Thursday, September 01, 2011
Jaipur: Doubts about Anna Hazare's 12-day fast are baseless, feel experts and religious followers even as Anna Hazare has explained to the likes of Lalu Yadav that it is the power of "brahmcharya" [follower of the Absolute] that helps him keep fast for longer durations.
While breaking his fast at the Ramlila ground on Sunday, Anna had said a few politicians who doubt his fast should understand the power of "brahmcharya" that helps him stay without food for several days. Besides, Anna is certainly not to first to observe a long fast. Under various customs and traditions, people are known to observe fast for over a month.
Both the sects of Jain community--Shwetambar and Digambar observe eight-day fast during Paryushan Parva. "During these days, people only take water and that too, in a controlled manner," says Rajendra Bhandari, a follower of the Shwetambar sect, and secretary of Rajasthan Khadi Federation. Throughout the day, the community members perfom bhajan kirtan, and it is only after sunset that they drink water. Bhandari says his sister Chandrakanta, also a Jaipur resident, had once fasted for 30 days.
Followers of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, 12th century sufi saint, are known to fast for 40 days, and survive on just water. The custom is known as chilla kashi. Hazrat Nizamuddin, the famous 14th century sufi saint, used to observe chilla kashi. The chilla, or retreat of Baba Farid is a revered place among Chishti followers at the Ajmer dargah.
"Chilla kashi is observed under the supervision of a peer at a designated place and the followers are given either water or tea depending on the body requirement," says sufi scholar Syed Jazmul Hasan, who has worked extensively on Chishti philosophy.
It's not just religion, but science too backs Anna's fast. Gastroenterologist at SMS Medical College, Dr Subhash Nepalia, says that keeping a long fast by a healthy person is quite possible. "The feedback mechanism in human brain keeps feeding your appetite centres, but once you stop taking meals the mechanism doesn't work, so one can stay without meals. The duration depends on the support system of one's body," he explains.
Nutritionist, Asha Khumgar says that with an Army background, Anna Hazare can easily manage to remain without food for more than 15 days. "Anna Hazare comes from an Army background where men are trained to live without food in war times. Moreover, he is a brahmchari that also helps in revitalizing his body." Besides, it is his immense will power that has helped him stay without food for such a long time, adds Khumgar.
[Picture: Anna Hazare. Photo: Wiki.]