Kolkatta, Oct 13: If the date is correct on Swami Sivananda’s travel document, that would make him the world’s oldest person — ever. The monk was travelling from London back to Kolkata when he stopped over in Abu Dhabi to change planes, The Sun reported.
His passport said he was born on August 8, 1896 in Behala, India. He has reportedly been trying to have his age confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records for three years, but it was hard to verify as the only records came from a temple register.
Swamy Sivananda lost both parents before he was six and he was given away by his relatives to a spiritual guru, with whom he travelled around India before settling in the holy city of Varanasi.
Despite claiming to be 123, Swamy Sivananda appears to look decades younger, which he puts down to yoga, discipline and celibacy.
“I lead a simple and disciplined life. I eat very simply — only boiled food without oil or spices, rice and boiled daal (lentil stew) with a couple of green chillies,” he said in a 2016 interview.
“I avoid taking milk or fruits because I think these are fancy foods. In my childhood I slept many days on an empty stomach.
“Discipline is the most important thing is life. One can conquer anything with discipline in food habits, exercise and sexual desires.”
The 157cm-tall Swamy Sivananda is fit and in good health, lives independently and even travels alone on trains.
He sleeps on a mat on the floor with a wooden slab for a pillow and hankers back to a simpler era.
“Earlier people were happy with fewer things,” he said.
“Nowadays people are unhappy, unhealthy and have become dishonest, which pains me a lot. I just want people to be happy, healthy and peaceful.”
THE WORLD’S OLDEST PEOPLE
The oldest person ever was Jeanne Louise Calment, from France, who died at the age of 122 years and 164 days in 1997.
The oldest person who is currently alive and recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records is Kane Tanaka, of Japan. She is aged 116 years and 279 days.
The world’s oldest living man is 113-year-old Gustav Gerneth, from Germany.
The record for oldest man ever to have lived is held by Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura, who died in 2013 aged 116.
The oldest living person in Australia is believed to be Melbourne’s Nessie Kluckhenn, who turned 110 on April 1.