Ahmedabad: Spirituality and science are coming together to show logical interlinking between science and religion. A team of scientists from Defene Institute of Physiology and Applied Sciences (DIPAS) has undertaken a scientific study of'voluntary and complete fasting on metabolic homeostasis' in association with Jain Doctor Association (JDA) and Sabarmati Jain Shvetambar Murtipujak Sangh, DRDO, Sristi, IIM-A and Gujarat Vidhyapith.
Some 50 Jain male and female volunteers have participated in the study, which was scheduled during 'Paryushan Parva' -- a religious week of Jainism during which Jains undertake fasting. Those actively involved in the study are Dr Sudhir Shah from JDA, Prof Anil Gupta from IIM-A, and Prof Purnima Mehta from Center for Jain Philosophy of Gujarat Vidhyapith.
A group of 50 volunteers (36 female and 14 male) in the age group of 5-68 years is being studied. They undertook fasting for one day, three days (known as Aththam), eight days (known as Aththai), 16 days and for 30 days (known as Maskshaman).
The study has been organised under the guidance of Jain sadhus Acharya Gunratna Maharaj Saheb and Acharya Rashmiratna Maharaj Saheb. Talking about the science behind fasting, Acharya Rashmiratna Maharaj Saheb said, "Every religion has talked about the importance of fasting. It works as a process to clean and purify the soul, which is related to karma. In Jainism, a one day fast lasts for 36 hours and one cannot take food or water after sunset."
The scientific research on the volunteers has been done with comprehensive benchmarks. Dr G Ilavazhagan, director of DIPAS, said: "We have been conducting medical test on volunteers who had taken three days, six days, eight days, sixteen days and thirty days fasts, every two to three days. We will continue doing so till they are back to the normal diet. The outcome of the study will take some time."
He said, "We are doing comprehensive testing of functioning of various organs of body like brain, heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. The study includes physiology and biochemical parameters that include studying cerebral blood flow, neuro-psychological analysis, lung functioning, blood pressure, heart rate through ECG, EEG tests and test on liver and kidney."
"As this is the first-of-its-kind study, we want to reach a meaningful conclusion. The results of the study can be applicable to astronauts and defence forces who fast for a longer time in specific situations," said Ilavazhagan.