The veteran playwright and actor was honoured with the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour conferred in India.
Girish Karnad is one of the few film personalities who has won 10 National Film Awards in various categories.
Karnad was a pioneer in modern Indian play writing in the Kannada industry.
Jnanapeeta awardee Girish Karnad (81) passed away on Monday in Bengaluru at his residence on Lavelle road, he was unwell for the last many years.
Born in May 1938, Karnad studied at Karnataka University and then went to the Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics as a Rhodes Scholar.More news: Kevin Durant practicing with Warriors ahead of Game 5
More news: Chris and Katherine Wednesday
More news: Meet the hedge fund that’s buying Barnes & Noble’s 627 stores
Karnad often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues, had his works translated into various Indian languages and helmed by directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, B V Karanth and Alyque Padamsee among others.
He made his acting debut and screenwriting debut in iconic Kannada movie, "Samskara" (1970), based on a novel by UR Ananthamurthy. During this period Karnad continued to produce work as a playwright, including Hayavadana (1971), widely acclaimed as among the most important plays of post-independence India. He also worked in Hindi, directing the critically acclaimed Utsav (1984), an adaptation of Shūdraka's 4th-century Sanskrit play Mrichchakatika.
Some of his popular Kannada movies include Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Ondanondu Kaladalli, Cheluvi, Kaadu and Kanooru Heggaditi. He also hosted a show - Science Magazine on Doordarshan. He also took part in protests in Bengaluru after Lankesh's death as well as protests against the murder of academic MM Kalburgi.
He is survived by his wife Saraswathi and son Raghu Karnad.