Kathak legend and Padma Vibhushan awardee Pandit Birju Mahaharaj passed away at his home in Delhi late Sunday, after suffering from a massive heart attack.
The legendary dancer, who would have been 84, next month, breathed his last in the presence of his family and disciples at his residence, said his granddaughter, RaginiMaharaj.
Reportedly, Maharaj was playing with his grandsons on Sunday night when he suddenly become unconscious, and was rushed to the hospital.
One of India's best known artistes, BirjuMaharaj was suffering from a kidney ailment, and was undergoing dialysis.
A recipient of the country's second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, he was born as Brij Mohan Nath Mishra on February 4, 1937, in a well-known family of Kathak dancers. The news comes just days after his nephew and disciple, Pt Munna Shukla, passed away following a brief illness at 78.
Prime Minister NarendraModi expressed his condolences to the family and fans of the Kathak legend. On Twitter, Modi wrote, "Deeply saddened by the demise of PanditBirjuMaharajji, who gave Indian dance forms a special recognition across the world. His passing is an irreparable loss to the entire world of art. My condolences to his family and fans in this hour of grief."
Besides father Achchan Maharaj and uncles Shambhu and LachchuMaharaj, BirjuMaharaj was influenced by BindadeenMaharaj.
PanditBirjuMaharaj donned several hats during his lifetime. While he was best known as a Kathak dancer, he was an equally prolific singer, poet and painter.
The Kathak legend was also a superb percussionist, playing nearly all percussions with ease and precision; he was especially fond of playing the Tabla and Naal, according to his official website.