Finding the Best Incense in the World - My Adventure
I truly believe that Aroma Veda has found the best Incense in the world. Period. The process of discovering and getting to the source of this small-scale, understated, family run Incense has taken me months. But the wait was worth it. This Incense I decided to call “Holy Smoke” is just that, HOLY!
My journey started with stumbling upon this Incense locally, in the deep South of India. One whiff and I knew I was onto something extraordinary. By nature, I gravitate to extra-ordinariness in people and things - the kind that arouses deep curiosity and a seeking nature in me. It all happened when I impulsively decided that I was going to go to an elephant camp in a town called Coorg. What an extraordinary experience that was for me! I felt like I had India to myself during that time, like I was the only foreigner in that area which was amazing. It was the rainy season and I’m a big fan of the low season in India. It really feels like you have the Motherland to yourself. The guest house I stayed in during that time planned a whole itinerary for me that ended up being beyond my expectations. I had a driver for a few days take me around to different places to explore the culture, nature (wildlife preserve, coffee/tea plantations) and lastly, a Buddhist monastery which led me to the best incense in the world. Once I got to the monastery I walked around to each of the temples on the grounds. After passing by a meditation/chanting hall for the monks who were living in the dorms there, I stopped immediately! The scent coming out of that hall coupled with the Buddhist chants that were happening at that moment made me feel paralyzed by stillness. I paused for several minutes to take in the moment. It was an overwhelming feeling inside of peace, serenity, it seemed like the whole world outside of me (and there was plenty going on) didn’t exist. It drew me to the deep world within myself instantly! I remember closing my eyes and feeling the chants as if they were being sung by my insides, all the while the intoxicating scent of this incense was in the air making an immediate impact on my mind. I didn’t know how or where I would find this specific incense and didn’t even think to ask in that moment. I was in such a state of peace and calm it didn’t matter. That state of mind was enough for me and I was gonna keep that while going through the rest of my day.
After a while of standing there, I realized I had very limited time before I had to meet my driver and head back to my guest house. After having a few momos (Tibetan style dumplings), I decided to walk around to a few shops that were in a small square surrounding the entrance of the Monastery. Essentially every shop kinda sold the same thing and had the same vibe, lots of trinkets and little gifts for people that nobody really needs but of course I was looking for something that I could take back home with me to remember my experience. The last shop I went to had what I was looking for. They had a TON of different kinds of incense - of course, I smelled every single box until I found “THE ONE”. I wanted to melt in gratitude and was ecstatic that I actually found the exact same one that was being lit in that hall, the one that had me stop dead in my tracks and pull me by the nose into the immediacy of silence and peace. Well, I bought 10 boxes knowing that I would have them for a while and told myself I could always come back for more before I headed back to the US which at that point I had no clue when that was going to be.
Once I got back to Coimbatore, the city I was living in as a home base, my love for this incense kept growing. Finally, I decided that I have to find it's maker and see if I can bring it into the Aroma Veda product offerings. I wanted everyone to experience this incense.
The role of Incense in meditation is vital - helping purify the immediate environment and aiding in inducing calm and contemplation. And this Incense was one for the Gods as I would soon find out.
It was after 6 months that I decided to go back and find the maker of this “Holy Smoke”. My time in India was coming close to an end for that year and I knew I had to have more of the "Holy Smoke" so I could bring it back to the US. So off I went on a 2-hour plane ride followed by another 2-hour cab ride back to the Monastery to ask around. Nobody had a clue. Even though there was an address printed on the box, as always in India, you get 30 people telling you 30 different things. I refused to give up. I knew eventually I would find the maker(s) no matter how long a journey it was going to take. I had the driver helping me, I had people on the roadside pointing in all different directions and thank God I had an incredible friend with me who spoke the language, else I would have gotten nowhere. My favorite part was when we were given directions by a sweet looking Tibetan guy on the road to “turn around and drive straight for a while and then take a right at the big tree” These are the things about India that I find hysterically funny. There were big trees everywhere! It was hilarious when my friend translated the whole thing. In fact, the whole search was full of laughs, patience, and lots of getting lost but getting lost in such a beautiful place. It made feel super connected to life, free, a feeling of letting go, practicing trust, patience, understanding etc… all things that were running through my mind. It was a gorgeous day with a light drizzle that made the deep green, semi forested land look resplendent and happy. Every now and then, we would come across simple Tibetan folk, their simple yet elegant restaurants and their kids returning from school.
I finally arrived at the little village where it was being made. After many twists and turns, enthusiastic pleadings, I found the place! I could smell the incense drying in the shade. It felt like I had come home!
Initially, there was some trepidation in me about the manufacturing process; would it align to Aroma Veda's philosophy of organic, pure, small-batch artisanal values? Turns out, the family that makes the Incense has a secret recipe'. They source wild-harvested, organic ingredients and work with scientific precision to create the Incense. No synthetic chemicals go in - period. The family does not aspire to make large batches, as they want to make only enough money to lead a basic, austere life. “This Incense is for the Gods, all the ingredients are therefore Food Grade” - hearing this from Tenzin (the maker) this just blew me away. My experience also showed that the manufacturing process that I happily got involved in, was shaped by loving hands. How could this not be perfect for Aroma Veda and therefore you?