Mystic astounds doctors in two-week study


AN INDIAN mystic aged 83 who claims to have spent seven decades without food or water has astounded a team of military doctors and specialists who observed him for a fortnight.

The 30-odd doctors who monitored Prahlad Jani round the clock with cameras and via closed circuit television at a hospital in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat province said the long-haired and bearded yogi did not eat, drink or go to the toilet during the experiment.

He remained fit, and exhibited no signs of lethargy.

“Jani’s only contact with any kind of fluid was during gargling and bathing periodically during the period,” said G Ilavazahagan, director of India’s Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, in a statement after the project ended last week.

Military doctors believe Jani’s experience could help soldiers survive longer without food in combat situations, assist astronauts and even save people trapped in natural disasters until help arrives.

During the fortnight-long observation, doctors took scans of Jani’s organs, brain, and blood vessels, in addition to performing tests on his heart, lungs and memory capacity.

“The reports were all in the pre-determined safety range through the observation period,” neurologist Sudhir Shah said, adding that they were still mystified over how he survives.

What the phenomenon is remains a mystery, he declared. “If Jani does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one,” Dr Shah speculated.

Medical practitioners could not shut their eyes to possibilities of a source of energy other than calories, said the doctor, who had examined Jani previously in 2003 for 10 days. He said Jani’s urine appeared to be reabsorbed by his body after forming in his bladder.

Jani, who claims to be a “breatharian”, living on a “spiritual life force” after being blessed at a young age by a goddess who gave him special powers, has returned to his village near Ambaji in northern Gujarat to resume his routine of yoga and meditation.

His claims have been supported by a local doctor specialising in studies of people claiming supernatural abilities, but others have deemed him a “village fraud”.

India has an ancient tradition of fasting by sadhus– holy men who renounce the world and repair to mountains or forests to dedicate themselves to achieving moksha(salvation), the fourth and final Hindu goal of life through meditation and contemplation.

Many religious sects also fast regularly for days on end without adverse effects, as part of rituals.