Dashrath Das Manjhi was a labourer who loved his wife very much. He carved a path through a hill on his own in his village, as his wife died due to delay in medication because of that hill.
Dashrath Manjhi was born in a Musahar family on 14 January 1929 (Age: 78 years, at the time of death in 2007) in Gehlaur village, Gaya district, Bihar, British India. His family was very poor and belonged to a very low caste (Scheduled Caste) in the region. His family was often tormented by the higher class (Mukhiya or Pradhan) of the village.
The information about his parents is not known. His wife was Falguni Devi who died from falling off the mountain. He had one son, Bhagirath Manjhi and a daughter. He had one brother.
After seven years working in Dhanbad, when he came back to his village, he fell in love with Falguni Devi, who surprisingly turned out to be his wife. Falguni Devi’s father refused to send his daughter to Dashrath Manjhi because he was jobless. They both eloped and started a new life as a family. Till 1960, his wife gave birth to two children. One day, while delivering food to her husband, she fell off the mountain and got injured seriously. Dashrath Manjhi took her to hospital in nearby town beyond the mountain. But it was too late, due to the lack of timely medication, she died. Then, he took a firm determination to knock the mountain down and to carve a path through it to connect the people of his village to the nearby town and hospital so that no one else could suffer this problem ever again.
Initially, people poked fun at him and called him a mad. However, later, some people came out for his assistance. One of them was Shivu Mishtri who gave Manjhi, a hammer and a chisel.
To seek assistance from the government, he went to Delhi to meet the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi but he was thrown out of the train because he was travelling without a ticket. Even then, he walked for more than 1000 km to reach Delhi. It took 22 years (from 1960 to 1982) to carve a way through the hill and finally, a way of 360 feet in length, 30 feet in height, and 25 feet in width came out and Dashrath Manjhi rose to fame. Due to his hard work, the distance between the two blocks of Gaya district, Atri and Wazirganj, reduced from 55 km to 15 km.
Due to cancer in Gall Bladder, he died at AIIMS hospital in New Delhi at the age of 78 on 17 August 2007. Upon his death, he was given a State Funeral by the Government of Bihar.
- In 2006, the government of Bihar proposed his name for the Padma Shree award in the category of social service.
- Manjhi wanted the road made by him to be paved (Pucca) by the government but he could not see that in his life. After his death in 2007, the government made it pucca.
- When he went to CM House, CM Nitish Kumar graciously offered his seat to Dashrath Manjhi for a while.
- In 2014, the first show of a TV show, Satyameva Jayate, hosted by Amir Khan was dedicated to Dashrath Manjhi. Aamir Khan met Bhagirath Manjhi (Son of Dashrath Manjhi) and his wife, Basanti Devi, and promised to help Manjhi family financially. However, later, Basanti Devi died due to lack of proper treatment.
- On the death of his wife, Bhagirath Manjhi said if Aamir Khan fulfilled his promise, his wife would not die.
- In 2015, his biopic, titled, ‘Manjhi – The Mountain Man’ was released which was directed by Ketan Mehta and starred by Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Dashrath Manjhi and Radhika Apte as Falguni Devi.
- Film director, Ketan Mehta had promised that he would give 2 percent of the earning from the film to Dashrath Manjhi’s family but the family has received only Rs 1.5 lakh in two installments.
- On 26 December 2016, the India Post issued postal stamps in his honour.
- An entrance gate has been named after him in his honour at the path made by him carving through a hill in the previous century. A hospital is also named after him.
- In 2017, Dashrath Manjhi’s statue was also inaugurated by the CM, Nitish Kumar.