No sex, no spices and plenty of yoga: ‘120-year-old’ reveals secret to long life

A monk who says he is the oldest man to have ever lived puts his longevity down to no sex or spices and daily yoga. Swami Sivananda, was born on August 8, 1896, according to his passport. If true, he would be 120 and his life would have spanned three centuries but he remains strong enough to perform yoga for hours at a time. Sivananda, from the Indian holy city of Varanasi, grew up in extreme poverty and chose to become a monk, saying he owed his age to “yoga, discipline, and celibacy”. Now, the Hindu monk is bidding to have his achievement recognised by Guinness World Records.

I avoid taking milk or fruits because I think these are fancy foods. In my childhood I slept many days on an empty stomach

Swami Sivananda

Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who died in June 2013 aged 116 years and 54 days, is listed as the oldest man to have ever lived. India’s passport authorities confirmed Sivananda’s age from a temple register, the only record many Indians even decades younger have of their date of birth. He has now come forward to claim the record after being persuaded by his followers. Fit and without any medical complications, he lives independently and even travels alone on trains. Sivananda, who was born in colonial-era India without electricity, cars or telephones, says he is not enthused by new technology and prefers being on his own.

Earlier people were happy with fewer things. Nowadays people are unhappy, unhealthy and have become dishonest, which pains me a lot

Swami Sivananda