India’s ‘oldest man ever’ says yoga, celibacy key to long life

The oldest Indian Swami Sivananda is said to be 120 years old. The Varanasi based swami is now applying to the Guinness World Records to verify his claim

The monk remarkably had no wrinkles for his claimed 120 years; he cites no sex or spices, and daily yoga for his long life.

As per his passport, the Hindu monk Swami Sivananda was born on August 8, 1896. 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.

He is now applying to Guinness World Records to verify his claim.

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.

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”.

“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 said after a two-hour yoga session in Kolkata.

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.

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