Breatharian Defies Modern Science
Published on May 12th, 2010 | by Harmonist staff3
Several weeks ago, Indian military doctors from the Defense Research Development Organization, took up the challenge of disproving the claims of an 82-year old mystic. The yogi, Prahlad Jani, made headlines throughout the sub-continent recently with his claim that no food or water had passed his lips for 70 years.
Despite the doubts of many skeptical medical researchers, the military doctors decided to test Prahlad’s claim because, if true, they believed his ability may be able to save lives in the future.
They transported the octogenarian spiritualist to a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gurjarat, India and placed him in isolation for a two-week hospital stay that ended last week, according to Indian news reports.
The doctors had conscientiously monitored Prahlad around the clock.
After 14 days without food or water, stunned doctors reported that the mystic’s body had not shown any adverse effects from either hunger or dehydration.
Claiming to have left his home at age 7, Prahlad became a ‘sadhu’ (holy man) and eventually people accepted him as a ‘breatharian’—a person who can live solely by spiritual force. He claims that he’s nourished by a goddess.
An Indian doctor, Sudhir Shah, who studies people claiming spiritual abilities, proclaimed Prahlad as authentic. Others have dismissed the wandering yogi as nothing more than a village fraud.
For many centuries it has been a common practice for certain Jains and Hindu yogis to embark upon spiritual fasting for up to 8 days. Usually their fasting had no deleterious affect.
Shah examined Prahlad in 2003. According to the doctor, the sadhu had no food or water for 10 days. The mystic’s urine appeared to be reabsorbed by his body after forming in his bladder. Some doubts about Prahlad’s claim were raised when his weight fell slightly on the 10th day.
This time around, at the Ahmedabad hospital, the breatharian did remarkably well. The astounded doctors confirmed that Prahlad had not eaten a thing or drunk any fluids for two weeks. And like his performance during the 2003 trial, he had not urinated or passed a stool.
Doctors admitted they expected to observe noticeable muscle mass loss, significant dehydration, weight loss and fatigue. Some believed organ failure might occur—yet the mystic remained perfectly healthy.
Despite the testimony of the Indian military doctors, Dr. Michael Van Rooyen dismissed Pahlad’s claim saying, “But that’s simply impossible.” Van Rooyen is an emergency physician at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an associate professor at Harvard’s medical school, and the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative that focuses on providing aid to people lacking food and water.
Depending on the climate, a human could survive about 5 or 6 days without water. Humans can forgo food a much longer time, Van Rooyen explains. People can survive up to three months without food if they drink water supplemented with the proper balance of vitamins and electrolytes.
Prahlad was allowed to bathe and gargle with water, although the doctors took pains to measure what the holy man spit out.
“You can hold a lot of water in those yogi beards,” Van Rooyen asserts. “He must take in water. The human body cannot survive without it.”
The debilitating effects of starvation and lack of water are well known. As Van Rooyen explains, “Without food, your body chemistry changes. Profoundly malnourished people auto-digest, they consume their own body’s resources. You get liver failure, tachycardia, heart strain. You fall apart.”
Especially if the individual is in his 80s.
“You go from being a grape to a raisin,” Van Rooyen says, “and if you didn’t have a heart attack first, you’d die of kidney failure.
Yet some Indian scholars are not as eager to dismiss the yogi as is Dr. Van Rooyen. They explain that breatharians exist and it can be a real, acquired ability. A person can learn to gather energy from sources other than the traditional ones. The term ‘breathers’ is accepted as the ability to obtain energy from the ‘prana’ (universal energy source) in the environment.
Upon the completion of the tests, Prahlad thanked the mystified doctors and then left for his village in northern Gujarat where he continues his daily meditation and yoga routine.