By: Mahanidhi Swami
With a graceful movement of his hand extended from his compassionate heart, he drops a few wisps of cotton soaked in scent on my open palm.
Overwhelmed by the intensely rich herbal/floral fragrance, I immediately blurt out, “Wow, what an amazing aroma! O Pujari ji, what is this smell? It is most the unusual and captivating aroma my nose has ever experienced!”
This amazing mercy is called Thakuraji’s prasadi scent (sugandhi, itra), which devotees regularly receive when visiting temples in Vrindavana. It is special and uniquely fragrant for two reasons—the exotic natural oils comprising it; and its contacting the divine transcendental bodies of Radha-Krishna when They smelled it.
This is the secret of its remarkable aroma and captivating effect on our consciousness. Even without any additional scents, oils or perfumes the beautiful divine forms of Radha-Shyama naturally emit the most exotic and intoxicatingly attractive aromas. So it is not so much the exotic herbal/floral oils as it is the direct contact with Priya and Priyatama.
If just smelling Sri Krishna’s prasadi scent is so sensational and transformational, just imagine the experience of directly smelling Krishna’s body?
Now let’s read some descriptions of the incredible fragrance of Radha-Krishna’s perfect original forms and the astonishing effects it produces.
During the Maha Rasa dance, the Vraja-gopis frantically searched for Shyama who had secretly slipped away with Sri. Although not finding Yugala Kishora, the damsels suddenly smelled the attractive aroma of Their divine bodies. In the madness of separation, the girls asked the forest deer, “Have you seen Acyuta pass by? The breeze here is carrying the fragrance of Shyama’s flower garland mixed with kunkuma from the breasts of His beloved when He embraced Her.” (sb 10.30.11)
“Placing Kishori His lap, Krishna runs His handsome fingers through Syama-jivani’s curly black hair while repeatedly smelling the fragrance of Kalyani’s golden lotus flower face. Kanu then raises Rai’s beautiful chin and repeatedly kisses Radha’s bimba fruit lips. Please meditate on this Sri Krishna, the shrngara murtiman, reigning Deity of conjugal love in Vrindavana.” Vrindavana-mahimamtra 6.31)
One day in Jagannatha Puri, Mahaprabhu was deeply absorbed in Radhika’s mahabhava. Then Gaurahari started speaking like Sri Radha telling Her sakhis how much She hankered to smell the celestial scent of Shyama’s body (Krishna-gandha-lubdha).
Radhika said, “The waves of scent emanating naturally from Kåñëa’s transcendental body conquer the aromatic smell of musk and a bluish lotus flower. It spreads everywhere, attracts the minds of all women and then blinds them.
“The eight lotus-like parts of Liladhara’s body (face, navel, eyes, palms and feet) emanate the compelling fragrance of lotuses mixed with camphor. That scent is associated with Krishna’s body. The scent of all these substances— musk, aguru, camphor, kunkuma, and sandalwood combine with Kåñëa’s own natural bodily fragrance to steal the mind of Cupid.” (Cc. 3.19.90-96)
The scent of Shyama’s elegant form certainly induces erotic desires, but sometimes it induces mirth and merry in hasya rasa. Srila Rupa Goswamipada explains:
“One day after Krishna stole yogurt from two gopis, He addressed one: “O Priya Sundari! I swear that I haven’t taken even a drop of yogurt from your pot! But still your sakhi Radha keeps shamelessly smelling the fragrance of My mouth. Kindly forbid Sumukhi from this devious policy of putting Her face near Mine.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu cp. 33)
However, the mind of that Madhusudana, whose bodily smell steals the minds of all creatures, is Himself completely captivated by Radha’s superb bodily fragrance. Once Sri Krishna said, “Although My body makes the whole universe sweet smelling, My mind and heart are stolen by the fragrance of Radha’s body (mora citta-prana hare radha-anga-gandha).”(Cc. 1.4.245)
Srila Sanatana Goswamipada adds: “Finally Krishna came down from the kadamba tree to return the clothes He had stolen from Vraja kumaris. But when Shyama smelled the sweet fragrance of the young gopis’ charming lotus faces He forgot everything. (Gopala Champu purva 3.21.34)
Sri Krishna’s transcendental fragrance is powerful and causes tremendous effects within His devotees. Besides fully satiating one’s sense of smell, it also purifies one of material desires and attachments. During Sri Krishna’s mathura-lila, the young girl Kubja was instantly freed from all lusty desires simply by smelling the fragrance of Sri Krishna’s sweet lotus feet. (sb 10.48.7)
By once smelling the natural fragrance of Narayana’s lotus feet mixed with tulasé, the Four Kumaras upgraded their spiritual perception and became blissful personalists.
King Ambarisha, famous for engaging every aspect of his body in Krishna’s service, used his nose to smell the fragrance of tulasi offered to Lord Krishna. (sb 9.4.19)
When Srila Sanatana Goswamipada simply smelled the divine fragrance of the kheer prasadam offered by Sri Rupa, which Sriji had brought earlier, he felt extraordinary happiness in his heart.” (Bhakti-ratnakara)
While delineating the daily practices for sadhakas treading the path of love divine, Srila Rupa Goswamipada said, “Smelling the fragrance of incense, garlands, and scents offered to Sri Krishna is the 39th limb of bhakti sadhana (dhüpa-malyadi-saurabha-grahanam). We often relish the seva of smelling Krishna’s scents, but do we think deeply over the depth of the experience?
In Utkalika vallarih (30) Srila Rupa Goswamipada prays to experience the delightful bodily fragrance of Radha Govinda Yugala.
“O king of lovers and crest jewel of consorts, Radha-Madhava! Just a whiff of Your glorious fragrance humbles all other aromas. When will the honeybee of my nose experience a festival of bliss by inhaling the luxuriant scent of Your blazing golden and bluish limbs, smeared with musk and kunkuma?”
A mere drop from that surging stream of Radha-Shyama’s divine fragrance completely smothers the full spectrum of all other smells. So whenever we fortunately receive Thakurjis’ prasadi scent, we should think, “This amazingly enchanting smell is a drop from the unlimited ocean of Radha-Govinda’s natural bodily aromas. O, when will that day come when I will directly perceive the wonderful fragrance of Radha-Shyamasundara?”
Sugandhit Shyama ki jai!
Gandharvika Radha ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!