I dedicate this article to my mother Mrs Anandi Parameswaran on her 19th anniversary. My mother was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Every Monday evening she would be at the Shiva temple to offer abhishekam (holy bath) to Lord Shiva with all the ingredients like milk, curd, sandalwood etc. Other than that, her daily duty (which I thought then) and now realise that it was a sadhana (spiritual practise) was the writing of 2 pages of ‘Om Namasivaya’ diligently with utmost love and devotion. I have seen her do this for more than 20 years, so one can imagine the number of times she would have written this holy name. I wondered what benefit she could derive by this daily effort. I was happy though, that she found joy in this daily activity. One thing I vividly remember regarding this; is the way my brother and I used to compete for giving our pens for this holy name to be written during our school examination times. Mom had to do extra sadhana during those days. The same pens were then used by us to answer the exam papers. We believed that the pen would attain some magical powers and start writing all the right answers. I am not sure whether something so magical happened then, but considering that we are doing okay in life by His grace, I am convinced that somewhere my mum’s devotion and prayers and our innocent faith were answered.
I had quite forgotten about this until my maternal aunt reminded me some 2/3 years back that whatever grace and blessing I was receiving now was due to my mother’s writing of ‘Om NamaSivaya’ tirelessly throughout the years with utmost devotion. I also believe and owe all the good happenings in my life to my mother for all her love, prayers and selfless service. Just the other day I was listening to an interview of Dr Srikanth Sola in Souljourns, recorded in 2008 wherein he mentions that if a person in a family is in the path to self-realisation or attained the status of Jivan Mukta, they elevate the spiritual levels of all the previous generations and the next generations of their lineage by 50%. I truly believe in that statement and consider it true in case of my mother who treaded that path and only because of her we are blessed to be in Swami’s fold and following the path of spirituality.
As I was thinking of what I should write as a tribute for my mum this year, this thought of ‘Importance of Likhita Japam- writing the Lord’s name’ came to my mind as it was closest to her heart. Likhita Japam is one of the paths leading us closer to God.
It is normally believed that remembering and repeating the name of the Lord is the best method of realising the presence of Almighty. It is the easiest to practise in Kaliyuga (the present age). There are many types of ‘Nama Japa’ (sacred chants) such as mental, verbal and physical. Establishing one’s contact with Almighty through the practice of written Japa is a very ancient method. Our holy scriptures confirm that in the beginning, all praises of the Almighty, through the Vedas, were performed verbally, but as time passed, the vedic hymns started disappearing. It was then that Sage Vyasa started the method of writing these hymns in the praise of the Lord. Vedas are actually the incarnation of the Divine Lord in the form of hymns. The Lord was inscribed in the hymns of the Vedas. His defined form came later on. The written description of the Lord was later transformed into a desired shape or formation which could be remembered by us humans in any language or script which was easy to decipher only to provide a link with the Almighty. This is known as written Japa.
If we read a book once, twice or several times, we may remember some parts but it is difficult to remember the whole book, but if we write the same book, we are bound to remember better. Similarly if we write the Lord’s name regularly as a Japa, we can carve the name of Lord in our hearts. With the continuous practice of written Japa, we will gradually develop full concentration in the Lord.
Likhita Japa will help in the following
1. Dhaarana (retention/ understanding)- Since all our body parts such as mind, tongue, hands and eyes are trying to concentrate on one thing (written japa), there is no possibility of becoming restless. With understanding what we are trying to do, our retention power will increase and we will succeed in our attempt.
2. Niyantran (control) – Written Japa helps in concentration of mind which in turn helps to complete any work successfully.
3. Pragati (progress) – Repetition of written Japa instils inner spiritual values with which we progress towards the upliftment of our soul or inner self.
4. Shanti (peace) – By concentrating on one topic, our mind stops wandering and we experience eternal peace within us.
5. Shakti (energy & strength) – Spiritual atmosphere is automatically created around where a devotee starts his written Japa practice. This eventually aids the spiritual and physical progress achieved by the devotee.
Om Namah Shivaya (Panchakshara Mantra, five syllables) is a most potent and popular mantra, which is at the heart of the Vedas and Tantra, while there are other descriptions of the mantra, the following focuses on meanings for mantra meditation leading to Self-Realization.
OM/AUM: The three parts of Om (A-U-M) encompass the three states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep, the three levels of gross, subtle, causal, and the three levels of conscious, unconscious, subconscious, as well as the three universal processes of coming, being, and going.
Namah/Namaha: Adoration, homage, respect. Nothing is mine (as an individual person); everything is thine (as the Absolute Reality). The three levels of Om, the three worlds of gross, subtle, and causal, along with the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states of consciousness, as well as the three levels of conscious, unconscious, and subconscious themselves are “not mine” as the true properties of who I really am. Truly, “nothing is mine.” Rather, everything, all of these triads is “thine” or the “other” as the Absolute Reality.
Shivaya/Shiva: That Absolute Reality that is the ground out of which the others emerge. It is that “ink,” so to speak, that is not separate from the many forms which may appear to manifest or be created from that ink. In the Realization of this, one comes to see that he or she is one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
Now after doing some research on ‘Likhita Japa’ after so many years, I realise why mother practised this form of Sadhana. Looking back it is absolutely clear that she had chosen this path for Self-Realisation and whatever mentioned above ie Dharana, Niyantran, Pragati, Shanti and Shakti were achieved by her. This Japa gave her all the inner strength to be at equanimity despite her failing health. The sheer grit, determination and faith in the written name of Lord Shiva for more than 2 decades helped her to merge blissfully at His Divine Lotus feet 19 years ago this day.
Mentioning about Self-Realisation, I have always been inspired by Paramahamsa Yogananda’s books- ‘Autiboigraphy of a Yogi’, ‘Divine Romance’ and ‘Journey to Self-Realisation’. Incidentally, 7th March also happens to be the Samadhi day of Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda, a great modern yogi who founded the Self Realisation Fellowship. I offer my salutations to that great yogi as well.
Love you ma, for everything you have done for me the most significant being leading me to the path towards Lord Sai. Your love, thoughts and teachings will be ever engraved in my heart. Thanks for everything.