Shrinivas Sugandhalaya / Satya / Celestial, Midnight, Patchouli Forest, Sandalwood, Sunrise, Trishaa

Previous Shrinivas Sughandalay/Satya Sai Baba products reviewed at ORS:

Nag Champa, Super Hit, Satya Natural, Satya Nectar, Black Blossom
Beauty, Milan, Supreme
Aastha, Ajaro, Vishwa Shanti, Fantasy, Valley of the Roses
Hari Om, Rajdhani, Ratha Chakra, Sai Ram
Royal, Geet Govind, (T.T.) Loban, Shivshankar

The current batch represents the new product released by Shrinivas Sugandhalaya maybe within a year before Olfactory Rescue Service was born. All but Trishaa are packaged in boxes that are meant to evoke the classic blue box Nag Champa graphics, and if I remember correctly Sandalwood followed a little later than the others. Trishaa is packaged uniquely in two different formats, and the others are all available in 15g and 40g packages.

All represent the “post halmaddi age” reformulating of the champa style, but, unfortunately in a couple cases the incenses are fairly redundant. Like is often the case in Shrinivas’ 100g bulk packages, it can be difficult without visual cues to tell one incense from another in aroma. When I first ran into these incenses right after they came out, I had taken the inner packages of both Midnight and Sunrise out of their boxes and got confused as to which package went in which box. I apparently guessed right in the end, but I wasn’t sure of it until I got another sample of both. And, really, this is the case for Celestial, Midnight and Sunrise. All three are virtually the same incense, particularly once the perfume oil fades over time, and in my experience the oil fades pretty quickly indeed.

Celestial could introduce the base style, only vaguely similar to the wet, halmaddi champas of yesterday. Its got plenty of sandalwood and vanilla aroma and is dry and woody with hints of marshmallow. The perfume on top is very mild, maybe slightly floral, but for the most part fairly difficult to identify. Unfortunately the result is quite generic.

Midnight fares little better. The perfume is perhaps slightly stronger than it is on the Celestial and a bit more sultry. It seems to be going a bit for that slightly jasmine like nighttime/moon scent, but I fear in saying that that I’m reaching for a description because, again, the dominant tones come from the base: vanilla and sandalwood.

Patchouli Forest fares much better and is one of two in this batch that are quite good. Patchouli tends to scare many people off for fear of that oily, earthy smell often sussed out at Grateful Dead concerts, but the patchouli in this blend is a completely different thing. This incense has a very forest-like, crystalline, high altitude and fresh scent, reminiscent of the better aspects of the fresh herb and similar in ways to evergreen resins. Unlike several of the others in this series, the perfume oil actually competes with the vanilla and sandalwood base and makes a difference. I did notice, however, that since I bought the box a few years ago, the perfume has faded quite a bit and isn’t as strong as I remember. I reviewed a few Mystic Temple scents a while back that I’ve had for much longer where the fade hasn’t been nearly as severe. Satya product often seems to have a limited life span, which probably accounts for why I run across so many dried out husks in stores (a problem not as apparent with the on line suppliers).

Sandalwood (note: a different incense entirely to their Super Sandal) seems to have a different base than the others, unusual given how much sandalwood is in the base for Celestial, Midnight etc., and the stick is a bit darker in color. Strangely this strikes me as being a bit less sandalwood infused than some of the other incenses in this subline, instead it has more in common with some of Satya’s more common durbar incenses, almost like a typical, slightly sugary champa. The base and oil (which holds most of the sandalwood content) don’t exactly clash but they don’t complement each other either leaving the stick somewhat generic.

Sunrise, as alluded to previously, is one of the three here that includes a pale and barely present perfume on top of the vanilla/sandalwood like base. If Midnight was slightly sultry with a hint of jasmine, Sunrise is brighter with touches of orange, although in many cases good sandalwood can emit such an aroma due to the resin. Overall it’s hard to see a reason for the existence of this incense, it’s certainly OK, but doesn’t do much more than another dozen similar Satya products.

Trishaa, on the other hand, is something of a triumph for Satya and one of their better incenses. I started thinking of this as spikenard champa after I first bought it based on its similarities to a spikenard resin blend a friend had sent me, it has the same caramel, sweet and slightly musky and herbal tones I associate with this fabulous ingredient. It’s also interesting that not only is it packaged differently than the preceding incenses but it’s a lot more strongly fragranced. If there was a downside it’s that the perfumes Satya use, in general, can verge in a slightly synthetic direction, but I don’t think in this case that distracts to strongly from a nicely pitched incense, sweet and spicy and perfect for a durbar.

So overall, I can recommend the Patchouli Forest and Trishaa which are not only the best in the batch but probably among the top 10 of all Satya products. However, it’s hard to find a rationale for the rest of this line, at the very least the perfumes were never strong enough to linger for long, reducing the half life of these products to about two years max (and this is probably true for Patchouli Forest as well). No really unpleasant scents here, but certainly lengthening the list of Satya’s duller formulas.



  1. Brooke said,

    September 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Does anyone know if the Trishaa contains charcoal and wether or not its plant based??? I burn everyday and want to be sure its healthy 🙂

  2. Susannah said,

    October 18, 2009 at 5:47 am

    I found Midnight to be really different than Sunrise and Celestial…much smokier and woodier, perfect for evening. Sunrise and Celestial, on the other hand, seem much more like each other and I have difficulty distinguishing between them.

    • Mike said,

      October 20, 2009 at 7:51 am

      Thanks. I wonder if some of the issue is the oils dissipating really fast, I get the impression most of these use the same or similar base so if the oils volatize off you’re left with a much samier product.

  3. The Mystic said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I agree with your assessment of Sunrise, Midnight, & Celestial – nothing special here.

    Patchouli Forest – surprising how absolutely non-patchouli it is! Initially I quite liked this scent; very woodsy-green and fresh, but as time went on I began to become aware of the more subtle elements and would have to say that there is a definite after-shave element to it – kind of like Timberline and Old Spice mixed together.

    Sandalwood – Perhaps it is a matter of taste… if you are looking for that sandalwood-sawdust type of aroma, this is not the one to choose. That being said, I have to say that I quite like this one – it has a nice, fragrant ‘Mysore Sandalwood’ aroma to it, and unlike many so-called sandalwood incenses that I’ve tried, it doesn’t give me a headache. Also, the fragrance is quite long-lasting, lingering in the air for quite a long time after burning.

    Off-subject of this particular review, has anyone out there tried Mystic Temple Vanilla Honey Dust? WOW, it has an absolutely delicious, almost addictive aroma! Anyone know what’s in it?

    • Mike said,

      June 13, 2009 at 5:11 pm

      Hey, thanks for the comments. I was actually just talking by reference about his one in my Report on Newly Imported Incenses #1. This is a very common Indian incense and can almost always be told by the lavender colored bamboo stick. Mystic Temple used to call it Honey Dust, but changed the name to Vanilla later and then to Vanilla (Honey Dust) and I assume this is because Incense from India calls their version Honey Dust. Then Shrinivas/Satya Baba call it Satya Natural. Purelands call their’s Shanti. And finally, the one that gives us hints, Ramakrishnanda’s Gokula, which gives the ingredients as Vanilla, Mint and Myra. All of these are not exactly identical, but vary very subtly, pretty much beyond the ability to say much about them. For sure they all contain vanilla, sandalwood and varying amounts of halmaddi. I don’t detect mint in any besides the Ramakrishnanda. Definitely give the Purelands Shanti a try as it’s probably the best of the bunch or at least it appears to be the most potent as of this writing.

  4. Dan F said,

    March 12, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    I was thinking of the Bam Champa. The other I was thinking of, erroneously, was Mother’s Incense Fragrances; but the ingredient I was thinking of was not halmaddi, but mattipal/bodhi. Another that came to mind was Ramakrishnanda’s Krishna – it seems to be one of the ingredients, along with vetiver and cedarwood.
    I don’t know the whole story but halmaddi (Ailanthus Malabarica) seems to be another casualty in the ever increasing man-made shortages in natural items.

  5. Mike said,

    March 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Good question. I’d be interested in knowing which halmaddi incenses you’re thinking of?. My guess is there’s some in the Bam Champa and maybe the Raj Laxmi too, but it seems to be disappearing elsewhere. I’d certainly be happy paying a little more for anything with some. 🙂

  6. Dan F said,

    March 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    it’s amazing what a difference that taking out some/most (all?) the halmaddi does to the scent of an incense. I wonder if the halmaddi shortage (or whatever is happening with it) will be fixed in the near or distant future? Thankfully you can still get halmaddi infused incense, albeit at an increased price.

    • Ross Urrere said,

      March 14, 2009 at 10:02 pm

      Which incenses are considered “fully infused halmaddi”? What a great sounding line!


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