Moulshree (Mimusops elengi) is also known as Spanish cherry or medlar bush in English. We prefer to honor its origins and its distiller by using the name moulshree attar, although in India it is also known as bakul and there are different ways to transliterate moulshree. This medium-sized evergreen is found in the tropical forests of South and South-east Asia and Northern Australia.
The flowers have been used medicinally in India since antiquity. The tree itself is considered one of the three most sacred trees in Buddhism and Hinduism symbolizing love and beauty. In Hinduism the flowers are “placed among the flowers of the Hindu paradise.” The aroma of the flowers is described by Kalidasa in his classical Sanskrit text as “resembling that of a wine and…that of the breath of a young woman.” (1) The flowers are known for keeping their fragrance even when dried in the sun.
Like all our attars, I personally feel that they express their fullness and deepest qualities when put on the skin where they mix with our own natural oils – moulshree is no exception. When I smell it on my skin, it I am touched deeply by its magic. It doesn’t shout out like many flower scents. On the contrary it calls us in to meet it where it’s at. If we make the effort to journey to encounter it, we are far from disappointed. Its sensual, profound, as well as sweet and delicious and touches a very perfect and pure aspect of our being with a feeling of deep intimacy. It’s really worth the effort getting to know this beautiful, sacred, deeply feminine being. It takes our awareness out of mundane preoccupations and reminds us of something inside ourselves many of us tend to forget. When you smell it, you understand beyond words why it’s considered sacred.
(1) Bakula – A reputed drug of Ayurveda, its history, uses in Indian Medicine by Roma Mitra (Central council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow 226001