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Indian yogi Farhald Gianni, who claimed to have spent almost 80 years without food or drink, and gathered around him a community of believers, passed away on Tuesday.
Farhald Gianni, with his long and bearded hair and wearing red, lives in the village of Charda in the state of Gujarat, western India, where he spent his life practicing yoga and meditation. According to him, he was born in August 1929, so he died a little before he was 91.
Gianni left his parents' home at a very young age in search of a "spiritual experience," and his followers say he stopped eating and drinking at the age of 14. According to him, as a child, he received a blessing from God, which allowed him to live without food. A small group of believers gathered around him following his claims, but medical experts obviously doubted them greatly.
In an interview with AFP in 2003, Gianni claimed to have received "the drug of life" through a hole in his palate, so he could live without food and water. Doctors, of course, say that a person cannot live for extended periods without food and drink without causing damage to his organs and without his body eventually collapsing.
Despite the experts' positions, Gianni's claims aroused interest in the medical community in India. In 2010, a group of military doctors examined him for two weeks at a hospital in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state of Gujarat. Gianni was then examined by CCTV cameras, and doctors scanned his organs, brain and blood vessels and examined his heart, eyes, and memory. He said he did not eat, drink or do his needs, and his only contact with fluid was when he was gurgling or bathing from time to time.
"We still don't know how he survives," neurologist Sudhir Shah told reporters at the time. "The question of what this phenomenon is still a mystery." The results of the study have never been published or submitted for peer review.
Gianni's body was transported to the town of Ambaji, known for its temples. There he set up a small ashram for him. According to AFP, his body will be kept in the ashram for the next two days so people can pay their last respects.