Noted historian and Padma Vibhushan awardee Balwant Moreshwar Purandare, popularly known as Babasaheb Purandare, died at a Pune hospital on Monday after a brief illness, a doctor said.
Purandare (99), an authority on the Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was diagnosed with pneumonia a week ago and was admitted to the city’s Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital where he died.
He was diagnosed with pneumonia owing to advanced age and was on ventilator support in the hospital’s intensive care unit. His health deteriorated on Sunday and he had been in an extremely critical condition since then, the doctor said.
On Sunday, the historian’s declining health sparked rumours of his death in a section of the vernacular media and a number of local news portals.
Known by his moniker ‘Shiv Shahir’ (literally Shivaji’s bard), Purandare was considered one of the pre-eminent authorities on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Raja Shivchhatrapati, Purandare’s popular two-part, 900-page magnum opus on Shivaji Maharaj in Marathi, was first published in the late 1950s and has since been a staple in Marathi households, going through numerous reprints over decades.
Purandare had also conceived and directed the theatrical history extravaganza on Shivaji Maharaj’s life titled Jaanta Raja in the mid-1980s.
Earlier this year, tributes had flown in from across the political spectrum on the occasion of the historian having completed 99 years, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting Purandare via a video message.
“Babasaheb’s work is inspirational. I visited Pune to see Babasaheb’s play ‘Janata Raja’, based on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Even when Babasaheb used to visit Ahmedabad I used to attend his programmes,” Modi had said.
Purandare, born on July 29, 1922, was awarded with Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award in 2019.