In the small, dusty village of Sugira, in the district of Mahoba in Bundelkhand, lives an India Book of Records title holder. Uttam Singh Yadav wrote himself into the pages of history by walking up and down 151 stairs on his hands, a feat that gave him the title of ‘Longest Walk on Hands — by a Disabled Person’.
“The event was organised in Lucknow, but it was only for able-bodied people. There were no provisions for people like me to compete,” says Yadav, almost nonchalantly, except for a little hint of pride in his voice, as he takes us through the day the Book of Records event was held earlier this year. He adds confidently, “I registered myself anyway.”
He had dressed sharply for it, as he recounts – in a clean button-down and slacks, armed with his signature full-bodied mustache. “When I told some of the organisers that I was disabled, they said that this was not an event for people like me and that I would not be able to manage myself,” he relates. But this only fuelled Yadav’s never-say-die spirit. “I realised that if I kept saying I was disabled, they would not let me participate. So, I steadied myself, tightened my artificial leg, and decided to just prove myself,” he adds with a smile, seeming pleased with himself. Yadav’s disability — an amputated leg —can often be invisible, which is what he used to his advantage. “I didn’t register myself as a disabled person, nor did anyone suspect otherwise. I just participated in the competition.”
And that very day, Yadav ended up creating a new record.
Not having enjoyed the luxury of practising in stadiums or with coaches, Yadav, we learn, did not even receive any governmental support to help with his passions. He’s a self-taught yogi and gymnast, who practised on every surface he could find — which meant the rocky terrain that Mahoba has to offer.
Citing Swami Ramdev “Ramdevji” as his inspiration and motivation, Yadav speaks with conviction about fulfilling his dreams of yet more incredible feats. The recent record has Yadav all nostalgic, “The first time I received any recognition or award was in Mathura in 1977,” he recalls — his physique, demeanour and energy belying his age. The decades of practice seems to have paid off; he was recently awarded a memento of recognition from the district official in Mahoba for creating a new record. Plus, he has won hearts on the internet being a specially-abled yogi. Videos of him walking on his hands on mountains, in flowing water, and on tar roads, have garnered hundreds of views on YouTube. “I am affectionately called Yogi and Yogacharya,” he adds proudly, “I am just so happy that I have put my district on the map and made Mahoba proud.” He laughs off, what is perhaps, his most iconic title, used repeatedly across local TV coverage and fan YouTube uploads – ‘Bald King’.
Yadav is quick to dismiss the notion that life has been difficult for him as a disabled person. “There can be no problems in your life if you practice yoga,” he says in a resolved manner, “because yoga is the art of living.” Yadav also speaks passionately of his dream to spread the vision of yoga across the country. “Through yoga we will make India disease-free. By 2028, India will be diabetes free — through yoga and gymnastics.”
In the meanwhile, he is determined to continue honing his gymnastic skills and perfect his yoga practice, both asanas and theory.
“People say that dreams don’t come true,” says Yadav, adding the all-important, “I believe that if you only dream in your sleep, your dreams will not come true. Only those who dare to dream when they are awake, will see their dreams come true.
Khabar Lahariya is a women-only network of rural reporters from Bundelkhand.
Updated Date: Dec 24, 2018 19:40:12 IST