Living without food or water may sound absurd to some people, but for a group known as breatharians, this is how they attempt to exist. They believe everything a human body needs to survive is contained in the energy that surrounds it, and largely abstain from food and sometimes liquids. But breatharianism is not a diet, though it has been used as a weight loss technique. To its followers, breatharianism is a way of life.
There are probably many things you didn’t know about breatharianism – like, for instance, that the idea is also known as “inedia,” from the Latin for “fasting.” It’s worth noting that fasting is a component of many different religions. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism, among others, all support specialized diets and periods of abstaining from food. However, not eating to support a belief in breatharianism is a fast without an end in sight.
Learning facts about breatharianism can also expose its dark side. Many people compare its teachings to that of a cult. And breatharians can suffer physical as well as mental harm – there are dangerous consequences to not eating.
Breatharians Live Off Of Prana
The Sanskrit word prana translates to “life air” or “life force,” and that’s what breatharians believe will give them sustenance. Prana is defined as an energy that runs through, and connects all of, creation.
Breatharianism was founded on the belief that this energy is all the human body needs to survive, not food or drink. Followers claim that, if they are conscious of doing so, they can inhale prana through breath and sunlight.
Michelle Pfeiffer Used To Be A Breatharian
Actress Michelle Pfeiffer revealed she had been a breatharian in her younger years, and referred to the group as a cult. She claimed the group had been very controlling and strict, and had demanded frequent payments for their time.
Pfeiffer said she was saved by her now ex-husband, Peter Horton. He was researching Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church for a new film at the time. Upon hearing him talk about the group, Pfeiffer realized that she had gotten caught up in a cult as well.
Jasmuheen Is The Most Famous Breatharian
Perhaps the most famous champion of breatharianism is Jasmuheen, formerly known as Ellen Greve. She once claimed to have not eaten since 1993, but later admitted to eating occasionally, saying, “I will have a mouthful of whatever it is I’m wanting the flavor of.” Several interviewers visiting her home also noticed food in her kitchen, but she claimed it was for her husband.
Jasmuheen runs the Cosmic Internet Academy, travels all over the world giving lectures, and offers expensive retreats. She was given the Bent Spoon Award by the Australian Skeptics, an honor bestowed on those believed to have made “outrageous” psychic or paranormal claims.
Jasmuheen Advocates A Six-Step Path To Breatharianism
According to Jasmuheen, the first step to becoming a breatharian is to become a vegetarian. Next, you should eliminate dairy and eggs, becoming a vegan. Then, you should adopt a raw food diet, followed by a fruit-only diet, then a liquid-only diet, and finally, prana.
60 Minutes Halted A Fasting Demonstration Over Health Concerns
In 1999, Jasmuheen voluntarily fasted for the Australian version of 60 Minutes to prove her breatharian theory. But, 48 hours into her fast, she began showing signs of dehydration and her blood pressure rose. Doctors feared Jasmuheen would suffer kidney damage, and demanded the test be stopped.
Jasmuheen said she believed 60 Minutes stopped the test out of fear it would succeed, not because her health was at stake. She also claimed the test was faulty, as she could not get any clean air at the facility at which she was staying.
Nikola Tesla Wrote In Support Of Breatharian Living
Later in life, famed inventor and electrical wizard Nikola Tesla began believing in the possibility of survival without food. In a 1901 article entitled Talking With The Planets, he wrote, “Why should a living being not be able to obtain all the energy it needs for the performance of its life functions from the environment, instead of through consumption of food, and transforming, by a complicated process, the energy of chemical combinations into life-sustaining energy?”
Prahlad Jani May Be Proof Breatharianism Is Possible
Supposedly, the best proof that breatharianism is possible is Prahlad Jani, who claims to have not eaten for most of his life. As a child, a Hindu goddess told him he did not have to eat food. Jani has undergone several rounds of hospital tests, during which he is monitored while abstaining from eating and drinking.
After 10 days of fasting, Jani reportedly had not experienced any physiological changes. Doctors were astounded, but decided not to publish their findings in medical journals. However, the validity of these tests has been questioned; Jani may have gone to a quack doctor.
The Founder Of The Breatharian Institute Of America Eats At McDonald’s
A self-proclaimed breatharian for over 30 years, Wiley Brooks founded the The Breatharian Institute of America. He believes himself to be the reincarnation of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. At one time initiation into his institute cost $1 billion.
Despite his breatharian beliefs, Wiley occasionally consumes Diet Coke and quarter-pounders with cheese from McDonald’s, the only food he claims is not radioactive. When questioned about his practices, he replied, “But as far as breatharianism is concerned, I never, ever said anybody could live on breath – on this planet.”
Several Breatharians Have Died
At least four of breatharian spokesperson Jasmuheen’s followers have died, including a Swiss woman, a kindergarten teacher who fasted for three weeks before falling into a coma, and a Scottish woman who tried fasting on a camping trip.
The fourth, Lani Morris, fasted under the supervision of two other followers. During her fast, she became incontinent, lost the use of her legs, and started to cough up black fluid. Morris eventually died, and her body showed symptoms of extreme dehydration, kidney failure, and pneumonia. The couple who had been with her claimed they didn’t realize she was seriously sick, but were later convicted of manslaughter.
Jasmuheen does not believe she is to blame for these deaths, saying, “If you haven’t found the light that will nourish you, you may have the intention to become a breatharian, but in fact you may be putting yourself through food deprivation.”
There Are Multiple Breatharian Gurus
Hira Ratan Manek runs the Solar Healing Center in Florida. He claims to live off sun energy and boiled water, and is believed to have completed a fast of over 200 days. He previously worked as a mechanical engineer and businessman.
Tapaswi Palden Dorje claims to have stopped eating and drinking after a poisonous snake bit him. His followers say they have seen a bright light coming from his head, and assume the snake gave him enlightenment.
A Seattle Woman Broadcast Her Breatharian Experience On Social Media
Naveena Shine of Seattle, WA, decided to try out breatharianism in 2013. The 65-year-old woman planned to consume nothing but water and tea for four to six months, but only lasted 47 days, blaming negative feedback and financial problems. Her “Living On Light” experiment was documented by several cameras left running around her home, as well as updates on YouTubeand Facebook. Shine lost 20 pounds during her experiment, and suffered dizziness, exhaustion, and nausea.