Prahlad Jani is an 82-year-old Indian yogi who lives in a cave near the Ambaji temple in the state of Gujarat. He claims that he has not had food or water for 70 years. He says, “I feel no need for water and food”. To test his claims, military doctors had put him in 24-hours observation for two weeks in a hospital in Ahmedabad.
In the test, it was declared by the researchers that he did not ingest any food or water. Even though he was found absolutely healthy.
Medical sciences say that human beings can rarely survive more than a week without water and nearly a month without food. And more than this period seems strange and impossible to be alive and potentially, it is dangerous.
Practitioners of extreme starvation diets can cause serious damage to their bodies. This will lead to death. Despite all this, the fashion of Mr.Jani increases and his claims shouldn’t be dismissed.
Again he was taken into 24-hours observation, but this time it was for 15 days. Doctors have prepared a special glass-walled room with CCTV cameras to monitor him all the time. The toilets in the room were sealed to test his claim that there is no need to urinate or defecate. The only fluid allowed for him to use was a small amount of water for the mouthwash. However, this was collected in a beaker and measured how much he spat it out. And this was was to prove that he hadn’t drunk.
Some of the scans reveal that some urine was accumulated in his bladder. And this seemed to be reabsorbed by the body because it was never passed out.
According to the medics who oversaw him, he consumed no food and no water. They also said no one would be able to survive in such conditions. Lack of water alone should have killed. But in the case of Mr.Jani, he suffered absolutely no ill-effects at all.
In a press conference at the hospital, he said, “I am fit and strong today and even doctors agree with this. They have conducted all the tests possible for the 15 days. They proved that I don’t need food and water to keep myself strong. And this is way god wants me to be“.
But even doctors couldn’t examine the secret behind his ability to endure such privation.
Military scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation of India believe that Mr.Jani knows how humans can survive without food and water for long. So that this secret can hold on to save human lives during natural disasters, long journeys into forests and seas. One of the military scientists says, “We can educate people about the techniques to survive with a little or without water and food in adverse conditions. And if Mr.Jani’s claims turn to be correct, then this will be a breakthrough in medical sciences”.
Some think that the doctors are considering only two weeks during which he was under their supervision. But Mr.Jani claims that he had not eaten for the past 7 decades. This can and will never be verified.
There are many sadhus like Prahlad Jani who regularly undergo long periods of fasting. But his fast had endured for decades which caught the public imagination. When he was examined for the second time, it was undertaken by Dr.Sudhir.V.Shah who investigated his claims in the hospital. He was a consultant neurologist from Ahmedabad and specializes in studying people with supernatural powers.
Finally, Dr.Shah and the military team decided to repeat the experiment this year. So, on April 22, Mr.Jani again was examined to test his claims. So he re-entered the hospital for 15 days of tests. They ended the test with doctors admitting that they were baffled by what they had seen.
Presenting their preliminary findings, Dr.Shah was joined by biologist Dr.Ilavazhagn, director of the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS). This was a heavily-funded department of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The doctors said that despite apparently living on only air for two weeks, the holy man was more healthy than someone else who is half his age. Blood tests, hormone profiles, MRIs and angiography (imaging tests of the blood vessels) all pointed to the conclusion that Mr.Jani had no need to eat, drink or use the toilets even once.
Dr.Ilavazhagn said, “Clinical, biochemical, radiological and other relevant tests were done on Prahlad Jani. All the reports found to be within the safe range throughout the study. He is healthy and his mind is sharp. What is truly astonishing is that he has not passed urine. And we have no explanation for that. To my knowledge, that is medically unprecedented.”
Prahlad Jani’s survival is more mysterious and no tests proved anything to speak about his maintenance. This’s what was held by the Indian Rationalist Association. This is an organization which publicly campaigns against superstition and spiritual fraudsters.
Sanal Edamaruku, secretary-general of the association, told, “I was asked to be allowed to send an independent team to survey the room where this test is taking place. But I was repeatedly turned down”.
Dr.Shah has been in charge of three similar investigations over the past ten years, and he has never allowed independent verification. First one was in 1999, they investigated a woman who claimed that she was the reincarnation of another Hindu goddess. For five years, she had remained alone in a small closet where it was claimed she had neither eaten nor drunk water. And hence not passed urine. With the co-operation of the police, investigators from the association searched the room. They found a toilet hidden behind a shelf and a disguised hole through which she received food. Blood tests revealed the presence of glucose, indicating the intake of food. To prove the case further, a gas was released into the room that made the woman vomit. The contents of her stomach were found to include pieces of recently-eaten chapatti and potatoes.
Second, in 2000, he was asking for funds to investigate a man who claimed that he got his energy from the sun, just like plants do. Then again, in 2003, he even approached NASA for funds to investigate Mr.Jani, claiming astronauts might benefit from the research. This particular hospital, led by this particular doctor, keeps on making these claims without ever producing evidence or publishing research.
Mr.Edamaruku was convinced that Prahlad Jani must have had access to food and water at the hospital. He doesn’t believe that he was kept under strict supervision around the clock. He says that whenever the Rationalist Association has investigated individuals making similar claims, all have been resulted being frauds.
Mr.Edamaruku is concerned that by publicizing the activities of individuals like Mr.Jani, others will be encouraged to do the same. Dr.Edamaruku said, “The Hindu religion is a belief system that’s all about magical thinking. It’s about great things happening that are not understandable to the ordinary person.”
He also says that these activities are dangerous because people may inspire from these and try to follow these holy people. This will end up them to fall sick. He explains,”In any religion, there will be a priest who is trained a lot. Their structures just can’t make up their qualifications. But in Hinduism, it has become like anyone can become a guru overnight.”
Of course, the logic and common sense dictate that Prahlad Jani must be tricking the world somehow. Yet, there’s a part of all of us that would make us believe such a human miracle that could be true. We may never know the truth if he is a fraud until he is exposed to be so. Perhaps sometimes it happens that we should enjoy despite our disbelief.
Prahlad Jani left his home in Rajasthan at the age of seven and went to live in a jungle. When he reached to his 11th year after his birth, he underwent a religious experience. Then he became a follower of the Hindu goddess Amba. In her honor, he chose to dress as a female devotee, wearing a red sari, garments like a nose ring, bangles and crimson flowers in his hair. He grew his hair up to his shoulder-length like a woman.
Mr.Jani believes that the goddess has sustained him ever since by feeding him with a life-giving and invisible energy. This has given him the strength to continue without food or water.
For at least the past 40 years, Mr.Jani has been living like a hermit in a cave in the jungles close to the Gujarati temple of Ambaji. He wakes up early in the morning at 4. He spent most of the day meditating.
While well-known locally, for many years Mr.Jani was no more famous than the millions of other Hindu holy men like the sadhus or yogi as they are known in India. Mystical figures, these individuals renounce normal life for one on the margins of society. They focus every waking minute on the spiritual. They often assume extreme practices standing on one leg or refusing to talk for years.
However, in the case of Prahlad Jani, there isn’t any fraud found until now with all the examinations done. Only doubts in all our mind about Prahlad Jani have remained answerless.
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