Breatharianism: Is It Possible to Live Without Food and Water?
Breatharianism: a Definition
The idea of being able to live without physical food to sustain the body, called Breatharianism, has been around for a long time, but it's only in recent years that it has really been brought to the attention of the media. For example, we have inexplicable cases such as Prahlad Jani (see BBC News article Fasting fakir flummoxes physicians), and also deaths associated with attempting this way of life.
Then, there are also certain examples that defy normal nutritional science, such as the Swedish man who survived for two months trapped in his car.
The usual reaction is one of scorn and derision by people faced with the alleged ability of someone to live without food. Initial criticisms range from direct condemnation without pause for thought, to more varied arguments, such as, if someone can live without food, why can't the starving millions of this planet live without food?
Most of the answers to these questions, however, cannot satisfy the mind of someone immersed in empirical science of the physical world. The scientific mind resides in a purely empirical world, when clearly there are things way beyond its scope, whether it be so-called Breatharianism or other unusual phenomena.
Before providing information on how alleged Breatharianism works, the process to it, but also the people past and present who have apparently lived without food, a few definitions.
Breatharianism is not fasting - though it could be seen as the fast that never ends. Even so, Breatharianism is also called 'inedia', from the Latin meaning fasting.
Also, Breatharianism is meant to denote someone who neither eats nor drinks, though sometimes it is used to denote someone who doesn't eat but does drink. Someone who doesn't eat but does drink is technically a Waterian.
How it works
Breatharianism centers on the notion that everything the human body needs, is in the energy that surrounds and pervades it, and that it can draw on this energy to sustain itself. The term breatharianism infers that the 'breath' is of importance and that the life-force can be inhaled to directly sustain the body. However, others say that in fact, it's possible to draw energy from anything really, as everything is imbued with this energy.
Thus, the difference between someone who is on a hunger strike and dies (or someone who is poor and starving, and dies), and someone who doesn't die from not having any (physical) nutrition, is due to deep inner transformation. Literature on the subject shows that just having the intention to 'live off light' isn't enough, but that something else takes over; that there's a subtle two way process at work,
The path to Breatharianism, involves detoxifying the body, so that it can reside in its perfect state, where it does not need to eat. Inediates perceive the truth, that eating physical substances, conceals the fact that actually the energy that keeps us alive doesn't come from physical food. The Bible's garden of Eden comes to mind, and that fateful apple. The conjecture is that humans, as they forgot their spiritual origins as direct reflections of God (God made man in his own image), needed to sustain themselves in other ways, rather than just from the subtle life-force, and so looked for things to put into themselves, to energise themselves with; and in the process, developed coarser and coarser digestive systems, and eventually even began killing and eating other developed conscious entities, such as animals, which was the final nail in the coffin for developed consciousness.
Christians may have read Matthew 4:4: "Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (New International Version 1984) The Logos (Christian usage of) can be seen as a direct nourishing force. So whether one calls it 'The force' from Star Wars, Chi, Prana, Love, Logos, or Holy Spirit, it is this same energy that pervades all of Creation. As we will see, a fair number of inediates can be found in the Christian tradition (see list below), where saints claimed to be kept alive solely by the Holy Spirit.
Breatharianism and its stages - Master Liao Fong-Sheng
A concise explanation of Breatharianism, and it's stages, can be viewed here, where a Qigong Breatharian, Master Liao Fong-Sheng, explains things clearly. It does away with some of the explanations that some other Breatharians have put forward, where fancy language and terms confuse the issue. The video is taken from Supreme Master TV which I know little about, except that the main woman is highly revered, while others classify it as a cult.
The video is in 3 parts.
An interesting book by a Professor and Breatharian
Professor Michael Werner, a Breatharian himself, has written a book on the subject, called Life from Light: is it Possible to Live Without Food? This is actually a very good book on the subject and worth reading.
Christians in history who were Inediates
Historically, the ability to live without food has been ascribed to not only people from an Eastern tradition, but also Christian.
These are the profiled saints alleged to have the ability to live without food.
Elisabeth the Good
Lydwina of Schiedam
Mary Ann de Paredes
Saint Nicholas of Flue
Saint Catherine of Siena
Louise Lateau (also a stigmatist)
Some other Inediates in history
My search has lead me to find two notable Inediates from India. Giri Bala, and Devraha Baba (who is alleged to have lived to 250 years old). Giri Bala is an interesting case, as she was an avid eater, even a scoffer of great quantities of food, before becoming a Breatharian. In her case, it was a sense of shame and embarassement she felt, when her mother-in-law made comments about her eating habits, that lead her to pray to God, that she may never eat again. Her story is wonderfully recounted in an Autobiography of a Yogi, by Yogananda - Chapter 46 The Woman Yogi Who Never Eats.
Devraha Baba is notable for his longevity. Breatharians say that their toxic free bodies allow them to live longer and healthier lives than people who eat. In fact, he was so old (250) that the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, said more than fifty years ago, that his father had sat at the feet of Devraha Baba as a child (in the middle of the nineteenth century! Apparently, Devraha Baba was already elderly at that time.)
This section can't be written without mentioning the famous Western Breatharian called Jasmuheen. While Jasmuheen has been known to have helped a lot of people on their path, there appears to be a lack of confidence in what she claims.
The following video is very biased against her, and the documentarist is hell-bent on discrediting her, rightly or wrongly?
What is the point of Breatharianism?
According to Giri Bala, living without eating is done to prove that man is Spirit. From Chapter 46 of an Autobiography of a Yogi:
““Mother,” I said slowly, “what is the use of your having been singled out to live without eating?”
“To prove that man is Spirit.” Her face lit with wisdom. “To demonstrate that by divine advancement he can gradually learn to live by the Eternal Light and not by food.” "