What Makes Nag Champa So Special?

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 18 January, 2011

Dear Spiritual Explorer: Somebody gave me some Nag Champa as a gift, and I am wondering what makes it so special. R. Maddox, Westchester, NY

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Nag Champa Incense

Dear R: While I have always held Nag Champa to be my favorite, especially Sai Baba’s Nag Champa Incense, used by me for the past 32 years, I never thought to ask what makes it so special. Your question gave me an opportunity to research this. I do know that it is commonly found in incense, soap, perfume oils, and candles and commonly used in ashrams. I first smelled it in the ashram of Swami Baba Muktananda in Oakland, California in 1972. The scent of Nag Champa permeated my very being and I felt transported into some kind of spiritual reverie. Baba Muktananda gave me the gift of his darshan and his shaktipat for which I will always be grateful as he bopped me on the head with his peacock feather, awakening in me a desire for spiritual guidance. Just as certain smells in our lives awaken memories, the smell of Nag Champa continues to resonate within me in my spiritual life as I burn it a few times per week.

My research has shown me that it contains sandalwood and I think the mystery of Nag Champa has been solved since sandalwood is one of the most spiritually evocative scents ever to be realized by the spiritual aspirant. It’s almost as if your eyes immediately close and you come into a meditative state due to Nag Champa and its sandalwood influence.

What I did not know was that Nag Champa is commonly burned in other public facilities as well. I am told that dance clubs burn Nag Champa regularly to override the scent of sweat. The incense is ground into a fine powder and is able to impart its scent without burning so as to conform to safety rules for nightclubs.

Further research has shown that the famous Bob Dylan regularly burned Nag Champa at his concerts and Nag Champa has become popular amongst Bob Dylan fans. Not only Bob Dylan, but also The Grateful dead, Black Crowes and Third Eye Blind, also burn Nag Champa at their concerts. Stevie Nicks referred to Nag Champa in her song “Illume 9/11,” on the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will. This is but a small sampling of famous people using Nag Champa in their concerts to enhance their performances. I find it very encouraging that instead of marijuana and other drugs, smells that sometimes pervade popular performer’s concerts, Nag Champa can be the alternate scent inhaled by the attendees.

Hail to Nag Champa, the new drug of the millennium!

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