Question: My sister has been fasting for sixteen days to protest the building of a dam over the Narmada River by the Indian Government. I am so worried about her health.1Sri Chinmoy: After nine days of fasting, one’s health starts to go, no matter how much water you take. I have tried it. Water can keep the energy level in the beginning, but after nine days, you have to take some milk or banana or something. The first thing to be affected is the brain. Before your muscles start to atrophy or anything else, the brain suffers.
As a way of trying to change the minds of people who are in power, hunger strikes do not work. The only way to change their minds is through prayer. The best thing is for those people who are against the dam to go to the temple and pray. When we see that something is impossible, then prayer is the only thing that will work. Nobody in the government cares if some people are on a hunger strike.
Prayer is the answer when everything else has failed. Of course, prayer is also the answer right from the beginning, but when we feel all other weapons have failed, our prayer-weapon will definitely work. If even twelve sincere people pray to God, it will have some effect. God will listen to their sincere prayers and somebody in the government will do something for them.
The trouble is, we cry but we do not pray. That is why these things are happening. I have concentrated on Yugoslavia. They are crying, but they are not praying. They are not invoking the Christ and Mother Mary.
Please tell your sister that I am deeply concerned about her health. Hunger strikes can only be effective at home with our relatives because they love us. My mother fasted for a day and a half because my father would not take her to Pondicherry to bring back my brother Hriday. After a day and a half, he agreed to take her. In the case of Mahatma Gandhi, he undertook fasts many, many times to protest something in the government, but he knew that Nehru was so devoted to him. When Gandhi fasted, it broke Nehru’s heart and he promised to make those changes. But for your sister to become a martyr, what good will it do? Prayer is the only answer.
SCA 783. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 26 April 1999.↩