Kolkata: Sister Nirmala, who succeeded Mother Teresa as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, died here on Tuesday. She was 81.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his condolence message said her life was "devoted to service, caring for the poor and underprivileged".
Nirmala became the second head of the Missionaries of Charity after its founder Mother Teresa stepped down from the post in March 1997. obel laureate Teresa died on September 5 the same year.
Nirmala held the post till March 24, 2009, when she was succeeded by Sister Mary Prema.
"She was sick for quite some time. She passed away at 12.05 a.m. today (Tuesday) at the convent where she used to stay in Sealdah," said a source at the catholic religious order's global headquarters Mother House.
Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D`Souza told IANS that the funeral mass will be held at the Mother House on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Sister Nirmala will be laid to rest at the St. John's cemetery after the mass.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement: "Sister Nirmala's life was devoted to service, caring for the poor and underprivileged. Saddened by her demise. May her soul rest in peace."
"My deepest condolences to the Missionaries of Charity family on the passing away of Sister Nirmala," he added.
Born Nirmala Joshi to a Brahmin family at Ranchi in 1934, she joined the MoC after converting from Hinduism at the age of 17. She was impressed by Mother Teresa's work among the poor and the needy.
An MA in political science, Sister Nirmala started the MoC's contemplative branch in 1976 and headed it till 1997 when she was elected to succeed Mother Teresa as the order's Superior General.
She was elected for a second term in 2003.
Sister Nirmala was re-elected for a third term on March 13, 2009, but the MoC held a second election days later after she wanted to be relieved of the responsibility owing to ill-health and also expressed a desire to return to the contemplative life she led before heading the order.
Sister Nirmala was honoured with India's second highest civilian order Padma Vibhushan in 2009 for her services to the nation.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled Sister Nirmala's death and tweeted: "Saddened at the passing of Sister Nirmala who headed Missionaries of Charity after Mother Teresa. Kolkata and the world will miss her."