[An article on the raga TODI by Satish]

The Grandeur of Todi – I

History

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)

gItam
ArE dAsharathE, dhruva tALam (pUrvikas – the ancients)

k.rti
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.

padam
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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