Surviving on sunlight

Hira Ratan Manek is a mechanical engineer by training and was into the shipping and spices business, based in Kozhikode. For the last eight years, he had not taken any solid food. He retired from his business in 1992 and is now touring the world, lecturing on how to solve one of the most challenging issues before mankind -- hunger.

His tool for warding off the pangs of hunger is disarmingly simple. Gazing at the sun. ``Allow the sun rays to reach your brain through the eyes. And that will activate the dormant cells in the brain.'' This is the Hira Ratan Manek or HRM Phenomenon.

If his words are to be relied upon, even scientists at NASA are interested in this technique as it would obviate the need to provide food to astronauts.

He will tell you that food is not a necessity for living. ``Food is only a secondary form of solar energy. Why should you need it if you could have it directly from the primary source itself.''

His technique involves gazing at the sun during safe periods -- that is one hour after sunrise and before sunset. ``You can increase the tolerance of eyes to sunlight gradually. In just over seven months, constant training will enable you to gaze at the sun for half-an-hour.''

At this point, he believes, body cells start storing solar energy and slowly hunger vanishes. ``Fasting is not something that you force upon yourself. It just happens.'' Once hunger vanishes, you can stop the sun-gazing session.

HRM's art of body control has very much to do with his Jain faith. ``This was how Lord Mahavira survived for many years.''

He has demonstrated this to the scientific fraternity. He had fasted for 211 days at Kozhikode in 1995, for 411 days at Ahmedabad in 2002 and 130 days in the U.S. During these periods, he consumed only water. ``Many people have survived for longer periods. But mine is the longest duration recorded under proper and constant scientific monitoring.''

Manek now takes tea, coffee or buttermilk for ``hospitality reasons alone and even this will not exceed one-and-a-half litres a day''. On Friday, he will leave for the U.S. to partake in further research in this regard as well as to promote a new way of life.

By Anand Haridas

Photo: Vipinchandran

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