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Holy man who 'never eats' baffles scientists in India

An 83-year-old Indian holy man who says he has spent seven decades without food or water has astounded a team of military doctors.

Prahlad Jani claims he was blessed by a goddess at a young age, which gave him special powers.
Prahlad Jani claims he was blessed by a goddess at a young age, which gave him special powers.

AHMEDABAD, INDIA // An 83-year-old Indian holy man who says he has spent seven decades without food or water has astounded a team of military doctors who studied him during a two-week observation period. Prahlad Jani spent a fortnight in a hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat under constant surveillance from a team of 30 medics equipped with cameras and closed circuit television. During the period, he neither ate nor drank and did not go to the toilet. "We still do not know how he survives," Sudhir Shah, a neurologist, told reporters. "It is still a mystery what kind of phenomenon this is."

The yogi was sealed in a hospital in the city of Ahmedabad in a study initiated by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the state defence and military research institute. The DRDO hopes that the findings, set to be released in greater detail in several months, could help soldiers survive without food and drink, assist astronauts or even save the lives of people trapped in natural disasters.

Mr Jani has since returned to his village near Ambaji in northern Gujarat, where he will resume his routine of yoga and meditation. He says he was blessed by a goddess at a young age, which gave him special powers. During the 15-day observation, the doctors took scans of Mr Jani's organs, brain and blood vessels, as well as doing tests on his heart, lungs and memory capacity. "The reports were all in the predetermined safety range through the observation period," Dr Shahsaid.

Other results from DNA analysis, molecular biological studies and tests on his hormones, enzymes, energy metabolism and genes will take months to come through. "If Jani does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one," he said. "As medical practitioners we cannot shut our eyes to possibilities, to a source of energy other than calories."

* Agence France-Presse