it became a burning passion to tame the formidable hills. And he completed this Herculean task — creating a short-cut which reduced a long and arduous journey from his village Gahlor Ghati to Wazirganj to a walkable distance.At that time people called him mad. They ridiculed him.Even his wife and parents were against this “adventure,” especially when he sold his goats to buy a chisel, a hammer and rope.

But, by then, Manjhi was a determined man. He shifted his hut close to the hill so he could work all day and night, chipping away, little by little. May times he did not even bother to eat. With most of the cultivable land and shops across the hill, villagers had to cross it many times a day, braving dangers. It was after 10 years that people began to notice a change in the shape of the hill. Instead of a defiant rockface, the hill seemed to have a depression in the middle. Climbing it became a little easier. All those who had called him mad began to quietly watch him work. Some even chipped in.

Then in 1982, twenty-two years after he had started out, that day came when Manjhi walked through a clear flat passage — about 16-feet wide — to the other side of the hill. But his victory was tinged with sadness. His wife, who inspired him to take on this task, was not by his side. She had died of illness. They could not take her to a hospital on time.

But, the villagers were there to celebrate with him. They got him sweets, fruits and all that they could afford. The young generation in that area had grown up hearing stories of the man who wanted to move a mountain. Now that dream had become a reality and a boon for them.

This formidable task, single handedly performed by Dashrath Manjhi, resulted intoa 1.5 kilometer long road through the Gahlaur Mountain thus reducing the distance to cross the mountain from a grueling 50 kilometer to a much-easier 8 kilometer.

This hand-carved passage through the hill still remains the only sustainable change his village has ever chanced upon. Tubewells were installed, but they ran dry. Electric poles were put up, but the cables never came. And a five-acre plot given by former CM Lalu Prasad to Manjhi for a hospital still lies barren.

Septuagenarian Manjhi hadn’t given up though. In a recent interview he had said “I met CM Nitish Kumar recently. He has promised to develop the passage so that even a car can pass and will connect my village toGaya. And, he told me that I will lay the foundation stone.”

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Manjhi died on Friday at AIIMS inDelhidespite top care provided by the nation’s premier health facility.The state government of Bihar, in honor of Manjhi, has announced its decision to name the road built by the mountain man as Dashrath Manjhi Road and that hospital in Atri village in Gaya (which is yet to be built),to be named after him. He will not be there to lay the foundation stone when that passage will be developed fully, however, his story will continue to be the source of inspiration for many in the nation

I pay my humble tribute to Dashrath Manjhi. May his soul rest in peace!

 

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