Eminent Marathi writer R C Dhere, known for his exhaustive research in folk literature and bhakti tradition of Maharashtra, passed away here this morning following prolonged illness, family sources said. He was 86. Dhere, a recipient of the Sahitya Academy Award in 1987 for his book ‘Sri Vitthal- A Mahasamanvayak (Lord Vitthal- A great coordinator)’, carved a niche for himself by tracing the rootsof Maharashtra’s folk traditions and literature with an extensive research that highlighted the influence of saints on Maharashtrian ethos. (ALSO READ: Bluegrass music pioneer Ralph Stanley passes away at 89). His other works that won acclaim included ‘Muslim Marathi Saint Poets’, ‘Dakshinecha Lokdev Khandoba’, ‘History of Nath Sampraday’ and ‘Sri Venkateshwara’. All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan president Sripal Sabnis paid rich tributes to Dhere saying he set high standards in literary criticism and research that would inspire generations of Marathi writers. Dhere is survived by wife, two daughters and a son.