While many young bloods surrender to age-related ailments, here is a 113-year-old “Thatha” (grandpa), who is still going strong and wishes to live for another 200 years. Pandit Sudhakar Chaturvedi, fondly known as thatha, is a living freedom fighter, just a year short on hold the Guinness world record.
Pandit Chaturvedi is popularly known as postman to Mahatma Gandhi. An MA in literature, he was born and brought up in Bangalore. Though he never married, he had adopted five children and now stays with his their families. In his spare time, he does pravachanas, Vedanta preaching and also guides people on book writing and religion. He says, even at this age, he feels healthy and has no major problems but for hearing loss. Thatha also wants to pledge his eyes.
When at the Lokayukta’s office to receive a wheelchair sponsored by IDL Foundation and Fusion Excel, a staff member asked if he needed water. Displaying a toothless smile, and clad in khadi, Chaturvedi said, “I need half-a-cup of tea,” and also specified the sugar and milk quantities.
One can not avoid talking about corruption at the Lokayukta’s office. Musing over the good ol’ days of freedom struggle with Mahathma Gandhi and being arrested for more than 31 times, Chaturvedi seemed to be disheartened with the outcome of the fight. “When I look at the rise in crime and corruption in the city, it makes me wonder if this was what we had fought for.”
Remembering an incident from his childhood, he added, “When I was just eight years old, I walked with my father to a village where the villagers were providing travellers with food and other items required for the travel. I asked if they were being paid for it. My father said it was donation. I learnt that donation is usually given and not demanded. But now people demand donation, which is nothing but corruption.”
Revealing the secret of his age, he said, “I am a pure vegetarian and luckily don’t suffer from any ailment. As I can’t move around much, this gift of wheelchair will help ease that problem too.”
Chaturvedi starts his day as early as at 3.30 am and after reading papers of three languages, he works for about 8 hours every day and mingles with people who visit him. He added that earlier, many people approached him and suggested that he should talk more about his freedom struggle so that he gets an award from the state and central governments. He shot down the idea saying sacrifice in itself was a reward.
Gifting him a special wheelchair, Lokayukta justice N Santosh Hegde said, “I wish Chaturvedi a longer life and appreciate the NGO IDL Foundation which is standing by him. I have nothing much to say about him, as I am now used to talking only about corrupt people.”