Indian man survives without food and water, baffles doctors

By | May 11, 2010

Indian man survives without food and water baffles doctors

An Indian man has mystified a team of military doctors after he abstained from food and water for two weeks.

Prahlad Jani, an 82-year-old yogi who claimed he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for 70 years , was observed by 30 medics in a hospital in the Indian state of Gujarat. He spent two weeks under constant surveillance in an area equipped with cameras and closed circuit television. During the 15-day period, which ended Thursday, Jani didn’t eat, drink or go to the toilet.

From AFP:

“We still do not know how he survives,†neurologist Sudhir Shah told reporters after the end of the experiment. “It is still a mystery what kind of phenomenon this is.â€

“If Jani does not derive energy from food and water, he must be doing that from energy sources around him, sunlight being one,†said Shah. “As medical practitioners we cannot shut our eyes to possibilities, to a source of energy other than calories.â€

The study was done by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the state defense and military research institute. They hope to unlock the key to Jani’s mysterious ability so that others can benefit, such as soldiers in the field, astronauts in space, and victims trapped in natural disasters.

Doctors performed several tests on Jani’s heart, lungs and memory capacity and took scans of his organs, brain and blood vessels. Lab work will also be completed on his hormones, enzymes, energy metabolism and genes. The findings will be revealed in greater detail over the next several months.

Jani claimed that he has not had anything to eat or drink since 1940, and called himself a breatharian, sustaining himself on air and meditation. According to AFP, Jani said he was given his special powers after being blessed by a goddess when he was young. After the observation and tests were completed, he returned to his village in northern Gujarat where he will continue his routine of yoga and meditation.

According to, Jani was placed under observation once before in 2003, but lost weight over the week he was held.

via Indian man survives without food and water, baffles doctors | National Post.

Glucose and oxygen are both needed for metabolism which is a chemical process that in part defines living cells. The brain which is only 2% of our body mass, uses 25% of total body oxygen and 25% of total body glucose. When starved, however, an ancient survival mechanism kicks in: the brain can somewhat use acetoacetate and D-3-hydroxybutyrate. Keytones are the secret to surviving starvation. In fact, the brain is more efficient when running on keytones. “Ketones are a more efficent fuel source than glucose. New research is even showing the brain works optimally on a 70/30 mix (keytone/glucose). ” – diabetesforums

How long can a person last without food?

Perhaps a person starting out in good shape and bulking up could last 44 days.

(see David Blaine: “Before he entered the box, Blaine said he had bulked up to more than 205 pounds so he could survive on his own body fat. He said he expected to lose at least 45 pounds during the stunt. Dehydration also was a threat, but Elia said the magician had been drinking enough water to prevent that. Skeptics have suggested Blaine could easily add some nutrients to his water, but the medical briefing said tests for alcohol, glucose and sodium had found nothing. “)

Also see this:

I did some research on people who have gone without food for extended periods of time:
– Medical Doctors commonly cite 4 to 6 weeks without food
– 10 Political Prisoners in Ireland Lived 46 to 73 days before succumbing to lack of food
– 12 individual starvation protestors Two lost tongues, 1 lost feet, 7 on kidney dialysis
– Many war prisoners Lived 28 to 40 days with no food
– World War II concentration camps With only 300 to 600 calories per day, many thousands did not have enough food to survive more than a few months at best.
– Terminally Ill patients Live 10-days to 3-weeks without food depending upon initial heath
– Obese Can live from 3-weeks up to 25-weeks and more without food depending upon initial health and amount of fat
– Mahatma Gandhi Survived a 3-week fast while in his 70’s
via survival topics

… but not for years. Keytones come from the liver which makes them from the body’s fat stores. So, you have to have fat or be eating protein. If you eat protein and low or no carbs, the liver will make keytones to feed the brain and keep you alive longer. The trade off is that this makes you acidic and depletes your body’s minerals.

How long can you survive without water?
Now this is the real trick. Depending on the temperature a person with no water can be expected to survive from 2 to 10 days max. This from

The survivor who is in good health, who uses his head, and rations whatever water is at hand may expect to be able to survive according to the following chart. Of course, there are many factors to be considered so your mileage may vary:

How Long Can You Live Without Water?
Max Daily Temperature Number of Days in the Shade
No Water 1 Quart
.95 Liter
2 Quarts
1.90 Liters
4 Quarts
3.79 Liters
10 Quarts
9.46 Liters
20 Quarts
18.93 Liters
120 F / 48.9 C 2 days 2 2 2.5 3 4.5
110 F / 43.3 C 3 3 3.5 4 5 7
100 F / 37.8 C 5 5.5 6 7 9.5 13.5
90 F / 32.2 C 7 8 9 10.5 15 23
80 F / 26.7 C 9 10 11 13 19 29
70 F / 21.1 C 10 11 12 14 20.5 32
60 F / 15.6 C 10 11 12 14 21 32
50 F / 10.0 C 10 11 12 14.5 21 32

Recovering From Dehydration

The good news is you can lose as much as 10% of your body weight through dehydration and suffer no long term ill effects. Simply by drinking several quarts of water you will be restored in a very short time. However, a survivor who has lost this much water from his body will probably not be in a position to find water.

In cool temperatures, a loss of 25% of your body weight in water will probably be … the end. If the temperature is over 90 degrees [Fahrenheit] then you may not make it even at the 15% dehydration level.

Wikipedia says 3 to 5 days… 12 if you are an Alaskan fireman who has a little to eat but no water. (Correction, the BBC said he sipped muddy water, so those 12 days don’t really count as surviving without water.

Should you drink your urine to survive?

Sorry, I know many people find this disgusting, and a few people find it delightful, which the first group finds even more disgusting… but I think you should know the answer about urophagia:

Urine should not be drunk when one is dehydrated. The kidneys, which filter the urine, concentrate salts into the urine. Drinking the urine will only make one reingest the salts that have already been excreted by the kidneys. For the first fifteen minutes after ingestion of any fluid, the thirst seems to be quenched, but in the case of urine and other salty liquid, after the body has absorbed the fluid, the thirst returns, stronger, due to the salt. …

Numerous survival instructors and guides,[2][3][4][5][6][7] including the US Army Field Manual,[8] advise against drinking urine for survival. These guides explain that drinking urine tends to worsen, rather than relieve dehydration due to the salts in it, and that urine should not be consumed in a survival situation, even when there is no other fluid available.

Aron Ralston used the technique when trapped for several days with his arm under a boulder,[9] and Bear Grylls of the Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild drank his own urine while he was in the Outback of Australia.[10]Les Stroud on Survivorman advised against drinking urine, instead producing fresh water from urine using a solar still.

So, save it, and distill it to get clean water and you might live a few extra days.

Within 2 hours, the air inside the still will become saturated with moisture and begin to condense onto the underside of the plastic sheeting. Because of the angle of the plastic, water will run down towards the center. Finally, drops will gather and fall from the apex down into the water container. As the container fills, simply sip fresh, sterile water from the plastic tubing. In especially dry conditions, water output can be increased by placing succulent plant material inside the still.

The Solar Still only takes about an hour to build. If constructed correctly, it can yield about a quart of water a day. And although the palm trees may be noticeably absent, you will have made your very own oasis in the desert, quicker than Hollywood could.

CAUTION: Solar stills are not a primary water source, nor a subsititue for carrying adequate amounts of water in the desert. Always carry a minimum of one gallon per day per person.

In the example above, you’d need a cup under the middle of the plastic. You’d remove cover the cup and urinate around it, then replace the open the cup and cover the hole with plastic so the cup would catch the condensed moisture. Since the minerals in urine are too heavy to evaporate, this would result in drinkable (but still probably pretty gross!) water.

27 thoughts on “Indian man survives without food and water, baffles doctors

  1. Intrachresodist

    Let’s see a 1-month test. Then we’ll know who’s a fakir and who’s a faker.

    His daily routine also included bathing and gargling (!) There’s plenty of water in his environment, and that’s what he needs to stay alive during a 2-week fast. I read elsewhere that the weight of his gargling water was measured before and after gargling, but that’s not to say that the weights were equal or that he couldn’t have altered the measurement in some way.

    This case proves mostly that Indian military doctors are easily fooled. James Randi or another experienced trickster would not be.

  2. Ann

    Read carefully skeptics.

    The article said he was “observed by 30 medics in a hospital in the Indian state of Gujarat.”

    The yogi was under “constant [not part time] surveillance in an area equipped with cameras and closed circuit television.”

    Sudhir Shah is a medical doctor whose specialty is neurology (no small task, because the training period or internship is about about 8 years above a medical degree, which is 4 years above a university degree – yes, even in India. This is especially true nowadays in a country where its elite [that includes doctors] that want so badly to be so “Western,” so it seems).

    It doesn’t take much of search to find that Sudhir Shah is head of a department of neurology at a leading hospital in India, which means he ain’t no ordinary neurologist, if there is such a thing. And, the doctor is currently working for “Indiaโ€™s Defence Research and Development Organisation,” which probably means he’s funded in part either directly or indirectly from Western sources. And, that means he certainly doesn’t want to spoil his reputation with some far-fetched, crank comments about some yogi who can do some rather incredible things.

    In other words, he’s trying to be objective as possible.

    But, like all skeptics people have to say something to make things only as they can understand them.

    Try some imagination and you might see the world as it really is .. or at least as others see it.

  3. Mirlen101

    That’s funny I’ve never been accused of having a lack of imagination . Obviously you have no idea who your talking to ๐Ÿ˜‰
    You have got to be kidding . Are you saying you believe that there is a man who has not had anything to eat or drink since 1940 ? I have a wild imagination but I’m not ignorant . One can not survive without food and water for more than a short time . Their body will consume itself ! It is physically impossible . As in physics > a no no ๐Ÿ˜
    World as it really is ? Maybe if you give me the location of the world you are on I could project myself there and form an alternative reality aligned with your own ๐Ÿ˜‰
    10 days why 10 days ? Does that time span prove he has gone beyond the limits of possible survival ? No .
    And we are supposed to believe that he can go without food or water but can’t go without mouthwash ? ;-/
    I have a very open mind . But if some guy told me he flew to the sun and back with wax wings I’d be more than skeptical ;-/

    1. Ann


      No, I’m not kidding.

      First, try to understand what imagination is. If you think imagination has something to do with being “ignorant” or “intelligent,” you’re in the wrong ball park.

      You’re listing facts that we all (including me) know, at least “know,” that is, in our normal, everyday world. We could also cite information about the necessity of water, calories, vitamins and minerals to survive, as “we know” reality to be …. supposedly.

      No, I’m not a “New Age”r, but consider this. In our Western, scientific medicine, within last ten years or so, imagery (or visualization) has come to be understood as an important method in the process of healing (as it may also take place in conjunction with regular, more mundane therapeutic process). For example, a patient with a tumor is taught, following this method, to visualize the cells of his/her immune system to “attack” tumor cells.

      Basically, the process of visualization is a process of using one’s imagination. It so happens that some people can do it better than others and just about any one can enhance his/her ability to imagine or visualize. It is not, however, a given ability, some people may, in fact, lose the ability especially as they get older.

      Now, what has this method taught us? It taught us that we have more control over our bodies than the straight materialist cause and effect reality would allow us to believe.

      Consider this. When you sense the world around you, you’re using your senses, but your senses are picking up instantaneously tons of sensory input; literally thousands of bits of information enter your head at once. Your sensory input is not your reality. What occurs is that higher cognitive functions inside your brain weed out, select and put things in order; this process is in part based on your memory, your past experiences, which includes what was previously learned as well as information that you picked tacitly etc. (In other words, your cultural perspective.)

      Part of that process includes is your imagination (your creativity, if you like) and the limits we impose on ourselves are also the limits of our imagination … which in fact has no limits.

      And, our imagination, of course, occurs in our “brain.” Although the brain is, indeed, anatomically a distinct structure within our cranium, it is not, by any stretch of the “imagination” an isolated organ. The brain (or better the “mind”) is very much part of our entire body. It is a controlling organ, master organ of the entire body. And it is through our nervous system that the brain manipulates the functions of almost every cell in our bodies, if not, it also works through our endocrine (glandular) system.

      So, if you were open to the idea of the brain’s ability to extend, through its imaginative process, beyond the mundane, everyday reality, what this yogi does wouldn’t be, in fact, be so far fetched.

      1. Xeno Post author

        My understanding of the imaginative process (regardless of the fun things it may generate) is that it requires living brain cells, which, like all cells, perform a set of chemical reactions known as metabolism… moved the rest of this comment into the article.

      2. mirlen101

        On one hand we have someone that believes a man needs no food or water to survive for many years . And believes this because this man says it is so . And because a bunch of people observed it to be true ( for a two week period )
        Then on the other side there I am . Who believes the scientific knowledge and experience of the history of this planet ( Earth ). That says ” nothing survives without fuel ! ”
        I wonder which is true ;-/
        BTW I’m a professional artist who lives by his imagination . I’m also an inventor . So I have material evidence of my imagination . Where’s yours ? Gullibility doesn’t count as imagination .
        And just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean it is true .
        Not gullible you say ;-/ Yes you are the essence of Gullibility . I can’t imagine anyone more gullible then a person who believes that one does not need food or water to survive ๐Ÿ˜ Oh wait there goes my lack of imagination again ;-|

      3. Ramon Arenivas

        I fully understand Ann and I agree with you, and so does Quantum Mechanics, some people are just stuck in the mundane.

  4. Intrachresodist

    At last the Sydney Morning Herald has an appropriately skeptical article:

    “So even though the yogi might be able to slow his metabolism right down so that it might only be 20 or 30 per cent of normal … there’s still going to be a point, about 100 to 120 days without food – and without water, it might be 24 days – that he’ll die.”

    Ann committed some logical fallacies :-

    – Appeal to authority: 2 paragraphs devoted to how great the chief observer is

    – Ad-hominem criticism of skeptics as a class

    – Assuming that because he wasn’t observed to eat or drink, that he didn’t eat or drink.

    Let’s see more tests here. Not just one team. And longer tests: if he can go for 70 years without food nor drink, a month or two should be easy. The studies need to be documented and repeatable. Frankly, in this one we have very little information about how rigorously the study was conducted. There isn’t any information which would help us to eliminate fraud or collusion from the observers. Nor bias for that matter – are the researchers publicly skeptical, or do they have a hidden bias and they want the guy to succeed? Are double-blind techniques being used – for example, do they only test the Yogi’s urine, or do they have control samples too?

    I suspect if you dig deeper you will find this is a study performed without the level of scientific rigour required to detect tricks of the kind that magicians routinely do. It’s well known that professional magicians like Uri Geller can fool regular run-of-the-mill scientific testers, and it often takes a trickster to expose a trickster.

    This yogi dude is making a barefaced claim of something we know to be impossible. You cannot live without food or water, full stop. He’s got a lot of publicity from it, but any rigorous test will result in his death.

    1. Ann

      Yes, I did “Ad-hominem criticism of skeptics as a class” but it is not a fallacy, which you presuppose. Skeptics are, indeed, of a group opinion – quite unimaginative, I might add. But, it is like most people, unfortunately. If you live (not as a tourist) for a while in another culture, you might experience, what I’m talking about, another reality.

      And, yes, I assumed “that because he wasnโ€™t observed to eat or drink, that he didnโ€™t eat or drink,” because I was taking the scientist’s word.

      I didn’t want to imply, as some skeptics seem to want to do, that the neurologist/scientist was lying, ignorant or foolish.

      But, to what “authority” are you referring? And what does this mean: “2 paragraphs devoted to how great the chief observer is”?

  5. Mirlen101

    If what Prahlad Jani claims is true then he won’t mind if we just remove his digestive system ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean he’s not using it anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe somebody else could use it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. johny

      most of the discussions are with in the box. if you think out of the box you may get the slight possibility of what is happening.
      1. medical science always agree that the ability of brain is not explored fully. only 10% of the use of brain is understood yet.
      2. like lay man energy source from log( would) very bulky. energy from oil/liquid gas is less bulky, think about the energy from nuclear power. but you need very sophisticated technology to tap the nuclear energy.
      3. what if the Indian military is keeping the fine secrets to them selfs now?

      1. Xeno Post author

        You use all of your brain. That 10% thing is a myth. … I didn’t understand your 2nd point… Yes, the Indian military would be wise to keep their new breathairian technology under wraps. Why do you suppose they told us about this at all? Perhaps this is their version of super human technology like our remote viewing.

  6. VisuJulz

    I visualise a Dumbo called “Mirlen101″… I feel sorry for you fellow, being so stuck in your own rigid beliefs, can’t be easy… not that you would know that, otherwise you’d change, if not instantly at least gradually, preferably before you die and become nothing but a shadow of the man you are now, which considering that you’re not much of a man but more of a negative ball bag makes me not feel sorry for you all of a sudden. May you carry on living in your own tiny little bubble of stupidity, if only mother-nature would allow it. On second thought… though I donโ€™t want to, I feel compelled to give you a chance to get yourself out of your shit hole and so despite my initially aggravated by you self, Iโ€™m gonna direct you to a book called โ€œThe Magus of Javaโ€. I hope your dump arse doesnโ€™t read it and if you do, I hope you treat it with the same attitude you got now about this Indian yogi, cos letโ€™s face it, if everyone was enlightened there would be no challenge, so for now we need Dumbos like you.

    1. Mirlen101

      On what do you base your higher intellect ? Do you have something to offer up as evidence to your superiority ? Your statements obviously don’t qualify .
      Who’s the rigid one . You believe a man has gone without food or water for years . You can’t imagine that he and others may be deceiving . You are stuck with the assumption that this man and others have God like powers . No worldly knowledge can sway you in your belief that this man needs no sustenance except for the air he breaths and mouthwash . And that another can shoot fire from his hands , float in mid air , move objects without touching them and read minds ;-/
      Boy you do have a wide open mind and vivid imagination ;-/ Good luck with that ๐Ÿ˜
      And you what? think your a Taoist ? I think you are reading the wrong book .
      I do kind of envy you in one way . It was great being a child that believes in the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny ๐Ÿ˜‰ I miss Santa ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Ann

        Mirlen101, maybe, just maybe it’s the lack of your imagination to conceive such a notion as man living without food or water for years? Hmmm … “God like powers” …. interesting. Do you really think Gods ever needed food or water in the first place? To go without what they don’t even need in the first place seems kind’a silly, doesn’t it? But, you might say the guy has developed super-human abilities?

  7. Mirlen101

    I don’t know , Jesus was caught drinking wine a lot ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Greek Gods were always getting boozed up and gorging on this and that ๐Ÿ˜‰
    There you go with that imagination thing again ! I’d put my imagination against anyone’s any time ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve never had anyone challenge me on imagination that would be just futile ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I can imagine someone not needing water or food . But to believe it is reality is just sillyness ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Intrachresodist

      It’s an extraordinary claim, and it needs extraordinary evidence. Not a two-week hospital hotel visit with hot-tub and mouthwash. This is not a question of imagination; it is a question of a-priori acceptance of wild claims without supporting evidence.

      You and I say “let’s see the evidence for this; prove that he did”; others here are willing to take this guy’s wild claims at face value and accuse us of lack of imagination for doubting it.

      1. Mirlen101

        Amen ๐Ÿ˜‰ I agree imagination has nothing to do with it . I think it’s funny how many think that “belief” is a quality unto itself ;-/
        I read this in depth and it turns out that neurologist Sudhir Shah has had similar dealings in the past . He never allows outside skeptics into the test areas to investigate .He controls all testing and all the data that he was supposed to have . Which has never been made available to the public or any scientific organization . In fact only one blogger was said to have received the video . But where is this supposed video ? What good is it to have tests and video that no one seems to be able to see ? We just have a photo of a man sitting on a hospital bed ;-/
        Even the results they claim to have don’t prove anything . According to the neurologist Sudhir Shah he lost a little weight over a two week period ;-/ Sounds like a so so diet plan to me ;-| But if he lost even a small amount of weight in a two week period his body would have consumed itself over the decades he proposes that he went without food or water .
        All previous people to have had such claims have either died of starvation or been found to be frauds . Or have refused outside testing .It is easy to catch them if given the opportunity .Blood tests , X Rays etc.. by a unbiased facility over an extended period of time should be sufficient .
        Often people with illogical beliefs when confronted with a counter opinion resort to fist shaking and hollow insults .To cover the fact that what they believe is unfounded. Ironic how often supposed religious spirituality so often leads to offensive antisocial behaviour .

  8. VusuJulz

    Look “Mirlen 101″… there’s no point in arguing here because youโ€™ve got no proof in order to believe, even though you can’t show any proof as to why we shouldn’t believe. You ignorant dildo, just as I predicted you’re still a negative-ball-bag who’s unwilling to take a chill pill, barking left-right-centre, constantly on the defensive, full of unchangeable opinions like anyone gives a frack by now if you think you got a point to make… I suggest you watch some more documentaries read some more books and learn to be a bit more acceptant of reality before you start polluting the net with your pointless arguments again.

    1. Mirlen101

      You could simply prove your point > stop eating ! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I look forward to your permanent fasting ๐Ÿ˜‰ You prove my point every time you open your mouth ๐Ÿ˜‰ BTW how old are you 9 ? You can talk all you want about Santa’s existence .That still doesn’t make him real !

  9. anshita

    i think he has d capability to breathe in a way it was done by ancient yogis. they could last a breathe upto months……….

    1. Ann


      But, we, the unaware and uninitiated, however, must be so very careful. Even though people with anorexia can appear to go for a long time without physical injury, anorexia is a dreadful disease that causes, in the end, irreversible physical injury. So, we must be very careful about even fasting and not eating.

      [ Exclusive: I haven’t eaten for 6 years … Mirror (UK) 3-10-2006 ]

      There’s world of difference between most of us and the extremely religious (although yoga itself is not a religion, but a lifestyle). Google “Therese Neumann,” another religious devotee, who did eat or drink from 1926 and 1962.

  10. Mirlen101

    It never ceases to amaze me how generally intelligent people can be so naive ! People seem to want to believe in the unbelievable . Not matter how outlandish and impossible . It is not physically possible to survive without food for an extended time period ! End of story ! Your brain alone burns masses of calories ! Where do you think those calories come from ? FOOD ! Not air ! Air has no calories ! I don’t care how enlightened a person is . Eat nothing and you DIE ! Simple logic ! I think it’s absurd for people to believe that a person is running on no fuel as opposed to believing that they are making something up for their own benefit ! All the evidence in the world about the effects of not consuming fuel are thrown out the window and replaced with a belief in fantasy .I find that most people believe most of what they read on the Internet . No matter how ridiculous the information . They will continue to believe it even after the truth is presented to them .

  11. Ann

    Like I said previously (May 17th) it’s very easy to criticize this story. You really don’t need that much “intelligence” to do that.

    In fact, it is so easy to criticize this news story that the question one should ask is, why was such a seemingly ridiculous story be even published, why was it allowed to hit the media? (Unless the department that did the research got into contact with the media, it would probably have never made into the news. Journalists don’t read much of what’s in medical journals, unless they’re told to do so by the research dept. that conducted a study.) Such a supposedly absurd story would do nothing but harm the reputation of the neurologist, who is the chief of his department, who conducted it.

    The question that should answer is, if this story is a hoax, (and any idiot would quickly blurt out, yes it is!) why is a hoax? But, Christ, don’t speculate about it, that’s also easy to do. I could even dream up something. Don’t copy what other bloggers have speculated. Do some original research it. Now, that would be interesting.

  12. Jin Kazama

    If Sai Baba can pull out golden linggam from his mouth infront of million believers. This Yogi could pull out any tricks to convince people tht he can survive without water.
    I cant believe people can buy this and arguing to convince others. I dont blame you all. You are the victims of failed science education.

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