Extract from Ashrams of India Volume 2
Chundiwala Mataji Ashram
Ashram of a breatharian monk who has lived without food and water since 1940, saying that the goddess Amba sustained him.
Area: Near Gabbar Hill
Saint: Prahlad Jani aka Mataji (13 August 1929 – 26 May 2020).
Indian Saint Prahlad Jani was formally known as “Chundadivala Mataji” and “Chunriwala Mataji” lived without eating or drinking. Born as Chunriwala Mataji, he grew up in the village of Charda in the Mehsana district, he had not taken food or water since 1940.
At the age of seven, he left home in search of spiritual enlightenment and by age eleven he underwent a religious experience, being blessed by goddess Amba who touched his tongue with her finger. This experience ended all feelings of hunger and thirst and ever since lived without food and water without passing urine or stools, gaining his sustenance from the goddess Amba by way of the nectar that filtered down through a hole in his palate. He did not feel the need for food and water and said that it is all Shakti. “Shakti comes; you can’t make it.” He said “the sanjeevani jal (elixir of life) produced by my body, takes care of me and I shall survive till the age of 150 years.” Bhikabhai Prajapati, a retired schoolteacher and Jani’s devotee of 40 years says that Mataji received energy from everywhere, plants, air, the sandstone of the caves, rain, everything… that’s why he always lived in caves in deep forests. Mataji has said that he never experienced medical problems and that for a period of forty-five years he did not speak.
From the time of the experience, he chose to dress as a female devotee of Amba, wearing a red sari-like garment, jewellery and crimson flowers in his shoulder-length hair. In dharma and sanskriti, religion and science are the same. His whole purpose, his life, and the body was to save and revive dharma, there is a need to show in this kaliyuga what the rishi-munis were like. He had no aspiration, no ambition, no guru, no chela, no bhagat, he had only Maa Ambe. He has said, “I am that.”
He said that he could shut out many diseases such as cancer and diabetes by giving one piece of fruit to the patient. It is the fruit that goes into the patient’s body and produces antibodies to fight with illness.
Jani lived in a cave opposite Mount Gabbar since the 1970s. Mount Gabbar is about 3.4 km from Ambaji and is the original abode of the Goddess Ambe. Rising at 4 am each day he spent most of his time meditating. He was a follower of Jainism, a religion sometimes considered an offshoot of Hinduism and practised by many in northern Gujarat.
Two observational studies of Jani have taken place, one in 2003 and one in 2010, both involving Dr Sudhir Shah, a neurologist at the Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad, who had studied people claiming to have exceptional spiritual abilities, including other fasters such as Hira Ratan Manek (Hira Ratan Manek claimed not to have eaten since 1995, he was kept under scientific observation for a 411-day period. During this time Manek subsisted only on boiled water). In both cases, the investigators confirmed Jani’s ability to survive healthily without food and water and did not pass out urine or defecate during the testing periods, although neither study has been submitted to a scientific journal.
The 2010 study was conducted by Dr Shahand and a team of 35 researchers from the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), as well as other organisations. The director of DIPAS said that the results of the observations could tremendously benefit mankind, as well as soldiers, victims of calamities and astronauts, all of whom may have to survive without food or water for long periods of time. Doctors believe that Prahlad Jani’s body went through a biological transformation because of meditation and powerful yoga practises in the completely natural environment that he resides in. They assume that this phenomenon relates to the Amrita Chakra (third eye chakra), as the Hindu Vedas speak of it being able to produce a divine nectar which sustains life.
Further investigation revealed that at age 83 his brain resembled that of a 25-year-old man. His practises had somehow miraculously transformed the biological functioning of his body, which no longer needs energy and sustenance from external material sources.
“People across the world have shown interest in Jani and his wonder diet of thin air,” says Dr Sudhir Shah. But Jani was not interested in going abroad, saying “I will go anywhere within the country, but not abroad.”
In 2006, The Discovery Channel aired a documentary called The Boy with Divine Powers featuring a five-minute interview with Jani and Dr Shah. In 2010, ITN posted an article and video featuring Prahlad Jani, commenting on the 2010 tests. In 2010, Prahlad Jani was featured in an Austrian documentary by Peter Straubinger, Am Anfang war das Licht (In the Beginning There Was Light) and was screened at the Cannes film festival. It documented this phenomenon with its roots in the Indian yogic philosophy that prana, meditation and cosmic energies can drive life and that the mind triumphs over matter. The film also features two other people renowned for their pranic way of living. In October 2010, the Italian television station Rai 2 program Voyager presented an extensive report on Prahlad Jani and the tests that had already been conducted.
In an interview with India TV, Mataji claimed that by practising a special type of yoga, even a normal person can survive without food and water, another yogi from the Himalayan region also confirmed that with the help of yoga, a normal person can survive without food or water. These practises are utilised by those who pray in Himalaya for years without much food.
There have been other cases of people able to live without eating and drinking, apart from taking the Holy Communion, for example, the Blessed Angela of Foligno (1248 – 1309), 10 years without any nourishment, Holy Catherine of Siena (1348 – 1380), fasting for 8 years, the Blessed Elizabeth of Reute (1386 – 1420), fasting for 15 years, Saint Lidwina of Schiedam (1380 – 1433), fasting for 28 years and Saint Therese Neumann (1898 – 1962), fasting for 36 years.
Ashram: Chundiwala Mataji Ashram
GPS 24.344096, 72.82673
Link to Google Maps:
Near Gabbar Hill
Directions to Chundliwala Mataji from the Ambaji Bus Station. Travel North on SH 54 for 1.1 km, turn left at the swastika roundabout on SH 54 and travel west for 2.3 km. Opposite Gabber Hill on your left, turn right on to Chundli Vale Mataji, travel on this road for about 500 m. After reaching Ambaji, ask anyone for Chunriwale Mataji, everybody knows him. Meeting days are only Sunday and Puranmaasi from 8 am to Midday.
Jani’s fame was initially restricted to Ambaji and its environs but gradually spread to Ahmedabad and Mumbai. From continually inhabiting his cave with bears and leopards for company, he was eventually persuaded to spend more time in the marble and asbestos structure constructed at its mouth. Inside this ‘ashram’ is a shrine dedicated to Maa Ambe, next to which stands a smaller shrine with Mataji’s idol in marble which is worshipped with full ritual twice a day. An ornamented jhoola stands nearby on which Mataji sits or reclines when not in his cave. The adjoining caves have been sealed off as there were too many snakes underground. Until about 40 years ago the cave was surrounded by forest and there were no roads in the area. The forest was home to bears, tigers and cheetahs when Mataji found the cave. While living here in the early years, many people would not approach him because of the two tigers that lived with him for a while until their death. When not in meditation, Jani apparently cleaned his cave and ‘ashram’ thoroughly, ordered around a small group of devotees, erupting into a temper if things did no go his way, especially on full moon nights!