Appearance Day of Shri Advaita Acharya
As the life of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is very confidential and full of meaning so is the appearance and life of Shri Advaita Acharya whose appearance day is Friday, January 22. He is considered to be the principle reason for Shri Chaitanya’s advent. Whenever Krishna incarnates, so do his expansions, energies and confidential devotees. Since Lord Chaitanya is considered to be Krishna himself (in the mood of the greatest devotee, Shri Radha) we find that preceding him, as well as during and after his manifest “lila” or divine pastimes, his whole entourage of eternal associates came to facilitate his mission of spreading the “yuga-dharma” or the process of self-realization for this age--the congregational chanting of the holy names in joyous celebration.
Like Lord Chaitanya who is in the category of “Vishnu-tattva” or God, so is Shri Advaita, who has been identified in various Vaishnava writings as either Lord Maha-Vishnu (Who is the source and sustainer of infinite universes), or Sada-Shiva (the original form of Shiva, the great devotee and empowered destroyer), or both: Sada Shiva Maha Vishnu. So we can just simply equate him with God playing the part of a devotee of God, as does Lord Chaitanya and Nitai who are Krishna and Balarama, but playing the part of devotees and teaching us how to be Krishna conscious by their example.
Although God is one without a second, he expands himself unlimitedly to serve his different divine purposes. Though this fact can be confusing to those of us brought up with only one aspect or "face" of God, it does explain the infinite nature of the Sweet Absolute, and the varied understandings of him. The Shrimad Bhagavatam describes that in fact the incarnations of God are as uncountable as are the waves of the ocean. At the same time there is a Supreme original source of all these incarnations of Godhead.
This source is Shri Krishna: "All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists." [SB 1.3.28] and Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is none different from Lord Krishna.
Although the appearance of Lord Chaitanya was already destined in order to serve his internal purposes and as a “yuga-avatar”(incarnation who brings the process of God realization for the particular age), it appears from another angle of vision that he came at the behest of Shri Advaita Acharya. This demonstrates how much Krishna is affected by the pleading of and welfare for his pure devotees. We see in studying the different advents of God in the Vedas, that there are many simultaneous reasons for their appearance that have to be harmonized. In the Bhagavad-gita 4th chapter we read that God comes to Earth and presumably other planets to annihilate the miscreants and protect the devotees. Prabhupada and our Vaishnava acharyas have explained that Krishna has sufficient means through the material nature (natural calamities or diseases, etc.) to take care of those of demoniac tendencies, but he has to come personally to mitigate the separation his pure devotees feel for him.
Advaita Acharya could be considered the efficient cause of both Lord Chaitanya’s appearance and disappearance. Here is a Shrimad Bhagavatam [3.9.11]verse quoted in the Chaitanya Charitamrita in explaining the effect of Shri Advaita’s prayers: “O my Lord, You always dwell in the vision and hearing of Your pure devotees. You also live in their lotuslike hearts, which are purified by devotional service. O my Lord, who are glorified by exalted prayers, You show special favor to Your devotees by manifesting Yourself in the eternal forms in which they welcome You.” The Cc explains that verse as follows: “The essence of the meaning of this verse is that Lord Krsna appears in all His innumerable eternal forms because of the desires of His pure devotees.” The devotees are dearer to Krishna than his own heart!
Here is the Cc account of the why Advaita prayed for the Lord to appear.
“Advaita Acharya having appeared, He found the world devoid of devotional service to Shri Krishna because people were engrossed in material affairs. Everyone was engaged in material enjoyment, whether sinfully or virtuously. No one was interested in the transcendental service of the Lord, which can give total relief from the repetition of birth and death. Seeing the activities of the world, the Acarya felt compassion and began to ponder how He could act for the people's benefit. [Advaita Acharya thought:] ‘If Sri Krishna were to appear as an incarnation, He Himself could preach devotion by His personal example.’” [Adi 3.97-99] With this as his motivation he worshipped the Lord with intensity and pleading with Ganges water and Tulasi leaves, and thus Shri Chaitanya was obliged to appear.
Then when it was time for Lord Chaitanya to wind up his earthly pastimes, Shri Advaita gave him indications and thus permission to depart by speaking in a cryptic poem. Advaita Acharya asked that the following be told to him: "Please inform Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is acting like a madman, that everyone here has become mad like Him. Inform Him also that in the marketplace rice is no longer in demand. "Further tell Him that those now mad in ecstatic love are no longer interested in the material world. Also tell Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that one who has also become a madman in ecstatic love [Advaita Prabhu] has spoken these words." [Cc Antya 19.21-22] Only Mahaprabhu and a few confidential disciples could understand the meaning of this sonnet. The “rice” referred to Chaitanya himself who had spread love of Godhead sufficiently, so that his rice was no longer required. His mission was completed and he no longer needed to stay on the Earth.
So on this day of Shri Adwaita Acharya’s advent we can read of his adventures in relation to Shri Chaitanya and appreciate his important role in facilitating the Lord’s appearance and disappearance. As his prayers brought about Lord Chaitanya’s coming here, we can pray to Shri Advaita to bless us that our hearts can be cleansed sufficiently that Mahaprabhu will also appear in our heart.
Reading the nature and qualities of great personalities like Shri Advaita Acharya puts my position in perspective. Lamenting my lack of spiritual qualities, I aspire to receive their mercy and follow their example. I pray to have even a fraction of Shri Advaita's compassion for the suffering of others from their lack of spirituality and absorption in materialism, and to be actively, enthusiastically engaged in sharing Krishna consciousness. When will I go beyond just intellectual understanding to realize the superlative value of Krishna consciousness? When will my spiritual standing and intensity of attraction for Shri Radha/Krishna, and Shri Gaura/Nitai and their devotees be infectious and awaken the dormant Krishna conscious in others? And when will Vaishnava humility be firmly established in my heart so I can be the Lord's instrument and never consider myself the doer, or be affected by false prestige?
”I offer my respectful obeisances to Sri Advaita Acarya, whose activities are all wonderful. By His mercy, even a foolish person can describe His characteristics. All glories to Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaita Acarya! And all glories to all the devotees of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!” Cc Adi 6.1-2