Prahlad Jani, an Indian sadhu who claims to have gone without food for decades, spent ten days under strict observation by physicians at Sterling Hospital, Ahmedabad, India, in 2003. The study was led by Dr Sudhir Shah (http://www.sudhirneuro.org/
), a well known and ardent proponent of Jain philosophy, 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. He was reported to enter Samadhi state of consciousness almost daily during meditation. Throughout the observation, he passed no urine or stool, but doctors say urine appeared to form in the bladder, only to be reabsorbed. However, 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 Rationalist Association has criticised the Indian Ministry of Defence for agreeing to take part in the tests, and for being taken in by a "village fraud". Sanal Edamaruku of the Indian Rationalist Association claimed to have been repeatedly denied sending an independent team to survey the room where Jani was held. He also claimed that "this particular hospital, led by this particular doctor, keeps on making these claims without ever producing evidence or publishing research." The Indian Rationalist Association also said that individuals making similar claims have all reportedly been exposed as frauds.
On June 26, 2006, The Discovery Channel aired a documentary called "The Boy with Divine Powers" featuring a 5 minute interview with Prahlad Jani and Dr. Sudhir Shah.
As of April 22, 2010, new tests are being conducted on Prahlad Jani under surveillance of 35 doctors and researchers of Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Science (DIPAS).
Rajiv Sharma, CEO of Sterling Hospital, said, "We wanted to insure Jani's life. However, due to certain legalities, insurance firms refused our request. Finally, the state government insured his life so that the study could be conducted."
Prahlad Jani was kept for fifteen days, until May 6 (tests were completed on Thursday at 3:30pm), and reportedly did not eat, drink or go to the toilet once during the time. This was apparently shown by blood tests, hormone profiles, MRIs and angiographs. The doctors also claimed to have found that he was "more healthy than someone half his age."
During the study, a protocol of round-the-clock surveillance was followed with the help of CCTV cameras and personal observation. Mataji (Prahlad Jani) was taken out for MRI, USG, and X-ray examination and exposure to sun under continuous video recording.
"During the tests we found that in Prahalad Jani's bladder, the amount of liquid fluctuates even when he does not pass urine," said a member of the team of medical experts that conducted medical tests. Mataji's lung functions is quite normal, as per reports by Dr. Mukesh Patel and his team.
Dr. G. Ilavazahagan, director, DIPAS (a heavily funded branch of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation), said, "The exercise of taking this yogi under a medical scanner is to understand which energy supports his existence, if not food or water. And if at the end of three months by which we plan to come out with observations based on this 15-day check up, we are able to reach to an explanation of this hypothesis - it would tremendously benefit mankind. The observations derived from this case study can help many soldiers, victims of calamities and astronauts - who often have to survive without food or water for long spells."
Dr. Urman Dhruv, a physician, said, "We are collecting data on a person who has lived on an alternative pathway compared to an ordinary person. The comparative study of his reports of the tests conducted in 2003 and results of the recent and on-going tests would throw light on the process of aging in Jani's body - which seems to have undergone some type of genetic transformation."
Prahlad Jani grew up in Charod village in Mehsana district. According to Jani's version of events,, he left his home in Rajasthan at the age of seven, and went to live in the jungle.
When he reached the age of 11, he underwent a religious experience during which he became a follower of the Hindu goddess Amba. In her honour, he chose to dress as a female devotee, wearing a red sari-like garment, nose-ring, bangles and crimson flowers in his shoulder-length hair. In return, Jani believes that the goddess has sustained him ever since by feeding him with a lifegiving, invisible "elixir", which has supposedly given him the strength to continue without food or water.
For at least the past 40 years, Jani has been living, hermit-like, in a cave in the jungles close to the Gujarati temple of Ambaji. He rises at 4am, spending most of the day meditating. Amongst his followers and devotees he is commonly known as Mataji ("[a manifestation of] The Great Mother"). This name is also frequently used by Indians (regardless of their religious views) with reference to Prahlad Jani.