The Man Who Made War on a Mountain-The Man worked alone, his sole tools his chisel,hammer and shovel.. It would take 22 years for Dashrath Manjhi to finish his 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road

The Man Who Made War on a Mountain
Dashrath Manjhi was given a State funeral last weekend. During his life, however, government indifference remained as much a challenge for him as the rocks of Gahlaur Ghati, says Anand ST Das

 Gehlor, a small village in Bihar, was surrounded by rocky hills. The villagers had to travel more than 50 km to reach the nearest town, which was only five km away but the path blocked by a rocky hill. One of the villagers, Dashrath Manjhi, decided one day that he would cut a pass through the hill. He sold his goats, bought a hammer and a chisel, and started hammering away at the hill. Everyone laughed at him. They ridiculed him, dissuaded him, told him it was not possible. He refused to be swayed and kept at it. It took him 22 years to cut a road through the hill but he did it

He was ridiculed in 1959 when he started hewing a way through the Gahlaur Ghati hills of Bihar’s Gaya district, some 150 km from Patna 
FOR THE PEOPLE: Manjhi’s feat will long outlive him
It would take 22years for Dashrath Manjhi to finish his 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road — little wonder, for he worked alone, his sole tools his chisel,hammer and shovel. What was once a precarious passage just a foot wide is now an avenue that can accommodate cyclists and motorcyclists and is used by the people of nearly 60 villages with great ease. The road has also reduced the distance between Gaya’s Atri and Vazirganj subdivisions from 50km to just 10km. Children from Manjhi’s own Gahlaur and other nearby villages no longer have to walk eight kilometres one way to attend school — they can now study at a school just three km away.

We met Manjhi a few weeks before the cancer that finally ended his life on August 17 forced him to take to his bed. The 73- year-old was frail, but his energy was undiminished as he relived his work on the road. “I knew if I did not do it myself, neither would the government do it nor would the villagers have the will and determination. This hill had given us trouble and grief for centuries. The people had asked the government many times to make a proper road through the hill, but nobody paid any attention. So I just decided I would do it all by myself.”

Before Manjhi’s road, the hill kept the villages of the region in isolation, forcing the villagers to make an arduous and dangerous trek just to reach the nearest market town, or even their own fields. In 1959, Manjhi recounted, this resulted in a family tragedy on the treacherous slope. “My wife, Faguni Devi, was seriously injured while crossing the hill to bring me water; I worked then on a farm across the hills. That was the day I decided to carve out a proper road through this hill,” he told us. The mission he had set himself meant that he had to drop his wage-earning daily work — his family suffered and he himself often went without food. But his wife was not to see the fruits of his labour — a short while later, she fell ill and died as Manjhi could not get her to the hospital in time. “My love for my wife was the initial spark that ignited in me the desire to carve out a road. But what kept me working without fear or worry all those years was the desire to see thousands of villagers crossing the hill with ease whenever they wanted,” Manjhi said. “Though most villagers taunted me at first, there were quite a few who lent me support later by giving me food and helping me buy my tools.” Today, the villagers have nothing but gratitude for Gaya’s mountain man, known almost universally now as Sadhuji.

Dashrath Manjhi belonged to Bihar’s Musahar community, regarded as the lowest among the state’s Scheduled Castes. While other Dalits in Bihar had at least some land rights under the erstwhile zamindari system, the Musahars never enjoyed any such. Nearly 98 percent of the state’s 1.3 million Musahars are landless today. Not even one percent of them are literate, which makes them the community with the country’s lowest literacy rate. For many of them, the day’s main meal still comprises roots, snails or rats, from which the community’s name is derived. 

UNDETERRED: Ridiculed at first, Manjhi later became a local hero
After Manjhi completed his road, he worked tirelessly for the betterment of his community. Among his other efforts, he managed to persuade nearly 50 Musahar families of his village to settle on government- granted land, although most of them were unwilling to leave their old homes. But when Manjhi started living on the allotted land, the rest followed suit. This new settlement is now known as Dashrath Nagar. Manjhi’s other efforts have been less successful. Despite his herculean feat, the Bihar government has given him only token appreciation and insincere help.

Himself landless, he made a petition once for property on which to build a hospital. Then chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav allotted him a five-acre plot in a village called Karzania — the people of the village never allowed him to take possession as they were using the land as a grazing ground. More recently, the Bihar government recommended Manjhi’s name for the Padma Bhushan. This never materialised, nor did Nitish Kumar’s promised support for a road Manjhi wanted from Wazirganj to Gahlaur. Government sources say the forest department had refused permission for the road, claiming that Manjhi had violated regulations by cutting away at the hill without the department’s permission. The Padma Bhushan was reportedly denied to Manjhi because of claims made by certain quarters in the bureaucracy that he did not actually carve out the hill road single-handedly. The villagers who benefited from his labour were outraged at these reports.

“Where was the forest department sleeping all these years when Sadhuji was creating history to help thousands of poor villagers? We have seen him from our childhood, hacking at the hill day and night as if he were possessed,” said Raj Kumar, a 30- year-old Gahlaur resident. But Manjhi was unfazed. “What I did is there for everyone to see. When God is with you, nothing can stop you,” he told us as we left. “I will keep working for the development of the
 villages here so long I am alive. I am neither afraid of any punishment from any government department for my work nor am I interested in any honour from the government.” Brave words, but perhaps only what one would have expected from the man. The government attempted amends by giving him a state funeral last week — but, as he well knew, it is his work that will live on longer than any honour.

Sep 01, 2007


 / July 31st, 2012 at 09:07 pm

“When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve.” Dashrath Manjhi

Dashrath Manjhi
Almost five decade ago, a landless farmer Dashrath Manjhi from Gahlor Ghati, of Gaya (a district of Bihar) resolved to end the difficulties of his villagers by shouldering a near impossible task of slitting a 300-feet-high hill apart to create a one-km passage.
His village would nestle in the lap of rocky hills for which villagers would often face gigantic troubles for crossing small distance between Atri and Wazirganj, the outskirts of Gaya town. He started hammering the hill in early 1959 in the memory of his wife, who could not be taken to the nearest health care center on time for the immediate treatment as the nearest road that connected them to the city was 50km long. 
He knew his voice will not create any reaction in the deaf ear of the government; therefore, Dashrath chose to accomplish this Herculean task alone. He sold his goats to purchase chisel, rope and a hammer. People would call him mad and eccentric spirited with no idea of his plans. Unfazed by his critics’ discouraging remarks, Dashrath hammered consistently for 22 long years to shorten the distance from 50km to 10km between Atri and Wazirganj. The day came when he stepped through a flat passage — about one-km long and 16-feet wide — to his dream, ‘the other side of the hill’.
After this impossible accomplishment, Dashrath Manjhi became popular as the ‘mountain man’. On August 18, 2007, he breathed his last after fighting cancer at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He got state burial on the following Saturday evening. 
Some invaluable lessons to learn from this Legend
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
Farhad loves shirin --A TRUE STORY OF CIRCA 550 A.D.
There is a place I know, high up in the mountains of Kurdistan. Where the crow roams freely and the snow finally meets the sun. Where you can fall wild like a mountain and run with a stone in your hand. This is where our story sleeps.

There was a brave man called Farhad, who loved a Princess named Shirin, but the Princess did not love him. Farhad tried in cain to gain access to the love-cell of Shirin's heart, but no one would dare betray the fact that a stonecutter loved a lady of royal blood. Farhad, in despair, would go to the mountains and spend his days without food, playing his flute sweet music in praise of Shirin. At last people thought to devise a plan to acquaint the Princess of the stone-cutter's love. She saw him once, and love which lived in his bosom also began to breathe in hers. But she dared not a mean laborer aspire to win the hand of a princess? It was not long, however, before the Shah himself heard the rumors of this extraordinary exchange of sentiment. He was naturally indignant at the discovery, but as he had no child other than Shirin, and Shirin was also pining away with love, he proposed to his daughter that her lover, being of common birth, must accomplish a task such as no man may be able to do, and then, and only then, might he be recommended to his favor. 
The task which he skillfully suggested was that Shirin should ask her lover to dig a canal in the rocky land among the hills. The canal must be six lances in width and three lances deep and forty miles long! 
The Princess had to convey her father's decision to Farhad, who forthwith shouldered his spade and started off to the hills to commence the gigantic task. He worked hard and broke the stones for years. He would start his work early in the morning when it was yet dark and never ceased from his labor till, owing to darkness, no man could see one yard on each side. Shirin secretly visited him and watched the hard working Farhad sleeping with his taysha (spade) under his head, his body stretched on the bed of stones. She noticed, with all the pride of a lover, that he cut her figure in the rocks at each six yards and she would sigh and return without him knowing.
Farhad worked for years and cut his canal; all was in readiness but his task was not yet finished, for he had to dig a well in the rocky beds of the mountains. He was half- way through, and would probably have completed it, when the Shah consulted his courtiers and sought their advice. His artifice had failed. Farhad had not perished in the attempt, and if all the conditions were in the attempt, and if all the conditions were in the attempt, and if all the conditions were fulfilled as they promised to be soon, his daughter must go to him in marriage. The Viziers suggested that an old woman should be sent to Farhad to tell him that Shirin was deadthen, perhaps, Farhad would become heart broken and leave off the work. 
It was an ignoble trick, but it promised success and the Shah agreed to try it. So an old woman went to Farhad and wept and cried till words choked her; the stone-cutter asked her the cause of her bereavement. 
"I weep for a deceased," she said, "and for you." "For a deceased and for me?" asked the surprised Farhad. "And how do you explain it?" 
"Well, my brave man," said the pretender sobbingly, "you have worked so well, and for such a long time, too, but you have labored in vain, for the object of you devotion is dead!
"What!" cried the bewildered man, "Shinin is dead?" 
Such was his grief that he cut his head with the sharp taysha (spade) and died under the carved streamed into his canal was his own blood. When Shirin heard this she fled in great sorrow to the mountains where lay her wronged lover; it is said that she inflicted a wound in her own head at the precise spot where Farhad had struck himself, and with the same sharp edge of the spade which was stained with her lover's gore. No water ever flowed into the canal, but the two lovers were entombed in one and the same grave. 
"There's a place where now the two lovers sleep. Side by side. Shirin and her Farhad. That place is very high up in the mountains of Kurdistan. And can only be reached when the snow comes washing down in spring. And stains blood red the cheeks of maidens. If you want to meet the two of them, you will have to ask the crow to take you there 
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