An Indian monk, claimed to be the oldest man in the world at 120 years of age, says the secret to his long life is celibacy.
The Hindustan Times notes that Swami Sivananda, from the holy city of Varanasi, also refrains from spices and performs yoga everyday.
According to his passport, Sivananda was born in 1896 and is applying for Guinness World Records to check his claim to be the oldest man to ever live.
The Indian passport authorities verified his age from the temple registry, the only record that many Indians are even decades younger than their date of birth, but it will still be very difficult to check his age independently.
Sivananda grew up in severe poverty, sleeping on a mat on the floor with a wooden slab as a pillow to this day. He says for his longevity “yoga, discipline, and celibacy” are to be praised.
“I lead a simple and disciplined life,” the 120-year-old man told the AFP.
This extends to his diet, which similarly fuss-free.
“I eat very simply – only boiled food without oil or spices, rice and boiled daal with a couple of green chillies,” Sivandanda said. “I avoid taking milk or fruits because I think these are fancy foods. In my childhood, I slept many days on an empty stomach.”
The 120-year-old man lost both parents before he was six, and was given away by his relatives to a spiritual guru.
Fit and healthy, the elderly man lives independently and enjoys his solitude. He also practices yoga for hours at a time, and advocates for a life uncluttered by technology and material possessions.
“Earlier people were happy with fewer things. Nowadays people are unhappy, unhealthy and have become dishonest, which pains me a lot,” he says.
“I just want people to be happy, healthy and peaceful.”