Sunday, September 9, 2007


Every morning for 22 long years, a frail diminutive man, clad in a loincloth would trudge two kilometres to a hillock of solid rock and chip away at it with a hammer and chisel.Dasrath Manjhi was building a memorial to his wife Phaguni Devi.

A poor man's Taj.Not for its esthetics but for its symbolising human power and spirit of endurance.Dasrath eked out a living as a farm hand, toiling in the fields of local landlords on bare subsistance.One day,in the early 60's ,his wife Phaguni fell ill and Dasrath set off with her to the nearest hospital .She died on the way.If only there was no hillock blocking the road to the town,Dasraths wife would have made it to the hospital in time, and perhaps survived.

The villagers of Gelaur,in Bihar had to take a circuitous route and travel 19km. to Wazirganj, the nearest district town. It was because of the massive 360ft. long, 25ft. high and 30 ft. wide rock that came in the way of the shortest possible route between the village and the town.Dasrath decided to alter the topography with a chisel and hammer to cut through the rock.

After 22 yrs. of hard work he finished in mid 80's.The mountain had yeilded to man!The Nitish ministry has promised to make a pucca road to connect the village with Wazirganj town, and a hospital in Gelaur itself.The recognition that had been denied to Dasrath during his lifetime came after his death.After his death few days ago,the govt. brought his body to Gaya.Dasrath was given a state funeral in presence of dignitaries.

Dasrath Manjhi is remembered by everyone in his village as 'Dasrath Baba'.In caste ridden Bihar he would have never qualified for this title in normal circumstances, which only a Brahmin is entitled to.Dasrath was a Musahar, a caste which traditionally ranks among the lowest of the low.

Musahars derive their caste name from thier unusual occupation- they dig through rat holes after harvest, and search for grains stored byt he bandicoots.(moos in local lingo) under the ground.When there is not enough grain they are known to hunt and eat bandicoots to keep hunger at bay.This modest and selfless man is a fable for our times.An apt sobriquet for him as they know him in Gelaur, "The man who moved a mountain"

Source: Outlook dated 3 sep

ALSO- koyatoor

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