Pandit Birju Maharaj, legendary Kathak dancer, passed away on Monday, leaving a gaping loss in the artistic sphere in his wake. As per PTI, Maharaj-ji breathed his last surrounded by family and disciples while playing a game of ‘antakshari’. Pt Birju Maharaj’s magnetic personality is a subject of immense admiration among disciples and fans alike. A senior disciple, Nandkishore Kapote, last year put together a book compiling essays of admiration and well-wishes from his disciples. Evidently, the Kathak guru shared a unique relationship with his shishyas. As the news of his demise caused fans worldwide to mourn, many turned to social media in reminiscence, posting videos of his performances and choreography. One such video, less than a minute in duration, highlights a crucial piece of his bond that began young with a little girl.
In a video shared on Twitter by user ‘Sarvan_K86’, Birju Maharaj inducts a young pupil under his wing, first blessing her with a ‘tika’ and then handing her a pair of ‘ghunghroos’. He instructs the young girl on how to place her feet, and then touches them in a gesture of respect. Later, he can be heard saying in Hindi, “See, guru ji only touches the disciple’s feet once. Thereafter, of course, the disciple has to keep taking the guru’s blessings all the time.”
— Sarvan_K86🇮🇳 (@go3ram) January 17, 2022
One of Birju Maharaj’s notable students is none other than Bollywood actor Madhuri Dixit. She is famously known to have had his stamp of approval for her unparalleled skills. He had once reportedly said that she was his favourite dancer in all of Bollywood. Many Twitter users could be seen sharing clips of their performances together.
It's Huge Loss😖
We will miss You 😕
Pranam Maharaj ji 🙏🙏
— 𝑹𝒌 ❁ (@RealisticRk) January 17, 2022
Birju Maharaj 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. Birju Maharaj has choreographed several songs in Bollywood. These include Kaahe Chhede Mohe for Devdas (2002) and Mohe Rang Do Laal in Bajirao Mastani (2015).
Following the tragic news of Birju Maharaj’s demise, condolences poured in from all quarters. The Prime Minister, Hema Malini, filmmaker Subhash Ghai and singer Adnan Sami are some of the notable names who took to Twitter to pay their tributes to the Kathak maestro.