No matter how great the errors and mistakes in the search for earthly immortality, despite everything, despite the setbacks and disappointments, the search for the fountain of the eternal youth, the search for ways to prolong life has never stopped. Mistakes, ignorance, failures were always immediately locked. However, any slightest success was instantly shrouded under the veil of secrecy.
That is why any information about the successes that have been achieved along this path are rare, scattered and unreliable.
There is, for example, a message about Bishop Allen de Lisle, an individual who actually existed (he died in 1278 C.E.), engaged in medicine, historical sources refer to him as “a universal healer”. He supposedly knew the composition of the elixir of the eternal youth, or at least some method of significant prolongation of life. When he was already very old and dying of old age, with the help of this elixir he managed to extend his life for another 60 years.
At the same time, Zhang Daoling (34-156 CE), who is also a person of historical significance and the founder of the Tao philosophical system in China, managed to extend his life. After many years of persistent experiments, he allegedly succeeded in the creation of some kind of legendary pill of immortality. When he was 60 years old, according to the chronicles, he regained his youth and lived to 122 years.
There are mentions of hermits and saints, who have lived for several human lives, such exist all over the world. Many have heard of Taoist methods of prolongation of life and even the achievement of immortality. The “Chuang Tzu” texts mention a certain Peng Tzu, who followed these rules and lived for 800 years. Another individual, Guang Chengzi, achieved extraordinary longevity due to the fact that he avoided any actions, excitements and even knowledge. This Guang Chengzi lived supposedly for as long as 1200 years.
In line with these there are other reports of the ancients. Aristotle and other authors mention Epimenides, a priest and a famous poet from the island of Crete. It is know that in 596 BCE, he was invited to Athens to bring purification sacrifices there. According to the legend, Epimenides managed to extend his life to 300 years.
But such long age is no limit. The Portuguese court historian recounts in his chronicle a certain Indian, with whom he personally met and talked and who was at that time allegedly 370 years old.
Similar evidence can be attributed to the book, published in Turin in 1613 and containing a biography of one inhabitant of Goa, who allegedly lived to almost 400 years. Close to this figure are the years of life of one Muslim saint (1050-1433), who also lived in India. In Rajasthan (India), there is a legend about the hermit Munisadha, who, as far back as the 16th century, had retired to the caves near Dholpur and is hiding there … still.
Roger Bacon, a scholar and philosopher of the Middle Ages, was also interested in the problem of prolonging human life. In his work “De Secretis Operebus”, he tells of a German named Papillus, who, after many years in captivity with the Saracens, learned the secret of making a potion, and thanks to it lived to be 500 years old. Pliny the Elder also refers to the same number of years, up to this age, according to his testimony, a certain Illyrian managed to extend his life.
An example that is closer to us in time. One of the Russian magazines of the beginning of the century reported a long-liver, who was at that time over two hundred years old. An old man checked into a hospital in Tomsk, and the doctors asked how old he was. The old man had a metric certificate and other documents proving his age. Among them, was a passport issued to him in 1763. The old man told, that he saw Peter the 1st and Catherine the Great with his own eyes. When in the hospital, the old man was very weak, “but his mental abilities were not affected”.
Another example, which also happened in our time, is information about the Chinese Li Tsanyune. He died in 1936, leaving behind a widow who, according to the record, was his 24th wife. Li Tsanyun, it is claimed, was born in 1690, and therefore lived 246 years.
But the strangest and the most fantastic example of the same kind is associated with the name of the Indian Tapasviji, who lived for 186 years (1770-1956). At the age of 50, he, being a rajah in Patial, decided to retire to the Himalayas to become “beyond the human sorrows”. After many years of exercise, Tapasviji learned to enter into the so-called “samadhi” state, when life seemed to leave his body completely, and he did not drink or eat for a long time. This practice was reported by the British, who served in the colonial administration in India. They talked about yogis who, after carefully cleansing the stomach and intestines, plastered their ears and nose with wax and entered into a state resembling the winter hibernation of insects. In this state, they stayed not a day or two, but for several weeks, after which they were brought back to life with the help of hot water and massage. The fate of Tapasviji, perhaps, will not cause much surprise. There were other long-livers, who naturally lived to 140-150 years of age. The fact that Tapasviji, or someone else, through diet or other means, was able to push this limit back several more decades is nothing fundamentally impossible. This story is about the amazing testimony of Tapasviji himself. Once, he said, he met an old hermit from the spurs of the Himalayas. He ate only fruits and milk, but looked extremely energetic and vigorous. But, most surprisingly, the hermit did not speak any of the modern Indian languages, speaking only in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. It turned out that approximately 5,000 years have passed since he came here! To extend his life to such limits, he was allegedly due to some potion, the secret of which he possessed. None of the “long-livers” in historical chronicles, nor in legends, nor in tales were able to reach or exceed the said 5,000 years.
However, no matter how fantastic this message is, no matter how long the period of fifty centuries, all this is not true immortality, and very few are able to approach it. That is why scientists and fanatics, philosophers and madmen so persistently continued to search for the elixir of immortality or the fountain of eternal youth … the means capable of granting eternal life … or at the very least a very long life. Some dedicate to such searches years, decades … some even their entire lives.
Written by: Alexander Gorbovsky, “Other Worlds”, Moscow, 1991.
Translated by: Dmitriy Kushnir