All over the world the glories of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu are sung. However, without Sri Advaita Acharya Prabhu, also known as Gaur Ana Thakur, He who brought Gaura to this world, there would be no Mahaprabhu.
Sri Advaita Acharya was the first among the associates of Lord Chaitanya and He appeared on our earth some 50 & 60 years before Sri Chaitanya’s own advent. Sri Advaita Acharya is recognized as a combined incarnation or expansion of Sri Maha Vishnu and Sri Sadashiva, Lord Shiva in Golok dham.
In Chaitanya Charitamrita, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami quotes the following evidence from the diary of Swarupa Damodar to describe the ontological principle of Advaita Acharya:
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 Sri Advaita Acharya manifested in this world, Srila Madhavendra Puri, Sri Ishwar Puri, Sri Sachi Mata and Sri Jagannath Mishra also made their appearances.
Sri Advaita Acharya was a disciple of Srila Madhavendra Puri and forms one of the main figures amongst the Pancatattva – Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhar pandit and Srivasa.
Sri Advaita Acharya Prabhu was born in 1434 in Nabagram, Bengal to Sri Kubera Pandit and Srimati Nabha devi. They were originally inhabitants of Nabagram village near Sri Hatta, but later moved to Santipur on the banks of the Ganga. He disappeared in the year 1559, at the age of 125 years.
Sri 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 Sri 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 Srimad Bhagavatam.
In the house of Advaita Acharya, the devotees took pleasure in Krishna Katha, worshipping Krishna and chanting the Lord’s names. Sri Advaita Acharya was a spiritual guru and had many followers. Sri 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 Sri 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 Sri Maha Vishnu appeared and compelled Sri 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 Sri Krishna in Goloka. Hearing this urgent cry saturated with devotion, Sri Krishna advented Himself as Sri Krishna Chaitanya in Mayapur, Bengal as the son of Sri Jagannath Mishra and Saci Devi.
“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 Sri 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 Srila Sanatan Goswami.
Sri Advaita Acharya had two wives; one was named Sri, the other Sita. In the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, it is written that the divine Yogamaya took the form of Advaita’s wife Srimati Sita devi, and that Sri is her prakasha expansion.
The Caitanya-caritamrita gives a history of Sri 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.
Sri Advaita Acarya worshiped the shaligram shila and called out to the Lord to descend to this world.Sri 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 Sri Sri Madan-Gopal that were worshiped by Sri Advaita Acarya are still to be found at Santipur in Madan-Gopal Para.
The place on the banks of the Ganga where Sri 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.