Dashrath Manjhi on a 2016 stamp of India
14 January 1929
|Died||17 August 2007 (aged 78)|
|Other names||Mountain Man|
|Known for||Manually carving a mountain in order to connect Gehlaur and Gaya|
Dashrath Manjhi (14 January 1929 – 17 August 2007), also known as Mountain Man, was a laborer in Gehlaur village, near Gaya in Bihar, India. In his teenage years he became a kabirpanthi of the Branch of Mokama Ghat, Patna, and was a practising vegetarian. He was a flag bearer of social justice. When his wife died due to injury caused by falling from a mountain, he decided to carve a path of 110 m long (360 ft), 9.1 m (30 ft) wide and 7.7 m (25 ft) deep through a ridge of hills using only a hammer and chisel. After 22 years of work, Dashrath shortened travel between the Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya town from 55 km to 15 km. He travelled to New Delhi to get recognition of his work and was rewarded by then Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. In 2016, Indian Post issued a postage stamp featuring him.
Dashrath Manjhi was born into a Musahar / Bhuiya family, at the lowest rank of India's caste system. He ran away from his home at a young age and worked in the coal mines at Dhanbad. Later he returned to the village of Gehlaur and married Falguni (or Phaguni) Devi.
Gehlaur was and remains a small village with few resources, and while it lies in a plain it is bordered on the south by a steeply ascending quartzite ridge (part of the Rajgir hills) that prevented road access from the town of Wazirganj.
Accident and road building
After his return to Gehlaur, Manjhi became an agricultural laborer. In 1959, Manjhi's wife Falguni Devi was badly injured and died because she fell from the mountain and the nearest town with a doctor was 55 km (34 mi) away. Some reports say she was injured while walking along a narrow path across the rocky ridge to bring water or lunch to Manjhi, who had to work away from the village at a location south of the ridge; other reports link the path across the ridge to the delayed care but not to Falguni Devi's injuries.
As a result of this experience Manjhi resolved to cut a roadway across the ridge to make his village more accessible. Manjhi felt the need to do something for society and decided to carve a path through the ridge so that his village could have easier access to medical care.
He carved a path 110 m long, 7.7 m deep in places and 9.1 m wide to form a road through the ridge of rocks. He said, "When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve."
He completed the work in 22 years (1960–1982). This path reduced the distance between the Atri and Wazirganj sectors of the Gaya district from 55 km to 15 km. Though mocked for his efforts, Manjhi's work has made life easier for people of the Gehlaur village. Later, 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."
Official roads between his village and Wazirganj and Atri and Gaya were only built where his path was after his death in 2007.
Manjhi was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer and was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on 23 July 2007. He died at AIIMS on 17 August 2007. He was given a state funeral by the Government of Bihar.
A stamp featuring Dashrath Manjhi was released by India Post in the "Personalities of Bihar" series on 26 December 2016.
In popular culture
Dashrath Manjhi's story has been the subject of at least one documentary and several dramatic treatments on film and television.
The first of these was a supporting character based on Manjhi in the 1998 Kannada-language movie Bhoomi Thayiya Chochchala Maga. Manjhi's story also had a minor role in a later Kannada film, 2011's Olave Mandara directed by Jayatheertha.
In August 2015, a Hindi movie Manjhi - The Mountain Man was released and well received. The movie was directed by Ketan Mehta. Nawazuddin Siddiqui played the role of Manjhi along with Radhika Apte as Falguni Devi.
The first episode of Season 2 of the Aamir Khan hosted TV Show Satyamev Jayate, aired in March 2014, was dedicated to Dashrath Manjjhi. Aamir Khan and Rajesh Ranjan also met Bhagirath Manjhi and Basanti Devi, son and daughter-in-law of Manjhi and promised to provide financial help. However, Basanti Devi died due to inability to afford medical care on 1 April 2014.
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- — location of the passage carved by Dashrath Manjhi through the Rajgir Hills rock formation
- Laungi Bhuiyan