Pandit Birju Maharaj, the doyen of the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak, died at his home in Delhi in the early hours of Monday, his granddaughter said. He would have been 84 next month.
Maharaj-ji, as he was popularly known, died surrounded by his family and disciples. They were playing ‘antakshari’ after dinner when he suddenly took ill, Ragini Maharaj told news agency PTI. The Kathak exponent, one of India’s best-known artistes, had been suffering from a kidney ailment and was under dialysis treatment. He probably died of a cardiac arrest, his granddaughter said.
A recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, he was born Brij Mohan Nath Mishra on February 4, 1937, in a well-known Kathak dancing family. The news comes just days after his nephew and disciple Pt Munna Shukla passed away following a brief illness at 78.
Tributes pour in for the legendary Kathak dancer from all fields of society.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote that the maestro’s passing away is a huge loss to the entire art world. Similarly, many others also paid rich homage to the maestro.
भारतीय नृत्य कला को विश्वभर में विशिष्ट पहचान दिलाने वाले पंडित बिरजू महाराज जी के निधन से अत्यंत दुख हुआ है। उनका जाना संपूर्ण कला जगत के लिए एक अपूरणीय क्षति है। शोक की इस घड़ी में मेरी संवेदनाएं उनके परिजनों और प्रशंसकों के साथ हैं। ओम शांति! pic.twitter.com/PtqDkoe8kd— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 17, 2022
Received the sad news of the demise of Kathak maestro Shri Birju Maharaj.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 17, 2022
My condolences to his family, friends and fans.
His contribution to the field of Indian classical dance is unparalleled and he will be remembered for it. pic.twitter.com/Em7S3RFre6
Pandit Birju Maharaj took Kathak from India to the world & inspired several people to take up the art.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 17, 2022
I am saddened to hear about his demise. He will continue to live through his art & artists inspired by him. Deepest condolences to his family & Kathak lovers across the world. pic.twitter.com/bvjJ3gQ3uM