The Taj Mahal built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, is an architectural marvel. It took over 20,000 workers and 22 years to complete the structure. But a few hundred miles away, in the small village of Gehlaur in Bihar, there remains another testament of love etched in stone.
Known as the poor man’s Taj Mahal, this work also took 22 years to complete but it was built by just one man - Dashrath Manjhi.
Gehlaur is a small village surrounded by hills. Villagers had to trek for hours to get to their fields, schools and hospitals. The story begins in 1956 when Dashrath falls in love with Falguni, a girl from the same village, and marries her. Three years later, while Dashrath was away at work in his fields, Falguni slipped and fell down on the rocks. She was treading the narrow pathways up the hills to bring Dashrath his lunch. Falguni was seriously injured. Dashrath had to go around the mountain to take her to the nearest hospital 70 km away. On arrival, she was declared dead. Dashrath was devastated. He had lost the love of his life. Only if there was a road through the mountain, his wife could have been saved.
Dashrath took a decision that would change his life forever - he cursed the mountain and vowed to bring it down so that no one else would lose their life again.
Dashrath sold his goats and bought a hammer and a chisel and began breaking the rocks in 1960. He worked in his fields and chiseled the mountain too. He was ridiculed by the villagers and ignored by the government. But Dashrath was determined. In 1982, after 22 years of back breaking work, the mountain was broken.
Dashrath had single-handedly carved out a 360-feet-long, 30-feet-high and 30-feet-wide passage through the mountain. He made shortened the distance to the nearest town by 55km. A new way was open!
All of us have mountains in our lives which we want to conquer; mountains of fear or career or life goals. But there is a mountain that is unconquerable for any man - the mountain of sin. When we hear the word ‘sin’ we are quick to point fingers at others, failing to see the evil within our own hearts. But the Bible tells us that there is none who is righteous and all of mankind falls short of God’s holy standards. No matter how many good deeds we do, we cannot climb this mountain of separation between God and man. It is a mountain so big that God himself had to do something. Jesus was God taking human form to make a new way for us. He wilfully suffered, bled and died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we may have access to God.
When we put our faith on Jesus and believe that his sacrifice was for us, God gives us a clean slate and a brand new start.
In Gehlaur, the government finally constructed a proper road connecting the village to the outside world. Even today the villagers remember Dashrath as a pioneer and role model who changed their lives for good. The labor of love was not in vain.
When Jesus hung on that cross on three nails, there were many who mocked him and lamented a life wasted. Today the ones who believe in him are grateful for that labor of love that transformed their lives.
A new way is open! Take this road today and experience the joy, peace and hope that Jesus offers.