The Mountain Man- An Inspiring Story
June 23, 2020
Sometime in the 1950s, a man by the name of Dashrath Das Manjhi lived in an impoverished hamlet of Gehlour in the state of Bihar, in India. This impoverished village was located behind a treacherous spine of low rise mountains cut-off from any civilization. People from Manjhi’s community had to trek around the hills to reach any basic facilities-schools, medical facilities, potable drinking water, etc.
Dashrath Manjhi would trek 30 Km around the hill to work at a landlord’s farm for his livelihood. While Manjhi would leave at the break of dawn, his wife Phaguni would bring him his lunch in the afternoon, trekking up the same route as her husband.
One day a tired and hungry Manjhi was waiting for his wife to bring lunch. She eventually came, a few hours late, hurt and bleeding badly. Phaguni had tripped traversing the treacherous rocky route and was seriously injured. She somehow limped her way to meet her husband. Something shifted inside Manjhi when he saw his injured wife, in pain. He was distraught and angry that his wife has to undergo this ordeal. He decided that he would carve a road through the hill so that his wife or anyone else would not have to go through the same fate again.
The next day, Manjhi sold the family’s’ three goats to buy himself a chisel, a hammer, and a crowbar. He went to the top of the 300 ft hill and started chipping away at the mountain with his tools.
Word spread. Initially, the villagers laughed at him, scoffed at him, and called him a madman for attempting something so bizarre. How foolhardy can a person be?
But nothing deterred Manjhi. With single-minded zeal, he would get to the top of the hill every day and keep digging through the rocks and clearing the rubble on his own. Slowly, people around him realized that Manjhi was serious about cutting a path through the hill. They started supporting him with food to sustain his family while he kept working on the mountain.
Tragedy struck in between. Manjhi’s wife Phaguni, for whom he undertook this journey of madness, fell ill. The nearest medical facility was 75 km beyond the hill. Manjhi could not get her medical attention in time, and she passed away. Her death spurred Manjhi to push through with more anger and more pent up focus. He wanted to tame the mountain come what may.
Finally, after 22 years, Dashrath Das Manjhi, the poor landless worker, conquered the mountain: he had succeeded in carving out a road 360 feet long and 30 feet wide straight through the hill. The clearing through the mountain had cut-off over 30 Km of travel. Civilization, Schools, Doctors, Jobs were all accessible and just 5 Km away.
The story of Dashrath Manjhi is an ode to human perseverance and triumph over adversity. He had a single mission-“No one should experience the pain of loss I experienced due to lack of a proper road.” and that was enough to propel him for the next 22 years and beyond.
Whenever any of us feel low or think of giving up, we should remember Dashrath Manjhi. If he could pursue a goal with single-minded focus for 22 years, why can’t we? If he could ignore the voice of naysayers and critics and focus on what he felt was right, why can’t we?
Dashrath Manjhi moved a mountain to pave a road. What is the mountain you have to cut through to pave your own trail?