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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > SG Translated and Main Scriptures > Maha Mantra Yoga > Ch 9 The Process of Chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra > Likhita Japa (Writing & Mental Japa)

Likhita Japa (Writing Japa)

By Swami Gaurangapada.

In the Shri Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa compiled by Shrila Gopala Bhatta Goswami and commented on by Shrila Sanatana Goswami, we find the following description in Chapter 17:

atha japa-bhedah, tal-lakshanadi ca

Now, we will describe the three diverse kinds of Mantra Japa Yoga or chanting on beads and their characteristics.


trividho japa-yajnah syat tasya bhedan nibodhata |
vacikash ca upamshush ca manasash ca tridha matah |
trayanam japa-yajnanam shreyan syad uttarottarah ||155||

The Narasingha Purana states : “The Japa Yajna or the sacrifice of chanting on beads is basically of three kinds. The differences in these three kinds of japa can be elucidated as follows. The first kind of Mantra Japa is known as Vacika (loud) Japa, second is called as Upanshu (murmuring) Japa and the third is known as Manasa (mental) Japa.”

yad ucca-nica-svaritaih spashta-shabdavad-aksharaih |
mantram uccarayed vyaktam japa-yajnah sa vacikah ||156||

“That Japa Yajna (sacrifice and yoga of chanting) which is performed by loudly and openly chanting the Mantra with clear and distinct pronounciation of the Syllables and Names in the Mantra and which is accompanied by the loud recitation of Mantra in a high or low or a melodious svarita tone is known as Vacika Japa.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

ucca-nica-svaritaih uccena nicena tvaritena va udattanudatta-svarita-samjnaih svarair ity arthah | svarena yuktaih spashta-shabdavadbhir aksharaih |
ata eva vyaktam mantram uccarayed yat ||156||

“The Japa which is accompanied by loud, soft or melodious utterance of the mantra in udatta, anudatta or svarita notes with a high pitched accent is known as Vachika Japa. Since this kind of Japa is performed by the clear, loud, distinct (not slurred) pronounciation of the Mantra, therefore Vachika Japa has to be audibly uttered and thus can be heard clearly.”

shanair uccarayen mantram ishad aushthau pracalayet |
kincic chabdam svayam vidyad upamshuh sa japah smritah ||157||

“The second kind of Upanshu (murmuring) Japa Yoga is performed with the slow utterance and recitation of the Mantra with a little movement or murmuring of one’s two lips. Thus the sound vibration of the Mantra is very low and can be only heard by oneself.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

svayam eva vidyaj janiyat shrinuyad ity arthah ||157||“Thus Upanshu Japa Yoga means that chanter himself or herself softly recites, hears and understands the meaning of the Mantra.”

dhiya yad akshara-shrenya varnad varnam padat padam |
shabdartha-cintanabhyasah sa ukto manaso japah ||158||

“Manasa Japa or Mental Japa means the repeated and intense practice of deep contemplation and meditation on the meaning of each and every word of the Mantra in one’s heart as one slowly progresses from one syllable or part of the Mantra to another while chanting it mentally.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

varnad ekasmat kramenanya-varnam vyapya | evam padat padam vyapya |
 ittham shabdasya arthasya ca yac cintanam anusandhanam tasya abhyasah punah punar avrittih ||158||

“Mental Japa means that one meditates with one pointed attention on each syllable of the Mantra. When the meaning of one syllable of the Mantra permeates the heart of the chanter during Mental Japa, then the chanter should move on to concentrate on the meaning of the next syllable of the Mantra. Then the mind should be focused on the divine meaning of a word of the Mantra and then one should go on to the next word of the Mantra. In this way the constant drilling and training of the mind and the heart by Mental Japa to repeatedly investigate, visualize and realize the transcendental meaning of each word of the Mantra through the process of deep and profound contemplation, reflection, and meditation on the Mantra is the most powerful form of Japa or chanting.”

tatra ca yajnavalkyah-
upamshu-japa-yuktasya tasmac-chata-guno bhavet |
sahasro manasah prokto yasmad dhyana-samo hi sah ||159||

In the Yajnavalkya Smriti , it is stated: “Upanshu (murmuring) Japa as described above is one hundred times qualitatively more powerful than Vachika (loud) Japa. Manasa (mental) Japa on the other hand is one thousand times more powerful because Mental Japa is on the same platform as Meditation.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

upamshu-japa-yuktasya japah shata-gunah syad vacikaj japac chata-guno bhaved ity arthah ||159||

“The above statement that Upanshu Japa is one hundred times more powerful means that it is one hundred times more powerful than Vachika Japa.”

pashu-bhave sthita mantrah kevalam varna-rupinah |
saushumnadhvany uccaritah prabhutvam prapnuvanti hi ||160||

In the Mantrarnava, it is stated that: “Those who chant the Mantra while simply uttering the syllables but not meditating on their meaning, are chanting the Mantra in animalistic consciousness. But the utterance of the Mantra with profound contemplation on its meaning arising through the sushumna (subtle nerve channel) which runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head enables the chanter to attain mastery and perfection over the art of chanting by the mercy of the Lord.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

saushumnye sushumnakhya-nadi-sambandhini adhvani cchidra-marge uccaritah santah |
prabhutvam samarthyam ||160||

“When someone performs Japa Yoga with the sound vibration of the Mantra passing through and arising from the hole of the sushumna nadi (channel), then one becomes a sage and attains mastery and success in Japa Yoga chanting if one has the mercy of the Lord.”

na dosho manase japye sarva-deshe’pi sarvada |
japa-nishtho dvija-shreshthah sarva-yajna-phalam labhet ||161||

“There can never be any fault or defect whatsoever in Manasa or Mental Japa Yoga, and thus it can be performed in all places, at all times and in all circumstances. O best of the brahmanas! Thus that most fortunate person, who is staunchly and irrevocably engaged in Japa Yoga always achieves the sublime fruits of performing unlimited fire sacrifices at every moment.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

ata eva manaso japah paramottama ity aha-na dosha iti |
dvija-shreshtha iti tatratya-vipranam sambodhanam |
dvija-shreshtha ity eka-vacananta-patho’pi kvacit ||161||

“Thus Manasa or Mental Japa Yoga is Paramottama, which means Supermost form of Japa Yoga, since it has no faults of any kind. Dvija-srestha is used in a singular tense in this verse to indicate the best of the brahmanas who engage in chanting Japa.”

ashucir va shucir vapi gacchams tishthan svapann api |
mantraika-sharano vidvan manasaiva sadabhyaset ||162||

“Thus one should incessantly practice the chanting of Mental Japa whether one is in a clean or unclean condition, moving or stationary, and sleeping or awake. In this way, one who takes exclusive shelter of the Mantra in all circumstances is a learned and self-realised soul.”

Digdarshini tika (commentary) by Shrila Sanatana Goswami:

mantraika-sharana ity anena purashcaranadi-paras tu yathokta-desha-kaladav evabhyased ity abhipretam ||162||

“Thus it is understood that one should take full shelter of Mental Mantra Japa, which is independent of preliminary purificatory rites, the place, time etc.”

kim canyatra-
manasah siddhi-kamais tu pushti-kamair upamshukah |
vaciko maranoccate prashasto japa iritah ||163||

In another scripture, it is stated: “If one desires siddhi or the supreme perfection of life, then one must engage in Mental Japa. If one desires spiritual and material prosperity, then one must engage in Upanshu or Murmuring Japa. And if one desires perfection at the time of death, then Vachika or Loud Japa is the most suitable.”

Vaishnaviya tantre-
japat shata gunam punyam rama nama pralekhane.

In the Vaishnaviya Tantra it is stated: “Writing the Mantra (like Rama Nama Mantra etc) with full concentration is one hundred times more beneficial and powerful than Japa chanting.”

Commentary by Swami Gaurangapada:

This is because while writing or inscribing the syllables of the Mantra one is forced to perform the deepest meditation on the form of the syllables of the Mantra. All the Vedic scriptures constantly state that the syllables of the the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and are non-different from Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga and Their Lordships Shri Shri Radha and Krishna Themselves.

Also while writing the Mantra, the chanter is forced to perform the concentrated Mental Japa and remembrance of the syllables of the Mantra which as described above is one thousand times more powerful than mental Japa. Therefore, Written Japa is one hundred thousand times (100 x 1000) more powerful than Vacika Japa or loud chanting.”

Thus the benefits of this Likhita Japa cannot be adequately described. Besides bringing about purity of the heart and concentration of the mind on the syllable form of God, Likhita Japa imparts the chanter with the power to control one’s senses, increases one’s power of concentration, memory and endurance and quickly grants one the qualification to see the divine form of Lord Gauranga-Krishna face to face while chanting. Mantra Shakti (potency) and its benefits are fully accessible and experienced by the chanter by the regular practice of Likhita Japa by writing a fixed time daily each of the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Recollection, Absorption, Meditation, Constant Rememberance and the Supreme Trance (samadhi) are the five progressive levels of Likhita Japa.

One simply requires a finger and some free space or a pen and paper or book to practice Likhita. It is the easiest and sublime bhakti and yoga. The procedure is very simple. Whether one is sitting, relaxing, walking or standing, one has to take one’s forefinger of the right hand and slowly write the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra in Sanskrit or in any other language anywhere in the empty free space in front of oneself or on paper with a pen while mentally chanting and concentrating on the Syllables of the Mantras. If one feels that it is embarrasing to write the Mantras in the space with the forefinger in front of others, one can do it with pen on paper or do it when one is alone.

The more bigger one can write the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra in the space in front of oneself or in a notebook or paper, the easier it is to mentally focus and concentrate on form of the syllables of the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra which are divine and non-different from Their Lordships Themselves. One can write on a piece of paper but if one writes in small size, the form of syllables is not easy to concentrate on while writing. Thus writing in space or on a paper or notebook with a bigger font size is recommended.

In the Varaha Purana, it is stated:

ashtottara-shataih purva pancashadbhis tu madhyama |
kanyasi panca-vimshatya parimanam vidhiyate ||73||

“One round of Mantra Japa should be either one hundred and eight times which is the best, or fifty times which is medium or twenty times which is the lowest.”

Thus Likhita Japa comprises of slowly writing the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra in free space in front of us with one’s forefingers with full concentration and full meditation on the transcendental syllables of the Mantras or writing the Mantras with a pen in a Japa notebook in an easily readable font size.

Likhita Japa enables us to develop a wonderful power of concentration and subdues the mind thus making us qualified to chant and sing the Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna Mahamantra with rapt attention with our mind and heart focused on the transcendental form of the Lord. Likhita Japa has to be performed daily for a few months to realize it's full benefit.

Thus Likhita Japa Yoga is a nice addition to the normal and primary daily chanting practice of the devotees. It is not meant to substitute the direct chanting of the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra on Tulasi beads but as an useful supplement to enhance the quality of and bring life and realization into our normal daily chanting. Try for yourself and experience the results!

Instantly experience the Akshara Parabrahma Lord Gauranga-Krishna i.e. the Lord Who is non-different from the form of the very syllables of His Holy Names by Likhita Japa. The transition from Syllable Meditation to Form Meditation is so easily and rapidly accomplished. By practicing Likhita Japa of the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, it is guaranteed that one will quickly progress to the second stage of Mantra Yoga which is Rupa-Dhyana Japa very soon which is to directly realize the transcendental form of the Lord while chanting the the Nityananda and Gauranga Mantrarajas and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.