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Body Odor And Its Effect From Stories In Hindu Scriptures

The theory of body odor and its effect was very well-developed in ancient India. We find it mentioned in several stories in Hindu scriptures.

In the Mahabharata we are told that Shantanu found Dasheyi not only beauteous and virtuous, but sweet smelling also. The story tell us that in trying to trace the source of the fragrance that assailed his nostrils he discovered the maiden who was indeed the cause of it.

Another story in the Mahabharata tells us how a boon was granted to Matsyagandha, the daughter of Girika and Vasu. The maiden had been cursed and became a fish in the waters of the Yamuna River, until one day she was accosted by Parashara Rishi from who she sought the boon of fragrance. Thereupon Parashara Rishi impregnated her with fragrance through a physical union with her and she became known as Gandhavati (the sweet smelling maiden) ever after. She came to be otherwise known as Yojanagandha for it is said that people could smell her approach over a distance of one yojana.

The Mahabharata also relates how when Draupadi was born, her own lotus-smell spread to distance of one krosha.

Shakuntala’s description by Kalidasa reveals that she was lotus smelling.

In Kumarasambhava, Goddess Parvati is described as one whose breath smells of lotus.

In the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Prururava poetically asks the bees if they have smelt the fragrance of Urvashi’s breath.

Lotus smell is again referred to several times in the Srimad Bhagavata. Devahuti once encountered a thousand maidens with the lotus-fragrance, and subsequently she gave birth to daughters with a similar fragrance. The same Purana refers to Urvashi’s lotus-smell which bewitched Pururava. Uddhava refers to heavenly maidens with the lotus-smell.

In Srimad Bhagavata Purana, we also have reference to the fish smell of the human body. Brahmahatya (killing of a Brahmin) in the shape of an old hag was seen by Indra following him and emitting a strong fish-odor.

Damayanti is actually described as lotus smelling.

Kokkoka in his Rati Rahasya describes the mucous of the Padmini type of women as lotus-smelling, that of the Chitrini type as honey smelling, that of the Shankini type as acid smelling and that of Hastini, as smelling like the ichor of an elephant.

SourceExcerpts from an introduction in the text titled ‘The Hindu Secrets Of Love Rati Rahasya Of Pandit Kokkoka’.