Natural Arogya Dhoop Incense/Bodhisatwo, Karmayogi, Mahadhup, Meditative, Vaidhyaraj

There isn’t a company associated with these five incenses that’s on the wrapper, but each has a full name that goes Natural Arogya-xxx Dhoop Incense, with each of the five specific names going where the xs go. These are fairly common Nepali blends you’ll likely find at most incense outlets, all of them packaged in paper wrappers and like most common Nepali blends, most of these really aren’t worth the cedarwood chips in the base.

One thing I’ve noticed really frequently when it comes to many inexpensive Nepali incenses is just how many ingredients can add up to zero. All of these incenses have long lists of ingredients, but when the full list really only makes up a small spot on the roster next to filler and binder wood, the list starts to feel less than trustworthy. It does me little good to know, for instance, if there’s agarwood or sandalwood in the incense if the quantity is microscopic. It’s almost like someone telling you they’re friends with a famous celebrity only to realize they just waved at them at an airport.

The first of these incenses, Natural Arogya-Bodhisatwo Dhoop Incense, smells of pencil shavings and juniper with a sour or bitter tang in the mix. Naturally, the list of ingredients includes solukhumbu, gosaikund, himla, jimla & mustang along with haro, barro, aguri, krishagur, gokul (one of the few I recognized), cinnamon and others. A teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee makes a difference, but that same teaspoon in a swimming pool full of coffee isn’t going to make much of an impression. None of the ingredients in the list do anything to distract you from the cheap, irritating smell. The list, however, does make me curious as to what it would smell like to burn a pencil fire.

Natural Arogya-Karmayogi Dhoop Incense is a resin heavy Tibetan stick in a style you’ll come across in other Nepali lines. I’m assuming from the ingredients most of what I’m smelling is the saldhup embedded in the red and white sandalwood mix. The somewhat marshmallow-like astasugandha is also fairly prominent, helping to give it some herbal depth. This isn’t a rare scent overall, but it’s one I usually like and so I’ve always considered this the best in this group. This is largely because the resins have the presence to make you forget about the binder wood, and not so much a judgment of its quality, which is still relatively low.

Natural Arogya-Mahadhup Incense (see how they did that?) lists sandalwood, gurgum, sunpati, jattamansi, rupkeshar, and dhupi. The jattamansi is fairly noticeable as the soft element in the front, to help make the overall bouquet somewhere between floral and woody, but this is largely because the florals are competing with the cheap woods dominating the whole stick. At least in this case the woods give off a little bit more than pencil shavings with some hints of Himalayan evergreen, but overall the incense still lacks too much personality.

The Natural Arogya-Meditative Dhoop Incense lists sugandhabal, bakchi, kut, ambergris, cloves, and cardomom, all of which seem to promise a rather excellent incense. The intensity of this stick lies somewhere between the Bodhisatwo/Mahadhup and the Karmayogi, in fact it shares a certain swankiness with the latter. It has a nice spiciness in the middle, a combination not very far from Mandala Trading’s Tibetan Monastery incense. This is a good example of where ingredients can transcend the base and not make you feel like you’re burning cheap stuff (relatively speaking). This has a nice clove burn to it and a genuine firey atmosphere I quite like.

The ingredients for Natural Aroga-Vajdhyaraj Dhoop Incense include kapur, dhupi, kumkum, saffron, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The black color of the stick makes me wonder if this is an Agar 31 attempt, but again, like with the Karmayogi and Meditative, the herbs are pretty swanky. Here you get that with the wood center, and the reuslts will remind most of tires and campfire wood. This is a good example, I think, of how certain Tibetan herbs aren’t likely to go down as aromatics with most westerners. And after so many sticks, this is one I feel like I can do without. The only ingredient that really comes out for me is the nutmeg.

Overall this is more or less your standard Nepali line, almost typical of what you’d get from a surface overview of the style. Like many inexpensive Tibetan incenses, these are heavy in cheap materials and rarely reach the promise found in their ingredient lists. Both the Karmayogi and Meditative will do in a pinch, but generally speaking you’ll find better incense elsewhere.

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7 Comments

  1. Selena Joosten said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Again i looked up natural arogya meditative dhoop incense and no Ambergris?
    I am looking for incenses with Ambergris in them and the few you have mentioned seem to come up short with the Ambergris.

  2. Maharani said,

    September 4, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Having read reviews of Nepal incenses here over the last 2 years I have to 1) applaud your willingness to keep on trying new ones and 2) wonder why anyone bothers wasting money on them. I certainly wouldnt. I think perhaps folk have a mental idea of Nepal (Buddhism, enlightenment) and are hoping the incenses will reflect that in some way, but truthfully they mostly sound as if they were uniformly very poor quality. If so, the site is doing its job, warning us not to bother.

    • Mike said,

      September 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Maharani, it doesn’t really look like that on my side in that I’m not just buying more and more fair Nepali incenses, in fact a lot of what’s been going up I’ve had for years and are just getting around to them. In defence of Nepali incense, I do very much like the high-altitude woodiness of incenses such as from the Dhoop Factory. But yes there’s a lot of fair stuff and part of the mission is to get the word out…

      • Sam said,

        September 16, 2011 at 11:16 am

        I’m a fan of several Nepali incenses. Some of them I learned about from this site. The best of them have a dry earthiness that I just haven’t found elsewhere, except maybe in Japanese incenses that cost much more. The problem is, they’re a little like budget wine: you can spend between $5 and $20 on a Nepali incense and have no idea whether you’re getting something good.

  3. Elton said,

    August 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    You should really review the Balaji incenses of Incenseguru and Incense on the Way, the Chandan, Delight, Chandanam and Agarwood are amazing. The Chandan is hands down the best Sandalwood incense I have ever smelt , a buttery sweet creamy smell, very unique. Agarwood has actually Assam Oud and musk.

  4. Mike said,

    August 22, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Ha, yeah I definitely was trying to get the metaphors out on this one. I think when you look at the type of Nepali incenses you’ll find at most incense stores, not necessarily the ones that Essence or Sensia might bring in independently, but the ones that probably come through a distributor, it just seems to me that the majority of them are almost straight cedarwood. The least of these are kind of tinged with a bit of flavor and maybe the Arogyas are a bit higher in quality ingredients, but after a while just the sheer number of incenses like this starts to evince a lot of repetitiveness. I mean right off the bat you’re better off checking out the Dhoop Factory or Stupa lines before any of these. I guess it’s kind of hard to express the relativity of it, but I think there’s a lot better than even the best two here. But with that said, yeah I do think some incenses are kind of like the proverbial glass of water at the wine tasting (there I go again with the metaphors…)

  5. glennjf said,

    August 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Certainly made my day reading the “friends with a famous celebrity” comparison. It reminded me how years ago I lived in the same suburb as an Aussie celebrity (of sorts) and I did just that (waved casually) towards her when our eyes met at the local supermarket as we were doing some grocery shopping, she waved back. I laughed quietly to myself when I heard someone behind me exclaim in a hushed tone ” He knows her!” 🙂

    Pleased to read there’s two incenses in this line worth investigating. I sometimes find myself ferreting out some of the lesser incenses I have here to light them. At such times I think I simply enjoy the lack of refinement, perhaps they act to reset my nose for better appreciating the finer incenses burned afterwards?


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