New Delhi – India’s leading Kathak exponent and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Pt Birju Maharaj, passed away in New Delhi on the midnight of 16th January after suffering a heart attack. He was 83.
The real name of Birju Maharaj from Lucknow heritage was Brijmohan Mishra. He was born on 4th February 1938 at Lucknow. He was born in a Kathak dancers family and his father Achhan Maharaj, uncle Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj were also renowned Kathak dancers. Due to the untimely death of his father, Birju Maharaj had to shoulder the responsibility of the family. He started taking lessons of Kathak from his uncle. Although he was a dancer, he was a great musician, classical singer and instrumentalist, and also an extraordinary poet and a talented painter. Many of his compositions are popular. He was the torchbearer of the Kalka-Bindadin Gharana of the Lucknow style of Kathak. He became an icon, making an unparalleled contribution to popularise Kathak globally.
Pt Birju Maharaj was conferred the Padma Vibhushan Award in 1983. (Padma Vibhushan Award is the 2nd highest civilian honour). He was also awarded the Sangeet Academy Award, Lata Mangeshkar Award, and Kalidas Award. Benaras Hindu University and Khairagad University have offered Honorary Doctorate to Pt Birju Maharaj. He was also honoured with many awards for directing dance performances in films. His demise has left a vacuum in the classical dance field.
Pt Birju Maharaj worshipper of Shrikrushna while dancing means offering the art of dancing to Shrikrushna !
He used to feel that classical dance is one of the paths (Spiritual practice) to remain in communion with God. He was the worshipper of Shrikrushna. He used to be in communion with Shrikrushna while giving dance performances. How he would experience Shrikrushna while dancing is given ahead in his own words –
“While dancing, Shrikrushna accompanies me. God maintains my balance when I maintain the rhythm of ‘thai’ and ‘taa’. I have offered my art to Shrikrushna only. While dancing on the stage, I do not dance, I run to chase Shrikrushna”. – Pt Birju Maharaj (27.11.2010)
A spiritually emotional tribute paid to Pt Birju Maharaj by Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay
Spiritually emotional tribute by Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay to the ascetic Pt Birju Maharaj, giving unique identity to Indian dance all over the world, practising Spirituality through dance throughout life. – Mrs Savitri Ichalkarnjikar, Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa.