Prahlad Jani is an Indian man who has made extraordinary claims that he has not eaten since World War II. While these claims may appear to be fantastical, leading doctors and the Indian military appear to be taking him very seriously.
According to conventional medical thought, human beings are not able to survive for more than a week without water and no more than a couple of months without food. Cases in the past have shown that the practitioners of extreme deprivation diets can cause irrevocable damage to their bodies even if they only deprive themselves for relatively short periods of time. If the routine is kept up for a more prolonged period of time then the inevitable consequence is death.
But Prahlad Jani claims to be the exception. Not only does he claim that he has not eaten or drank for seventy years but he also claims that he is healthier than ever.
‘Although I walk 100 or 200 kilometers in the jungle, I never sweat and don’t feel tired or sleepy, ’ he claimed. ‘I can meditate for three, eight or 12 hours — or even months.’
In order to test his claims, Jani was admitted to Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad where he was monitored by a team of doctors for fifteen days. The medical team was amazed to conclude that Jani did not consume any food or drink any water and that all of his medical tests demonstrated that he was healthier than a man of half his age would be expected to be. At a press conference, Jani proudly told reporters about the doctors’ findings saying, ‘I am fit and strong today and even the doctors agree. They ran every test possible for 15 days and proved that I do not need food to keep me strong.”
The extraordinary findings concerning Jani have piqued the interest of military scientists working for India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation. Scientists from the organization have said that they think that Jani’s ability to survive for prolonged periods without food and water could be key to understanding how to prime the human body to endure extreme situations such as natural disasters. ‘We can educate people about the survival techniques in adverse conditions with little food and water, or nothing at all, ’ a spokesperson said, ‘If his claims are verified, it will be a breakthrough in medical science.’
However, according to Jani the answer to his extraordinary circumstances lay beyond the realms of science. He claims that when he was eleven years old he underwent a phenomenal religious experience inspired by the goddess Amba. Following the experience, he became a devotee of the Hindi deity and dressed in a red sari, nose ring, bangles and crimson flowers. As a reward for his worship of Amba, he claims that he was sustained with a life-giving elixir which has replaced the need for him to drink and eat and gives him above normal human abilities.
‘I am strong and healthy, because it is the way God wants me to be,’ says Prahlad Jani
But while doctors and religious Hindus might be taken in by the claims, others are more skeptical. The Indian Rational Association has been particularly vocal in its belief that Jani’s abilities are nothing more than a fraud. The organization has poured scorn on the Indian Ministry of Defence for paying attention to Jani saying that they had been ‘taken in by the absurd claims of a village fraud’. They claim that in India, where there is a very long tradition of gurus who claim that they have surpassed the need for food and drink, these cases tend to crop up from time to time but whenever they have exposed the claims to strong scientific scrutiny they have, without exception, been proven to be frauds.
Now that the Indian military has become involved in assessing Jani’s claims it seems very likely that he will be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny and so the truth will come out in the near future.