RARE RAGA SERIES : DESHIKA THODI - JANYA OF MELA (8) RAGA THODI

This raga, Deshika Thodi is a janya of Mela (8) Hanumathodi. There is a raga with similar name Deshiyathodi,which is said to be janya of mela (31) Yagapriya; however, the notes are found to be the same and in many references, these names are found used for the same raga. Desikathodi is again a dying raga, like Ghanta; though there are many compositions available, none is being heard in any concert.

This raga is a Rishabha varjaya in arohanam only, with all notes of Thodi in avarohanam. (Aroh: S G2 M1 P D1 N2 S; Avaro: S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R1 S)

Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal also places it under same mela (8); gives the same notes as above; in addition, there is one more specification given under the same mela as:

S R G M P D N S - S N D N D P M G R S

Compositions : Namo namo Raghavaya Raju vedale joota murare Ne pogadakunte rookalu padivElunna innaallavale (all by Saint Thyagaraja) Sri Kamalambike (Subbaraya Shastry) kanukoNTini tETatella (javali, by Patnam Subramanya Iyer) ee tanuvunu benci (Veenai Kuppaiyer) aLuvudyAtako ranga (Purandaradasar) calamEla jEsEvurA (varnam – Veenai Kuppaier)

One of the very early composition in this raga is the Thyagaraja krithi, “namo namo Raghavaya”. Thyagaraja began his musical training at an early age under Sonti Venkata Ramanayya, a music scholar, after the latter heard his singing and was impressed by the child's prodigy. Thyagaraja regarded music as a way to experience God's love. His compositions focused on expression, rather than on the technicalities of classical music. He also showed a flair for composing music and, in his teens, composed his first song, "Namo Namo Raghavayya", in the Desika Todi ragam and inscribed it on the walls of the house. He was only 13 then. Even now, very few sing this composition, being the only one sung in Deshikathodi.

“Raju vedale” and “Innallavale” the Thyagaraja krithis, though composed in Desikathodi, are now being sung in Thodi itself. Similarly, another composition of the Saint,’Ne Pogadakunte’ is now being sung in Varali / Subha panthuvarali. In effect most of these have been either sung in other ragas, or never been sung – that the first composition of the Saint only remains popularly known under this raga now.

We can listen to the students of Keerthana Institute, disciples of Smt. M.V.Kamala Ramani, singing Saint Thyagaraja’s first composition.


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