Monastery or Samye Gompa was the first Buddhist
monastery built in Tibet, constructed in approximately
775 AD under the patronage of King Trisong Detsen
of Tibet. The monastery is located in Dranang,
to tradition, the Indian monk Shantarakshita made
the first attempt to construct the monastery while
promoting his sutra-centric version of Buddhism.
Finding the Samye site auspicious, he set about to
build a structure there. However the building would
always collapse after reaching a certain stage. Terrified,
the construction workers believed that there was
a demon in a nearby river making trouble.
when Shantarakshita's contemporary Guru Rinpoche,
also known as Padmasambhava, arrived from northern
India, the great guru was able to subdue the problematic
Bön demons and thus build the monastery.
marked the foundation of the original school of Tibetan
Buddhism, the Nyingma. This also helps explain how
Guru Rinpoche's tantric-centric version of Buddhism
gained ascendance over the sutra-based teaching of
Monastery was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution
and renovated beginning in the 1980s. Today it is
still an active monastery and important pilgrimage
I’ve written about this venerable monastery’s amazing incense in the past, but never really tried for a more descriptive review as my relationship with this incense has really developed since I tried my first sample 6 months ago or so. It was really my first encounter with a high end Tibetan incense and my first reaction was how strange and unusual it was, with an aromatic strength that was perhaps a little unsettling. But since then it’s grown on me to the point where I see it as one of the three Tibetan supernals, along with Tibetan Medical College Holy Land and Highland Incense.
Unlike these other incenses, the musk content of Samathabadra is a little more muted and more like an instrumentalist in a symphony than the conductor. In fact the entire incense is a blend of various ingredients that all show their faces during various sessions. My first encounter accentuated the rich nature of any incense blended with nagi/pangolin scales, a certain ineffable spice characteristic. While I’ve noticed its presence in any nagi-infused incense, I probably couldn’t describe it too easily as I’ve never smelled the pure aroma.
Over time, the variety of spices really comes out and with further use the combination becomes more and more addictive. Now I notice spices and aromas like cinnamon and clove, orange, chocolate, coffee and gingerbread. Anyone who has tried the estimable English barleywine, Young’s Old Nick, will also recognize a sort of banana-tinged, hoppy scent (and ironically in finding that link, the second review down says that Old Nick reminds the writer of burning incense ) in Samanthabadra. The combination of all these scents is kaleidoscopic, each new stick turning up variations that are often surprising, sometimes arresting.
I pulled Samanthabadra out at a dinner party last weekend, along with a number of higher-end Shoyeido and Shunkodo sticks, just as the sun was going down. It’s reflective of how good Samanthabadra is that it inspired as many or more positive comments than Sho-kaku or Ga-Ho. For an incense made in very cool weather it seems remarkably adaptable to a California summer, filling the surrounding area with spices similar to those found in cider and spiced tea. Undoubtedly one of the great Tibetan works of art.
Mike McLatchey - Reviewer for ORS (Olfactory Rescue Service)
SAMANTHABADRA INCENSE STICKS: Using
the secret recipe of Guru Rinpoche, monks
at Samye Monastery craft this incense. It
contains over 30 different kinds of precious
Tibetan medicinal herbs and spices such as
white and red sandalwood, pangolin scales,
musk, and crocus. It
receives its mystical powers through the
monk's chanting of the consecrated Buddhist
Scriptures as the incense is being made.
This incense is not only a perfect offering
to the Triple Jewels and all guardian deities,
but a rare holy object which clears negative
influence, purifies the air, prevents disease,
and benefits both mind and wisdom as well.
Box contains approximately 32, 10" sticks.
NOTE: Contains animal extracts.
MONASTERY INCENSE POWDER is
made under the basis of Tibetan traditional
medicine and modern technology. It includes
over 30 ingredients of white and red sandalwood,
pangolin scales, musk, crocus, ginseng,
as well as Six Fineness (general name for
six herbal plants). All of the ingredients
are native to Tibet.
incense has effects of avoiding evil influence,
clarifying the air, killing germs, and
releasing fatigue. Especially it can prevent
and cure cerebral hemorrhage, flu, and
all kinds of infectious diseases and insomnia.
NOTE: Contains animal extracts.