In the small, dusty village of Sugira, in the district of Mahoba in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, 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 organized in Lucknow, but it was only for able-bodied people. There were no provisions for people like me to compete,” Yadav said, almost nonchalantly, but for that hint of pride in his voice, as he took us through the Book of Records event held earlier this year. He added, confidently, “I registered myself anyway.”
He dressed sharply for it, he shared – in a clean button-down and slacks, armed with his signature full-bodied mustache. “When I told some of the organizers 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 said. But this only fuelled Yadav’s never-say-die spirit. “I realized that if I kept saying I was disabled, they would not let me participate. So I steadied myself and tightening my artificial leg, I decided to just prove myself,” he said with a smile, 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 practicing in stadiums or with coaches, Yadav, we learn did not even receive governmental support to help with his passions.He’s a self-taught yogi and gymnast hence, who practiced on every surface he could find—which in Mahoba, meant the rocky terrain it offers.
Citing Swami Ramdev “Ramdevji” as his inspiration and motivation, Yadav spoke with conviction about fulfilling dreams of yet more impossible feats. The recent record had Yadav nostalgic, “The first time I received any recognition or award was in Mathura in 1977,”he recalled, his physique, demeanour and energy belying his age. The decades of practice seem to have paid off; he was recently awarded a memento of recognition from the district official in Mahoba in August 2018 for creating a new record. Plus he has won hearts on the internet – the new age bonus of the times, being a specially abled yogi! Videos of him walking on his hands on mountains, in flowing water, on tar roads, have garnered hundreds of views on YouTube. “I am affectionately called Yogi and Yogacharya”, he added proudly, “I am just so happy that I have put my district on the map and made Mahoba proud.” He laughed off what is perhaps his most iconic title, used repeatedly across local TV coverage and fan YouTube uploads – “Bald King”.
Yadav was quick to firmly 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 said decisively, “because yoga is the art of living.”Yadav also spoke passionately of his dream to spread the vision of yoga across the country. “Through yoga we will make India disease-free,” he added, fully confident, “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 practice yoga, both the asanasand theory.
“People say that dreams don’t come true”, said Yadav, adding the all-important,“I believe that if you only dream in your sleep, they will not come true. Only those who dream when they are awake will see their dreams come true.”
This Khabar Lahariya article first appeared on Firstpost.