Swamiji Shivanand was born on August 8, 1896, in Behala, in a village. He could be the oldest living person with the age of 120 years . In fact, he is about five years older than Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who holds the Guinness Record now. In spite being based in Varanasi, he moves around the country and abroad for spiritual discourses. This man is 120 years old even doctors were amused by his mental agility and fitness. He doesn’t even have any sign of ageing at this age.
Swami Sivananda’s passport and Aadhaar card put his age at 120, but he looks 50 years younger -there’s hardly a wrinkle on his cheeks. Doctors and nurses at the private hospital were awestruck by the monk’s mental and physical agility. They were speechless when he did a ‘Sarbangasana’ at the drop of a hat (or request).
His devotees were worried because he was having headaches for the first time in his life. Not bad for a 120-year old. So, the monk walked in for the first medical check-up of his life.To put it in perspective, when Swami Sivananda was born, it had only been a year since X-ray was invented, and on Saturday, he didn’t bat an eyelid when he was wheeled into an MRI machine.
Swami Sivananda walked out with a clean bill of health but for high blood pressure -even then his diastolic was absolutely normal at 80. Wonder what’s his to such brilliant health? Its mashed green chilies every day!
In addition to it, he religiously consumes boiled food, exercised regularly and believes in the joy of helping others.
He seemed quite bemused at his first medical check-up. He has been staying with a devotee in Salt Lake for about a month now. In the last few days, he started complaining of headaches after every discourse with devotees. Prodded by his followers, he agreed to a check-up. All these years, we’ve never heard Swamiji complain of health problems. When he said he was having headaches, we persuaded him to get a check-up,” said Dr S C Garai, a disciple. All they found was systolic hypertension (18080). “Even people in their forty can have such high blood pressure if they lead stressful lives.Swami Sivananda has the heart of a young man,” said Dr P C Mondal, intervention cardiologist at the hospital.
“Clinically, his heart seems to be in good condition.The ECG and echo cardiogram reports are awaited. He agreed to take medication for his high blood pressure but asked us if he could postpone it by five days so that he can work on reducing it on his own,” Mondal said.
Born Sivananda Goswami, his parents died on the same day when he was only four years old. His elder sister, who used to beg for food with him, died two years later. Some relatives handed over the child to a guruji who brought the boy to Nadadwip. He moved around before settling down in Varanasi in 1979.
What’s the secret of his longevity and health? “I believe in eating simple, living humble and in being compassionate. I feel good when I have tried my best to help those in distress,” the guru told TOI in perfect English, despite never having got formal education.
He had boiled rice, boiled pulses and boiled vegetables with a couple of green chillies from the hospital’s canteen for lunch. Chef Suman Bhattacharjee got a pat for the doubled boiled rice as swamiji has lost all his teeth, perhaps the only sign of his age.
“As a child who had to sleep on an empty stomach many nights, even boiled food is a fancy . I stuck to boiled food as a habit and not because I was conscious of my health. Fruits and milk are a fancy for the hungry so I avoid them,” said Swami Sivananda. While many `Godmen’ or gurus live in palatial houses, Swami Sivananda lives in a 600 sq ft flat in Varanasi donated by his disciples. Anyone who wants to approach the swamiji with their problems can walk in any time of the day . He sleeps on a mat with a wooden block for a pillow. He performs yoga, pranayama and freehand exercises for two hours daily. The rest of the day he reads, chants and speaks with devotees from any religion.The good days are when he gets to help someone.
Every Saturday, he and his devotees distribute food among the poor. He also spends time working with lepers and plans to travel to Puri in December to help lepers and beggars.