Dashrath Manjhi: Mountain Man who worked for 22 years and carved a path through a mountain
After Dashrath Manjhi’s wife was killed traversing a steep mountain path in 1959, he decided he would make a safer one by splitting the mountain — by hand all alone.
UNN@ William Bond – First-Place 2015 We all have mountains standing in our path, making life more difficult than it should be. But what if a literal mountain, three hundred feet tall, was standing between you and the rest of the world? Dashrath Manjhi and his village were separated from society by a literal mountain, but Dashrath decided to conquer that mountain over the course of 22 years.
Dashrath Manjhi lived in the village of Gehlaur, in Gaya, Bihar, India with his wife, Falguni Devi, and their son, Bhagirath Manjhi. Gehlaur was, and still is, one of the poorest cities in India. There are no schools, hospitals, or even electricity in the village. Dashrath himself, although working in fields and raising goats to bring in some income, “was among India’s poorest of poor” (Built a Road). In Gehlaur, as in many nearby villages, the women had to make a difficult journey every day to fetch water for themselves and their families. They had to hike over a 300-foot tall mountain that stood between their village and the nearest river. One day, Dashrath’s wife was returning from the long, timely trip with water for her family, when she tripped on a loose rock and injured her leg. During her slow recovery, Falguni fell ill. The nearest doctor was about 45 miles away. Falguni, too sick and still healing, was unable to make the trip over the mountain. She died from a lack of medical treatment. This tragedy is what initially inspired Dashrath Manjhi to carve a path through the enormous mountain, beginning his journey as a moral hero.
Grief-stricken and angered by the difficulties that this mountain posed, Dashrath Manjhi dedicated his life and sacrificed much to carve out the mountain. He was so dedicated to the daunting task that he sold his goats in order to buy a hammer and a chisel needed for the feat set before him. Working in the fields during the day and hammering at the mountain at night was difficult, even for young Dashrath who was “then in his early twenties” (Raman and Sehgal). He decided that making a safer environment for the people in his village, nearby villages, and for generations of travelers was more important than bringing in a steady income. As a result, he quit his day job. Occasionally, he would carry luggage over the mountain for travelers in order to earn some money, but his family sometimes went without food. He was so dedicated to working on the mountain that he moved his house closer to chisel a path through it day and night. Even with the extra working hours, Dashrath spent twenty-two years of his life completing his goal.