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Legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj – Master Of Kathak Dance

Brijmohan Nath Mishra Maharaj, popularly known as Pandit Birju Maharaj was a well-known Indian dancer, who is a master of the Kathak form.He was the supporter of various awards for his contributions in performing arts that also included the country’s 2nd highest civilian honors which are the Padma Vibhushan, 1986. He is one of the supporters & practitioners of Kalka-Bindadin Gharana, which is a community of musicians that shares a distinctive musical style in Lucknow.

Pandit Birju Maharaj Childhood

He was born into the house of the famous known Kathak Icon, Jaganath Maharaj of Lucknow Gharana. Pandit Birju Maharaj’s father, Achhan Maharaj spent all his life teaching his son Pandit Birju Maharaj, the great teachings and fundamentals of kathak. He always went around places with his father wherever he was invited to exhibit to showcase his skills. Pandit Birju Maharaj started learning the famous kathak dance at a very young age. Pandit Birju Maharaj uncle, Lacchu Maharaj and Shambu Maharaj guided him in learning kathak. In the year, 1947, a tragic event struck him when he lost his father. The family further moved to Bombay, where Birju started learning the nuances of Kathak from his uncles.

Early Life

Talking about his early age. He was born into a Kathak dancing family and began performing as a child with his father, Acchan Maharaj. After the death of his father, while Birju was around 10 years old, he started training alongside his uncles who were also masters. They were respectively called Shambhu and Lacchu Maharaj. At the age of 13, he became a dance teacher and, at the age of 28, his mastery of the dance form won the Sangeet Natak Akademi which is the 2nd Highest Civilian Award of Music, dance, and arts Awards.

His Passion In Indian Classical Dance

Birju Maharaj was also a renowned and accomplished singer. His performance included thumris and dadras which are forms of classical vocal music. He played Indian Harmonium and also tabla, violin, and the naal. His popular composition of music and songs were for two classical dance sequences in the movie Shatranj Ke Khilari, which were directed by Satyajit Ray. By the passing years, he travelled around and performed while also lecturing demonstrations. He was the supporter of various awards for his contributions in performing arts that also included the country’s highest civilian honours which are the Padma Vibhushan, 1986. His experimentation and learnings in the Kathak Industry contributed to a lot of success.

His Lifestyle & Stay In Delhi

Pandit Birju Maharaj spent decades of his life in Delhi. This became really tough for a boy at a young age without the hand of his father to survive in Lucknow. He even mentioned the same in one of his interviews. He often would get lost in the streets of Delhi until he came across the Regal Cinema which was his landmark. Young Birju would travel all day to Regal Cinema, later finding his way back home or to his institute. He would spend most of his time in Lutyen’s Delhi. He was known as the heart of Kathak and is still known as one.

A Musicians & Lyricist

Music being the most integral part of any dance form, made Pandit Birju Maharaj learn more about it at a young age when he was 7. He was a wonderful singer with a real powerful grip over Dadra, Thumri, Ghazals and Bhajan, which are still famous forms of Indian Music. He also tried writing poems that turned out to be famous and amazing and are yet talked about. He has written many lyrics for many ballet compositions. All his songs, poems are famous and known even in today’s times. Bajirao Mastani – Mohe Rang Do Laal, Meera Chittachora, etc. These were actually his poems and were transformed into famous songs today.

His Awards & Recognition

Pandit Birju Maharaj has won numerous honours and awards, that also included the famous Padma Vibhushan in the year 1986. He was awarded the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. The Sangeet Natak Akademi Award was his priceless recognition, along with the Soviet Land Nehru Award and the Sangam Kala Award among other various awards. In 2002 he was awarded the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar.

Wish To Learn The Indian Classical?

Get all your inspiration from his teachings and skills when it comes to astounding Kathak Training by the famous Online Kathak Training Institute that has been getting all their understanding by the famous Pandit Birju Maharaj. All his skills were as a contribution to the Indian Cinemas, Sanskrit understanding of dance, and the actions of uttermost grace through thumkas and naal. Pandit Birju Maharaj was a living legend and a master of Kathak Dance, with a deep and profound influence on artistic mission and teachings. The dance of Kathak has long been recognised as the main genre of ancient Indian Classical Dance with the origin being from North India, commonly referred to as Kathakars or storytellers.

Lesser Known Facts About Pandit Birju Maharaj

  1. He was a descendant of Ishwari Prasadji, who was the first known Kathak teacher, a Mishra Brahmin in Handia Tehsil of Allahabad.
  2. He was awarded for Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Kalidas Samman, Nritya Choodamani, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas, Adharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Shiromani Samman, Rajiv Gandhi Peace Award. Basically, he’s best known and recognised as the 2nd Highest Civilian Award.

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