The 82-year-old Indian yogi Prahlad Jani, who claims to have spent over 70 years without food or water, is being examined for the second time by scientists, who have found that his biology is indeed extraordinary.
Jani said he left home when he was 7 to live as a wandering monk, and was blessed by a goddess a year later. He claims that there is a hole in his palate through which his head drops nectar, giving him nutrition and enabling him to live without food or water.
“If his claims are verified, it will be a breakthrough in medical science,” said Dr. G. Ilavazhagan of India’s Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences in a news conference. “This may help in working out strategies for survival without food and water when it is not available; for example, in natural calamities, people face this situation. Similarly, our soldiers may also face this situation when they are left in the deserts or in forest or in high-altitude areas.”
In 2003, Jani was kept under surveillance for 10 days in Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad, India. He did not bathe and was given only 100 milliliters (about 3 ounces) of water each day as mouthwash, which after his use was collected and measured to make sure that he didn’t drink any of it.
Doctors found no deterioration in his health, although he lost weight slightly. It was found that urine formed in his bladder, but it was reabsorbed later.
Since April 22, Jani has returned to Sterling Hospital for further investigation by a team of 35 scientists from India’s Defense Research & Development Organization. Two 24-hour video cameras monitor his acts in his room, while another follows him when he goes out of the room.
The experiment will take 15–20 days and will involve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and blood tests, and other measurements of Jani’s brain and heart activity.
As of April 28, doctors have not found any aversive effects in his body from hunger or dehydration. It has been found that yoga exercises have caused Jani’s body to undergo a biological transformation and that his brain is in a state equivalent to that of a 25-year-old.
Dr. Sudhir Shah, a neurophysician involved in the study, called this a “miracle in the science.”
“A person can live without food and water for three, four, seven, to 12 days; and we have studied during fasting in the past that people have done fasting for 16 or 30 days, but they were taking water after eight days and certainly they pass urine—but this case is a unique phenomenon,” he said.
Without water, most people cannot survive for more than four days, and even with water, most people cannot survive without food for 50 days. The longest hunger strike known was of Terence MacSwiney, Ireland’s Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence. He went on a hunger strike while being detained by the British, and died after 74 days.
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