Abstinence is the Best Sustenance

Say What? I’m hungry! Well, here’s some bread, water, and fresh air. That’s all you really need.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Brahmanism, Jogi, an ascetic man

There were in Marco Polo’s day (circa 1300 AD) some folk who exceeded any normal life expectancy. They were known to live up to an extraordinary age, 200 years in fact, according to our travelling friend (but by which calendar were their ages recorded, we do not know for certain). And they practiced the principle of asceticism, or an abstinence from any and all indulgences and consumption like a life-long fasting for religious reasons.

               One group, “the Sensin,” ate nothing but bran and hot water, like, oatmeal. And they only drank water. So, through a very pious, ascetic life, for they worshiped idols and fire, they would live to a great old age.

Photo of Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) in Beijing, China. Taken by Brian Jeffery Beggerly, from Beggs' Photos. Flickr.
Summer Palace, Beijing, China – one of the seasonal palaces Kublai Khan resorted to when away from his famed Xanadu where Marco Polo encountered the Sensin

               Elsewhere in the region, around the country of Lar in the province of Maabar (modern: Chennai, India), there was a sect of Hindu Brahmins called the Jogi, who by virtue of their piety and similar ascetism regularly lived to the great ages of 150 to 200.

But, in addition to fasting and eating simply, they also consumed a drink. A special drink, or an elixir rather. Perhaps, one may call it a potion. Quite interesting. The ingredients were actually solids, yet they formed a drinkable liquid. What was it? Well. Ok. Just promise me you won’t try to replicate it. Seriously, do not try this at home. They would concoct, by heat and melting, a cupful of quicksilver (mercury) and sulpher. This they would drink twice a month. And so, with this and their sparse diet and ascetic lifestyle they would achieve such longevity of age.

Now do not try this at home, because, once, a Mongol khan, or prince, Arghun Khan tried it and he died. He took this prescription for 8 months and then suddenly passed away. So, do not do it. Please. Do not drink mercury and/or sulpher. Just eat a healthy diet and do some meditative breathing like the mysterious “Sensin” of Xanadu.

Kangnido, Map of Asia, 1402-1470
“Kangnido” Map of Asia, 1402-1470

Categories: Medieval

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