“At sunset in the top of the jungle canopy the monkeys sing his name. Across the sky at dawn it is written by the clouds in the east as the sun guilds each letter in crimson and gold. At the roof of the world, where the mountain gods abide it is written a thousand thousand times in the stone of the Himalayas. Ashoka the Great.”
The gasp from the circle of children was audible. Eyes wide in wonder at the splendor of his imperial glory began to unfold. The old storyteller continued.
“As a boy he was such a fierce warrior that he killed a lion with a stick.”
“No that is impossible.” Said little Parnashri in disbelief. “A boy and a lion? The Lion will always eat the boy.”
The old storyteller nodded and with a half smile raised his hand to beg for patience. “He was not an ordinary boy, but an exceptional boy who grew to be a great man.”
Parnashri gave him a displeased look that said with the tilt of her head. “Prove it.”
“After Ashoka came to the throne he desired to expand the empire of India wider than ever before. With great wars he pushed our boundaries to the west deep in to Persia. To the south almost as far as the very tip of India and eastward to the very gates of Burma, but this was not enough for the Emperor. His eyes fell upon the land of Kalinga.
A great battle ensued and many thousands died. Kalinga fell to Ashoka and in his joy he walked into the filed of battle to celebrate and glory in his victory over his enemy. But his joy short lived. It was quickly transformed to grief. Ashoka the Fierce looked upon the hundred thousand dead and cried.
‘What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Did I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant…. What’s this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?’
His tears ran down his face and washed the bloody earth upon which he stood. In that moment his heart was softened by the savage sorrow and hideous death he had rendered upon Kalinga.”
“This makes him a great man? Because he cried after all the death he made” Said Parnashri.
“This was the transfiguring moment, Parnashri, the door to enlightenment was before him on the battlefield of Kalinga. If he embraced it and stepped through the door it would be the beginning for the boy inside the Emperor of becoming a great man.”
And did he step through the door?” Parnashri said as she and the entire circle of children under the Bodhi tree leaned forward in anticipation.
“He turned away from war and toward the path of the Buddha. He found on that path a way to peace, for himself and for all the land. And in so doing he brought the teachings of the Buddha to all of India. He built monasteries and great Stupas across the land and hospitals for people and animals as well. For forty years he reined in peace and created a golden age to India.”
“And that is why the monkeys sing his name at sunset.”
Ashoka by Neela Vermeire Creations is a contemplative beauty. A perfume for both men and women that is a thoughtful meditation on beauty and peace inspired buy one of the great leaders of not only Indian history but on the world stage as well.
(photo from Ca Scent Bon! taken by Claudio Bonoldi Studio)
The nose behind the perfume is one of my favorite perfumers, Bertrand Duchaufour who has created for so many great houses from L’Artisan Parfumeur to Dior. Here in this perfume he has a soft symphony of notes. So many notes are in this perfume that in the mixing of them you find his great subtlety as an artist.
The perfume is green and calm with the major note of fig leaf and parsley leaf being a very easy green complemented by incense aromatic notes of styrax, incense, myrrh and osmanthus. It is the very picture of a smoky blue haze incense market under the shade of rows and rows of fig trees in the heat and heart of India. Fig milk note along with vanilla and amber adds a creamy texture to the mix smoothing out all the incense. Other notes that flow through the perfume like a subterranean river are the florals of rose, water hyacinth, cassie flower, jasmine sambac, geranium, ylang-ylang and iris with the support of, rooty green vetiver, a soft tonka bean. There is a woody subtext and foundation of a tangy balsam fir and creamy sandalwood. The perfume is categorized as a Woody Aromatic. I find it to be more aromatic than woody.
For me, on my skin it stays well bended and not one note other than the fig leaf dominate. It is not a huge dramatic perfume but rather a dreamy soft warm fragrance that longs to be on skin where it floats and shimmers in a nirvana bubble of beauty. It lasts on my skin about six to eight hours with a moderate sillage. And that is as it should be, one would not expect an enlightened perfume to be bombastic or all about ME! It is about sharing its beauty and inviting others in.
ASHOKA by NEELA VERMEIRE CREATIONS ~ FIVE GOLD STARS *****
NEELA VERMEIRE CREATIONS: http://www.neelavermeire.com/