Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Ragini Todi

Artist: Nisaruddin

Rajasthani, Mewar, Chavand

1605 CE

Acc No 2009.307

Ragini Todi is one of the most beautiful folios of the famous Chavand Ragamala dated 1605. The heroine holding a vina is proceeding somewhere, and turns to look back at the two blackbuck fawns following her, gently coaxing them to return home.

Generally, Ragini Todi is described as a lady attracting deer. A careful study of the painting makes it obvious that the lady is walking away while the fawns follow her. The imagery is reminiscent of the famous scene from Abhijnana Shakuntala where a fawn follows Shakuntala who, on taking leave of the members of the hermitage of Kanva, proceeds towards the kingdom of Bharata. She feeds the tiny one fresh shoots of grass and coaxes it to return. Sangita Damodara, one of the earliest treatises on the iconography of the ragas, datable to the 15th century, visualizes Ragini Todi in similar manner:

Standing near a dense forest, fondling the deer with the shoots of lotus,

with beautiful eyes like half blown lotus, possessing the complexion of a

lotus garland, she is the Ragini Todi.

The term todi connotes parting or breaking in Persian. Traditionally Ragini Todi is also considered to evoke sad feelings. The pain of parting with the daughter after her marriage, so poignantly described by Kalidasa, is an unforgettable experience for every parent. It is possible that musicologists derived the iconography of this raga from this description of Kalidasa. The melody itself may have developed from the songs which are sung at the time of bidding the daughter goodbye. Even today, these songs form a part of the wedding ritual of almost every community in India.

The date of the painting was read by Khandalavala himself in the colophon of the set which is now in the Gopikrishna Kanoria collection.