NEW DELHI: Renowned Hindustani classical vocalist Pt Rajan Mishra died of COVID-19 complications at a hospital here on Sunday evening, shortly after friends and well-wishers put out SOS messages on social media looking for a ventilator for him.
He was 70.
Mishra, one of the foremost exponents of khayal gayaki along with his brother Sajan Mishra, had been at the St Stephen's Hospital for the last three days, his son Rajnish said.
"He died of a heart attack around 6.30. We were trying for a ventilator but nobody supported us, nothing in any hospital. Later, the PMO reached out to help but he had left us by then," Rajnish told PTI.
Mishra is survived by his wife and three children, daughter Anju and sons Ritesh and Rajnish, who like their father and uncle, are singers.
The family had tried to shift Mishra to a hospital with a ventilator with well-wishers sending out messages on Twitter but to no avail.
The musician's condition worsened and he could not be shifted.
Mishra's nephew Amit told PTI that the musician, who was suffering from COVID-19, had taken the first dose of the vaccine about 15-20 days ago.
"He had a heart attack in the afternoon and he had another attack at around 5.30," Amit added.
The hospital did not respond to queries from PTI.
Mishra was awarded the Padma Bhushan.
The brothers belonged to the Banaras gharana.
News of the death of the singer sent shockwaves through the world of music and elsewhere too.
Among those who condoled his death was Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The death of Pandit Rajan Mishra ji, who left an indelible mark in the world of classical music, is saddening. The death of Mishra ji, who belonged to Banaras Gharana, is an irreparable loss to the music world. My condolences to his family and fans in this hour of grief. Om Shanti," the PM tweeted.
Fellow musician and close friend Vishwa Mohan Bhatt was the first to sound the alert about the search for a ventilator in the city, reeling under oxygen scarcity and an explosion in the number of COVID-19 cases that has stretched the health infrastructure to its absolute limits.
"Padma Bhushan Pandit Rajan Mishra (classical singer) urgently needs Ventilator (sic). At present, he is in St Stephen hospital, Tees Hazari, Delhi. Please help immediately," Bhatt had said on Twitter around 3 pm.
At 7.34 pm, he informed followers about Mishra's death.
Bhatt also tweeted his condolences.
"Unbelievable shocking news. Pt Rajan Mishra succumbed to Corona and cardiac arrest. such a big loss to the Indian classical music world. lost a true friend. may his soul rest in peace," he said.
Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil was among those who alerted the Twitter community about the need for a ventilator.
"Today we lost the country's pride, Padma Bhushan awardee Shri Pandit Rajan Mishra (of Rajan Sajan Mishra fame). He had COVID and despite best efforts he could not find a bed with ICU in Delhi.Feel distressed. My humble tribute," Gohil wrote.
In a tweet, the Ministry of Culture wrote, "Extremely saddened to learn about the unfortunate demise of Indian Classical Vocalist, Padma Bhushan #PanditRajanMisra Ji. Heartfelt Condolences to the departed soul and strength to the family members in this hour of bereavement."
The Mishra brothers hail from a family of musicians with deep roots in classical music going back seven generations.
Their ancestral home is in Varanasi's Kabir Chaura area, home to other musicians as well.
The brothers began their music career early when Rajan Mishra was around 10 and younger brother Sajan was around eight.
They began by singing in the temples of Varanasi, with their first performance in Varanasi's famous Sankat Mochan temple.
They were trained in music by their father Pt.Hanuman Prasad Mishra and uncle Pt.Gopal Mishra.
They also trained with Pandit Bade Ramdas Mishra.
Soon the brothers found fame and started touring and performing across the world with well attended concerts in places such as Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Qatar and the US.
There were awards and accolades aplenty.
These included the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, the Sanskrit Award, Sangeet Ratna (Allahabad), Sangeet Bhushan, the Kumar Gandharva Award and the Kashi Gaurav Award (Varanasi) and the Padma Bhushan.