Wouldn’t you want to offer the great solution for world hunger if you had it? The Breatharians claim to have the solution to this global problem, as well as other food-related diseases: quit eating. Or, more accurately, live off ‘prana’, a Sanskrit word that translates to ‘life air’ or ‘life force’. Prana is a notion that exists in many different traditions. This sustaining life energy is known differently in China, Japan, and Polynesia; accounting for local translation & adoption.
Who started Breatharianism?
Breatharians are a cult which believes that a person may live entirely on prana without eating or drinking, which they refer to as “living on light” or “living on air.” Jasmuheen, originally Ellen Greve from Australia, is credited with inventing the potentially deadly pseudo-scientific practice known as the Breatharian movement. She adopted the ancient Indian vocabulary in her self created pseudo-scientific curriculum for attaching authenticity, and called it the ‘Prana Program’, urging people to progressively transition to Breatharianism: Become a vegetarian; then a vegan; then transition to raw foods, fruits, liquids, and eventually prana. You substitute air and light for physical food, as well as spiritual nutrition.
What do Breatharians believe?
In the most severe circumstances, breatharians claim to refrain entirely from food and water. A somewhat more rational set of breatharian “gurus” advocates for tiny quantities of food throughout the week, such as a piece of fruit or some broth. To enhance their receptivity to receiving prana from the air around them, adherents are urged to practice meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.
Most Breatharian gurus advocate a two to three week “tapering down” phase during which devotees are led through the shift from eating using the methods described above. Though breatharianism has existed in some form or another for as long as 400 years, the contemporary rebirth was driven by a group of self-professed breatharians.
According to the stories, Akahi Ricardo and Camila Castello refer to themselves as “breatharians,” and claim to subsist on “universal energy” as well as bits of fruit and vegetable soup taken 2-3 times each week. This is not the first time this assertion has been made. A Wikipedia entry on the practice arguably best summarizes it by emphasizing that, despite the fact that living beings require food to exist, breatharianism persists.
Is Breatharianism an ancient spiritual practice?
This form of new-age pseudo-spirituality arose from a commercial interpretation of holy Hindu writings (the Vedas) by the Australian Businesswoman Ellen, in which certain saints and a hermit named Mandakarni subsisted solely on air and solar rays, a practice known as ‘inedia’. While we appreciate the Hindu belief system, the way individuals have literally interpreted and commercialized this notion is a logical and ethical deviation from the Hindu canon that no reasonable person can accept, especially when followers have died.
Jasmuheen claims she has gone years without eating, however she confesses to taking mouthfuls of food for flavor every now and again. Breatharianism, on the other hand, has claimed the lives of some of its adherents. Verity Linn, 49, was discovered dead in a rural area of Scotland after attempting the Breatharian conversion. Timo Degen, a kindergarten teacher, attempted the Breatharian method and fell into a coma. After four weeks of IV drips, Degen healed only to pass away a short time later.
As it appears, these alternate cult practices may make up for a fascinating read, but they should never be tried or experimented with unless under advice from an authentic medical professional.
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