Originally published: June 12, 2017
Thought leadership for reflection! In late 2002 while preparing to launch The Joy Of Giving movement, I was researching the Musahars (a mice-eating, ostracised and marginalised community that lives in abject poverty) and are called untouchables within untouchables (Yes! Besides the so-called Brahmins, Dalits and other castes, we also have a hierarchy of higher, highest untouchable, mid-level untouchable, lower lowest untouchable.) Seems we have reduced humanity to the lowest levels of indignity.
While walking through the villages in Bihar, I had this elderly gentleman, pulling my kurta and pointing to some mountains in the horizon. He pulled me to his charpoy (a traditional woven bed) and showed me a hammer and chisel. I could not understand a word and struggled for some time to understand his mumblings. We then found another villager who knew Hindi. He explained to us that this is Dashrath Manjhi, who cut the mountain with his bare hands, hammer and chisel by working 10 hours every day, every week for 22 years. He did not want anyone else to die like his wife, whose life he could not save, since he could not cross the mountain on time.
Yes, friends I am privileged to have met this so-called untouchable, the legendary Dashrath Manji. I held the hammer and chisel with which he achieved the impossible. Meeting Manjhi was a life-changing, mind-altering experience. Manjhi inspired me to research heroic potential. Thus, began my journey of telling stories of real heroes through Karmaveer awards and Karma Kurry books.