Shri Advaita Acharya was the first among the associates of Lord Chaitanya and He appeared on our earth some 50 &‐ 60 years before Shri Chaitanya's own advent. Shri Advaita Acharya is recognized as a combined incarnation or expansion of Shri Maha Vishnu and Shri Sadashiva, Lord Shiva in Golok dham.
In Chaitanya Charitamrita, Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami quotes the following evidence from the diary of Swarupa Damodar to describe the ontological principle of Advaita Acharya:
maha-vishnur jagat-karta mayaya yah srijaty adah
tasyavatara evayam advaitacarya ishvarah
advaitam harinadvaitad acaryam bhakti-shasanat
bhaktavataram isham tam advaitacaryam ashraye
Maha Vishnu is the master of the universe, which He creates through his power of Maya. Advaita Acharya is the incarnation of this form of the Supreme Lord. He is known as Advaita because he is none other than Hari, as Acharya because he is the preceptor of devotion. I take shelter of the Supreme Lord Advaita Acharya who is the Incarnation of a Devotee.
When Shri Advaita Acharya manifested in this world, Shrila Madhavendra Puri, Shri Ishwar Puri, Shri Sachi Mata and Shri Jagannath Mishra also made their appearances.
Shri Advaita Acharya was a disciple of Shrila Madhavendra Puri and forms one of the main figures amongst the Pancatattva – Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Shri Advaita, Gadadhar pandit and Shrivasa.
Shri Advaita Acharya Prabhu was born in 1434 in Nabagram, Bengal to Shri Kubera Pandit and Shrimati Nabha devi. They were originally inhabitants of Nabagram village near Shri Hatta, but later moved to Santipur on the banks of the Ganga. He disappeared in the year 1559, at the age of 125 years.
Shri Advaita Acharya studied the Vedas and other scriptures under a scholar named Santacharya in Phullavati village near Santipura, where He was awarded the title Acharya.
Before the appearance of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, all the Vaishnava Devotees in the Navadwip area used to gather at the house of Advaita Acharya. In these meetings, Advaita Acharya preached on the basis of the Bhagavad Gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam.
In the house of Advaita Acharya, the devotees took pleasure in Krishna Katha, worshipping Krishna and chanting the Lord’s names. Shri Advaita Acharya was a spiritual guru and had many followers. Shri Chaitanya’s older brother Vishwarup used to visit Advaita Acharya’s house every day to engage in the chanting and dancing of naam sankirtan.
He spent most of his adult life in the town of Shantipur, with his wife and family, where he became the well-respected leader of the small vaishnava community encouraging everyone to follow the path of bhakti – loving service to Shri Krishna.
Seeing all around Him the growing tendency for people to abandon their spiritual practices for the pursuit of wealth and short-lived materialistic gains, Advaita Acharya felt greatly pained. He wondered how the masses would ever be liberated.
It is said Advaita Acharya prayed fervently to the Lord for several months–He worshipped His shaligram shilas lovingly with sacred Tulasi leaves and Ganges water calling out aloud to the Lord to manifest and show a way to the worldly people to reach the eternal spiritual abode.
In the age of Kali, the Lord will not appear at the call of mere mortals. Knowing this His plenary expansion Shri Maha Vishnu appeared and compelled Shri Krishna Himself to manifest in His most munificent avatar.
By the momentum of his spiritual fervour, his loud cries pierced the coverings of the material universe and echoing through the transcendental Vaikunta lokas, reached the ears of Shri Krishna in Goloka. Hearing this urgent cry saturated with devotion, Shri Krishna advented Himself as Shri Krishna Chaitanya in Mayapur, Bengal as the son of Shri Jagannath Mishra and Saci Devi.
jaya jaya advaita isvara avatara
krsna avatari kaila jagat-nistara
"All glories to Advaita Prabhu, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He induced Krsna to descend and thus delivered the entire world."
When Kubera Pandit and Nabha Devi disappeared, Advaita Acharya went to Gaya to perform their pinda daan ceremonies and thence continued on a pilgrimage tour of the holy places in India.
He came to Vrindavan and became absorbed in the worship of Krishna. He discovered the deity of Shri Madan Mohan or Madan Gopal which He later entrusted to the care of a Choube brahmin in Mathura before continuing on his pilgrimage tour. It was this deity that was later served by Shrila Sanatan Goswami.
Shri Advaita Acharya had two wives; one was named Shri, the other Sita. In the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, it is written that the divine Yogamaya took the form of Advaita’s wife Shrimati Sita devi, and that Shri is her prakasha expansion.
The Caitanya-caritamrita gives a history of Shri Advaita's sons. One of these, Achyutananda, is described in the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika (87-8) as the incarnation of Karttikeya, the son of Lord Shiva.
Shri Advaita Acharya Prabhu’s leelas are too multifarious and mystical to be understood by mundane intellects. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself glorified Advaita Acharya and described the underlying truth of his nature in the following way:
Advaita Acharya is God himself. As a result of his association, I have become purified. Because there is noone equal to him in devotion to Krishna, nor in knowledge of the scriptures, he is called Advaita Acharya. By his mercy, even the mlecchas become devotees of Krishna, who can describe the extent of his powers or his devotion?
The Narasimha shaligram shila and Deities made in the image of Shri Shri Madan-Gopal that were worshiped by Shri Advaita Acarya are still to be found at Santipur in Madan-Gopal Para.
The place on the banks of the Ganga where Shri Advaita Acarya worshiped the shaligram shila and called out to the Lord to descend to the world is known today as Babla. A temple has been built in memory of Advaita Acarya's pastimes there.
The foremost of all the Vaishnavas who reside at Navadwip is Shri Advaita Acarya, whose virtuous presence has made all the worlds blessed. He is the most preeminent preceptor in all fields including knowledge, renunciation and devotion. In explaining Krsna-bhakti he is like unto Lord Shankara (Shiva) himself, and whatever scriptures that exist within the three worlds he explains in the light of Krsna-bhakti.
With the intense eagerness he continually worships the Shalagram of Shri Krsna with Tulasi manjaris and Ganges water. By the momentum of his spiritual force, his loud shouts pierce the coverings of this universe and, resounding throughout Vaikuntha, reach the ears of Shri Krsna. Hearing this loving summons saturated with devotion, Shri Krsna advents Himself.
On the seventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Magh, the great ocean of ecstasy swelled to its limits, being forcibly attracted by the moon of Advaita, Who appeared from the womb of Shri Nabhadevi as the moon appears in the autumn sky. His father, Shri Kuvera, Pandit floated in that ocean of joy. In great happiness gave many gifts in charity to the brahmanas (who voluntarily accept vows of poverty). Very quietly he approached the maternity room to get a glimpse of his newborn son. Then his own face began to shine by the reflected light of that moon-like personage. The residents of Nabagram came running to see the child. Everyone remarked that they had never seen such a beautiful baby. What a pious activities his father must have been performed to get such a jewel of a son, and that in his old age. Thus Ghanasyama sings about this occasion. [b.R.12.1759] The child was named Mangal and his other name was Kamalaksa.
Advaita Acarya is the combined incarnation of Maha Visnu and Sadaisiva (who resides in Goloka). His two consorts, Sita and Shri are manifestations of Yoga Maya. Once when Advaita performed worship, whatever gods and demigods He used to meditate upon He saw all gathered at Lord Caitanya's lotus feet, offering prayers. Raising up his two hands, Advaita exclaimed in great ecstasy, "Today all the days of my life have produced a successful result, as all my desires have been fulfilled. My birth and activities have finally born fruit. I have directly perceived Your two lotus feet, which are proclaimed throughout the four Vedas but are unattainable thereby. Now, by Your causeless mercy, You have revealed Yourself to Me.
"Mahaprabhu replied, "Acarya, now you should perform My worship." First Advaita Acarya washed the Lord's two lotus feet with water scented by flower petals and then with water scented with sandalwood. Then He placed on His lotus feet Tulasi manjari dipped in sandalwood paste along with arghya – an auspicious offering of rice, durbagrass, yogurt etc.
His eyes brimming with tears, he offered incense, ghee lamps, flowers, sandalwood paste, and some foodstuffs. After offering various prayers he loudly proclaimed the Lord's glories with auspicious shouts. All glories to the Lord and maintainer of the universe, the Lord of all that lives. All glories to Gaurcandra, the ocean of mercy. All glories to the most munificent incarnation of Shri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, whose form is all-enchanting. All glories to He who is decorated with the ornaments of Shri Vatsa and Kaustubha. All glories to He who has revealed the Hare Krsna Maha-mantra. All glories to He who enjoys the pastimes of accepting devotion unto Himself. All glories to Mahaprabhu who reclines on the bed of Ananta Sesa. All glories to the refuge of all living entities. [C.B.Mad. 6.116]
Hearing Advaita's prayer's Mahaprabhu replied, "My dear Acarya, I am very pleased by your prayers. Now you can ask from me any benediction you like." Then Advaita requested that, "My only request is that you distribute love of Krsna even to women, laborers and the ignorant fools as well. [C.B. Mad. 6.167]
A Nrsimha sila and Deities, fashioned after a picture of Shri Shri Madan-Gopal that were worshipped by Advaita Acarya are still residing at Santipur in Madan-Gopal Para. Santipur is a short distance from Krsnanagar by bus.
The place on the banks of the Ganga where Advaita Acarya worshipped shalagram and called out to the Lord to please descend to the world is known today as Babla. A temple has been built in memory of Advaita Acarya's pastimes there. This place can be reached by rikshaw from Santipur.