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Astrologer, 95, "example to all greedy men"

Life Begins at 80 salutes an Indian astrologer and philanthropist, Sri S A P Varadhan, who at 95 still lives a busy and varied life. One of his admirers calls him "a good example to all greedy men of the world."

We first read about him in the Chennai Citizen which began: "S A P Vardan is a 95-year-old young person. He has helped many people in his long life. This great young man keeps only 25 per cent of his income for himself, and donates the rest of it for noble causes. Vardan is an astrologer, and even in this age he works without retirement."

The story drew this response from Samuel Selvakumar, to the Chennai online website: "The Almighty Living God of the Universe shall definitely provide Mr. S A P Varadhan a very very long life to be a double centurian. Let him be a good example to all greedy men of the world. He is a Human Angel. I hope to get Blessings from him."

Intrigued, we searched the Internet to find out more about this good man who is little known outside his home country. The task was somewhat complicated, as his name has various English spellings.

The earliest account of his activities we could find was in an unsigned article on the website of Hindu Vivek Kendra:

This astrologer of Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat ... has this unique practice: as soon as he reads a news item in the daily paper about anyone who is honest, he sends a cheque for Rs.5,000 as gift to that person.

Two recent instances:

  1. A bank employee lost a bag containing cash of Rs. one lakh in Tirupur. Shri. R. Murugesan, 30, driver and Shri. K.Velan, 24, conductor of a mini bus, found the bag lying on Tirupur Kumaran Road, when they drove that way on regular duty. They handed over the bag intact to the police. The bank employee got back the cash bag the next day from the police. Varadhan promptly gave Rs. 5,000 each to Murugesan and Velan as gift when he read a report in DINAMANI, Tamil daily, about their honest act. This was in October 2003.
     
  2. Shri. Nagarajan, a conservancy worker with the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, says he will be able to pay the fees for his daughter Valarmathi's last semester out of the gift of Rs. 5,001 that he received from astrologer Varadhan in appreciation of his act of honesty. While on duty, Nagarajan found a bundle containing ornaments worth Rs. 60,000 in the dust bin. He duly handed it over to the authorities. This was reported in DINAMANI in August 2003. Valarmathi is doing her III B.Sc. Computer Science. Nagarajan has to work as a casual labourer during off duty hours to earn more so that he could meet the educational expenses of his daughter.

Next, we found this report in the online edition of The Hindu (India's National Newspaper):

Award for RPF constable

CHENNAI: The Railway Board awarded a cash prize of Rs. 4,000 on Thursday to a Railway Protection Force constable, B. Dhesi, attached to the Central Railway Station.

A letter from the Board Chairman said the cash prize was being given for exhibiting exemplary bravery in the rescue work at Devanampattinam in Cuddalore on the day tsunami hit the east coast.

Mr. Dhesi went on leave to Cuddalore during Christmas. He was at the beach, when the tragedy struck. He was able to save a couple of people and took them to safety. Recognising his contribution, the Cuddalore Collector, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, sent a letter of appreciation to the then Chief Security Commissioner, RPF.

The nonagenarian astrologer, S.A.P. Varadhan, on hearing about the act of Mr. Dhesi, rewarded him with a cash prize of Rs. 11,000 in February. Staff Reporter

Finally, we found a photo showing Sri Varadhan presenting a cheque for one lakh rupees to the principal of a girls' high school. [One lakh (100,000) rupees = $Aust3042, $US2296. The word Sri (sometimes written as Shree or Shri) is a Sanskrit term of respect used as a title, like mister in English.]

  • Chennai was called Madras until 1996, and is still widely known by its old name. With a population of six million, it's India's fourth largest city and one of the 35 largest metropolitan areas in the world.
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Story first posted July 2005

Copyright 2005

Eric Shackle

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