Monday 1 January 2024

HEAVENLY FRAGRANCE OF GODS WAS FROM INDIA!!

Happy new year to all my readers .... worldwide! Let me kick off the new edition of the new year with a hardly known historical fact about India.

It is a fact that in spite of our resources and local demand, India doesn't make a lot of consumer goods of Indian origin.Most of the FMCG items we manufacture and use are international brands though made in India. But steadily the scenario is getting changed I notice, but next ten years India could change the current speed of it,I am sure.

In the field of cosmetics and perfumes now we are nowhere though the consumption rate has gone high.Parisian brands are the most sought after here too for those who can afford it.I have read somewhere that the famous Indian brand in that field 'Lakme' was started by Tata's Unilever at the request of our first Prime Minister Nehru to JRD Tata to go for an Indian brand which our women could afford.JRD earnestly took the request, ending up in the creation of the brand 'Lakme'.But many of us may not be aware that 'Lakme' is a French rendition of the Sanskrit word 'Lakshmi'  who is the Goddess of wealth and beauty in Hinduism. Though Lakme created in 1952 has become a premier brand in India and even exported to 70 countries or so, now House of Tatas represent and just distribute a lot of imported international brands in India through their enterprise Tata Luxury even online! May be good for the organization  for profits but definitely not for the country. Just an observation and nothing more since, I am not an expert in the field. It is comparable to our computer hardware field where our own brands are much less, though we claim ourselves to be software giants!

But here I am to share a hardly known information among us that India has  one of the richest history in own fragrances and perfumes which is yet to be commercially tapped.Here I am writing about Agarwood or Aloes or Oud, a fragrance of Indian origin that mastered the fragrance world since 1400 BC about which shamefully I came to know first from Arabs only, while in Qatar.

Oud shops of Mumbai....
It was Mr. Sherida Al Kaabi, Chairman of the business group 'Al Balagh' where I had been working in Qatar, who told me first that among the Oud wood the best and costliest comes from India! I specifically remember that he told me so while we were strolling Mumbai Fort area looking for some specific shops selling them! We were on a business trip .To be very honest and frank, when I had landed in Qatar in 1984, I was so ignorant about perfumes and fragrances that I did not know the difference between an eau de cologne, eau de toilette and eau de parfum! I didn't know about Oud wood chips either. I think many of the educated Indians could  still  be in that state even now.

But let us be awake fellow Indians...We have introduced the first most popular fragrance to the  rest  of the world centuries back. Let it be in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Middle East or else where...India has done it historically making it the 'favourite fragrance of the Gods' whether it is Hinduism,Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or Islam as it is mentioned in seminal texts!

As spiritual history rolls out....
Agarwood of Assam, India and its mystifying fragrance was first mentioned in the Sanskrit epic 'Mahabharata' in 1500 BC. There it is mentioned as a welcome aroma as 'Agaru'.The earliest recorded use of this plant aromatics is found in the four vedas of ancient India written between 1500-1000 BC . So also in Arthasastra of 320 BC it is clearly mentioned that the aromatics originates from resin infused infected wood in the stem of the Agar tree or even artificially done so!Agarwood was in use as an ingredient of perfumery in India along with sandalwood,musk, camphor from olden times.From time immemorial Hindus burn incense stick in puja rooms and elsewhere. It is known as 'Agarbatti' which is derived from 'Agar bathi' in Hindi- incense stick made from Agarwood!

In the Old Testament of the Bible, Aloe (Agaru) is specifically mentioned many times may be because it was in use in Jewish traditions.Even in the New Testament as per the Gospel of John 19:39-40 it is stated that Jesus's body was anointed with a mixture of Myrrh and Aloes following His crucifixion!

In 'Nirvana Sutra Buddhism' when Buddha was about to enter the state of Nirvana, about Aloe aromatics there is a mention.Buddhist text 'Jataka Tales' of 4th century BC also mentions about Aloe categorically!

Pre Islamic Arabian tribes were trading in Aloeswood/Agarwood of India.In the Quran there is a mention of many fragrant plants. In several Hadiths, Oud (Agarwood) is referred to as an Indian Incense for rituals as burning of incense wood, which is being practiced in many Islamic  countries to this day.

As I am not an expert on holy books all as these references are made from  historical records available and any wrong interpretations be taken in that spirit.

Black Gold.....


Botanically when an Agar tree - Aquilaria Malaccensis- becomes infected by a mould -Phialophora Parasitica- the tree produces a dark, dense and fragrant resin to protect itself.It is this resin which becomes embedded in the tree which is the source of Oud! As in the case of pearl, artificially also such a resin can be produced.Originally discovered in India in  Assam locally known as Xasi,the ' info and technique' of Agarwood was later passed on to Tibet (a-ga-ru), China (Chen Xiang),Thailand (Mai Krishna), South East Asia and Middle East where it was known as Oud.

As the neo rich of the Arabian Gulf states likes the fragrances and perfumes, the area became a big market for this costly oil-- more than $ 12000 per kg! International brands of perfumes of Paris and London fight with each other for their market share with neo fragrances in neo bottles with neo prices each season- the highest ever perfume created for a human nose so far !From Tom Ford, to Christian Dior to Armani or Yves Saint Laurent ......But this fragrance is not popular among westerners is another fact. 

It all started with India centuries back...It is high time that Indians take a note of it! Not only we have to teach others but we have to learn also from others- what we don't know or not good at...It is difficult to believe that now India makes one of the best whiskies in the world out beating even renowned scotch brands - 'Amrut' single malt.And the best cheese in the world out classing all the best European brands-'Eleftheria Brunost' is from Bombay!I am sure that among perfumes also we are capable of competing Paris- just a matter of time.

Tailpiece
I don't find any mention of this history in Indian textbooks!I wish that I am wrong!!

                        _______________________________

Dr.Rajan Varghese, Ex Principal UC College has shared the following postal stamps of India on the subject.His comments are given in appropriate column.          
                                         

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22 comments:

  1. The new edition looks better than ghd old. Now the best Scotch Whisky is made in India.

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    Replies
    1. And the best cheese too! Eleftheria Brunost from Bombay is ranked as fourth best in the world!!

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  2. Thank you Jaison for the very informative narration on the subject which is quite unknown to many !
    - SHAMSUDDEEN Andulkhader

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  3. V G THOMAS: YOUR NEW YEAR INFORMATION WILL ENCOURAGE A FEW ENTREPRENEURS TO GO IN FOR A MASSIVE INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION.GREAT WORK INDEED!

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  4. New year brings hope to all, I also hope that Jaison 's hope and expectations for India will fructify in the field of perfumes also, like in many other fields it has made a mark/ brand of its own. And every time author enthuse, we,readers with brand new unique topics, Happy New year to all.

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  5. GOOD ONE TO START THE NEW YEAR! JOMY JOSEPH

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  6. Jaison,
    May the rich history and enchanting aroma of agarwood bring warmth, joy, and moments of serenity to your life and those around you in the coming year. Wishing you a year filled with happiness, good health, and the beautiful fragrance of positivity and peace. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and fragrant year ahead!

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  7. Shirly George
    I wish I could read
    more on the fragrances ,which has captivated the Royals around the world ,been an Oud fragrance fan myself..most of the facts were unknown for me....including the original of the name "Lakme"..
    Well Done...you are enthralling the readers time and time again,,,well done
    Love Kiss Sticker, GIF may contain transparent, love, anime, kiss and gyaru
    9h
    Reply
    Jaison Chacko
    Shirly George Thank you for your encouraging words!
    5h
    Reply
    Jaison Chacko
    Shirly George I am only trying to rediscover India. In this case we are a people who are using ‘ agarbatti’ in our homes for thousands of years without knowing it is - Agar batti- incense stick made from Agar wood !

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  8. Rajesh V Pillai
    Good information Sir 👍

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  9. Good evening Jaison. Though I use it regularly for my pooja purpose, I never bothered to find out how this word ' agarbatti ' derived. Thank you for your informative content. Best wishes to you.

    We call it agarbatti here in Marathi/ Hindi for incense sticks.VEENA PRAKASH

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  10. AVM NAIR:Excellent. Well analysed and glorified India.

    very informative. Unknown to many. Lucid and mind blowing. Unique in every aspect. Raft of knowledge admirable. Undoubtedly you are a dazzling personality rising in the admiration of readers all over. Congrats

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  11. SOUMYA SREEVALSAN:

    You

    Very informative article, Jaison chetta👍You have done a lot of research which shows your sincerity & passion in presenting facts accurately to your readers.
    All tropical countries across the world are rich in biodiversity. But India's spirituality based on Vedas enables people to preserve as well as explore the various treasures of nature. This is because Indian scriptures are solely based on the interactions of humans with nature. But the present generation Indians are like the ignorant musk deer who search outside for the fragrance which is coming from its own body.
    May this New Year be filled with lots of such inspiring and thought provoking articles from you. Loving regards to Geetha chechi, Vinay & Vishal & their families🙏🏼❤️

    ReplyDelete
  12. Francis John Britto
    Beautifully narrated and very informative descriptions 👍👌👍👏👏👏

    ReplyDelete
  13. Karerat Venugopal
    Excellent Article.congrats.

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  14. R V Kilikar
    Jason Chacko's
    ..write up is enlightening and inspiring.Successive foreign invasion and rule and its interpretation through external eyes have blinded us towards India's glorious past.We became submissive and slavish.and believed everything Vincent Smith and others said.What Br.Jaison chacko has written is only a tip of the iceberg. Indian history has to be rewritten

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  16. Jimmy Paul
    വളരെ നന്നായിട്ടുണ്ട് 🥰

    ReplyDelete
  17. Excellent and informative article Jaison Chettan. !! After my retirement
    only i got intrested in aromatics & fragrance . Now I use Kunthirikkam / Frankincense, Agarbatti, also called olibanum, is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia @home.

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  19. Dr.Rajan Varghese: Very informative and interesting article.The observations, historical research and geographical setting is appreciable.Wish to read the earlier articles too.

    ReplyDelete

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