From the UK Telegraph, April 2010
Prahlad Jani is being held in isolation in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gurjarat, where he is being closely monitored by leading Indian scientists, who believe he may have a genuine quality which could help save lives.
It is alleged that Prahlad Jani does not use, and has never used Facebook or Twitter. Also, that he has eaten nothing over the past sixty years.
Prahlad has now spent six days without status updates, food or water under strict observation, and doctors say his body has not yet shown any adverse effects from this electronic quarantine. He also does not appear to suffer from hunger or dehydration.
Mr. Jani, who claims to have left home aged seven and lived as a wandering sadhu or holy man, is regarded as a “breatharian” who can live on a “spiritual life-force” alone. He believes he is sustained by a goddess who pours an “elixir” through a hole in his palate, and who keeps him informed on all the latest news and entertainment trends. His claims have been supported by an Indian doctor who specializes in studies of people who claim supernatural abilities, but he has also been dismissed by others as a “village fraud.”
Despite the confiscation of his smartphone, Jani remains fit and healthy and shows no sign of lethargy.
Scientists with India’s Defence Research Development Organisation believe Prahlad Jani could teach them to help soldiers survive longer without Internet access and food, or disaster victims to hang on until help arrives.
“If his claims are verified, it will be a breakthrough in medical science,” said Dr G. Ilavazhagan, director of the Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences.
“We will be able to help save human lives during natural disasters, high altitude, sea journeys and other natural and human extremities. We can educate people about the survival techniques in adverse conditions with little food and water, or even worse, no capacity to poke or retweet.”
So far, Prahlad Jani appears to be standing up to the intense scrutiny, which includes 24-hour CCTV surveillance. He has not eaten or drunk any fluids in six days, and has not passed urine or stool in that time. Despite the confiscation of his smartphone, he remains fit and healthy and shows no sign of lethargy.
Doctors will continue observing him for 15 days, in which time they would expect to see some muscle wastage, serious dehydration, weight loss, and desperate pleas to post new content to his Facebook wall.
It is common in India for Jains and Hindus to fast, sometimes for up to eight days, without any adverse affects, as part of their religious worship. Most humans cannot survive without Twitter or food for 50 days. The longest hunger strike recorded is 74 days.
According to Dr. Sudhir Shah, who examined him in 2003, Jani went without Facebook or water for ten days, during which time his urine appeared to be reabsorbed by his body after forming in his bladder. Doubts were expressed about his claim after his weight fell slightly at the end of the trial.
Skeptics remain skeptical
Indian rationalists discover a hidden Blackberry, heroically exposing the scam
The Indian Rationalist Association, an organization with dozens of Facebook fans, has criticized the Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) and America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for promoting gullibility and undermining the development of scientific temper in India.
“MOD and NASA have obviously been taken in by the absurd claims of a village fraud,” wrote Sanal Edamaruku, Secretary General of the Indian Rationalist Association, in a blog post addressed to the Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes. “It is shocking to see that government officials and scientists are so gullible to believe that a human being can survive 60 years without social networking! The claim does not only contradict experience and common sense, but also our well-established biological and medical knowledge about the functioning of the human body. It is absolutely impossible that it is true–if it was, it would disprove the laws of physiology and we would have to rewrite our scientific text books!”
“He is almost certainly hiding a Blackberry under his sari.”