I would like to briefly discuss one type of japa that is not often spoken of. It is called likhita japa. Likhita japa 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 gurudeva in a notebook. Likhita japa 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.
One should make a vow to write a certain number of names or write for a certain length of time daily. Forget everything. Observe mauna and just remain alone with your Ishta-dev or your gurudeva and for a least a half hour and get fully absorbed in your likhita japa.
Below is an inspiring story from The Life of Love. I couldn’t help but to remember this story when discussing likhita japa.
One year during the Ratha yatra Radharaman Charan Dev (Babaji Mahasaya) 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 Mahasaya and he slipped out of the procession to sit alone on the veranda of Gopal Prasada Dutta. He appeared sad and grave and no one who saw him had the courage to speak to him to ask what worried him.
The reason for his anxiety was that he realized that his dear disciple named Caitanya Das who had long been ill was soon to breath his last breath. Caitanya Das was staying in a nearby house and was being taken care of by Jai Gopal Das (later to be known as Lalita Sakhi Dasi or simply Sakhi Ma). Babaji Mahasaya was the life and soul of Caitanya 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 gurudeva, Babaji Mahasaya.
When Jai Gopal could understand that Caitanya Das was nearing the end of his life, he was uncertain what to do. Caitanya Das told him, “There is no cause for anxiety, please somehow bring Babaji Mahasaya here. If you can do that then I will know you are a true friend. I want to die while looking at Sri Babaji Mahasaya. The only thing I can give you in return for this service is the aprAkRta gopI-bhAva, so difficult to achieve even by the Rishis, but which gurudev has kindly bestowed upon me. You have it, and even while you serve the Lord in this world enjoy the highest bliss of the transcendental world.”
By this time Nabadwip Chandra Das began searching for Babaji Mahasaya. He stopped at the place of Caitanya Das and was alarmed to see his condition. Jai Gopal told him that they needed to find Babaji Mahasaya and bring him to Caitanya Das quickly. Nabadwip Chandra found Babaji Mahasaya and told him that Caitanya Das is dying and wants his darshan before he passes away. Babaji Mahasaya 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 Mahasaya. He pulled himself together and went and stood before Babaji Mahasaya 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 Mahasaya got up and went to stand behind the bed of Caitanya Das. Nabadwip Chandra announced to Caitanya Das that Babaji Mahasaya had come. Caitanya Das beckoned with his eyes that Babaji Mahasaya might stand before him. Babaji Maharaj moved towards his feet and Caitanya Das observed him from head to toe and then fixed his eyes upon his face. Nabadwip Chandra lifted Babaji Mahasaya’s right foot and placed it on Caitanya Das’s chest. Tears came from the eyes of Caitanya Das as if to bid him farewell. Babaji Mahasaya was so far standing motionless and speechless, but now his heart broke and tears cascaded from his eyes. He said, “O Caitanya! 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 twin Lords of your heart, according to your bhava.
Meanwhile the cart of Jagannath Dev came to a halt and Babaji Mahasaya’s dear disciple, my param gurudeva, 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 Caitanya Das. They were all astonished to see such an inspiring and elevating scene. Caitanya Das’s eyes were fixed on the face of Babaji Mahasaya and he was drowning in an ocean of bliss from the touch of the lotus feet of Babaji Mahasaya. Everyone was inspired to sing aloud:
“Ha! Nitai-Gaura Radhey-Shyam ~ Ha! Hare Krishna Hare Ram”
Tears were streaming from the eyes of everyone. All of a sudden they saw that the entire body of Caitanya Das trembled as leaves do in a breeze. His eyes widened, and he seemed to be seeing something new in Babaji Mahasaya. He looked at him with exhultation and with this he breathed his last.
Nabadwip Chandra removed the cloth from the chest of Caitanya Das, and he found two papers under it. One containg the Guru-vandana and the other containing a hundred thousand names of Babaji Mahasaya in his handwriting which showed his utter dedication to the feet of Babaji Mahasaya, his guru.
Babaji Mahasaya said mournfully with tears in his eyes and his throat choked with emotion, “Nitai Chand had kindly given 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 Caitanya Das was taken to the seashore with a kirtan procession. Babaji Mahasaya himself washed it with water of the sea, dressed it with his own kaupin and bahirvasa and then clasped it and danced like one maddened in love. The face of Caitanya 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 Mahasaya came to his own, Govinda Das took the body of Caitanya 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-Gaura Radhey Shyam ~ Ha! Hare Krishna Hare Ram”