Adrastea. Aegle. Durga. Gaia. Lakshmi. Nike. Pallas. Saraswati. Kali. Tyche… the list is endless. Time and again we have heard of the importance of goddesses and heroic stories of women being narrated from mythology and history. Be it “Alcestis”- known as paragon of courage and love or “Penthesilia” – renowned for her courage, skill and wisdom or “Scathach” – the legendary Scottish woman warrior or “Durga” – the eliminator of sufferings or “Kali” – the embodiment of “Shakti”.

We often praise and worship them. But do we know that these qualities are also present in each one of us, albeit dormant. If we introspect we can find glimpses of valour, tenacity, undefined courage, universal love within each of us. But the question is do we actually look inside us to find these shades of divine power?

While on board a special mountain flight touring the Himalayas, like all my co-passengers I too was stunned and awed by the sheer majesty and the scale of the Himalayas. No amount of browsing touristic information can prepare you for this divine splendor. It is almost as if the super powers worked a bit extra to make these mountain ranges not only gigantic in scale  but breathtakingly beautiful. It is not for nothing that in the Gita the Lord says in the mountains he resides in the Himalayas.

As we left the tarmac of the Kathmandu air strip in a dainty ATR and soared high, our motley gang of a dozen  from diverse nationalities were as excited as a bunch of new college goers.  Within minutes our craft ascended over 4,000 feet and we got our first bird’s eye view of the majestic Himalayan ranges. The crew was trained to channel our excited banter and helpfully guided us about the various peaks, its names, height etc. As the range started unfolding each of us were invited to have our photo moment from the cockpit of the craft.  From the Nepal air space over 25 peaks are showcased each soaring over 20,000 ft above sea level. When it was my turn I was fortunate to get my first glimpse of the Mount Everest from the cockpit. The sight of the Everest ensconced amidst the Nuptse& Lhotse peaks was unbelievable. The beautiful morning sun rays added a magical and untouchable feel to the Everest. While in the cockpit I couldn’t but help notice that it was a lady piloting our craft. 🙂

As I get back to my seat I intuited that there are numerous ordinary tales of ordinary mortals like us hiring an aircraft to see the wonders of the Himalayas but there are also a few extra-ordinary beings with immortal tales of not just seeing but feeling the Himalayas…having the incredible feat of touching the zenith of a mountain all by their own tenacity, severe perseverance and against all odds.

And while my thoughts were monkeying around I reminisced about the power of dormant energies. I questioned myself is it possible for each of us to scale such heights? And I got my answer while circling the Himalayas from the air.”Yes” each of us can, but we need to acknowledge and recognise our strengths. Unless we are put into tough situations most of us act ordinary. Until we are put up to face extra-ordinary struggles our dormant energies don’t raise. This is particularly true of women.

I strongly believe that every woman has infinite power and ability to fight injustice and face challenges. One such young woman – ARUNIMA SINHA is someone who is inspiration personified. I had the good fortune to meet her. She is truly a woman of extraordinary grit and tenacity and the first female amputee and the first Indian amputee to climb the Mount Everest.

Mount Everest that seemed so daunting to me from the sky was actually peaked by this pretty young woman! While she narrated her life story I could barely imagine the plight of this former national volleyball player who was thrown out of a moving train merely for resisting thieves from robbing her. She had to bear an excruciating pain through the night as 49 trains passed by crushing her leg ruthlessly. And through all this she could only think of how to live and fight back.

Isn’t such courage extraordinary? Isn’t it an eye-opener for our society that considers females to be the weaker sex? And the story doesn’t end here. For Arunima it was not a just physical struggle alone; she was emotionally and mentally troubled by media and political allegations. It was quiet unsettling to hear her say her accident was also claimed as an attempt to suicide which had badly failed.

After being an amputee and undergoing treatment, Arunima was inspired by cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who had successfully combated cancer, to do something extraordinary and show her mettle to the world. Scaling new heights was always her passion. She decided to literally do that and when she decided to climb the Mount Everest and create an unquestionable record and set her critics straight.

To achieve this she underwent basic mountaineering from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi with the support of her elder brother Omprakash and raising funds with the help of a swami of Ramakrishna Mission and later on in 2011 she called up Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest, to train her under Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF). TATA sponsored her and eventually she came to be known as “TATA ki Sherni”.

On 1 April, 2013 she began her climb and reached the summit of Mount Everest at 10:55 am on 21 May, 2013. With this achievement she turned herself into a woman who requires no validation and who is most brave and fearless. No glory and achievements can pacify the pain she had to undergo but her victory certainly is a slap on every evil and discouraging countenance she had to encounter.  And the incredible thing about Arunima is that she is not bitter about what she had gone through; instead is full of optimism and positivity; smiling and standing high like a mountain that welcomes and accepts a storm as and when it arrives.

Most of us give up easily and buckle up under the pretext of destiny.  Arunima is a classic example of a lady who didn’t let destiny and situations rule her. Rather she chose to create and rule her destiny.

She reinforces my thoughts of the dormant power existing in women! Arunima Sinha truly is a role model for the world to emulate. And I am pleased to know her choice of serving the society – counselling people especially the youth  all over the nation with heaps of positive thoughts and powerful motivational speeches. Her profile exuberantly displays she is an active global leader working with Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Memorial as a motivational speaker.

While listening to her talk I realize she doesn’t just preach, she has dedicatedly adopted Swami Vivekananda’s mantra of “Arise, Awake & Stop not till your goal is achieved” in her life. To me this is not just an inspiring story of one woman; it’s a triumph of one tough woman over a tougher society, triumph of scaling uncharted heights and the triumph of becoming taller than the Zenith.

That fateful September morning as we circled the Himalayas I realised the Mount Everest doesn’t just bring about collective sighs from ordinary mortals like us but actually inspires hordes of tales of extraordinary courage, strength & honour.

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