We perform many simple actions consciously and unconsciously throughout a single day. We do this without acknowledging that our five senses are always active and reacting to stimuli around us. Amongst all the senses, the sense of smell is subtle and reaches the depths of our existence effortlessly. The way that aromas and odours around us affect us, is of great interest and has always been of great interest. Ancient Indian texts have revealed that there was a dedicated subject studying aromas, odours, medicinal aromatic herbs and plants in Gandhashastra.
What is Gandhashastra?
In simple terms, Gandhashastra is the science of blending fragrances to make cosmetic products. It further combines aromatic ingredients which makes it an important aspect of Indian Materia Medica. However, things that exist in nature are not so straightforward. They cannot be encapsulated in a definition of a few words because a lot is unsaid and is experiential in nature.
The art of Gandhayukti is one that has held great respect. It was once considered to be one of 64 skills that a person had to be well-versed at in ancient Indian society. One who possesses the art of Gandhyukti has essentially experimented with the science of Gandhashastra to experientially to discover some processes, formulations, fragrances and medicines. We cannot say that one can be traded for others and hence, it is both an art and a science.
Gandhashastra – Gandhadravya
Gandhadravya are said to be the essential fragrances whose making is studied under the science of Gandhashastra. In the scientific base of Gandhashastra, it is illustrated that a Gandhadravya has to undergo six steps –
Bhavana: – It is a maceration process where a solid base is macerated by a liquid base. It is done for 5-6 times. This process is used for the preparation of gandhodaka, mukhavasa and udvartana etc.
Pachana: – It is a process of baking or ripening. Here a solid base is baked with the help of various yantras. It has 11 sub-types. This process is used for the preparation of gandhataila and kusumdruti etc.
Bodhana: – It is the process of intensification where a solid base is intensified by another solid base. It is done for about a week for the preparation of udvartana and mukhavasa etc.
Vedhana: – In this process, a liquid base is intensified by another liquid base. This process is done once for preparing niryasa, parijata and dipataila etc.
Dhupana: – It is the process of fumigation where a solid base is fumigated by a gaseous base. It is done once with the help of dhupayantra. It is used to prepare udvartana and mrugaraja etc.
Vasana: – In this process of transmission of scents a solid or liquid base is made fragrant by a gaseous base; used to prepare gandhataila and jalavasa etc.
The science of Gandhashastra and its derivatives have also found uses in the making of Ayurveda and medicinal products as well. Aromatic ingredients such as Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Spikenards and Myrrh have been well documented in Vedic literature as old as 2000 BC.
Concocting the right fragrances through blending is a very delicate art and a very important one as well. Much like one blot of the wrong colour can ruin a canvas, even a 0.01% change in the required composition can result in a much different fragrance than the one required.
Fragrances that are naturally crafted and blended have the best effect on the body and the mind. Apart from aesthetic value, these fragrances also have a medicinal value which is why they have also been mentioned in old medical texts such as Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita.
At MysticAura® the science of Gandhashastra and the art of Gandhadravya is combined for preparation of therapeutic fragrances. As per the science, purity of essential oils have a very high bearing on elevating impact on the human body and that gets further enhanced with subtle elements of like pure surroundings, nudge the will of nature.
Perhaps, it is time to turn to Gandhashastra and learn the beautiful art of crafting aromas for your essential oils as we become more and more aware in life.
- Sushruta; Sushruta Samhita; Sharma P.V. Chaukhamba Visvabharati, Varanasi; 1st ed; 2004; pp. 57.
- Vyas R.T; Gandhasara and Gandhavada; Oriental Institute; Vadodara; 1st ed.; 1989; pp. 76.
- Ras Vagbhata; Rasaratna sammucchaya; Sharma ShreeDharmananda; Motilal Banarasidas; Delhi; 2nd ed.; 1996
- Charaka , Charaka Samhita In Vimanasthana I/22; Sharma P.V.; Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 80th ed., 2005;
- Critical Study of Gandhashastra with Special Reference to Rasashastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana, Dr. Raman S. Belge1, Archana R. Belge2; 2012
- Research Report for Historical Study of Attars and essence making in Kannauj; 2012-2014; Dr. Jyoti Marwah