"I feel no need for food and water," states Prahladbhai Jani, a seventy-six year old Indian ascetic who lives in a cave near the Ambaji temple in the state of Gujarat. Mr. Jani claims that he has not had food or fluids to drink for the last sixty-five years. At the age of seven years he left home in search of spiritual unfoldment. Jani states that at the age of eleven years he was blessed by a goddess. He claims that since that blessing he has gained his sustenance from nectar that filters down through a hole in his palate, and has not passed urine or stools since then. Mr. Jani explained, "I get the elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water." Almost daily Mr. Jani enters a state of Samadhi characterized by extreme bliss and enormous light and strength. He says that he has never experienced medical problems. He says that he did not speak for a period of forty-five years.
In November 2003, after over a year of coaxing, Prahlad Jani was finally persuaded to participate in a scientific research study. A medical research team of twenty-one specialists, headed by Dr. Sudhir V. Shah, had Mr. Jani under twenty-four hours of observation for ten days at the Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad. The team's research expertise included cardiology, neurology, urology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, renal function, pulmonary function, ENT analysis, psychiatry, general medicine, and other specialities. A series of investigations were done on Mr. Jani in each of these areas according to a pre-determined protocol, and additional tests were carried out as per suggestions of the team. At the conclusion of their intensive investigations the team's doctors were left with an unexplained mystery, unable to disprove Mr. Jani's claims.
Mr. Jani was initially kept in ICU for the first twenty-four hours. For the next nine days he was kept in a specially prepared room with a sealed-off toilet and a glass door. The room was also equipped with video surveillance to continuously monitor Mr. Jani. Additionally, staff persons were assigned to stay in the same room with Jani round-the-clock to make sure that he did not eat, drink, or pass urine or stool.
To assure researchers of no possible intake of water, Mr. Jani agreed he would not bathe during the medical investigation. Mr. Jani was permitted a small measured quantity of water to use as a mouthwash. He then spat the water into a beaker to verify that none had been drunk. An ultrasound, which was made of Mr. Jani's bladder twice daily, indicated that there was urine accumulation, which subsequently decreased on its own without passing.
At the end of the ten days of observation, the team of doctors verified that Prahladbhai Jani had not taken food or drank fluids. (The average person cannot survive without water for more than four days.) The team concluded that Mr. Jani's health had not deteriorated during this study. Also, according to the hospital's deputy superintendent, Dr. Dinesh Desai, "A series of tests conducted on him show his body mechanism is that of a normal person." Mr. Jani's survival without food or fluids remains one of those unexplained mysteries.
The following are excerpts from the research team's concluding report:
1. The protocol was strictly adhered to.
2. Mr. Jani had not passed or dribbled urine during these 10 days.
3. He has not taken anything by mouth or by any other routes not even water for 10 days.
4. All his parameters remained within the range determined by the committee.
5. He has shown evidence of formation of urine, which seems to be reabsorbed from his bladder wall. However, at present the committee does not have any scientific explanation for the same but the help of senior scientists and medical personnel of the country is being taken for the same.
We are surprised as to how he has survived despite above particularly without passing urine for 10 days and remaining generally physically fit. However, it should be made very clear that we have confirmed the claim over 10 days only and we as scientists and responsible doctors cannot say anything regarding validity of the claim of his sustaining without food, drinks, urination and excretion of stools over several years.
Dr. Sudhir V. Shah (Consultant Neurophysician, Sterling Hospital/Associate professor of neurology at K. M. School of PGMR, Ahmedabad) headed the research panel of doctors who performed this study. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Sudhir V. Shah for providing the Case Summary of this study along with the photos of Mr. Jani. To view the Case Summary of Mr. Jani in its entirety please go to: P. Jani Medical Report.
Another similar research study, also headed by Dr. Sudhir V. Shah at Sterling Hospital, was conducted on Hira Ratan Manek. Mr. Manek claimed not to have eaten since 1995. Mr. Manek was kept under scientific observation round-the-clock for 411 continuous days. During this time Mr. Manek subsisted only on boiled water. This study also left researchers baffled. Dr. Sudhir V. Shah kindly provided a copy of his article about this study which was published in Gujarat Medical Journal – March 2001. To view this report online please see: Mr. Manek Medical Report.