Prabjhuji’s Gifts / Devotion Line / Ganga, Govinda, Hari, Jaganatha, Mayapur

The second group of Ramakrishnanda incenses (NOTE 10/8/21: Ramakrishnanda refers to the previous name of the line, which is now Prabhuji Gift’s Devotion line) can all be found in the Kurma variety pack, the most affordable way to sample all five of these incenses. However, I’d almost put quotes around the word variety as in the case of four of five scents here you’re talking about extremely similar incenses and the variety pack tends to confuse the similarities a bit more than the packages would on their own. That is, in the packages the similar oil strengths tend to be more vivid and defined, while the conflict in the variety package makes them a little harder to tell apart (I will say, however, that the internal packaging is intelligently done in the samplers with a separate inner packet for each of the five aromas – it’s less an issue of bleed through than a lack of aromatic concentration).

Ganga might have belonged more naturally in the previous sampler pack with the other flora incenses as it’s of the same style. It features a cinnamon, lavender and jasmine blend and like one or two other Ramakrishnanda incenses with three listed ingredients, one, the lavender, appears to be a bit lost in the mix. Perhaps this is not a surprise when cinnamon is involved, a presence that is practically dominant here, but like Gopinatha, the jasmine does manage to come through as part of the lower end of the stick’s overall scent. In the end it’ll be up to the user’s opinion whether such an unusual blend of spices and florals actually works. I like some of the drier qualities involved but there’s a part of me who thinks a tweak or two might have rendered this a classic rather than another very nice incense.

Govinda is the first of four incenses here that move the style distinctly into the champa genre. Unlike some of the better champa styles incenses we’ve seen recently imported (such as the Shroff and Bam versions), the variations here are rather par for the course and only slightly improved on the modern Shrinivas formula where the disappearance of a solid halmaddi content has given way to more sandalwood and a less notable base. Govinda’s listed ingredients are sandalwood, sage and lavender, but the overall effect doesn’t particularly surpass any average champa incense. While the sage adds a slight bit of pepper to the bouquet, the lavender is again lost (perhaps it fades quickly with age in this line) and there’s a rather strong scent of vanilla that cuts through the entire scent.

Hari lists amber and sandalwood as ingredients, but again the sandalwood ingredient more than strengthen’s the scent’s entry into modern champa style. Unusually, the amber here is somewhat dry and perhaps a bit salty, more reminiscent of true ambergris than the sweeter amber scents you tend to find in Indian masalas and it gives Hari a slight touch of the unusual. Unfortunately it really isn’t enough to set it apart from many a generic nag champa. Again it’s difficult not to estimate that there’s a limited shelf life at work here, as if the oils would be stronger very close to the initial creation date.

Jaganatha describes itself as a botanical flower blend, but again it hangs right with the other champa styles rather than the more attractive floras in the line. As such blends go, there aren’t really any stand out single subscents, rather the typical sandalwood and vanilla of the champa style stand out the most here, with a mild, slightly sweet floral oil in the mix. Unfortunately it seems to have little overall personality, perhaps yet another casualty of the sampler package (although I would say my impressions have remained the same over two sample packets).

Mayapur has been given the description of Nag Champa Supreme, although it’s a stretch to see this as some sort of supreme improvement on the Vrinda Devi, the scents only seem to slightly differ due to the oils used. At the risk of repeating myself, it’s difficult to see this as much more than a slight variation on all the durbar-like formulas in this particular variety pack, in this case it’s the typical vanilla and sandalwood mixed in with, perhaps, a slightly fruity subscent. Of the four champa scents in this variety pack I might prefer this the most, slighty, but I’d honestly be hard pressed to tell them all apart without knowing the ingredient list beforehand.

Overall, I’d recommend the Kurma variety pack (10/8/21: the sampler appears to be discontinued) as a cost conscious way of being able to sample all these scents, but I’d give the caveat that one’s opinion of these is likely to be improved by checking them out as single scents. When I first sampled these a year or two ago, I used the sessions as a buying guide to what I might like and out of this package I believe I only went on to try the Ganga on its own, so it’s a bit of a conundrum – the samplers making it difficult to distinguish the champas from one another and thus perhaps obscuring what might be better incenses on their own. Fortunately Ramakrishnanda keep the prices low enough where one might pique their curiosity to go on and try 1o packs of all of the eventually. But unfortunately, while the Ramas compete quite nicely in their flora styles, they’re certainly falling behind in the champa race.