An old man claims he has not eaten or drank anything for decades. Medical experts explain his case.
Prahlad Jani, also known as “Mataji“, (born Chunriwala Mataji, 13 August 1929) is an Indian sadhu. He claims to have lived without food and water since 1940, and says that the goddess Amba sustains him.
Born Chunriwala Mataji, Jani grew up in Charada village in Mehsana district. According to Jani, he left his home in Rajasthan at the age of seven, and went to live in the jungle.
At the age of 11, Jani underwent a religious experience and became a follower of the Hindu goddess Amba. From that time, he chose to dress as a female devotee of Amba, wearing a red sari-like garment, jewellery and crimson flowers in his shoulder-length hair. Jani is commonly known as Mataji (“[a manifestation of] The Great Mother“). Jani believes that the goddess provides him a liquid sustenance or “nectar,” which drops down through a hole in his palate, allowing him to live without food or water.
Since the 1970s, Jani has lived as a hermit in a cave in the rainforest near the Gujarati temple of Ambaji, awakening at 4am each day and spending most of his time meditating.
Despite having doctors study Jani, there are skeptics.
“The bottom line is that even fasting for more than a day can be dangerous,” said Keri Gans, a registered dietician practicing in New York City and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “You need food to function.”
Assuming Jani was consuming some sort of water, Gans thought he might be able to survive, but not healthily.
“He might psychologically be able to handle this, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve done it once or done it 20 times. Every time he’s doing it he’s setting himself up for nutritional deficiencies,” said Gans. “How can anyone expect to ingest their vitamin and mineral needs if they’re not ingesting food?”
That is a question Indian scientists hope to find out.
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