Once upon a time in India, I met a man they now call Mountain Man. He looked like a little elf, with kind, loving eyes, a funny hat, living alone in a clay hut. People described him as unpretentious, with no craving for honor or gain, transformed from the core by his deeds and life. He had an saintly atmosphere, completely unassuming, a village worker who had never gone through school, who expressed an open and natural way of being.
This is a real story about Dashrath Manjhi, a man who out of love moved a mountain with his bare hands. It happened in a village in Bihar, an area in India with the lowest per capita income. One day Falguni Devi, his young and beautiful wife, went to bring him water from the spring on other side of the mountain. Carrying water in a large pot, she was in a happy mood and much in love. The long trip was nothing but joy. While walking on the rough foot path toward his working site, she had to be extra careful to pass steep and dangerous passages.
Falguni Devi usually moved gracefully around the sharp rocks. In a moment of inattentiveness, she hit her head on a rock. She slipped and fell down the steep mountainside. With injured legs and head, she cried out in pain.
From a distance Dashrath Manjhi saw his wife, bloody and helpless, tears streaming from her eyes. She was seriously injured and needed immediate medical attention. The nearest doctor was 70 km away, so Dashrath Manjhi carried her home and had to treat her there. This is not a story with a happy end. Soon after, I’m sorry to say, Falguni Devi died.
The distance to the hospital could have been far shorter, if not for a rocky ridge between his village and the town, blocking the trail, forcing any traveler a enormous detour. In despair and deeply frustrated, Dashrath Manjhi thought to himself: This ridge has been standing there for generations, like a mountain right in the path of my people. It has to move. Right there and then, he vowed to clear a path through the mountain. In his spare time after work, he began chipping away at the hard rock with his chisel and hammer.
Sometimes people mocked him, but he took no offence, unaffected by both praise and ridicule. Years passed and singlehandedly he worked through the mountain of Gilhaur in Gaya district: after 22 years, he had chiseled a 360-ft long, 25-ft high and 30-ft wide path that reduced the distance to the nearest town by many kilometres. When finished Dashrath Manjhi said, “I started this work out of love for my wife, but continued it for my people. If I didn’t, no one would.”
Before Manjhi’s passing, his lightness and thoroughly sweet personality became an attraction for people far and wide, to a much larger degree than seeing the mountain passage he had carved single-handedly: he had succeeded in dismantling the mountain of self-importance.
This man moved and inspired my life. He made something very clear: that strong will and determination, no matter the context, combined with unselfish giving, can lift and transform the human mind.
Here is a short video about Dashrath Manjhi told by my adopted father Vinova, a citizen of India, connecting the life and wish of Dashrath Manjhi to the purpose of raising his villagers’ standard of living through giving them an opportunity to lead a life free from poverty and misery.
Share this Post