Sometimes referred to as "air cult" by the media. Breatharianism is a concept which promotes living on light and almost entirely without food and liquids. Jasmuheen, its most prominent promoter, has been exposed as a fraud, but not before several followers of her philosophy died. Her book, "Living on Light," is also titled "Pranic Nourishment," referring to the Hindu concept of prana - Sanskrit for "breath" or "life-force."
(...) New Age guru Jasmuheen, 42, formerly Australian businesswoman Ellen Greve, claims to have 5,000 devotees to her "breatharian" programme. She stood by her diet regime yesterday despite the death of disciple Verity Linn. (...) "I can go for months and months without having anything at all other than a cup of tea," she said. "My body runs on a different kind of nourishment." She said that some people have gone for up to six years without eating or drinking. (...) Breatharians believe they are sustained by Pranic light, an ancient spiritual belief in the light of God which is found across the universe and inside everyone. But the organisation has been dogged by scandal. In 1983, most of the leadership of the cult in California resigned when Wiley Brooks, its 47-year-old leader, who claimed not to have eaten for 19 years, was caught sneaking into a hotel and ordering a chicken pie. The cult originated in China and the Far East. Last year a monk in Bangalore claimed to have fasted for a 365 days, drinking only one cup of hot water after sunrise and another before sunset. During this time he lost more than five stone. Western doctors who monitored his condition said it was astonishing.
Fasting guru defends cult as doctors warn that her disciples are on path to suicide, The Express (UK), Sep. 23, 1999
Jasmuheen and her philosophy were in the news recently when a Scottish woman trying the diet for the first time died. It was the third dead associated with the movement.
According to Jasmuheen, a former financier previously known as Ellen Greve, the elements contained in air - nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen and hydrogen - can sustain a body. She claims to have survived on air for five years although she also allows herself cups of herbal tea and chocolate biscuits. Continuous fasting, known as "breatharianism", is also practised by Tibetan monks but for shorter periods. Jasmuheen claims to have 5,000 members of her cult worldwide.
'Living on air' cult follower dies during holiday fast, The Times (UK), Sep. 22, 1999
More recently, two Australian practitioners of breatharianism have been found guilty in the death of another follower. She died under their care while following the introductory, 21-day mediation diet. [See news archive]
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» News articles regarding breatharianism.
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)