The web has been abuzz this week with news that another practitioner of the so-called sunlight fast has starved to death. The newspaper article doesn't name the woman but says that she was a follower of an Indian "guru" who claims to have lived decades on sunlight alone.
The AP report that translated the Swiss article didn't name the "guru" the woman was following but I suspect that it was a man named Prahlad Jani. Jani claims to have lived without food or water since 1940 or so. In recent years he's been featured on several documentaries about his claims.
Jani's absurd claims have been put to the test--sort of--at least twice in the past decade. Back in 2003 he was supposedly sealed in a hospital room for 10 days and was given only a small amount of water to use as a mouthwash. He survived the fast but his claim that he could survive indefinitely was damaged when doctors found that Jani had, in fact, lost weight during his supposed confinement.
A couple of years ago he was supposedly tested at an Indian research facility. A press release issued at that time by the facility postulated that perhaps Jani had developed an unusually high tolerance for starvation and water deprivation. The facility's spokesperson was quoted on an Indian website at the time as saying, "We would like to keep the information confidential for the time being, but we shall share it when the results are established." As far as I can tell no actual results from the 15-day study have ever been made available for scientific scrutiny.
Whether Jani can truly go for days without water or not, it's a no-brainer that he hasn't really survived years on just "energy" beamed to him from a goddess. But as the Swiss woman's case so clearly demonstrates there are, unfortunately, people out there just gullible enough to not only believe it, but to even kill themselves trying to emulate Jani and people like him.