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The Grandeur of Todi – II

[An article on the raga TODI by Satish]

The Grandeur of Todi – I


TODi is mentioned in all important musical works from the early period. This rAgam has been mentioned in Sa”ngIta ratnAkaram (13th century), rAgatara”giNi (14th century) of Locana Kavi, sa”ngIta samaya sAra (11th century) of PArasvadEva, rAga vibOdha (1609) of sOmanAtha, sa”ngIta sArAm.rta (1735) of TulAjA mahAraja, samgraha cUDAmaNi (18-19th century) of gOvindAcArya., etc. In the literature, one can find the names such as chAyA tODi, turuSka tODi, and so on.

Strangely, this rAgam does not find a place among the 19 prasiddha mEla scheme in VE”nkaTamakhin’s caturdaNDI prakAshika., whereas bhUpAlam is clearly mentioned. Muddu VE”nkaTamakhi refers to tODi as an “auttara rAgam” (that belongs to the northern region), and calls it “janatODi”.

SangIta SampradAya Pradarshini On tODi (asampUrNa paddhati)

SubbarAma DikSitar, in his encyclopedia, “SangIta SampradAya Pradarshini”, describes the lakSaNa details of tODi: a rAga”nga rAgam, sampUrNAm, SaDja grahjam, rakti rAgam, suitable for singing in the evening times. He further adds that this rAgam is packed with the best ra~njana among all the rakti rAgams.

As illustration, he provides the following compositions:

lakSya gItam
a rE rAjarAja gIta caritra, ,jhaMpa tALam (VE”nkaTamakhi)

ArE dAsharathE, dhruva tALam (pUrvikas – the ancients)

kamalAmbikE (dhyANa k.rti of the kamalAmbA navAvarana series), rUpaka tALam (muttusvAmi dIkSitar)
gAnalOla karuNalavALa , Adi tALam (cinnasvAmi dIkSitar)
gajavadana sammOdita, Adi tALam (MahArAja KumAra ETTEndra)

cauka varNam
rUpamu jUci, Adi tALam (muttusvAmi dIkSitar) – sometimes this is attributed to Ramasvami Dikshitar.

A rare svarasthAna varNam:
sarigAni dAni pAmarini, Adi tALam (RAmasvAmi DikSitar) – where the sAhityam employs only the seven letters sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni to coin appropriate telugu words for its lyric.

AdiyAramba kkalaviyalE, Adi tALam (KaTikai muKkuppulavar)
sa~ncAri , ragaNa maThya tAlam. (subbarAma dIkSItar)

The author then goes on to discuss three janyams, nAgavarALi, punnAgavarALi, and asAvEri.

HindusthAni system

The HindusthAni equivalent of tODI is the Bhairavi Thath. In the Hindusthani system, it is regarded as a morning rAga.  The HindusthAni tODi is NOT Carnatic tODi, but the equivalent melody  is shubhapantuvarali.

shuddha tODI
Sometimes the svaram “pa” is omitted, and the resulting tODi is known as shuddha tODi.  Examples are:
(i) pa~nca rAga svarajati of SvAti tirunAL  (the tODi segment of this piece omits “pa”, producing a pleasing effect)
(ii) the  gItam “ of the ancients, a rE dasaratharAja”  mentioned above.

dEshya tODi
This is a SADava-sampUrNa (6-7)  rAgam derived from tODi., with the note “ri” omitted in the ArOhaNam (scale: s g m p d n.s; .s n d p m g r s). This resembles very closely to the Bhairavi ThaTh of the Hindusthani system.  Some tODi compositions of TyAgarAja are sung in dEshya tODi. In fact, namO namO rAghavAya, reputed to be his first composition is rendered in it.

Todi in Films
The splendor of  tODi is glorified in a full length film by the name “tODI rAgam” with T. N. Seshagopalan as the hero and singer.  Several film songs are based on tODi melody. Balamuralikrishna’s rendition of the rAgamAlika “oru nAL pOdumA”  in the film TiruviLaiyADal, has the tODi line “ezuntODi varuvAyammA”, with the rAga mudra cleverly disguised in it.

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The Grandeur of Todi – I

[An article on the raga TODI by Satish]

Over the course of random discussions with a friend, I realised that one rAga that truly typifies Carnatic music is TODI, a profound, delightful and soothing melody. It is the 8th meLam both in the sampUrNa, and the asaMpUrNa schemes of the Carnatic music tradition. The precise name is hanumatODi in the sampUrNa paddhati, and the prefix “hanuma” is inserted to yield the meLam number 8, according to the kaTapayAdi nomenclature ((ha = 8, na =0, so hanu= 80, which when reversed gives 08). According to the asaMpUrNa scheme of VE”nkaTamakhi (a tradition faithfully followed by the dIkSItar school), tODi is the eighth  rAga”nga rAgam, known as  janatODi (again, the prefix “jana” yields the number 8 according to the “kaTapayAdi” counting, since  ja = 8, na =0).

lakSaNam (VE”nkaTamakhi):
tODiH SaDjagrahaH pUrNaH
sAyaMkAlE pragIyatE |

MELam hanumatODi / janatODi is the second mELam  belonging to the second cakram (nEtra cakram), hence it is referred to as “nEtra —  shrI”, with the mnemonic phrase    ri ga ma dha ni  or  R1 G2 M1 D1 N2.

s r g m p d n .s

.s n d p m g r s

The notes taken are: SaDjam, shuddha riSabham, sadhAraNa gAndhAram, suddha madhymam, pa~ncamam, shuddha dhaivatam and kaishiki nishAdam.

Salient Features

A mELam with a symmetrical ArOhaNam and avarOhaNam. The tetra-chords are symmetrical, and separated by an interval of a major tone, dvishruti between S –R1 and P – D1; trishruti between G2 – M1 and N2 — S; catushruti interval  between R1 – G2  and D1 –N2.  It is this elegance that imparts beauty to this rAgam.

JIva svarams:           all svarams
chAyA svarams:        ga, ma, dha
aMsha svarams :       ma, pa
nyAsa svarams:        ga, ma, pa, dha, ni

It is a tristAyi and sarvasvara gamaka vArikA rAgam. This essentially means that gamakas are the life of tODi.

JhaNTa svara and dhATu svara prayOgams make this rAga sparkle;  prayOgams omitting pa, sa add beauty (this is a rather interesting attribute, because tOdi retains its flavour and is distinctly identifiable, provided it is handled correctly, even in the absence of these svarams);  Some vishESa prayOgams are : d r .s D  and .r .s D.

Compositions in tODi commence usually in the notes sa, ga, ma pa, dha, ni.

This is a  rAga from which supreme melody emanates, a sarva svara ra~njaka rAgam. Majestic vibrations and the meandering of the gamakams, laden with bhAva characterize the melodic identity of tODi. All svarams except madhyamam admit oscillation; The notes ga and dha constitute the nuclei of the melodic network of tODi; the un-oscillated ma acts as a balancing link between the pUrvA”ngam and uttarA”ngam.

As a  rAga with tremendous scope for elaboration, tODi is usually featured as a main item, or in the rAgam tAnam pallavi expositions in concerts.  Being a ghana rAgam, it enjoys pride of place in every concert, and lends itself to all types of compositions.
graha bhEdam

TODi is a sarva svara mUrcchanakAraka mELam, in the sense that all notes except pa~ncamam admit graha bhEdam to yield new mElams. The process of model shift of tonic (graha bhEdam) produces

kalyANi  (65) Ri mUrcchana
harikAmbhOdhi (28) Ga mUrcchana
naTabhairavi (20) Ma mUrcchana
sha”nkarAbharaNam (29) dha mUrcchana
kharaharapriya (22) ni mUrcchana

TODi is believed to have originated from the rSabha mUrcchana of the SaDja grAmam.
It evokes bhakti and karuNa rasam. It is no wonder that numerous devotional songs are based on the soothing tODi, and some of its janyams. TODi is usually featured in the operas and dance dramas.

[More about tODi in future articles]

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