The power of the olfactory sense

Our perception is largely based upon the senses,their impressions forming the chief source for our experiences.The visual experiences form the major part of our experiences and since it is so a person who does not have a vision has necessarily to use the other senses to compensate for the lack of visual experiences. The question that crops up is whether you cannot do without at least one of the senses helping you to garner experiences. Too often it is a combination of two or more sensory impressions that forms the experience. Let us examine if pleasure giving experiences in our life are only those drawn from sensory experiences. I find that apart from the direct sensory experiences which give us pleasure ,a recollecting of the earlier sensory experiences often gives the same exquisite experience as a sensory impression. Perhaps William Wordsworth’s definition of “poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility” falls into this kind. For me it is not exactly the sensory experiences recalled that give pleasure but only the haze around those experiences which were not necessarily pleasure giving at that time .Thus perfectly ordinary experiences of the olden times get recalled sometimes giving me a quality of experience truly enjoyable and this does not happen in moments of tranquility alone but is triggered by a repeat occurrence of one of the sensory impressions of that event which is being recalled.A notable thing is the predominance of the olfactory impressions in the recalling.I have often found that a whiff of a fragrance associated with an earlier experience in the remote past gives rise to an exquisite experience ,which was not necessarily a intensely joyous experience at that time.

I have often experienced the power of the sense of smell in recalling exquisite experiences. Some times ,I pass the streets lined with fragrant jasmines on the foot path and re-experience the beauty of an earlier experience which was not necessarily a pleasure giving experience at the time.It is the haze and the etherealness of the recalled experience that enhances your experience now .I had often roamed the busy shopping streets of Baroda aimlessly merely to take in the fragrances of the agarbattis(incense sticks) wafting from out of the shops . Now anywhere in the country when I re-experience fragrance from similar incense sticks I experience an intensity of pleasure which is fleeting no doubt but wonderful while it lasts.

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