Published On: Thu, Aug 18th, 2016

Indian ‘oldest man ever’ says yoga, celibacy key to age

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Indian 'oldest man ever' says yoga, celibacy key to age (9)

KOLKATA: Looking remarkably unlined for his claimed 120 years, an Indian monk who says he is the oldest man to have ever lived puts his longevity down to no sex or spices, and daily yoga.

Hindu monk Swami Sivananda was born on Aug 8, 1896, according to his passport. If true, his life would have spanned three centuries, but despite his apparent age he remains strong enough to perform yoga for hours at a time.

In this photograph taken on August 2, 2016, Indian monk Swami Sivananda reacts after his followers presented him with a birthday cake in Kolkata. An Indian monk who claims to be the oldest man to have ever lived at 120 years, says he owes his longevity to daily yoga and a life without sex or spices. Born on August 8, 1896, according to his passport, Hindu monk Swami Sivananda's life has spanned three centuries. He is now applying to Guinness World Records to stake his claim to the distinction.  - TO GO WITH AFP STORY:  ' India-Lifestyle-Oldest-Man' Feature by Dibyangshu SARKAR  / AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR / TO GO WITH AFP STORY:  ' India-Lifestyle-Oldest-Man' Feature by Dibyangshu SARKAR

In this photograph taken on August 2, 2016, Indian monk Swami Sivananda reacts after his followers presented him with a birthday cake in Kolkata. An Indian monk who claims to be the oldest man to have ever lived at 120 years, says he owes his longevity to daily yoga and a life without sex or spices. Born on August 8, 1896, according to his passport, Hindu monk Swami Sivananda’s life has spanned three centuries. He is now applying to Guinness World Records to stake his claim to the distinction.
– TO GO WITH AFP STORY: ‘ India-Lifestyle-Oldest-Man’ Feature by Dibyangshu SARKAR
/ AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR / TO GO WITH AFP STORY: ‘ India-Lifestyle-Oldest-Man’ Feature by Dibyangshu SARKAR

 

He is now applying to Guinness World Records to verify his claim. It currently lists Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who died in June 2013 aged 116 years and 54 days, as the oldest man to have ever lived.

India’s passport authorities confirmed Sivananda’s age from a temple register, the only record many Indians even decades younger have of their date of birth.

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However it would be extremely difficult to independently verify his age.

Sivananda was featured by local media earlier this summer, with the Times of India noting he looked 50 years younger than his apparent age but taking his claims at face value.

Sivananda, from the holy city of Varanasi, grew up in extreme poverty and chose to become a monk, saying he owed his age to “yoga, discipline, and celibacy”.

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“I lead a simple and disciplined life. I eat very simply – only boiled food without oil or spices, rice and boiled daal (lentil stew) with a couple of green chillies,” he told AFP after a two-hour yoga session in Kolkata, the eastern Indian city where he had come for a short visit.

Standing 1.58 metres (five feet two inches) tall, Sivananda sleeps on a mat on the floor and uses a wooden slab as a pillow. “I avoid taking milk or fruits because I think these are fancy foods. In my childhood I slept many days on an empty stomach,” he said.

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Sivananda said he had not previously come forward to claim the record because he did not seek publicity, but was eventually persuaded by his followers to apply.

The elderly man lost both parents before he was six and was given away by his relatives to a spiritual guru, whom he travelled with around India before settling in Varanasi.

Indian 'oldest man ever' says yoga, celibacy key to age

Fit and without any medical complications, he lives independently and even travels alone on trains.

Sivananda, who was born in colonial-era India without electricity, cars or telephones, says he is not enthused by new technology and prefers being on his own.

“Earlier people were happy with fewer things. Nowadays people are unhappy, unhealthy and have become dishonest, which pains me a lot,” he said. “I just want people to be happy, healthy and peaceful.”

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Courtesy: Channel News Asia

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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