The Qigong practice of Bigu, and Qigong practices (which include the liberation from food) examined by science have yielded some extraordinary results. A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was and is able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock. This is one example of many; you can find the study and read more about it here.
The Catholic Charism of India also involves the claim of living well without eating food. Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, explains the concept in his book Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities:
The implication is that the human body can transmute ambient energy into nutrients, and through the practice of cultivating this ability one can live comfortably for as long as one wishes without food, and possibly without drinking water. This is described as a siddhi in the Yoga Sutras as Pada 111.30: liberation from hunger and thirst.
This flies in the face of a substantial body of medical knowledge, which has established that the human body can last about five days without water, and a few weeks at most without food. Beyond that, you’re dead. As a result, despite a host of historical examples of people lasting for years without eating, and sometimes without drinking, most nutritionists and biochemists regard such claims to be ridiculously impossible, and the people who make the claims—currently dozens to hundreds worldwide—to be seriously delusional. Some of those claimants may well be delusional. But all of them?
Prahlad Jani is a local of Ahmedabad, India, who claims that at the age of 11, the Hindu goddess Amba appeared to him and told him that he would no longer have to eat food. He has apparently lived in a cave since the 1970s, and claims not to have eaten anything for most of his 81 years (as of 2012).
Jani was tested in 2003 and in 2010 at Ahmedabad’s Sterling Hospital by Dr. Sudhir Shah and his large team of doctors. Dr. Shah is a consultant neurologist who has been practicing for 20 years, as well as a professor and department head of neurology at KM School of PG Medicine and Research.
During the first test, which took place in 2003, Jani was monitored 24/7 by hospital staff and video cameras, where it was confirmed that Jani neither ate nor drank. He also did not show any physiological changes which, according to modern day medicine, should be impossible. This test took place over a 10 day period. Although it might not seem like a significant amount of time, to go 10 days without food and water and not experience any physiological changes is actually quite astounding.
He was tested again at Sterling Hospital in 2010 from April 22nd to May 6th. This time, he was observed by thirty-five researchers from the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, among other organizations. This time, Jani was observed to not eat or drink for two weeks. As with the previous test, he exhibited no deleterious effects from this abstention.
This truly is unbelievable, and goes against everything we know about both human physiology and the nutritional requirements of the body.
As one might expect, neither these tests nor their results were published in medical journals. The studies have also generated a lot of criticism. The main arguments against these tests were, however, quite weak in my opinion. One argument holds that Jani escaped the scrutiny of the hospital staff and video cameras with the assistance of his disciples, and that he did in fact eat/drink something. Yet hospital staff maintains this is impossible because he was monitored around the clock, as per the requirements of the study.
Even with these criticisms, the evidence is solid and appears to correspond with a known siddhi.
A statement from a scientific group (which included the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences) given to ABC News back in 2012 reads as follows:
We realized that, if this whole phenomenon really exists in a human being even for 15 days, it would have immense application in unraveling secrets of medical science and its application for human welfare.
Instead of ignoring this case, we selected to investigate further, in a rational and scientific way. We again make it clear that the purpose of this study was not to prove or disprove a person, but to explore a possibility in science and study a new phenomenon. (source)
It’s an interesting case, isn’t it?
Below is a little video of the confusion he has caused within the scientific community.
The Science Of Fasting
Science is now showing just how beneficial food deprivation can be. Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging and a Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, gave a great TED talk on fasting in 2014. This practice has been shown to generate new stem cells, repair DNA, fight cancer, fight both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
It’s also interesting to note that all caloric restriction models in animal studies have shown significant health benefits and improvements, including a longer life span.
To learn more about the science of fasting, you can read a more detailed article and watch a TED talk by Dr. Mattson HERE.
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