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The Story of the Man Who Moved a Mountain: Dashrath Manjhi

In the quiet and rugged landscape of the Gehlour Hills in Bihar, India, lies an extraordinary story of resilience, determination, and an unyielding spirit. This is the story of Dashrath Manjhi, a landless laborer and an untouchable from the Musahar community, who single-handedly carved a 360-kilometer road through a mountain, transforming the lives of thousands.

The Unyielding Determination

It was the year 1960. The people of the Musahar settlement, where Manjhi and his family lived, faced daily hardships. To access basic facilities such as hospitals, schools, and water supplies, they had to undertake a grueling 75-kilometer trek up and down the mountain. Manjhi himself would climb this mountain daily to work in the fields of a landlord on the other side, just to feed his family. His wife, Falguni Devi, would bring him lunch, navigating the treacherous slopes.

One fateful afternoon, Falguni was late, and Manjhi, growing anxious, soon discovered the reason—she was bleeding and badly injured from a fall down the mountain slope. Her tears and pain struck a chord deep within Manjhi. In that moment, he resolved to change the fate of his village. Selling the family’s three goats, he bought a chisel, hammer, and crowbars, determined to carve a road through the mountain. His sole aim was to provide his people with easier access to basic amenities.

The Herculean Task

Manjhi’s resolve was met with ridicule and disbelief. The villagers laughed at him, scoffing at the idea of a single man carving a road through a mountain. But Manjhi was undeterred. He would work in the fields during the day and return to his labor of love by dusk, chipping away at the rock. Using firewood to heat the rock and water to crack it, he slowly reduced the mountain to rubble, inch by inch.

Years passed, and what began as a solitary effort began to gain the attention and support of the villagers. They started helping him, providing food for his family and affectionately calling him ‘Baba.’ Manjhi’s efforts were transforming not just the mountain, but the spirit of the community.

A Personal Tragedy and Unwavering Resolve

Tragedy struck when Manjhi’s wife fell seriously ill. Due to the lack of timely medical intervention, she passed away. This heart-wrenching loss only fueled Manjhi’s determination. He vowed to complete the path he had started, channeling his grief into his monumental task.

After 22 years of relentless effort, Manjhi completed the road. The path, 360 kilometers long and 30 feet wide, reduced the distance to basic amenities from 75 kilometers to a mere five. This road benefitted not just his village but 60 surrounding villages, a testament to his unwavering spirit.

Recognition and Legacy

Manjhi’s remarkable feat did not go unnoticed. He sought and received an audience with the then Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, who, in a gesture of profound respect, offered Manjhi his seat. This was a monumental gesture, considering the severe oppression faced by the Musahar caste in caste-ridden India.

Sadly, Manjhi passed away the following year after a prolonged battle with cancer. However, his legacy endures. His battle against unfavorable circumstances and his will to change his people’s destiny remain an inspiration. Today, Dashrath Manjhi is remembered as the “Mountain Man,” a symbol of perseverance and hope. His story continues to inspire millions, reminding us all of the power of an unyielding spirit.


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