Two men dreamed to climb Mount Everest and they dared to do it without the support of their guide. Post conquering Mount Everest, Arunachalee Mountaineers Kishon Tekseng and Taka Tamut unfurled Indian flag, flag of their state and the Art of Living flag at the highest peak in the world. They attribute their success to Sudarshan Kriya. The duo’s heroic climb without supplementary oxygen till Camp IV (26,000 ft) has inked a new record. And their willpower to have dared to do this without Sherpas (guide) speaks volumes of their courage and determination. It is said that 99 per cent of mountaineers, from across the world, scale Everest with their Sherpa. Their mentor, Dr. R Meetie’s guidance and his gift of introducing the duo to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living and the foundation’s meditation programs has held them through their experience of preparing and scaling Mount Everest.
A tete-a’-tete with the mountaineers will take us through their journey of climbing the Mount Everest.
Q: Why Mount Everest? And when did you decide/realise that climbing Mount Everest is a dream that you want to pursue?
Ans: Kishon: Five years back, I decided ki Everest karega (I will go on Everest Expedition). I have always enjoyed trekking and that had earned me my first salary. I just had to do it.
Taka: This was my second attempt. The dream to scale Everest had become my life.
For a layman, it takes a while to absorb the information of how an intention to climb Everest (an unthought-of dream) drives someone to not just to ready themselves but also to sign up for the hard work and risks involved. Reminds me of Gurudev’s emphasis on the power of intention.
Q: How did you train to go after this dream?
Ans: Kishon: For me, the training began with Sudarshan Kriya. Happiness and Advance courses make your more aware. They make you realize your inner capability, Ki mujhme bhi kuch kabiliyat hai (That I am talented and capable). That was the first step.
Taka: Breath is the most powerful tool while scaling Everest. At that altitude, being able to breathe isn’t easy and Art of Living courses prepare you for that. To realize this dream, one needs to be patient and determined and AOL courses instill that beautifully.
Sudarshan Kriya, Happiness Program and Advance Meditation Program or The Silence Retreat is just an intention away- for all of us.
Q: How long did you train for?
Ans: Kishon: It took us 3-4 years to prepare. One has to work on physical fitness, go over the technicalities of mountaineering, build stamina, strength train ,and prepare oneself for acclimatization. Initially, bahut tough tha (it was tough in the beginning). Needs a lot of willpower.
Taka: Pao to chal lega, magar saans kaise chalega? (Without breathing right, the feet will give up too.) For all the training to work, resilience and control over breath is a must.
I find myself hooked to that statement of ‘the feet won’t be able to do their job unless the breath is doing its job’. Without breath, there can be no will power. And without willpower, no dream can ever be realized. The concept of determination, conviction, ambition and passion has been beautifully broken down to the technique of breathing by these two gentlemen- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s two devotees.
Q: Could you take us through the journey of conquering Mount Everest?
Ans: Kishon: I climbed till Camp IV without using supplemental oxygen. We did Sudarshan Kriya and meditated as much as we could. I was feeling quite confident. It is tough to climb Everest but things seemed to be on track. But one of our Sherpa guides had to be airlifted after he met with an accident. The other one developed High Altitude Sickness and he couldn’t travel ahead too. Two of us were left behind to make perhaps the most difficult decision of going back or going ahead without our guides.
Taka: The climb from Camp IV to Everest is extremely difficult. It is called “ the Death Zone”. And for us, it was even more difficult for we didn’t have guide with us. We were on our own. I felt weighed down with fear.
But then, they decided to go for it. Two climbers climbed on their own in a land that knows survival of the fittest. The confidence built up over the last three years perhaps came handy.
Q. Wait a minute…Without oxygen and without Sherpa guides! Please share the experience of making it to the top.
Ans: Kishon: Once we reached Camp IV and we were left to decide if we wanted to go ahead or back, the odds were against us. But I thought that I have invested a lot of time and money into doing this. If I quit now, everything will go to waste. Power through- I told myself. After reaching the peak, I felt like a winner.
Taka: When I saw us approaching the peak, I felt energized. I screamed. I couldn’t feeling the exhaustion or my aching body anymore. I forgot everything. I had made it. I felt like a winner. I started crying for the 3-4 years of hard work had finally paid off.
From the fear of “will we survive” to the victory of climbing down alive, Kishon and Taka’s story is a story of perseverance and will power. There is so much to learn (not just about mountaineering) from the duo, these are lessons in life.
Q. Do’s and dont’s for mountaineers aspiring to scale Everest?
Ans: Kishon: Ujjwayi Breath (breathing through the throat), Bhastrika, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation programs are of utmost importance. They help your lungs. Holding breath is easier when one breathes through the throat. A must-do and it makes your belief in your dream and your capability stronger. These courses are also great platforms to know yourself and to know your body. They help one understand their strength and weakness and build on that.
Taka: Knowing your body and self-awareness is very important. One has to take risks and make decisions in high-stress situations and Sudarshan Kriya helps with that. One needs to prepare oneself for freezing temperatures.
Meditation, in itself, is a seva (service). Sense of bliss and gratitude are contagious and meditation helps spread that. The expedition was not an ordinary one. It was done with immense awareness, empathy and with detached attachment. Taka gave his spare oxygen cylinder to his guide who was suffering from High Altitude Sickness. Both the men supported each other and knowing that they had to pursue this dream, they made consistent effort to be able to do it. They have done breath exercises and Sudarshan Kriya on their climb at freezing temperatures and unfurled the Art of Living Flag at the peak. They did that to spread the message that Art of Living is doing service to humanity by reaching out to people with their breathing practices. And that the key difference between the aspires and the achievers is the will power that is born during meditation.
Dr R Meetie, their mentor, was present during the interaction. He said, “This was my responsibility. It was important that they come back alive and I want to express gratitude to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for blessing us and making this happen.” The three of them are now waiting to meet Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to handover The Art of Living flag that travelled all the way up to the peak and came back into this world. That will be our way of expressing gratitude, they said.
– Shubham Shukla