He is called ‘Advaita’ because he is non-different from Lord Hari. And he is called ‘Acharya’ because he is the preceptor of pure, unalloyed devotional service, by his words, and by his example in life. – Radhanath Swami
Several of our authorized Vaishnava scriptures describe the tattva of Sri Advaita. Here we find Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraj Goswami explaining how he is non-different from Mahavishnu. Lord Mahavishnu is the Karnodakshayi Vishnu. He is the original of the Purusha Avatars. When it is time for the creation of the cosmic manifestation, in his state of yoga nidra, unlimited universes come out from his pores when he exhales. And then he glances upon material nature, the Mahatattva. And through that glance he impregnates all the living entities that are karmically meant to be within material creation to enter. In this way he is aham bija-prada pita.
It is also explained in Chaitanya Charitamrita as well as Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata by Vrindavan Das Thakur that Advaitacharya is simultaneously Sadashiva – the original lord Siva in the Vaikuntha planet, in the spiritual planet, the origin of all Sivas, the origin of all auspiciousness. Advaitacharya accepted diksha formally from Madhavendra Puri, and accepted his lotus feet as the very treasure of his life. Lord Chaitanya is the tree of devotional service. Madhavendra puri was the seed of that tree. Srila Ishvara Puri nourished that seed. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu became the tree and divided it into two trunks – one is Lord Nityananda Prabhu, one is Sri Advaita Prabhu. It was Sri Advaita Prabhu himself that called the Supreme Lord Govinda of Goloka to descend as Lord Chaitanya, the golden avatar. Sri Advaita Prabhu was the foremost servant of Sri Chaitanya. And as an act of service, when he saw that Lord Chaitanya has completed his purpose as an incarnation in this world, it was Sri Advaita Prabhu that sent the Lord back to His eternal abode.
Radhanath Swami describes the meeting of Madhavendra Puri with Advaita Acharya
Sri Advaitacharya lived in a place called Advaita-vat (in Vrindavan). Even today there is a banyan tree where he was constantly immersed in loudly chanting the holy names. There he discovered the ancient deity personally installed by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Krishna, the Sambandha Murti of our Sampradaya – Madan Gopal. – Radhanath Swami
At Advaita-vat, Sri Advaita Prabhu worshipped with such love and devotion Sri Madan Gopal. Then in his meditation he was enlightened with the realization of his mission to bring the Supreme Lord Krishna to this earth. So he returned to Shantipur which was a place that he went to reside just after his parents left this world, because he wanted to live on the bank of the Ganges. There in Shantipur… Actually, one very historical event took place on his way to Shantipur. He went to Mithila and there he met the great Vaishnava poet Vidyapati. And they became intimate associates, sharing their love and devotion to the Lord. While in Shantipur, his heart overflowed with compassion, seeing the conditions of the people in this age of Kali. So, he began to everyday give lectures on Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, discussing only one subject – pure, unalloyed devotional service to Lord Hari.
At that time Madhavendra Puri came to Shantipur. We know the story from Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita. Madhavendra puri had installed the deity of Gopal on Govardhan hill. Gopal appeared in the dream. And he said, “I was living in the bushes for so long! I’m still very hot. Please go to the Malayan Hills and bring me sandalwood and camphor.” So Madhavendra Puri took that order as his life and soul. And all alone – he entrusted the deity to his disciples – and he left. In route to Jagannath Puri he heard about the glories of Sri Advaita Prabhu’s devotion. So he went to Shantipur. Madhavendra Puri stayed at the house of Advaitacharya.
When Sri Advaita Prabhu saw the ecstatic love of Madhavendra Puri, he fell at his feet and begged him for initiation. And it was there, in the holy land of Shantipur, that Advaitacharya accepted diksha formally from Madhavendra Puri, and accepted his lotus feet as the very treasure of his life. – Radhanath Swami
Lord Chaitanya is the tree of devotional service. Madhavendra Puri was the seed of that tree. Srila Ishvara Puri nourished that seed. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu became the tree and divided it into two trunks – one is Lord Nityananda Prabhu, one is Sri Advaita Prabhu. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami elaborates on the relationship between Advaitacharya and Haridas Thakur
While living in Shantipur, Srila Haridas Thakur, he came to meet Sri Advaita Prabhu. Actually, Haridas Thakur was living in Benapole and other jungles in the eastern part of Bengal. But due to various reasons, he left those places. And he came to a place called Chandpur in Adi-Saptagram. There he stayed at the house of Balaramachaya and Yadunandanacharya. And they arranged for Haridas Thakur to speak on the glories of the holy names. Now, Balaramachaya was the priest for Govardhan Majumdar and Hiranya Majumdar, and Yadunandanacharya was their guru. So, naturally they came to hear Haridas Thakur’s lectures. And they brought their little, tiny son, whose name was Raghunath. Upon seeing Haridas thakur’s renunciation, his total attachment to chanting 300000 names of Krishna every day, upon seeing his ecstatic symptoms of love of God, Raghunath Das’s heart melted in ecstasy. And he committed his life, at that very time, to one of total renunciation and devotion.
After leaving Chandpur, Haridas came to Shantipur. When Sri Advaitacharya met with him, in tears of ecstasy in his eyes, they were embracing together; they were dancing in ecstasy and chanting the holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Sri Advaitacharya understanding Haridas’s spirit of renunciation, he personally arranged to find a nice cave for Haridas to live in. And Haridas Thakur would do his bhajan, and every day he would speak hari-katha with Advaitacharya and sing and dance together. – Radhanath Swami
Advaitacharya was the foremost leader of all the Vaishnavas and he was also the foremost leader of all the Brahmanas. Every year he would perform Shraddha, in which, in order to deliver ancestors, you offer bhoga to Lord Vishnu. Then you offer it to the Vaishnavas. So the most exalted of all Vaishnavas is given the honor of accepting the first remnants of Vishnu. Advaitacharya gave that honor to Srila Haridas Thakur, even though the most exalted, highly placed brahmanas were present. People were astounded. They were shocked. This was really making a statement that just… It was like an earthquake in the heart of people who didn’t understand what is Vaishnava siddhanta. Can you imagine? Haridas Thakur was known to be an untouchable mleccha and yavana by birth, and he is given precedence over the greatest born all brahmanas by Advaitacharya’s own hands! Haridas Thakur was ashamed. He was embarrassed.
He said, “I am a mleccha. I’m a yavana. There are so many more qualified people than me. Why are you giving me this honour? It’s meant for a Brahmana.”
Advaitacharya with tears of ecstasy of ecstatic love in his eyes, he said, “By feeding you, I’m feeding ten million Brahmanas, because you have complete attraction to the chanting of the holy names.”
Bhagavatam says, “Even if one is born in the family of candalas, dog-eaters, if he is tasting the nectar of the holy names, it is to be considered that he has gone to all holy places of pilgrimage; he has read all the scriptures, he has bathed in all the rivers, he has performed all types of pious activities, and he has done every type of austerity. He is the greatest of Brahmana. In fact, that person is fit to be guru for the whole world. But a Brahmana, even if has all the twenty-five qualifications of a Brahmana from a high family, if he is not a devotee, attached to the holy name, he cannot even deliver himself, what to speak of anyone else!”
Radhanath Swami tells how Advaitacharya Prays for the Lord to Descend
Sri Advaitacharya also had a house in Navadvip. Sometimes he would be in Navadvip; sometimes he would be in Shantipur. He was seeing the condition of human society. “How Kali Yuga has progressed to such a limit,” he was thinking. “Even the scholars and the pandits and the teachers, they are so arrogant, so puffed up with pride of their great learning! But they never speak anything about Krishna, never talk anything about Bhakti. They are worshipping Manasa Devi, the snake goddess, for materialistic benefits. They are worshipping various demigods simply with material motives in their hearts. And anyone who is a devotee, anyone who is practicing the yuga dharma of Sankirtan, they condemn, they criticize as being sentimental fools. Such abominable condition!”
Advaita was preaching with his heart and soul. But he began to ponder within his heart that in this age of Kali, unless the Supreme Personality of Godhead personally appears, there will be no salvation to the world. The Yuga Dharma is Naam Sankirtan. Unless the Lord of Goloka Vrindavan personally descends to chant and dance and teach this process, the world will not understand. He read in a scripture, how the Lord will always satisfy his devotee’s desire if he was worshipped by sincere love, by the offering of Tulsi manjaris and Ganga water. Advaitacharya made a vow. He would fast. And throughout the day and night, on the banks of river Ganga, he would worship his Shaligram Shila Vishnu with Tulsi leaves and Tulsi manjaris with the sacred water of Ganga, and he would loudly pray to the Lord to appear. – Radhanath Swami
What a beautiful sight this was! Effulgent as millions of suns, sitting on the bank of Ganga was Sri Advaitacharya, his heart like an ocean of unlimited compassion to the fallen souls rotting in this material world. People trying to find happiness through material sense pleasure and rejecting the great treasure of prema-bhakti that is within their own hearts, living and dying like animals in this age of Kali with no taste for the holy name. Out of his love and his mercy to you and me he offered the water of the Ganga and those Tulsi manjaris, and he was roaring with a thunderous voice that could be heard everywhere – for the Lord to appear. As he was screaming out his prayers with the holy names of Krishna, tears were flowing like rivers from his eyes. He was thinking in his heart, that the Lord will appear. “And when the Lord appears to deliver the fools and rascals in this age of Kali, then I’ll live up to my name Advaita.” He roared like a lion, day and night. The Lord heard his prayers. And actually according to all of our great Vaishnava acharyas, we worship Sri Advaita Prabhu, because it is by his mercy to us that the most merciful, munificent of all incarnations Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu agreed to come to this world. On the full moon night of the month of Phalgun, during a lunar eclipse, everyone was in the Ganga chanting the names of Lord Hari, because the lunar eclipse is considered inauspicious. So to counteract the inauspicious effect of the eclipse, people would all go and chant the holy names. And because all the Hindus were just chanting, even the atheists were chanting, even the Muslims were chanting, because they were just caught up by the fever. When Haridas Thakur and Advaita, who were in Shantipur at the time, were seeing everyone chanting, they were praying ‘let this eclipse last forever’. It was at that moment that Lord Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, like a golden moon, rose from the ocean of Saci-mata’s womb.
Advaitacharya meeting Isvara Puri and Advaitacharya worshiping Lord Chaitanya
Sripad Isvara Puri, foremost disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri, he came to Navadvip. But he was so humble. He wasn’t that kind of acharyas, that all of his disciples came before and passed out literatures and invitations. He just came alone. Not that one is bad and one is good. But this is his mood. He just came alone. And he was wearing such simple dress that people actually thought that he was a Mayavadi sanyasi. He went to Sri Advaitacharya’s house in Navadvip. There Sri Advaita was worshipping his deities and reciting Srimad Bhagavatam. And he just sat on the dirt on the ground – Srila Isvara Puri – and just silently watched the puja of Sri Advaita Prabhu. Advaita Prabhu, he was by this time an old man also. He looked over and saw this person and was thinking, “Is he a Mayavadi sanyasi? Who is this person? Somehow, he looks very effulgent.” So he turned to Mukunda. And Mukunda began to sing beautiful prayer about Krishna. And Isvara Puri just couldn’t contain himself. He just started rolling on the ground in ecstasy of love, loudly chanting the holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. By seeing this, Sri Advaita Prabhu could understand that this was his own beloved God brother, foremost of Vaishnavas, Srila Isvara Puri. And how Sri Advaita Prabhu welcomed him, crest jewel of Sanyasis!
After meeting Isvara Puri on the bank of the Ganges Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu decided in his heart, “This is my guru. I will take initiation.” On the pretext of offering Shraddha to this departed father, Sri Jaganath Mishra, he went to Gaya. And there he met Sri Isvara Puri and received Harinaam initiation. He served Isvara Puri with such menial and humble devotion. And Isvara Puri ordered Lord Chaitanya, “You should spread the Sankirtan of the holy names throughout the world.” Upon receiving the mercy his beloved guru maharaja, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu manifested his Mahabhava, his ecstatic love in separation. It was at this time that the purpose of incarnation – Krishna wanting to taste the sweetness of Sri Radhika’s love – began to manifest within his heart, to the world. When he returned to Navadweep so many people came to meet him. And when he saw the devotees, he was just… he took them in a private room, and said, “Where is Krishna? Where is my beloved Kanai Krishna? I wasted my entire life, and then I saw Krishna, but then He disappeared.” Then he fell to the ground. “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” Sriman Pandit happened to be there. The next day early in the morning the devotees would go to Srivasa Angana, and there was a vine that gave unending flowers to the devotees. It was a kalpa-vrakha creeper. So they would all pick flowers for their puja together, and sing and discuss hari-katha.
But on that day, Sriman Pandit said, “You should see what I saw.”
They said, “What did you see? What did you see?”
“Nimai has become a Vaishnava. For so many years we were all praying for Nimai to become a Vaishnava. Now he only talks about Krishna. He was weeping and crying in ecstatic love. I have never seen such ecstatic love. There were rivers of tears flowing from his eyes. He has told me the message that we should all meet him at the house of Suklambar Brahmachari on the bank of Ganga.”
So they went. And there Lord Gaursundar was revealing the sorrows of his heart. Gadadhar Pandit happened to be hiding. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu crying out, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” He fell against a pillar and slipped down to the ground, just weeping tears of love, hair standing on end he fell unconscious. Then he came back to consciousness and asked Suklambar Brahmachari, “Is anyone here?” He said, “Your devotee, your Gadadhar is here.” So the Lord approached Gadadhar and said, “You are so fortunate! For your entire life, you have been engaged in devotional service to Lord Krishna. You have renounced all material conceptions. But I’m so unfortunate! I wasted my entire life in the vain pursuit of mundane studies. But by causeless, infinite mercy of Krishna, he revealed himself to me. But due my past impious deeds, he disappeared.” Then he started wailing, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” The devotees informed Sri Advaita Prabhu of the state of Sri Caitanya’s consciousness.
One day Gadadhar Pandit, who was an equal of Lord Chaitanya in age, they went together to Sri Advaita Prabhu’s house. Sri Advaita Prabhu was performing arati to the deity when they came, and Lord Chaitanya, seeing the devotion of Sri Advaita for Thakurji Sri Krishna, he fell unconsciousness. Advaita turned around with all the paraphernalia for the deities, and started worshipping Lord Chaitanya who was lying unconscious on the ground. This was his chance. And he was offering the prayer,
govindaaya namo namaha
Gadadhar Pandit was really bewildered. He said to Advaita Prabhu. He said, “Why?” Advaita Prabhu was the age of Lord Sri Chaitanya’s grandfather. He said, “Why are you offering Krishna’s puja paraphernalia to this young boy?” And Advaita Prabhu, he smiled at Gadadhar, and very gravely said, “How long will you think that he is just a young boy?”
govindaaya namo namaha
It was at that moment that Sri Gadadhar Pandit understood that his dear, intimate friend Nimai was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, worshippable by all.- Radhanath Swami
Lord Caitanya reveals his universal form to Advaitacharya
One day at Srivasa Thakur’s house, there was such as nice kirtan of harinaam! On that day Advaita Prabhu was in the mood of the gopis. He was feeling intense separation from Krishna. He was dancing in that ecstasy of gopi’s separation for six continuous hours. The devotees were totally exhausted. They said, “Advaita Prabhu, please, please, let us rest for some time.” So he sat down. And they saw he was just trembling in the anguish of separation. Somehow they all pacified him. When he appeared perfectly pacified, then Srivasa Thakur, Ramai and other devotees, they went to take bath in the Ganga. Sri Advaitacharya was the only one at Srivasa Angan. Then again he entered into a serious condition of separation from Krishna. And he started crying and rolling in the dust of the ground. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu happened to be walking throughout Navadvip. And in his hearts of hearts, he understood Sri Advaita Prabhu’s condition. So, he came to Srivasa Angan.
He said to Advaita, “I am here. What can I do for you?” Sri Advaita Prabhu bowed down, offered his prostrated obeisance to the Lord. The Lord said, “I want to give you a boon. Please ask anything of me. What do you want?” The Lord hates to see his devotees in pain.
Sri Advaita Prabhu said, “I only want your darshan. And now you are here.”
He said, “Yes, I’m here. But what else do you want? Ask something else of me. Please.”
Advaita Prabhu said, “Please accept me as your eternal servant.”
He said, “I already have. Now ask something else of me.”
He said, “I want to see that form of yours that Arjuna saw while on his chariot in Kurukshetra.”
At that moment Advaitacharya saw himself standing on a chariot. Then he looked. And he saw the Lord manifest his four-armed form, holding the conchshell, the disc, the lotus flower and the club. Then that four-armed form transformed into Virat Rupa. Sri Advaita Prabhu saw the sun, the moon, all the planets, all mountains, all oceans, all living beings within the body of the Lord; all the trees, all the forests, all 8,400,000 species of life within this form of the Lord. He saw millions of heads, millions of arms, millions of eyes, millions of legs, millions of mouths. And from the mouths was coming fire. The form of time. And he saw all the blasphemers entering and being burnt by the mouth of the Lord, devoured. – Radhanath Swami
Nityananda Prabhu was roaming around Navadvip. And in this mind he thought, “Just now my Lord is showing his universal form. I’m going to see.” So he knocked on the door. And Lord Chaitanya opened it and let him in. This is all in the temple room of Srivasa. And as the Lord was manifesting this form, Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu, they were just offering obeisance again and again. They were weeping again and crying and dancing and chanting in ecstasy. What they are seeing! Then with folded hands, they all began to pray for the mercy of the universal form. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, while all this was going on, he was dancing in ecstasy. After they offered prayers, the Lord manifested his regular form and then left for his own home.
And Sri Advaita Prabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, they were so intoxicated! What they had just seen! They were embracing each other. For hours they were dancing and singing together. Can you imagine just two people? How many times are you just with one another, just dancing and singing together in ecstasy? This is the relationships they had. Then they sat down. And Sri Advaita Prabhu said to Nityananda Prabhu in a very joking, but apparently serious way. He said, “Who invited you? That darshan was for me. Who opened the door for you? Why did you come?” He said, “No one knows what your caste is. You travel all over the place. You eat at so many people’s house. Nobody knows who your mother and father is. You don’t dress properly.”
Nityananda Prabhu, he said, “I am an avaduta. You see this fist? I’m going to strike you in the face with this fist.” He said, “Who are you? Your life has simply been plundered, disgraced and wasted by your wife, children, and your house, but I walked the path of the paramhasnas. Therefore, if I strike you with my fist, no one will say anything.”
Then they began to embrace each other and dance again. It was simply their humor. But Vrindavan Das Thakur, he gives a lesson for all these incidences. He says that there was an argument before between Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu. But when two Vaishnavas have an argument with each other, anyone who takes sides with either one of them will fall down. Because you should understand that this is some transcendental pastime. Hare Krishna. Taking sides means, he explains, taking sides means speaking critically against the other. Of course, in this world sometimes we have to take sides. We have to protect. But it should not be in a malicious spirit. It should be in a service spirit; should not criticize Vaishnavas. This is the principle that is being taught by this pastime; and also how the Lord is the source of all incarnations. – Radhanath Swami