For some months now I have been contemplating creating a perfume that in some small way captured the essence of feelings about India that have developed over 35 year of traveling and working throughout the length and breadth of the country. Perfume is such a lovely means of sharing with others treasured experiences that transcend visual and written word. As I began to assemble some of the most precious essences available to me I endeavored to think as to what I might be able to say about the time spent in India and how it impacted to my life that could accompany the Kisan Perfume.
Simply put, the most meaningful thing I might be able to say about India and its impact on my life has very little to do with the external forms of the great spiritual traditions that exist there. Rather it concerns the impact simple villagers and farmers had on my life. When I first went to India I lived on a small farm outside of Bangalore where the daily life centered around the simple activities of agricultural life which at that time were little changed from what was being done for thousands of years. The intimate association with the land and its people had a marked influence on me as I got used to the simple rhythms of working with nature through the seasons. I could not, at that time, speak the language of those around me, so much was communicated through looks and gestures and gradually I became aware of a whole world of refined interactions which spoke of sweetness, kindness, appreciation, trust, humility and many other qualities which to that time I hardly new existed.
Over the next several years I spent 6 months a year farming in India and with the passage of time an awareness began to develop that there was much to be valued in the type of interdependence that exists when one is living on the land with others. Perhaps the most wonderful thing of all was realizing that it really did not matter to what religion, caste or community one belonged because we were just human beings and all the things that really mattered were the common heritage of all. This feeling later accompanied me through many journeys to other parts of the country where I interacted with people from all the different religious communities; Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim as well as people from all strata of society; rich and poor, young and old, etc. So many happy times were spent in rural areas amongst farmers and village folk who had in fact incorporated into their lives the simple virtues mentioned above and without hesitation welcomed me into their homes.
It was through the kind influence of my Indian friends that the whole perception of life and its meaning began to change. The soil was alive with growing plants carefully cultivated by hand; the fields plowed by bullocks who went about their work with dignity and grace; the crops harvested at the appropriate time by many willing hands; food prepared from the work of those living in the community; the deep silence of the night when we sat about on open verandahs under gas lanterns shucking corn; and a million other silken threads of companionship which knit us altogether from the smallest child to the oldest adult irregardless of the normal distinctions which tend to separate us from each other. In working directly with the earth as people have done for thousands of years one may begin to see that the sun, the air, the water and all the free gifts of the earth are for everyone and that appreciation for the simple things of life can greatly help in removing from our hearts a sense of difference from others.
The perfume Kisan is my own modest attempt to capture the sweet joy and happiness that became part of my life because of the time spent in India. Kisan means "farmer or peasant" and in honoring these people who form the backbone of Indian culture and civilization I have chosen the rarest aromatic ingredients. From their quiet and humble lives comes a rich fragrance of sublime values that has been a great source of inspiration in my life.