I came across a story that touched my heart. I was surprised to realise how much and what you can accomplish once you decide to do so and say, “I will do it.” Try it and you will also be amazed as to what you can achieve when you focus on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. Dashrath Manjhi‘s wife, Falguni Devi, died due to lack of medical treatment because the nearest town with a doctor was 70 kilometres away from their village in Bihar, India. After that experience Dashrath did not want anyone else to suffer the same fate as his wife, so he carved 110 meter-long through-cut, 7.6 meters-deep in places and 9.1 meters-wide to form a road through a mountain in the Gehlour hills, working day and night for 22 years from 1960 to 1982. His feat reduced the distance between the Atri and Wazirganj blocks of the Gaya district from 75 km to 1 km, bringing him national acclaim.
Dashrath Manjhi, also known as the Mountain Man, was born in 1934 in a poor family in Gahlour village near Gaya in Bihar, India. His father was a labourer.
His wife had to negotiate a treacherous path and spend half a day to fetch water from a distant river. One day a thirsty Manjhi was impatiently waiting for his wife to fetch him water from the other side of the mountain. She had taken longer to come back than usual. Then he saw his wife in the distance but she was coming back empty handed. When he asked his wife, “Why are you coming back empty handed and so late? she started crying. She told him that she slipped and fallen down. She also told him that the water pot had broken and that is why she had returned empty handed. She said that she tried but could she save the water pot. The grief and helplessness that she saw on his wife’s face was unbearable for him. Moved by his wife’s plight and love for her, he said, “I will create a road through the mountain.”
After saying, “I will do it,” Dashrath Manjhi managed to build single-handedly a 110 meters long 7.6 meters-high and 9.1 meters-wide road by cutting a mountain of Gehlour hills with just a hammer, chisel and nails. He worked day and night for 22 years from 1960 to 1982. This road was a blessing for the people of the area as it reduced the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 75 km to just one km.
Dashrath got hold of a chisel and a hammer and decided to change the suffering of his wife and fellow villagers. Instead of endlessly waiting for the government or God to do something, Manjhi decided to do the job himself. It became a burning passion to create a short-cut through the mountain to reduce the long and arduous journey from his village Gahlor Ghati to Wazirganj to a walkable distance. He wanted to tame the mountain. People called him mad. They ridiculed and laughed at him. To top it, even his wife and parents were against his unreasonable desire to build a road single handedly.
But Dashrath Manjhi was a determined man. He even shifted his hut close to the hill so that he could work long hours. He worked day and night. He chipped away, little by little. Often, he went hungry as he forgot to eat. After 10 years of Dashrath’s hard work, people started to notice a change in the shape of the hill. They could now see a depression in the middle. Climbing the hill became a little easier. All those who had called him mad and ridiculed him began to quietly admire him. Some even chipped in to help.
Finally, in 1982, 22 years after Dashrath had started out on this impossible task, the day came when he walked on a clear road of about 16-feet wide to the other side of the hill. He started to walk to the point where he had started his chiselling. His happiness knew no bounds as he walked through the rocky path that he had created alone. He was victorious but sad because, his wife who was the inspiration behind his determination, courage and motivation was not by his side. She had died of illness as he could not take her to the hospital on time.
The villagers of the area were jubilant and were there to celebrate with him. They distributed sweets. The young generation in the area who had grown up hearing stories of the man who wanted to move a mountain were actually amazed that such a unbelievable task was finally completed successfully. We are sure that they would have been motivated. Their dream had become a reality.
Building a road was not the only evidence of the steely resolve of Dashrath Manjhi. He once decided that he had to visit Delhi and meet the President of India. He did not have enough money to buy a train ticket. So what did he do? He decided to walk all the way to Delhi, a distance of over one thousand kilometers, along the railway tracks. He did reach Delhi but could not meet the President.
Dashrath Manjhi died on 17 August 2007 at AIIMS hospital in Delhi. He was suffering from cancer of gall bladder. To honor Dashrath Manjhi, the Bihar government had announced 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. It is unfortunate that Dashrath will not be there to lay the foundation stone when that road is fully developed, but we are sure that his story of determination and courage will continue to be the source of inspiration for many of us in India and abroad. When Manjhi had met Nitish Kumar at a Janata Durbar in in Patna, Nitish Kumar had stood up in reverence to the Mountain Man and even made him sit on the Chief Minister’s chair.
The Bihar government proposed Manjhi’s name for the Padma Shri award for social service. But Manjhi did not get the award.
Lessons from The Mountain Man
1. He never got panicked by measuring the whole task at once; instead, he started keeping his tiny steps one by one, faced difficulties on its encountering and progressed while solving them one by one. There is no point thinking much about the task that looks seemingly unconquerable and impossible; nobody completes them in one step. What matters the most is your small steps through which you reach there. So focus on your task and accomplish them with great care.
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ― Molière
2. Patience is the greatest virtue that leads us to success. Dashrath Manjhi cut through the hill for long 22 years. His patience give him the courage to overcome extreme pain, frustration, disappointments and personal loss.
“Patience. A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.” Ambrose Bierce
3. Dream the impossible! Dashrath Manjhi dreamt of making a walkway through two arrogant and treacherous rocky hills. He planned accordingly, accomplished the task and walked his dream. He was a legend who taught us to dare to dream the impossible. If you keep working on, the near-impossible task will seem a lot easier tomorrow.
“Whether an idea becomes a reality or not, does not depend so much on whether it is possible — but on how great the desire for it is.” ― Edmond Danken Sailer
4. Attitude matters! Don’t ever blame difficulties if you crumble if front of them; it is not the difficulties but the attitude that lets you down. If Dashrath Manjhi could triumph over difficulties, it was his attitude that kept him stay focused and going.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ― Winston Churchill
5. Stay positive! Your positive thoughts and words initiate you to reach your destiny along with your own values.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
6. Don’t lose heart if people call you mad and crazy for you unique thoughts. The same people appreciate you, promote you and example your tale for encouragement on successfully completion of your plans. When Dashrath Manjhi began working on his plan, people called him mad and discouraged him with impossibilities, but these same people appreciated him and used the way that he created.
“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.” Richard M. Nixon
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