Pandit Birju Maharaj, Legendary Kathak Dancer, Passes Away At 83

Pandit Birju Maharaj, a Kathak maestro, died late Sunday at his residence in Delhi after suffering a heart attack. He was 83 years old when he died.

Birju Maharaj, according to sources, was playing with his grandchildren late on Sunday night when his condition deteriorated and he passed out. He was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead.

The Kathak performer had a renal problem and was undergoing dialysis treatment.
His followers affectionately referred to him as Pandit-ji or Maharaj-ji, a great Kathak dancer. He was also a well-known performer in India. Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, was bestowed upon him.

“He was under treatment for the past month. He had sudden breathlessness at around 12:15-12:30 am last night; we brought him to the hospital within 10 mins, but he passed away,” Birju Maharaj’s granddaughter, Ragini Maharaj, told ANI.

According to his official site, the Kathak icon was also a fantastic drummer, good enough to play practically any drum with simplicity and perfection. He was particularly fond of playing the Tabla and Naal.


“Birju Maharaj was also a master vocalist who could do Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan, and Ghazal.
The demise of legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj marks the end of an era. It leaves a deep void in the Indian music and cultural space. He became an icon, making unparalleled contribution to popularise Kathak globally. Condolences to his family and admirers.” tweeted President Ram Nath Kovind

Birju Maharaj was a Kathak dancer’s descendent, as were his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, as well as his father and master, Acchan Maharaj.

He was a brilliant narrator, weaving episodes from his life into his performances in order to engage the crowd. He was also intensely perceptive, and he usually had something to say about everyday events, amusing those around him with lifelike impersonations and colourful depictions.