Sant Dashrath of Gehlaur – Dashrath Manjhi

Sant Dashrath of Gehlaur (Dashrath Manjhi, 1934 - 2007)

While India is famous for ancient esoteric yoga knowledge and leading mystic lights of humanity such as Buddha and Gandhi, the situation and state of the general population in modern times is far from the lives of saints that inhabited the land. While India boasted in the past of leading international universities like Nalanda that were the light of the  ancient world even as Harvard and Princeton are today, the less said of its modern universities the better.

And on the street chaos rules. From remnants of ancient education people still keep their bodies and homes clean, but they pick the garbage and many throw it on the street outside. When they visit a market or office, instead of parking their vehicles in an orderly fashion, they leave it anywhere in a random manner so that disorder is the order of the day. If there is a hole in the road, few will venture out to fill it or remove some obstruction from the road, but rather complain how lethargic the government is, while those in government made up of the same lot shall say, they are there briefly and have their own needs to take care of first. Another shall come and do it in future, besides no one gets punished for not doing work or rewarded for work but just for sucking up to the boss.

In this state it is not surprising that decay and chaos rules, on the streets and in many parts of the land. Places in the wilderness are spared  where humans have not yet intervened, where one may see the immense beauty that God made in this ancient cradle of civilization. Yet while this is the general picture, there are individuals who have broken out of the mold and taken a teacher from amongst the ancient saints to heart rather than just the lips or on a cloak of hypocrisy with no room for love in heart filled with greed. One such in recent times was a poor illiterate villager by the name of Dashrath Manjhi who lived in an isolated village of eastern India called Gehlaur, and the life he led entitles him to the title of Saint or Sant as it called in the local language. The words Sant, Santa, Saint are variations of the same Indo-European word.

Who knows where the knowledge and power of mystics comes from? Perhaps it lies buried in their souls and is awakened with a small trigger. Early in his life he heard the words of another famous mystic saint – Sant Kabir who had lived a few centuries earlier in India and conveyed his wisdom through two line poetic couplets and this was sufficient to educate Sant Dashrath in all that a mystic needs to know, or all that a human needs to learn of our world and the universe. Sant Dashrath belongs to a line of saints who have continued to live in family life and work for a living rather than withdraw into forests, mountains and isolated abodes.

Dashrath’s village could be reached through a 65 kilometer broken roads from the nearest town called Wazirganj and during election periods in democratic India there are times when politicians reach remote parts. They request people to vote for them promising everything a government is supposed to do - road, electricity, water supply, school, hospital etc. but then promptly disappear out of sight for the next five years.

Manjhi decided to reach Delhi the capital of the country for help for his village and for women who die in child birth and children who die of hunger in dry years when even all the rats of the field have been dug out and roasted for a meal. Not having money for a train ride he just walked along the railway tracks, a distance of over 1400 kilometers. It took him two months. On the way he cut old discarded truck tires to make sandals and old sacks to make garments. But in Delhi when no person of any consequence would even give him an audience he looked at one in stiff white clothes who passed by in a shiny car and recited a couplet of Kabir. It is written in Hindi below followed by its translation,

Bada hua to kya hua, jaise ped Khajur
Panchi ko chhaya nahi, phal lage ati door


So what if you are big, like the date palm tree
No shade for the birds, fruits grow very far


Harijan avat dekhi ke, Mohdo mukh diyo
Bahv bhakti smajahyo nahi, murakh chook gayo 


Seeing a man of God coming he turned his face and left
He  understood  not goodness, the poor fool lost his chance

Returning home, Sant Dashrath sold off his goat and purchased some hammers and chisels.  This was way back in 1960. He began to cut a new path through the rocks of a hill near his village. When he fell sick he knew which herbs contain which medicine as mystics do, being in tune with nature, and after a few days of rest would resume his work. He worked by hand from 1960 to 1982 eventually succeeding in cutting a new motorable  road through the hill to town in 22 years, shortening the distance to just seven kilometers from seventy. Now a woman or child would not have to die because they could not reach the town for help in time even as his wife had. The road brought modern construction materials and a school to the village. He died in 2007 and in recognition of his work he was given a state funeral with full honors as due to a saint.

Sant Dashrath can be searched on Google under the name Dashrat Manjhi. He can also be found on Wikipedia at:


Vinod Khurana said…
Knowledge is in abundance but where is wisdom. Talking takes one a little far but only they succeed who slog. And those who are inspired they go very far.
Ashok said…
So true Vinod. There could be no better example of it than Sant Dahsrat Manjhi

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