On Wednesday, 13
October 2010 at 9.00 pm the program Voyager on Italian
national TV channel Rai 2 presented the case of an
Indian ascetic who claims to have spent many years
without eating and drinking (according to several
journalistic scoops, also more than 70 years). This
report, more than exhaustive, aimed at impressing the
think...on the basis of different studies
A poor village
name of this man is Prahlad Jani. He is 83 years old. He
lives in a cave near a temple devoted to goddess Ambaji,
in the north of Gujarat (India).
looks like a common, healthy, elderly person. He can not
hear very well and has difficulty in speaking, probably
because of his loneliness and because he had only
limited access to culture, being barely able to read and
wears the typical red garment of Ambaji's devotees. He
has a nose ring, a necklace and bracelets. On his
forehead there is a vermilion tika.
Prahlad Jani is an adherent of Jainism, an ancient
Indian religion sometimes considered an offshoot of
Hinduism and practiced by many people in the north of
goddess Ambaji is one of the 140 local goddesses in
Gujarat region. They are ancient goddesses which can be
identified in the same entity and in Shiva's paredra.
Shiva's paredra (in partnership goddess; paredra in
Greek ancient it means: "That sits nearby") is often called Uma, Parvati, Durga, Kalì,
Shiva is both destructive and constructive, exactly like
his wife; their fusion generates a strong vital energy.
Ambaji's behavior is very evil towards human beings: she
causes diseases, cholera, smallpox, fever, etc.
order to honor this goddess, animals are horribly
sacrificed and killed in an orgiastic way.
person charged of the sacrifice kills, for example, a
ram, using the teeth. The aim of these rituals is to
obtain the benevolence of the goddess, the vital energy,
the plants, the life. Ambaji represents both fear and
benevolence, that's why human beings have to be
conscious of her power if they want to receive her
ascetic, or fakir, Prahlad Jani left his village in
region when he was 7 years old in order to live in
forests, probably following the ideas of some ascetics
belonging to Jainism. According to his words, when he
was 11 years old (some journalists say at the age of 8)
he met goddess Ambaji who gave him the power to survive
without eating and drinking.
According to Prahlad Jani,
Ambaji created a sort of hole in his mouth and thanks to
it, he can survive taking the necessary energy from a
particular substance passing through that hole.
Anyone, however, has never
proved this hole really exists.
The religious meaning is
clear: meditation and ascetic fasting in return for life
and freedom from karma (karma means action, and it is
the sum of a person's actions in this and previous
states of existence, viewed as affecting their future
fate. Once a person is liberated from karma, the reincarnation cycle is completed).
Difference from Breatharianism
It is clear that we are not
talking about a case of breatharianism, according to
which it is possible to survive though meditation and
prana breathing (the universal life force) in the air,
without any food or water.
A prominent advocate of this
theory, not scientifically proved, is Jasmuheen (
Ellen Greve), born in Australia in 1957.
She was submitted twice to medical
testing in order to see if she really did not drink and
eat (she states she can live on approximately 300
calories per day), but twice she had to stop the test
after a few days for serious problems: dehydration,
strong weight loss, stress, high blood pressure, pupil
dilation, difficulties in speaking. Moreover
interviewers found her house stocked with food.
The difference between Prahlad
Jani and the Breatharianism consists in the intervention
of a goddess that touched the mouth of the ascetic man
with her finger, during a samadhi (beatitude).
Prahlad Jani presented himself not
as a man able to live on prana through meditation, but
as someone who has received a gift from Ambaji. Despite
this, he was considered by the media as a Breatharianist.
At the age of 15, he was submitted to medical assistance
and monitoring at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai (people
say police officers took him to hospital).
The results of this testing period,
lasted 45 days, were not published but this long period
of hospitalization was due to serious diseases caused by
a destructive ascetic diet.
The interest of the science
Surely, Jasmuheen, a big
proponent of “pranic nourishment” (the ability to live
on sunlight) aroused in 2003 the (officially) lay
interest of DIPAS (Defense Institute of Physiologist and
Allied Science, New Delhi), department of DRDO (The
Defense Research ad Development Organization) for
goddess Ambaji. This organization hoped to find survival
methods in case of war and also for spacemen.
The DIPAS, or better the
neurologist Shah Sudhir, believed it is possible to live
many years without eating and drinking; the situation of
Prahlad Jany was right there to be analyzed.
Shah Sudhir, a proponent of
Breatharianism theory who had had the possibility to
know Jasmuheen, was the staff manager responsible for
the medical testing.
The observation was carried
out by Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad, the capital of
Gujarat and lasted from the 13th to the 22nd
November. During this study, he lost weight, hearing and
had kidney troubles.
In particular it was
observed that his urine was absorbed in the bladder and
he never went to the toilet. It must be pointed out that
no independent observer could take part to the study.
As it can be seen in a
video related to the test Prahlad Jani was allowed to
spill water on his head more than once a day, it is
possible that he could get a little water using his
tongue. He could gargle and protect mouth and throat
We do not know how long he
really fasted from 13th to 22nd
Even if they were 8 or 9
days, he had access to water, in this way he could
complete the test in good health conditions.
It is possible that he
drunk his urine (it was not absorbed by his bladder),
that is why there were all conditions to allow him to
It is well-known that after
few days (three or four) a man who does not drink shows
strong dehydration and that after seven days his
situation is unrecoverable. A human being can live 10/12 days without eating but not without drinking.
There are many cases of
people saved from rubble thanks to their urine after
The test showed a
physiological activity, even if minimal: Shah Sudhir's
expectations had no success.
The “pranic nourishment”
is pure science fiction: “pranic energy has never been
scientifically proved, and without any doubts, even if
it would exist, it would never need to be breathed.
Every kind of yoga meditation can not affect common life
parameters (this should be the effect of pranic energy).
Prahlad Jani's blood test
results were within normal limits. His meditation should
have provided him with extraordinary, not only with
normal, health conditions. So, something is missing. It
was all normal and yet, his meditation had to transform
his nature and allow him to survive taking the energy
from pranic nourishment. After some time Mr. Sudhir
published the medical analysis results.
Anyway Shah Sudhir was not
convinced at all, so DIPAS and a team of 35 specialist
doctors decided to investigate this case more profoundly.
From 22 until May, 6, 2010,
Prahlad Jani was observed and tested again at the
Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad.
Edamaruk, president of the Indian Rationalist
Association, required the presence of indipendent
observers but his request was denied.
comunications were given forth during the observation of
the Godness Ambaija's ascetic, but from the 6th day (during
this period of time the physical conditions are still
good, but only in presence of water) onwards no other
comunication was given. It's known that on the fifth day
the ascetic has had the opportunity to do several
ablutions on his head and gargles.
Six days after the end of
the test, the Deshgujarat Blog, with a worldwide
exclusive report, published general information praising
all the doctors involved in this research.
However anything about this
case appeared on the most important newspapers in those
days, no news on “The Times of India”, on “The Hindu”,
on DIPAS website.
Even today (27th
October 2010) we can not read any specific information
concerning the test. Moreover, it must be said that Shah
Sudhir is responsible for the publishing process.
The upshot was worse than in
2003: actually, for an elderly person, 7 years are many.
According to the press,
Prahlad Jani returned to his cave near Ambaji Temple.
This is a journalistic invention: he lives in a one-room
flat, in which there is a big fridge probably full of
food, as ABC News correspondent Clarissa Ward reported.
The correspondent was not
allowed to see what was in the fridge because her
request was judged unnecessary by some devotees, as the
fridge contained only water to wash the ascetic's mouth.
If that had been true, there
had been no reason to keep the fridge closed! But it was
The scientific community is
skeptical about Prahlad Jani and does not recognize
The atheist Sanal Edamaruku,
engaged in discovering the guru's tricks because of the
prevailing Breatharianism and the religious appearance
of this man to which the military power had provided
with a big public visibility, in a letter addressed to
the Ministry of Defense expressed his own opinion: “It
is a shame, how can the government and doctors be so
naive to believe that is possible to live without food
and water for decades?”.
Thanks also to the media
interest, Hindu and New Age had a great success.
Therefore, it makes sense to
analyze this context from the religious point of view
based on philosophy and theology.
The contribution of philosophy and theology
The philosophy is focused on
a transcendent creator which is completely different
from his creations.
The theology is based on the
action of God but also on the action of his enemy.
The Catholic theology, in
the Mystique, is studying many cases related to
pseudomysticism and is sure that the devil, a fallen
angel, can operates in many different ways.
This angel banished from
Heaven can raise the body temperature, condense the
atmospheric humidity to quench the thirst drop after
drop, slow the metabolism for a certain period of time
to slightly let a person lose weight even with few food
or no food at all.
Only God can allow a person
to live without food or water because all necessary
elements for the life, water, vitamins, amino acids,
fluids, minerals, should come from the Nothing.
In the History of the
Christian Mystique there are several cases of people
able to live without drinking and eating, apart from
taking the Holy Communion, for example: the Blessed
Angela of Foligno (+ 1309), 10 years without any
nourishment, Holy Catherine of Siena (1348-1380),
fasting for 8 years, the Blessed Elisabeth of Reute
(+1421), fasting for 15 years, Saint Lidwina of Schiedam
(1380-1433), fasting for 28 years, etc. until Saint
Therese Neumann (1898-1962), fasting for 36 years who
was submitted to an unobjectionable observation test.
The Church parameters to
judge someone's holiness are the heroism of his/her
virtues and the miracles after his/her death.
The fact of fastening is not
considered a proof of holiness.
This phenomenon is to be
read as a sort of anticipation of the ability of the
resurrected bodies to survive without any necessary
external condition. If it is true that the “pranic
nourishment” is based on sunlight, it makes no sense for
this way of life to consider people like Therese Neumann,
whose blood poured every day from her wounds in her bed
and who was not exposed to sunlight as Saint Catherine
The “pranic nourishment” is based on
cosmic energy and New Age, misunderstanding Einstein's
equation E=mc2 , believes that
matter does not exists, only energy lives.
As far as we know, the mass
is a body property so it is not matter: the matter,
according to Einstein's equation is energy.
The misunderstanding is
clear: the abstract concept of energy is not the real
concept of energy.
In the New Age, light is
only energy but it is not so because it is also matter,
and this matter has got a certain energy. Photons (basic
units of light) are not only energy but also matter.
What is the aim of reducing all to energy? The
appearance. In this way, we have only colors, volumes
and the real essence of things is replaced by an
impersonal, divine entity. Anyway, things exist, objects
have different colors and forms.
Under the effect of drugs,
the reality seems to disappear, it is transformed in
color and volume without substance. New Age wants to
read the reality according to the ecstatic states to
reach and to consider as the access to reality. These
ecstatic states show a deep fragmentation of the human
being who is not able to have control on things, on
their use and who has not the power to manage them
through the work; moreover the human can not understand
their properties using scientific knowledge and reason
in order to explain their origin, the transcendent and
How can a New Age advocate
think about all these issues, a fragmented person who
wants to understand something beyond the common reality?
Probably you will smile but
let's think: if I give a kick to someone, this kick is a
sign that gives the sense of reality, an immediate
information which does not need to be proved.
Yahoo New- Fresh-air dieticiam fails TV
show's challeghe - 25 ottobre 1999 (Jasmuheen)
BBC NEW- by Rajeev Kahanna corrispondend
in Ahmedadab - 25 november 2003
(dati clinici esami Prahlad Jani, 2003)
Quotidiano.net 29 aprile 2010
Comunicato SchwartzetReport 30 aprile
Comunicato SchwartzetReport 11 maggio
Agenzia France-Presse 21 maggio 2010