Ramakrishnanda / Bala Krishna, Govardhana, Madhurya Rasa, Shringara

Ramakrishnanda Part 1
Ramakrishnanda Part 2
Ramakrishnanda Part 3
Ramakrishnanda Part 4

My relationship with Ramakrishnanda incense has kind of hopped all over the place. I first encountered their line when it first came out in a local new age shop and was immediately impressed by the quality of scents based on how the incenses had almost permeated the whole store. But I found out quickly via the sampler packs that there were some incenses that were almost atrociously bad as well, and I also found out that much of the amazing aromatic qualities of the incenses had largely faded after six months (which is fairly typical of most Indian incenses). So in a year I went from thinking they were one of the better incenses lines on the market to somewhere in the middle.

There was also a small batch released about a year ago (covered in the Part 4 link above) that I found somewhat average, especially to what Shroff and Mothers were starting to release at the time and this sort of cemented my opinion that Rama were not quite as good as the new premium incenses coming out, but they were certainly better than the Satyas and Nitirajs. And with this new group of four incenses, I think the brand has brought the quality up a little, especially on (at least) two of these which are well worth checking out.

Ramakrishnanda’s Bala Krishna is not really a new incense as much as an old one in a new package. Sublabeled as saffron and frankincense, Bala Krishna is the classic dry saffron sandalwood masala (Mystic Temple has a version for example), the thin yellow stick with a mix of sandalwood and camphorous qualities with a nice saffron spice on top. Personally I find it pretty hard to even locate where frankincense might be in this one, as it’s never come to mind with this aroma, but I’ve always liked this one as it has a sort of “chandan” sandalwood type of scent to it that merges nicely with the saffron. It’s not really a surprise this one keeps popping up, it’s quite dependable and varies little from company to company.

As traditional as the Bala Krishna is, the Govardhana is nice little innovation in the world of champas with loban and coconut featured as the two main ingredients. I can’t even think of another incense that’s tried this combination before and I usually find coconut incenses to be almost disastrous, especially when they evoke cheap suntan lotions. The results here are impressively complex and inexpressibly beautiful. The loban isn’t anything like the gravelly benzoin scent you get in other sticks or resins, here it’s nice and cooling, even a  touch fruity without being overbearing. Well worth checking out this one, the subnotes even create some nice vetivert and/or patchouli associations.

Where Govardhana was a complete success, the combination of the khus and almond in the Madhurya Rasa blend doesn’t work at all. There’s something in the perfume that kills an essential part of the khus aroma and a part of the base that adds too much biutterness to the mix. This is very typical of the other incenses in the Ramakrishnanda line that don’t work, there’s an obvious clash at work. Even the almond isn’t particularly identifiable, which is quite disappointing, especially when you do think a combination like this could work.

There’s one more success in this new group, the combination of citronella, patchouli and geranium in the Shringara. I burned a stick of this late last night which caused me to bump this review a ways up on the list just to get the word out on this and the Govardhana. This is a big red colored champa that seems to have quite a bit of spice in the mix as well to go with the very interesting combination of three oils. One wonders if the same perfumers who create clashes like with the Madhurya Rasa also create the alchemic wonder of something like this, where the more cloying aspects of citronella are balanced so nicely by the patchouli and geranium. Perhaps the only issue with this stick might be that because the oils are so intense, I can imagine they’re probably going to fade quite a bit at some point. But if a cherry red, loud, brash scent amplified by lemongrass and patchouli sound up your alley, it’s well worth a look.

Anyway even if there’s one failure in this group, I still love the fact Ramakrishnanda are still up for experimenting with formulas and trying new things, because they can add two successes to their list.

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4 Comments

  1. Carrie said,

    August 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve never smelled Sai Flora. I guess the only thing I have in that genre is Meena Supreme.

    Fruity potpourri is a good analogy.

    I just this minute walked over and picked up a stick and had a sniff. There’s a scent in there that I KNEW I knew what it was but couldn’t think of it and it was driving me nuts. I just now figured it out.

    I smell cilantro in it, unlit. Do you smell that, Kevan?

  2. Kevan said,

    July 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Hmmm, Loban and Coconut sounds interesting. I’ve tried 2 Ramakrishananda incenses. Sandal/Musk impressed me but Agarwood did not.

    Oh and Mike, I don’t know if this is the right place to post this, but I have a hall of fame candidate for you. “Pakeezah” by Padmini. I just got a tube in from Incenseguru’s newest Indian shipment and I have to say….I’m very impressed. The description says that it is based on a “rare forest resin called Halmaddi” (major positive that caught my eye) and boy does it pack a wallop! Soft and moist, very much like the Little Woods sticks. Unlit it suggests that it might be a Sai Flora clone but lit, it’s quite beautiful and is much smoother. I’m sure there are a bevy of oils at work here but it’s a VERY good floral/spice concoction with no off notes. Sweet, strong floral/fruity notes combined with a zesty orange-spice undercurrent as far as I can tell. But there’s a lot going on.

    • Carrie said,

      August 3, 2011 at 10:21 am

      As soon as I saw your post with the word ‘halmaddi’ in it, I just had to order some.

      Unlit out of the box it does have a VERY strong scent. It is much softer burning.

      I definitely get the fruity/floral thing, more on the fruity side. Might be a touch of something balsamic in there.

      It’s unlike anything I have in my stocks. I’d have to file it away in the ‘what the heck is this made of?” box with the Aparajita. lol

      • Kevan said,

        August 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm

        I don’t know either. I’ve burned 3 sticks so far. It’s interesting….almost like a fruity potpourri. There must be a metric ton of oils in the mix, but somehow it conveys the overall strength of Sai Flora and its ilk while being better all around IMO..


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