Thiruvananthapuram: Acclaimed teacher, poet and temple priest, Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri passed away on Thursday at his house here, family sources said. He was 81.

He was suffering from age-related ailments.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish over his demise. He expressed condolences with a heartfelt note on his Twitter handle.

"Anguished by the demise of Sri Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri. His pioneering contribution to the world of culture and literature will be remembered. His widely read works reflect compassion and sensitivity. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti," his post read.

A hugely respected English professor, who taught at various government colleges in the state, he was also a Malayalam poet of repute with his work acting as the bridge between modernity and tradition.

He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2014.

Namboothiri had figured in a controversy when working as the temple priest at Sree Vallabha temple in Thiruvalla, after the temple thantri in 1997 sought to punish him for committing a sin by crossing the seas as he had gone to London to present a paper on the Vedas.

For a while, this issue raged as the thantri had asked him to undergo penance to get rid of the sin, but after strong resistance surfaced, things cooled down and he was allowed to resume his temple duties.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and many other political leaders condoled his death.

(With Inputs From Nitesh Kumar)