Vrindavan, 2017.07.28 (Sakhicharan Das): I would like to briefly discuss one way of serving the Holy Name that is not often spoken of. It is called likhit jap. Likhit jap or written repetition of the mantra is an extremely effective spiritual practice that consists of writing down a fixed amount of your mantra, the mahamantra, the name of your Ishta-dev, or the name of your guru in a notebook.
In his commentary on the ninth verse of Brihad Bhagwatamritam, Shri Sanatan Goswami says:
Although we normally think of chanting as being the business of the tongue, all of one’s conscious faculties can be engaged with the Holy Name. The mind can contemplate the syllables of the Lord’s names and their meanings, and the external senses can interact with the Name each in their own way. Speech and hearing are obviously involved, but the sense of touch can also feel the Name written in sacred clay on one’s body, the eyes can see the name written in various places, the hands and legs can work to carry a banner inscribed with the name, and so on.
Likhit jap is one of the most potent forms of sadhana because so many of your senses are engaged simultaneously in the practice. The mind, the eyes, the fingers and the hands all combine and cooperate together to create a highly concentrated form of meditation. It is deceptively simple, yet amazingly powerful.
To practice likhit jap, one should make a vow to write a certain number of names or write for a certain length of time daily. Forget everything. Observe silence and remain alone with your Ishta-dev or your gurudev and for a least a half hour and get fully absorbed in your likhit jap.
Below is an inspiring story from The Life of Love. I couldn’t help but to remember this story when discussing likhit jap.
One year during Ratha Yatra, Sri Radharaman Charan Babaji (Babaji Mahashay) was singing and dancing in ecstasy before the cart of Jagannath Dev. When the cart reached Rajbari, suddenly a particular realization came to the mind of Babaji Mahashay and he slipped out of the procession to sit alone on the verandah of Gopal Prasad Dutta. He appeared sad and grave and no one who saw him had the courage to speak to him to ask what was worrying him.
The reason for his anxiety was that he realized that his dear disciple named Chaitanya Das, who had long been ill, was soon to breathe his last breath. Chaitanya Das was staying in a nearby house and was being taken care of by Jai Gopal Das. Babaji Mahashay was the life and soul of Chaitanya Das, who was a highly elevated mahatma absorbed in Gopi-bhav. Whether awake or asleep, eating or drinking, talking or meditating, the subject of his thoughts and speech was always his beloved gurudev, Babaji Mahashay.
When Jai Gopal could understand that Chaitanya Das was nearing the end of his life, he was uncertain what to do. Chaitanya Das told him, “There is no cause for anxiety. Please somehow bring Babaji Mahashay here. If you can do that, then I will know you are a true friend. I want to die while looking at Sri Babaji Mahashay. The only thing I can give you in return for this service is the aprakrit gopi-bhav so difficult to achieve even by the Rishis, but which gurudev has kindly bestowed upon me. You shall have it, and even while you serve the Lord in this world you will enjoy the highest bliss of the transcendental world.”
By this time, Nabadwip Das had begun searching for Babaji Mahashay. He stopped at the room of Chaitanya Das and was alarmed to see his condition. Jai Gopal told him that they needed to find Babaji Mahashay and bring him to Chaitanya Das quickly. Nabadwip Das found Babaji Mahashay and told him that Chaitanya Das is dying and wants his darshan before he passes away.
Babaji Mahashay did not respond in the slightest; he didn’t even give a sign to indicate that he heard what was being said. Nabadwip Das returned and told Jai Gopal to speak to him. Jai Gopal was but a boy and he could hardly muster the courage necessary to speak to such a grave Babaji Mahashay. He pulled himself together and went and stood before Babaji Mahashay and said commandingly, “What kind of a mahapurush are you? Your disciple is dying and he wants your darshan and you are sitting here like one absolutely indifferent and unconcerned. Come, don’t waste time.”
Babaji Mahashay immediately got up and went to stand behind the bed of Chaitanya Das. Nabadwip Das announced to Chaitanya Das that Babaji Mahashay had come.
Chaitanya Das beckoned with his eyes, silently requesting that Babaji Mahashay stand in front of him. Babaji Mahashay moved towards his feet and Chaitanya Das observed him from head to toe. Then he fixed his eyes upon his face.
Nabadwip Das lifted Babaji Mahashay’s right foot and placed it on Chaitanya Das’s chest. Tears came from the eyes of Chaitanya Das as if to bid him farewell. Babaji Mahashay was so far standing motionless and speechless, but now his heart broke and tears cascaded from his eyes. He said, “O Chaitanya! You are leaving me to go where peace and happiness reign supreme. What can I say, except that I take upon myself all your sins, past and present, so that you may go with a pure heart and attain your desired end – the loving seva of the Lords of your heart, according to your bhav.
Meanwhile the cart of Jagannath Dev came to a halt and Babaji Mahashay’s dear disciple, my param gurudev, Ramdas Babaji who had been so far dancing and chanting in front of Jagannath’s cart suddenly felt an internal attraction and came running with the kirtan-party to the place of Chaitanya Das. They were all astonished to see such an inspiring and elevating scene. Chaitanya Das’s eyes were fixed on the face of Babaji Mahashay and he was drowning in an ocean of bliss from the touch of the lotus feet of Babaji Mahashay. Everyone was inspired to sing aloud:
“Ha! Nitai-Gaur Radhey-Shyam ~ Ha! Hare Krishna Hare Ram”
Tears were streaming from the eyes of all. All of a sudden they saw that the entire body of Chaitanya Das trembled as leaves do in a breeze. His eyes widened, and he seemed to be seeing something new in Babaji Mahashay. He looked at him with exhultation and with this he breathed his last.
When Nabadwip Das removed the cloth from the chest of Chaitanya Das, he found two pieces of paper under it. One containg the Guru-vandana and the other containing a hundred thousand names of Babaji Mahashay in his handwriting which showed his utter dedication to the feet of Babaji Mahashay, his guru.
Babaji Mahashay said mournfully with tears in his eyes and his throat choked with emotion, “Nitai Chand kindly gave me the company of such a pure and dedicated soul. I do not know why he has now deprived me of it.”
The body of Chaitanya Das was taken to the seashore with a kirtan procession. Babaji Mahashay himself washed it with water of the sea, dressed it with his own kaupin and bahirvas and then clasped it and danced like one maddened in love. The face of Chaitanya Das rested on his shoulder and his arms were flung round his neck. Baba danced for a long time. Who could stop him? People who saw this were reminded of Mahaprabhu dancing with the dead body of Thakur Haridas.
After some time when Babaji Mahashay came to his own, Govinda Das took the body of Chaitanya Das from him and laid it on the pyre of sandalwood. Fire was set to the pyre and everyone circumambulated the burning pyre dancing and singing:
“Ha! Nitai-Gaur Radhey Shyam ~ Ha! Hare Krishna Hare Ram”