Today is Advaita Saptamī, the appearance day of Śrī Advaita Prabhu.
In kali-yuga, on the order of God, Lord Śiva came as Śaṅkarācārya and preached advaitavāda, thus cheating the foolish jīvas and making them into māyāvādīs. Lord Shiva is always ready to follow the order of God, and he assists the Supreme Lord in all other yugas.
Advaita Ācārya Prabhu came before the advent of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He thought, “Previously, I taught māyāvāda and sent everyone very far away from God. Now they do not believe in the Deities of God, or the śāstras.”
“They think, ‘I am Brahma.’ They repeat the words, ‘Sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma—there is nothing without Brahma,’ and cite the verse,
śloka dhenu pravakṣyāmī
yad aktaṁ yānti koṭibhiḥ
brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā
jīva brahmaiva na paraḥ
“In half a verse, I am summarizing the truth that has been expressed by volumes and volumes of scripture. Within only half a verse I shall give the essence of all truths: brahma satyam, jagan mithya. Brahman, spirit, is true – this world is false. And the jīva is nothing but Brahman. This is the substance of all the scriptures.”
“Brahma is truth, everything else is false.”
“As Śaṅkarācārya, I taught them this. Now, how can I make up for this? How can I bring all jīvas back to God?”
“In kali-yuga, the living entities have very short lifespan, they cannot perform austerity, and they are always cheated by māyā. Even now, everyone is attached to māyāvāda philosophy and has lost everything. The jīvas have become very hard and cruel. They don’t respect each other and perform all kinds of heinous sins. How can I bring them back to the lotus feet of God?”
Advaita Ācārya appeared in kali-yuga as the son of Kuvera Paṇḍita and Nābhā Devī. Everyone in their area placed their faithin Durgā, Kali and other forms of Devī. Kuvera Paṇḍita, however, worshipped Śālagrāma and Madana Gopāla and some people were not happy with him because of this.
The king, however, respected him very much and personally requested him to be his head priest.
“Will you help me worship Devī?” the king asked.
“I will send other priests for this worship,” Kuvera Paṇḍita replied, for he was attached to serving his Śālagrāma and Madana Gopāla.
After sometime, Kuvera Paṇḍita and Nābhā Devī came and resided near Śāntipura. On the bank of the Gaṅgā, many sādhus and sages resided there. It was the place of their austerities. The area was peaceful and quiet and they performed bhajana there. They worshipped the Supreme Lord and respected all of His devotees, and had good relation with the Gītā and Bhāgavata.
One day, Nābhā Devī revealed some thoughts to her husband.
“You are the king’s priest.” She said. “He asked you to worship Devī Durgā, but you did not. I think it is because of a curse from Devī that we have no children. She must have become angry with us.”
“Don’t worry,” Kuvera Paṇḍita said, “Devī has no authority. God is the supreme authority. Await His desire.”
Many years ago, in satya-yuga, on this very day, Lord Viṣṇu and Mahā Lakṣmī appeared in this world to give blessings and help to the jīvas. This day is called Ratha-saptamī, or Makara-saptamī.
Today, in South India they have car festival and the Deities come out of the temple sanctorum to give darśana freely to all.
Kuvera Paṇḍita and Nābhā Devī surrendered to Lord Viṣṇu. Sadā Śiva and Mahā Viṣṇu are non-different. If Shiva’s post is ever empty, Viṣṇu comes to fill the post of Sadā Śiva and performs his universal duties.
Advaita Ācārya appeared as Kuvera Paṇḍita’s son this day of Makara-saptamī and was given the name Kamalākṣa. The name Kamalākṣa does not only mean that he has eyes as beautiful as lotus petals. In the book Advaita Prakāśa it is explained that Advaita Ācārya is kamalākṣa, meaning his eyes are always fixed on śāstra, sādhus, Śrī Guru and worshipable persons. He doesn’t use his eyes for any other purpose.
When a lotus blossoms everyone becomes pleased and attracted by its beauty. In he same way, whoever came near Kamalākṣa began to follow the rules and regulations of śāstra and to worship God.
When Advaita Ācārya was a boy, Madhavendra Puripada came to his house. Kuvera Paṇḍita properly respected Madhavendra Purī along with the devotees who had accompanied him, such as Īśvara Purī and Paramānanda Purī. They were traveling to all the holy places of India and they stayed in the home of Kuvera Paṇḍita for some time. Kuvera Paṇḍita never knew what was being said during the long meetings of Madhavendra Purī and Kamalākṣa that took place during their stay.
It came to pass that the king got news Kuvera Paṇḍita’s brilliant son, who was said to be fully knowledgeable in veda and vedānta, as well as the past, present and future.
He sent a message to Kuvera Paṇḍita. “Please bring your son to my palace one day. I wish to meet him.” This was his request.
Kuvera Paṇḍita took Kamalākṣa along with him to the palace one day, and the king was very happy to see the young boy. He respected them both and then began to ask many things to Kamalākṣa, who gave very direct and sweet answers.
Many other paṇḍitas were present in the king’s court and they became very jealous.
“Please come every week with your father,” the king said to Kamalākṣa, “We will be pleased to receive your teachings.”
Kamalaksa began to come with his parents to the king’s court. He gave intelligent answers to any questions asked to him by the priests, paṇḍitas and the king. Everyone was very happy. Their hearts were cooled in his presence. The king was especially pleased.
At that time, the brāhmaṇas were all generally smārtas who worshipped Kali and performed taṅtra-upāsanā, dark worship.
“The Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is the most important scripture,” Kamalākṣa said. The king agreed, and when Kamalākṣa came next to the court, he began to give lectures on the Bhagavad-gītā.
The Gītā describes:
ye ‘py anya-devatā-bhaktā
te ‘pi mām eva kaunteya
“Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kuntī, but they do so in a wrong way.”
Kṛṣṇa says that if anyone worships the demigods it is indeed ultimately worship of Himself.
The smārtas argued, “If you accept this to be true—if Kṛṣṇa says that the worship of the demigods is worship of Him, then why do you refuse to worship Devī?”
In the entrance of the palace there was a temple of Durgā-devī. The envious smārtas and paṇḍitas hadnoticed Kamalākṣa’s disposition in relation to this temple and were trying to find a flaw in his character as a means to bring him down.
The paṇḍitas continued, “You don’t worship Devī, thus you are disrespecting the demigods and the Bhagavad-gītā.”
Kamalaksa cited more ślokas from the Bhagavad-gītā,
kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ
taṁ taṁ niyamam āsthāya
prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā
“Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.”
antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ
tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām
devān deva-yajo yānti
mad-bhaktā yānti mām api
“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme abode.”
Kamalākṣa explained, “Who worships the devīs and devatas? Only those who have material desires. If there is no desire for material things, then why worship the demigods and demigoddesses? One should worship the Supreme Lord directly.”
The paṇḍitas became very angry. But Kamalākṣa continued, “Kṛṣṇa is all-in-all, but fools don’t understand Him.”
avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā
mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.”
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te
“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”
“If anyone takes shelter of Kṛṣṇa,” Kamalākṣa said, “they will cross māyā. There is no other way to be freed from material existence.”
Kamalākṣa soundly defeated all the paṇḍits and they began to burn with jealousy.
They brought their complaints to the king.
“Mahārāja, you must not show such great respect to Kamalākṣa. He is the qualified son of a brāhmaṇa, but know that he does not follow any etiquette. He says that Kṛṣṇa’s advice in the Gītā is all-in-all and that there is no need to worship Devī. He doesn’t show any respect to the demigods. He is defying all rules and regulations of sanātana-dharma.”
“What has he done to break any form of etiquette?” asked the king.
“He comes regularly,” the paṇḍitas said, “but he never shows respect to Durgā Devi in the temple at the palace’s entrance.
“I will ask his father about this,” the king replied.
The king asked Kuvera Paṇḍita, “Why doesn’t your son respect Durgā Devi?”
“Why not ask directly.” Kuvera Paṇḍita suggested.
Then the king asked the boy, “Kamalākṣa, do you offer praṇāma to Durgā-devī or not?”
“I do not” replied Kamalākṣa.
“I do not offer her praṇāma, because she will not accept it.”
“What? She won’t accept your praṇāmas?”
The priests and paṇḍitas began to laugh and clap their hands. “Such a great personality he is!” they cried in sarcasm. “He is more exalted than Devī herself!”
“Devī will not accept my praṇāma,” Kamalaksa reconfirmed. “This is impossible.”
The next day when Kuvera Paṇḍita came with Kamalākṣa, all the paṇḍitas were standing ready at the entrance of the palace, near the temple of Devī.
“You must offer praṇāma,” they said to Kamalākṣa. “Why won’t Devī accept?”
The king and hundreds of others were there watching.
Kuvera Paṇḍita looked at his son. “Offer praṇāma,” he said.
“No,” Kamalaksa replied.
“You will disobey me? You will not follow me?”
“I follow you, but not your instruction.”
“This is not good. Show some respect.”
“Ask Devī if she will accept my praṇāma or not.”
“No! Don’t be stubborn. Offer praṇāma to Devī.”
Kamalākṣa had just begun to slowly bend his head before the deity of goddess Durgā, when suddenly the deity exploded with a deafening sound. The shards of her form cut and injured the bodies of all the paṇḍitas and priests. The king and the other people present fell to the ground in fear and covered their ears.
When they rose some time later, they saw that the deity of Devī was gone and but her voice could be heard in the air. “Kamalākṣa is not an ordinary boy,” were her words. “He is not the son of any priest. He is the avatāra of Mahā-viṣṇu. He is my master.”
The brāhmaṇas arose from the ground. The king worshipped Kamalākṣa with reverence, but the brāhmaṇas became more envious. Kamalākṣa became very famous and respected. But none of the paṇḍitas could honor him.
In kali-yuga, Kali Mahārāja gives four things as presentations to the brāhmaṇas.
abhyarthitas tadā tasmai
sthānāni kalaye dadau
dyūtaṁ pānaṁ striyaḥ sūnā
“Mahārāja Parīkṣit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution and animal slaughter were performed.”
Kali Mahārāja’s place of residence, given to him by Mahārāja Parīkṣit is gold. The king gave the brāhmaṇas and priests great donations of the very same gold. They had many nice ornaments. They wore large earrings and necklaces and had bracelets on their wrists. Without the performance any austerity or sādhana, they happily accepted the wealth the king gave them, which is a form of viṣaya-anna, food tainted by the sins of worldly persons.
They were worshipers of Devī. But their worship was only so-called. Such people as they are actually worshipers of their own senses. They follow Kali Mahārāja to attain more enjoyment.
These brāhmaṇas did not follow Kamalākṣa.
Kamalākṣa returned home with his surprised father who tolḍ him, “From today, worship Śālagrāma and Madana Gopāla in my house.”
How would he worship? Śāstra says that no paraphernalia in kali-yuga is pure.
When Kamalākṣa mentioned this, his father asked him, “How will you worship then?”
“I will worship Śālagrāma with Tulasī leaves and Gaṅgā water,” said Kamalākṣa. “This will please Śālagrāma.”
jalasya culukena vā
vikrīṇīte svam ātmānaṁ
“Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers merely a tulasī leaf and a palmful of water. The Supreme Lord is causelessly merciful upon His devotee, so much so that even the poorest of men can offer Him a little water and a flower in devotion and thus please Him. This is due to His affectionate dealings with His devotees.”
Many Vaiṣṇavas came to the house of Kuvera Paṇḍita. Haridāsa Ṭhākura would daily come for mādhukarī.
Kamalākṣa began giving classes which were soon joined and faithfully heard by many boys who became his students.
Kamalaksa served Madana Gopāla very nicely with offerings of Gaṅgā-jala and fresh fruits from the nearby gardens that he would pick himself. He would collect jackfruits, guavas, mangoes, oranges and many other nice fruits.
When HaridāsaṬhākura and other devotees would come, Kamalākṣa would distribute all the maha-prasādam to them. He would never save anything for his own family or himself.
His parents asked him, “You make offerings, but where does all the prasādam go?”
“God’s family members take this prasādam.”
“How can we sustain our lives?”
“God thinks about the maintenance of His devotees.”
There were many brāhmaṇas who came to Kamalākṣa’s classes. He presented very strong teachings.
One day Kuvera Paṇḍita told Madhavendra Purīpāda, “My son acts quite strangely. He distributes everything we possess, not keeping anything for our maintenance.”
“How do you survive?” Madhavendra Purī asked.
“I somehow manage to collect a small amount for our sustenance.”
“If a person is greedy for mundane things,” Madhavendra Purī said, “he will go far from God and will be trapped in māyā. You should take whatever comes naturally by the desire of God. Maintain yourselves with whatever comes easily, like the python. Greed and endeavor for sense pleasure causes only tension. You will become attached to the qualities of material nature.”
Madhavendra himself perfectly exemplified this. He was a sannyāsī. He traveled and took only what came of its own accord. If nothing came he simply fasted. If there was water he would drink, and if there was no water, he was not at all worried. He was completely above māyā.
In due course of time, Kuvera Paṇḍita left this world. Kamalākṣa invited many brāhmaṇas for the śrāddha ceremony of his father.
It is ancient tradition that on the day of śraddhā, the eldest son must first worship the most respectable member of the assembly and offer him presentations. Then that person offers bhoga to God and accepts prasādam first. That foremost senior person must give his blessings and then start the fire sacrifice. Only then can the ceremony be successful.
Many brāhmaṇas came, but Kamalākṣa chose Haridāsa Ṭhākura to be this guest of special significance.
“This is not good for me,” Haridāsa Ṭhākura said. “I will take any remnants left by the worshipable brāhmaṇas.”
But Kamalākṣa sat Haridāsa Ṭhākura on an asana, worshipped him and gave him a plate of prasāda before all others.
The brāhmaṇas became very upset and said, “We will not take prasādam in such a place. We did not come here to eat the remnants of Bābājīs. What is more, this person has no caste. He has no knowledge of veda-mantras. He knows nothing. How can you worship and respect him? By doing so you have disrespected all of us.”
They left the assembly and discussed the matter outside. After a few minutes, they decided amongst themselves, “We will not accept this dishonor. Let us go and demand the explanation for our disrespect.”
They went back inside and addressed Kamalākṣa. “Why did you call us here merely to dishonor us by giving prasādam to this outcaste Bābājī before any of the esteemed brāhmaṇas?”
“It is my father’s śrāddha ceremony,” said Kamalākṣa. “I have arranged this program. You are all brāhmaṇa priests. There is wood is here,” he gestured to the area for performing yajña, “as well as camphor and ghee. Start a yajña. Invite the fire-god. If he comes by your invitation I will offer oblations for my father with yourselves as the priests.”
The brāhmaṇas tried again and again to invoke fire, but were thoroughly unsuccessful.
A sacrificial fire cannot be started by matches or machines. Agni-devatā, the fire-god, manifests himself when called by a qualified saintly person. He comes and takes the offering to Yajñeśvara Hari, the Supreme Lord who is the ultimate destination of all sacrifices. If one arranges fire by any material cause or contraptions developed by demoniac society, like matches or kerosene lighters, the yajña will not be pure or successful.
In a real yajña, Agni-devatā will situate himself there by the purity of the priest.
When the brāhmaṇas failed in all their attempts to invoke fire, Kamalākṣa requested Haridāsa Ṭhākura, “Please, Prabhu, come and offer some oblations for my forefathers.”
Haridāsa Ṭhākura circumambulated the sacrificial pit four times while chanting harināma. He then offered obeisances and a fire started automatically.
Kamalākṣa instructed the brāhmaṇas, “Your relation and attachment is with your mind, body, senses and family members. Any worship you perform is actually the worship of these very things, not God. Haridāsa Ṭhākura has no relation with anyone or anything material, not even his own body and senses. He has relation only with God. Anything he performs is perfect because he is related with Parabrahma, therefore he is a real brāhmaṇa.”
Truly humbled, the brāhmaṇas said, “O Kamalākṣa, you are ācārya. You know who is a brāhmaṇa, who is a Vaiṣṇava, and who is a rascal. We have knowledge of śāstra, but we do not follow anything properly. Haridāsa Ṭhākura has all knowledge and he also follows.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī glorifies Haridāsa Ṭhākura as follows,
āpane ācare keha nā kare pracāra
pracāra karena keha nā karena ācāra
ācāra pracāra nāmera karaha dui kārya
tumi sarva-guru tumi jagatera ārya
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Antya-līlā 4.102-103
“Some behave very well but do not preach the cult of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, whereas others preach but do not behave properly. You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world.”
From that time on Kamalākṣa was known as Advaita Ācārya.
Advaita Ācārya teaches everything about bhakti – he brings the jīvas into their relationship with God; he does not separate them from the Lord. He
bhaktāvatāram īśaṁ tam
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā 1.13
“Because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Ācārya. He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. Therefore I take shelter of Him.”
When the śrāddha ceremony was finished, Advaita Ācārya did not remain Śāntipura.
He came to reside in the center of Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, Māyāpura or Antardvīpa. There he opened an āśrama and gurukula where he taught Bhagavad-gītā and Bhāgavatam. Murāri Gupta, Sañjaya, Mukunda, Vāsu Ghoṣa and the other Vaiṣṇavas of Navadvīpa would often come to meet with Advaita Ācārya Prabhu.
Advaita Prabhu’s classes were attended by very special persons. Many were scared of him. Advaita Prabhu sometimes declared, “In this world everyone has gone far away from God. If people do not follow bhakti, I will destroy them all.”
He prayed to the Supreme Lord, “Please come and help the living entities. Peoples’ hearts are very small and cruel in this age. The living entities are always busy for their own enjoyment. O Lord, come and help the jīvas. Give them the power of svarūpa-śakti, then they will understand the truth of the soul and the Supreme Soul.”
When the Lord did not appear, Advaita Ācārya said, “Then I will destroy everything.”
He loudly shouted and called the Lord’s holy name. His call was heard.
śutiyā āchiluṅ kṣīra-sāgara-bhitare
mora nidrā bhāṅgileka nāḍāra huṅkāre
Caitanya Bhāgavat Madhya-khaṇḍa 22.16
“I was sleeping in the ocean of milk, but My sleep was broken by the loud cries of Advaita.”
Day and night he chanted mantras and shouted for the Lord to appear.
Śacī Mātā used to bathe in the Gaṅgā upstream of Advaita Ācārya Prabhu’s bathing place. He offered Tulasī and flowers to the Gaṅgā before bathing in her waters.
Śacī Mātā’s previous nine daughters had been lost. During the time of her tenth pregnancy, as she bathed in the waters of the Gaṅgā, Advaita Ācārya’s offering of Tulasī daily traveled upstream and touched Śacī Mātā’s womb and became fixed there.
In distress, she went to her father, Nīlāmbara Cakravartī and asked him, “My dear father, you are a great astrologer. There is a very dangerous yogī who lives nearby. He daily offers Tulasī and flowers to the Gaṅgā. The Tulasī comes upstream and stick to my body.”
“My nine daughters all died. Now I think he is cursing the tenth child that has entered my womb. When I try to remove the leaves that are fixed to my womb I cannot. What should I do?”
By the power of Nīlāmbara Cakravartī’s astrological calculations and meditation, he was able to see that Saṅkarṣaṇa Rāma, Śrī Ananta Padmanābha, was present in his daughter’s womb.
“Do not worry,” he assured her, after revealing to her what he saw. “This Tulasī is not bad, and this yogī is not trying to harm you.”
Nīlāmbara Cakravartī later met with Advaita Ācārya. He saw he was not a yogī, but a great vaiṣṇava-ācārya.”
As soon as this son of Śacī Mātā was born, he did waste time going here and there. He went straight to Advaita Prabhu’s house from a young age. He followed all his classes, sitting close to him and listening intently. His father, Jagannātha Miśra, did not stop him.
Before the birth of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Advaita Prabhu started a big saṅkīrtanam program. The four brothers – Śrīvāsa, Śrīrāma, Śrīpati, and Śrīnidhi – joined Advaita Ācārya in the performance of saṅkīrtanam. Sañjaya, Mukunda, Vāsu Ghoṣa and other Vaiṣṇavas also came and began kīrtana in the house of Advaita Prabhu.
Once in the middle of kīrtana, Advaita Prabhu made an announcement. “Soon God will come,” he cried.
Many would argue that the Lord does not advent in kali-yuga, at least not till the very end. But Advaita Ācārya said, “No! This is dhanya-kali-yuga.”
Śukadeva Gosvāmī told Parīkṣit Mahārāja,
kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan
asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya
mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
“My dear King, although kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.”
Only one thing is good in kali-yuga, only kṛṣṇa-kīrtana.
“Wherever kṛṣṇa-kīrtana is present, Kṛṣṇa Himself will appear there without a doubt,” Advaita Prabhu said.
Soon after this Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu appeared in this world. It was on the day of Phālgunī Pūrṇimā.
As soon as He was born Advaita Prabhu shouted loudly and bathed in the Gaṅgā. There he met with the other devotees and informed them, “God has come.”
“Where has He come?”
“I am unsure, but we will soon know.”
As a very small child, Mahāprabhu would go and call Viśvarūpa Prabhu to come home from the house of Advaita Ācārya.
Śacī Mātā told Nimāi, “Go bring Your brother. Tell him it is praśādam time.”
Mahāprabhu walked to Advaita’s house and called His brother Viśvarūpa.
Although Advaita Prabhu was never attached to anyone, he became completely astonished as he gazed at this boy Nimāi. He could not remove Him from his heart.
Nimāi went inside the mind and heart of Advaita Ācārya and made His center there.
“What is his name?” Advaita Ācārya asked Viśvarūpa.
“His name is Viśvambhara. He is my younger brother.”
“Does he have any other name?”
“Yes, Nimāi and Gaurahari.”
Advaita Ācārya was filled with delight to hear the name of his beloved Lord.
Now the time is over.
Offered in remembrance of Śrīla Gurudeva
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja