The Power of ‘One’ can move a Mountain

Ask yourself…”Am I offering a solution or am I a part of the problem?” Here is the story of a man that worked with a solutions mindset, against all odds and found a solution.

the power of one can move a mountainIt was the year 1960. Landless laborers, the Musahars, lived amid rocky terrain in the remote Atri block of Gaya, Bihar, in northern India. A 300-foot tall mountain loomed between them and all the basic facilities that they had always longed for.

Like all the Musahar men, Dashrath Manjhi worked on the other side of the mountain. At noon, his wife Phaguni would bring his lunch. One day, she came to him empty handed, injured. As the harsh sun beat down, Phaguni tripped on loose rock, and was badly injured. She slid down several feet, injuring her leg. Hours past noon, she limped to her husband. He was angry at her for being late. But on seeing her tears, he made a decision. Years later, he would recount, “That mountain had shattered so many pots and claimed so many lives. I could not bear that it had hurt my wife. If it took all my life now, I would carve us a road through the mountain.”

Dashrath bought a hammer, chisel, and crowbar. He had to sell his goats, which meant a lower income for his family. He climbed to the top, and started chipping away at the mountain. He would start early in the morning, chip the mountain for a few hours, then work on the fields, and come back to work on the mountain again. He would hardly sleep.

It was not an easy task. He would often get hurt by the rocks falling from the unyielding mountain. He would rest and then start again. At times, he helped people carry their things over the mountain for a small fee, money to feed his children. After 10 years, as Manjhi chipped away, people saw a cleft in the mountain and some came to help.

Manjhi broke through that last thin wall of rock, and walked into the other side of the mountain. After 22 years, Dashrath Das Manjhi, the common man, the landless laborer, had broken the mountain: he had carved out a road 360 feet long, 30 feet wide. Wazirganj, with its doctors, jobs, and school, was now only 5 kilometers away. People from 60 villages in Atri could use his road. Children had to walk only 3 kilometers to reach school. Grateful, they began to call him ‘Baba’, the revered man.