Is it possible to survive without food for 154 days?

Nothing is impossible if you decide. This awe-inspiring story of a 28-year-old young Jain saint is creating ripples across the world. Param Pavitramuni Maharaj Saheb has completed 154 fasts in 187 days. He has only consumed boiled water and not taken any food, fruits, medicines or dietary supplements during these fasts.

Param Pavitramuni Maharaj Saheb is a disciple of Param Gurudev Shree Namramuni Maharaj Saheb, a Jain spiritual leader, a notable thinker and humanitarian. Param Gurudev is the founder of Parasdham – a socio-religious organization with humanitarian initiatives and spiritually uplifting missions worldwide. His practical spirituality has inspired 58 young and highly educated individuals to date to give up a life of outward ambition and accept renunciation in the quest for truth. Param Pavitramuni Maharaj Saheb, a former state-level swimmer, skater and squash player, began his journey of renunciation in 2016. 

When asked why he chose to initiate such a tough penance, the young saint replied, “The foundation of Jain philosophy is ahimsa (non-violence). Every meal that we eat harms and hurts other living beings. While we cannot live without food, tapasya (fasting) is a process of inculcating compassion towards every living being. And fasting is not merely a process of spiritual detoxification; it is a process of developing our physical, mental and emotional stamina too.”

His Guru, Param Gurudev Shree Namramuni Maharaj Saheb throws further light on this subject, “Anxiety, tension, stress and depression are the most common lifestyle disorders in today’s day and age. The root cause of these issues is unfulfilled desires, lack of self-control and weak tolerance power. Fasting is an effort of becoming free from the desires of the mind and five senses. A person who gradually incorporates fasting into his lifestyle starts developing self-control in every emotion and aspect of life. It substantially increases your tolerance power and makes you capable of effectively handling challenging situations in life.” 

While sharing his experience, Param Pavitramuni Maharaj Saheb says, “Fasting taught me how to command my mind. When I initially began the fasts, there was a confrontation between my mind and me. The fast gave me a practical lesson about one compelling truth – Our mind has a direct influence on our body. When our mind is stronger, the body functions how we make it function. But when our mind is weak, the body also starts becoming weak. And so, the solution to every problem in life lies on achieving self-command on our mind.”

Jain philosophy believes that fasting is not for achieving any worldly goal or any other-worldly goal. Fasting is a process of feeding your soul. And while the world is exploring several kinds of health and wellbeing methodologies today, Jain ascetics have been advocating these for thousands of years. Be it consuming boiled water or eating meals before sunset; be it time-restricted intermittent fasting or dry fasting where one abstains from both food and water; these have been an integral part of the Jain way of living for centuries. Furthermore, Jain philosophy also reveals that fasting helps lessen perversions of the mind, which improves one’s focus and concentration considerably. It conserves your energy and improves your physical and mental health. 

From a scientific perspective, fasting improves metabolism, cell growth and repair. It reduces the risk of cancer, improves cellular regeneration through ‘autophagy’, decreases cholesterol levels and improves heart health. An ex-neurobiologist from the National Institute of Health found that fasting leads to a high increase in the best-known nerve growth factor called BDNF. One study reveals that 3 days of fasting brought a 300% increase in the Human Growth Hormone levels (HGH), and a whopping 1250% increase in HGH levels was observed after 1 week of fasting. Pavitramuni Maharaj Saheb himself experienced that his working capacity expanded tremendously during the entire period of his fast. He did not sleep for more than 4 hours at a stretch and became even more active than before. 

Param Gurudev Shree Namramuni Maharaj Saheb’s profound talks at JAINA (Federation of Jain Associations in North America) during the annual Jain festival, Paryushan Mahaparva 2021, were life-transforming for the entire Jain community in USA and Canada. And now, as his disciple, Param Pavitramuni Maharaj Saheb adds another leaf to the golden history of Jainism, Jains across the world feel honored and overwhelmed. In India, they celebrate the conclusion of this historic fast through a euphoric week-long festival called Tapotsav, held from 10 – 16th March 2022 in Mumbai. For more information, visit www.parasdham.org. You can watch the entire event LIVE on YouTube, Facebook and Zoom.  

Image courtesy of (IMage provided)

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