Let us talk about the music of incense and fragrance of the Earth. Sounds like a Zen Koan, doesn’t it?
When we visited Kannauj, a small town in Uttar Pradesh in the north of India, we were shown an attar (perfume oil) which resembled the fragrance of the soil. Yes, it smelled like soil, and we were surprised to learn that one can replicate the smell of the Earth using natural botanical ingredients.
Then we were shown fragrances that create joy and ecstasy or sorrow and sadness. How is this possible? We were shown fragrances that were named after famous qawwali singers (qawwali is a type of Sufi singing associated with Chishtiya Sufi tariqa). I remembered the world-famous guitarist Carlos Santana, who loved one particular incense, which is made using a perfume oil composition called Amber Kasturi – a mysterious temple smell of amber and musk.
Yes, incense is like music – it can create joy and happiness, can concentrate the mind, and can help with creativity, relaxation and peace. Incense can change the aura of a room within minutes, and it can change our state of the mind the same way as music does. Isn’t this wonderful?
There is an incense for everything, and every time of the year.
When it is cold, we tend to make a cup of hot tea and burn some myrrh or frankincense. When the spring comes, we might use some arabic oudh (agarwood) and patchouli that will dance in the wind. In the summer lemongrass and rose are great for freshening up a room and cooling it down, while some amber in the autumn can give a space a thoughtful mood. Incense is part of our life – it is our invisible companion.
At the same time, incense is the culmination of nature`s creation, and the ability of man to create fragrances that impact the world within us, and communicate with the world beyond us – something our ancestors have been doing for thousands of years.
If only they had known that one day, someone sitting in a city office would use amber incense, and a young lady who goes to a yoga class would come home and burn a stick of Nag Champa, just to bring a smile to her face….