Inedia is the alleged ability to live without
food, which has been dismissed by the scientific community. Breatharianism is a related concept, in which believers claim food and possibly waterare not necessary, and that humans can be sustained solely by prana(the vital life force in Hinduism), or according to some, by the energy in sunlight. The terms "breatharianism" or "inedia" may also refer to this philosophy practiced as a lifestylein place of the usual diet. While it is often seen as an esotericpractice performed by eastern ascetics, recently some groups such as the Breatharian Institute of America have promoted the practice as an option for anybody, once the proper techniques for accessing it are made known (after paying a fee of 25,000,000 USD, in the case of the Breatharian Institute of America [http://www.breatharian.com/initiationworkshops.html Wiley Brooks website: Initiation workshops] Quote: "This special offer will last for only 2 months No Refunds Sept 1, 2007 the cost will be $15,000,000 USD November 1, 2007 the cost will be 20,000,000.00 USD January 1, 2008 the cost will be 25,000,000.00 USD (I will consider a payment plan)" Update: "April 1, 2008 the cost is $25,000,000.00 USD The cost will increase by $1,000,000.00 every 2 months up to December 2010" and "There is lots of new real estate on "EARTH PRIME"" also "You will also learn how to become a permanent resident and/or retire in this beautiful world. The process starts at an initial costs as low as $25,000,000.00 USD"] ).
The word 'inedia' simply means 'fasting' in Latin, and was first used to describe a fast-based lifestyle within Catholic tradition, which holds that certain saints were able to survive for extended periods of time without food or drink beyond the
scientifictheories about nutritionand generally accepted common senseboth indicate that a person who follows this practice even in the short term would die of starvationor dehydration. Breatharians have seldom submitted themselves to medical testing, and currently there is no evidence to support their claims. In a handful of documented cases, individuals attempting breatharian fasting have died.cite web
title = UK: Scotland Woman 'starved herself to death'
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/453661.stm
publisher = BBC
date = 1999-09-21
accessdate = 2008-03-10] cite web
title = Three deaths linked to 'living on air' cult
url = http://www.rickross.com/reference/breat/breat08.html
publisher = Sunday Times (London)
date = 1999-09-26
author = Tom Walker, Judith O'Reilly] Prominent skeptic
James Randihas this to say about Breatharianism:
There are some claims that are far too implausible to warrant any serious examination, such as the "Breatharian" claims in which the applicant states that he can survive without food or water. Science conclusively tells us all we need to know about such matters, and the
James Randi Educational Foundationfeels no obligation to engage applicants in such delusions. [ [http://www.randi.org/research/faq.html randi.org] ]
Jasmuheen(born Ellen Greve) was probably the most famous advocate of Breatharianism during the 1990s. She claimed "I can go for months and months without having anything at all other than a cup of tea. My body runs on a different kind of nourishment." [ [http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b12.html Breatharianism at apologeticsindex.org] ] Several interviewers found her house full of food, but she claimed the food was for her husband. In 1999, she volunteered to be monitored closely by the Australian television program "60 Minutes" for one week without eating to demonstrate her methods. [cite web|url=http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/60/stories/1999_10_24/story_57.asp|title=Living on air: Breatharian put to the test|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20051102085047/http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/60/stories/1999_10_24/story_57.asp|archivedate=2005-11-02] [cite web |url = http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/jasmuheen.htm |title = Jasmuheen |accessdate = 2008-06-07] Greve claimed that she failed because on the first day of the test she had been confined in a hotel room near a busy road, saying that the stress and pollutionkept her from getting the nutrients she needed from the air. “I asked for fresh air. Seventy percent of my nutrients come from fresh air. I couldn’t even breathe,” she said. On the third day the test moved to a mountainside retreat where she could get plenty of fresh air and live happily. After Greve had fasted for four days, Dr. Beres Wenck, president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association, urged her to stop the test.
According to the doctor, Greve’s pupils were dilated, her speech was slow, she was "quite dehydrated, probably over 10%, getting up to 11%." Towards the end of the test, she said, "Her pulse is about double what it was when she started. The risks if she goes any further are kidney failure. "60 Minutes" would be culpable if they encouraged her to continue. She should stop now." The test was stopped. Dr. Wink said, "Unfortunately there are a few people who may believe what she says, and I'm sure it's only a few, but I think it's quite irresponsible for somebody to be trying to encourage others to do something that is so detrimental to their health." [cite web |url = http://www.rickross.com/reference/breat/breat13.html |title = Fresh-air dietician fails TV show's challenge |accessdate = 2008-06-07] She challenged the results of the program, saying, "Look, 6,000 people have done this around the world without any problem." [cite web |url = http://www.apologeticsindex.org/an991028.html#19 |title = Apologetics research resources on religious cults and sects — Religion Items in the News — October 28, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 128) |accessdate = 2008-06-07] Though she claims thousands of followers, [cite web |url = http://www.rickross.com/reference/breat/breat23.html |title = Starvation guru given hostile reception |accessdate = 2008-06-07] [cite web |url = http://liberatapublishers.com/mysticism.htm |title = Mysticism |accessdate = 2008-06-07] mostly in Germany, [cite web |url = http://www.rickross.com/reference/breat/breat05.html |title = Face behind food-free teaching |accessdate = 2008-06-07] there is no evidence that any have lived for long periods of time without any food at all.
Jasmuheen was awarded the
Bent Spoon Awardby Australian Skepticsin 2000 ("presented to the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle"). [cite web |url = http://www.skeptics.com.au/spoon/2000winners.htm |title = Bent Spoon 2000 - Winner (Jasmuheen) |accessdate = 2008-06-07] She also won the 2000 Ig Nobel Prizefor Literature for "Living on Light". Jasmuheen claims that their beliefs are based on the writings and "more recent channelled material" of the Count of St Germain. [cite web |url = http://www.rickross.com/reference/breat/breat06.html |date=1999-09-22|title = All they need is the air |accessdate = 2008-06-07] She claims that her DNAhas expanded from 2 to 12 strands, to "absorb more hydrogen". When offered $30,000 to prove her claim with a blood test, she said that she didn't understand the relevance. [cite web |url = http://www.abc.net.au/science/correx/archives/jasmuheen.htm |title = Correx Archives — Jasmuheen |accessdate = 2008-06-07]
The well-publicized deaths of 49-year-old Australian-born Scotland resident Verity Linn, 31-year-old Munich kindergarten teacher Timo Degen, and 53-year-old Melbourne resident Lani Marcia Roslyn Morris, while attempting to enter the Breatharian "diet," have drawn further criticism of the idea.
Jim Vadim Pesnak, 63, and his wife Eugenia, 60, went to jail for three years on charges of manslaughter for their involvement in the death of Morris. Verity Lynn, the Scottish woman who inadvertently killed herself by choosing the Breatharian "diet" was a nominee for the 1999 Darwin Awards. She "took to the highlands", the article says, "with only a tent and her grit and determination." She died of hypothermia and dehydration, aggravated by lack of food. Jasmuheen claimed that her death was brought on by a psycho-spiritual problem, rather than a physiological one.
Jasmuheen has denied any involvement with the three deaths and claims she cannot be held responsible for the actions of her followers. In reference to the death of Lani Morris, she said that perhaps Morris was "not coming from a place of integrity and did not have the right motivation".
Hira Ratan Manek
Hira Ratan Manek(born September 12, 1937) claims that since June 18th, 1995, he has lived exclusively on water, and occasional tea, coffee, and buttermilk. He says sunlight is the key to his health, citing the Jainist Tirthankara Mahavira, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Native Americans as his inspiration.
According to his [http://www.solarhealing.com/about.htm website] , three extended periods of his fasting have been observed under control of scientific and medical teams: the first lasting 211 days in 1995-96 in Calicut, India, under the direction of Dr C. K. Ramachandran. During that period he is reported to have lost 41 kg.cite web |url = http://niejedzenie.info/english/hiraratanmanek.htm |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20050301181035/http://niejedzenie.info/english/hiraratanmanek.htm |archivedate=2005-03-01 |title = Hira Ratan Manek |accessdate = 2008-06-07]
The second study lasted 411 days in 2000-2001 in Ahmedabad, India, under the direction of a 21 member team of medical doctors and scientists led by Dr Sudhir Shah and Dr K. K. Shah, a past President of the
Indian Medical Associationand current Chairman of the [http://www.jaindoctorsfederation.org/ Jainist Doctors' Federation] . The latter group aims to "Promote scientific research and medical education based on principles of Jainism" [cite web |url = http://www.jaindoctorsfederation.org/aimsandobjectives.html |title = ::: Aims &Amp; Objectives Of Jdf ::: |accessdate = 2008-06-07] . Dr K. K. Shah said "Fasting is a method of curing the meditation of mind and body which has been proved by great jain monks, sanyasis and munis of ancient times. There is a need to propagate these methods during this age of increasing diseases of the body and mind due to overconsumptions and increasing with fasting would help maintain perfection.". Dr Sudhir Shah was also involved in the study of Prahlad Jani. [cite web |url = http://www.amazingabilities.com/amaze5a.html |title = Unexplained Mysteries, Unexplained Mystery, Unexplained Mysteries. Unexplained Mysteries |accessdate = 2008-06-07]
The paper [cite web |url = http://www.amazingabilities.com/amaze5c.html |title = Fasting, Prolonged Fasting, Fasting, Hira Manek Prolonged Fasting Medical Report |accessdate = 2008-06-07] published by Dr Sudhir Shah makes it clear that dozens of people had access to Hira Ratan Manek during the study and he went on at least one excursion: "Most surprisingly, he had himself climbed the famous Shatrunjay mountain (Palitana hill) on 4.4.01, on 401st day of his legendary fasting along with 500 fellowmen without anybody’s help, within 1.5 Hrs. only". The paper reports that the subject lost 19 kg of weight during the study period. Neither the experiment, as described in the paper, nor the paper itself have been validated by any well-known Western scientific or medical journal.
The third study lasted 130 days in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Thomas Jefferson Universityand the University of Pennsylvaniaunder the direction of Dr. Andrew Newberg and Dr. George C. Brainard. Dr Sudhir Shah, who led the previous study, acted as an advisor and consultant to the USA team. [cite web |url = http://www.solarhealing.com/HRM%20Panel%20Discussion%20020929.pdf |title = AGENDA for 29 September 2002: John Dickinson High School: 1801 Milltown Road, Wilmington, De |accessdate = 2008-06-07] Failed verification|date=April 2008
However, Dr. Andrew Newberg said that Hira stayed at the University of Pennsylvania only for brain scans on studies of meditation, not his ability to fast indefinitelyFact|date=October 2007. Newberg denied ever undertaking the 130-day study.Fact|date=October 2007
Prahlad Jani, a
sadhu, spent ten days under strict observation by physicians in Ahmedabad, India, in 2003. The study was led by Dr Sudhir Shah, the same doctor who led the study of Hira Ratan Manek. Reportedly, during the observation, he was given only 100 millilitres of water a day to use as mouthwash, which was collected and measured after he used it, to make sure he hadn't consumed any. Throughout the observation, he passed no urineor stool, but doctors say urine appeared to form in the bladder, only to be reabsorbed.cite web |url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3236118.stm |title = BBC NEWS | South Asia | Fasting fakir flummoxes physicians |accessdate = 2008-06-07 |author = Rajeev Khanna] However, despite Jani's claim to have gone without food for decades, Jani was not engaged in strenuous exercise during the ten-day trial, and longer trials were not recorded under similarly strict observation. Further, his weight did drop slightly during the 10 days, casting some doubt on his claim to go indefinitely without food. Jani claims a goddess sustains him through amrit that filters down through a hole in his palate. The Indian Rationalists label him a "village fraud". [cite web |url = http://www.rationalistinternational.net/article/20031201_en.htm |title = "India has no reason to be grateful to Mother Teresa" |accessdate = 2008-06-07]
Religious traditions of inedia
Roman Catholicism also has traditions of inedia, in which
saints, as well as Jesus, are claimed to have been able to go for months or years without any food (or with no food but Communion). [cite web |url = http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/define87.htm |title = Patron Saints Index: inedia |accessdate = 2008-06-07] Such saints include:
Elisabeth the Good
Lydwina of Schiedam
Mary Ann de Paredes
Marthe Robin(allegedly 53 years)
Nicholas of Flue(According to legend, he survived for nineteen years with no food except for the Eucharist.)
Alexandrina Maria da Costa
Paramahansa Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi" details two alleged historical examples of Breatharianism, Giri Balaand Therese Neumann.
Hira Ratan Manek
* [http://home.iae.nl/users/lightnet/health/breatharianslinks.htm A list of historical and contemporary breatharians]
* [http://www.virtuescience.com/breatharian.html Breatharianism (Speculations)]
* The German Michael Werner
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3236118.stm Fasting fakir flummoxes physicians] — BBC article about Prahlad Jani
* [http://www.amazingabilities.com/amaze5b.html Prahlad Jani — Ten Day Study Medical Case Summary]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_703000/703279.stm BBC story: Guru condemned as 'dangerous']
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_453000/453661.stm BBC story: Woman 'starved herself to death']
* [http://www.newsindia.com/breaking_news/34786.asp Scientist skips food, 'survives" by solar energy] — article about Dr. Michael Werner, who claims to have not eaten anything in four years
* [http://www.indianewengland.com/media/paper549/news/2004/11/15/Community/Sunlight.Water.Are.The.Only.Sustenance.He.Needs-805110.shtml Sunlight, water are the only sustenance he needs] — article about Hira Ratan Manek
* [http://home.iae.nl/users/lightnet/health/lightresearch.htm Dr. Sudhir Shah's synopsis] of Hira Ratan Manek's 411 day supervised fast
* - episode of "60 Minutes" (Jasmuheen's aborted experiment)
* [http://www.jasmuheen.com/ Jasmuheen.com] — Jasmuheen's organization
* [http://www.solarhealing.com Solar Healing Center] — Hira Ratan Manek's official website
* [http://breatharian.info Breatharian.info]
* [http://skepdic.com/inedia.html Skeptic's Dictionary article on Breatharianism]
* [http://www.rickross.com/groups/breat.html Breatharian information] from the Rick A. Ross Institute for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements
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