James McHugh introduced by Nidhi Dugar

 

Drawing on a wide range of sources, from poetry to medical texts, James McHugh shows the deeply significant religious and cultural role of smell in ancient India. Fragrances and stenches were analogous to certain values, aesthetic or ethical, and in a system where karmic results often had a sensory impact — where evil literally stank — the ethical and aesthetic became difficult to distinguish. McHugh describes the sophisticated arts of perfumery developed in temples, monasteries and courts, which resulted in worldwide ocean trade and the various religious discourses on the purpose of life that emphasised the pleasures of the senses, including olfactory experience, as a valid end in themselves.