At 120 Years Old, India’s ‘Oldest Man Ever’ Swears By Yoga & Celibacy

Hindu Monk Swami Sivananda has applied to Guinness World Records

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who passed away in June 2013 aged 116 years & 54 days, as the oldest man to have ever lived. However, if the claim of an Indian monk from Varanasi is to be believed, that record will soon need to be fudged out.

Swami Sivananda has his birth date listed on 8th August, 1896, on his passport, which makes him 120 years old, the oldest living man ever recorded. However, given the lack of verified record-keeping in India from that time, his claims are hard to be confirmed. The passport authorities confirmed his age from a temple register, the only record many Indians from that time and even decades later had as proof of their date of birth.

Sivananda, who has been getting immense attention from local media since summer after he made his claims, attributed his longevity to “yoga, discipline and celibacy”. Despite his advanced age, Sivananda still is able to perform Yoga for hours at a time.


“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 after a two-hour yoga session in Kolkata.

Hailing from the holy city of Varanasi, Sivananda is said to have grown up in abject poverty which led him to become a monk. He leads an extremely simple life, even staying away from milk and fruits (he terms them ‘fancy foods’), sleeping on a mat on the floor using a wooden slab as a pillow.

Sivananda didn’t come out earlier to claim the record as he wasn’t seeking publicity, but persuaded by his persistent followers, he agreed to do so this year. Without any medical conditions, Sivananda lives independently and even travels on his own today.

Born in colonial-era India without electricity, cars or telephones, Sivananda 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,” he said.

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