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Panca tattvatmakam krsnam bhakta-rupa-svarupakam
bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam namami bhakta saktikam
I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, who is non-different from His features as a devotee (Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu), devotional manifestation (Sri Nityananda Prabhu), devotional incarnation (Sri Advaita Acarya), devotional energy (Sri Gadadhara Pandita) and pure devotee (Sri Srivasa Pandita).
In his prayers unto the Spiritual masters, Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami has mentioned that Sri Advaita Acharya is the Lord’s partial incarnation (advaita acharya prabhura amsa-avatara.. – Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi 1.39). In Sri Gaura Gannodesha dipika, Kavi Karnapur has further clarified that Sada shiva, who had previously appeared as an avesa incarnation (one empowered by the Lord) ,has now descended as Sri Advaita Acharya. Sri Advaita was thus the combined incarnation of the potencies of Sada shiva and Lord Mahavishnu. Kavi Karnapura further writes that Kuvera pandita, the father of Advaita Acharya was an incarnation of the demigod Kuvera, the friend of Lord Shiva. The Supreme Lord’s Yogamaya potency appeared in Lord Caitanya’s pastimes as Sita Thakurani, the wife of Advaita Acharya.His second wife, Sri devi, was also an expansion of Yogamaya devi.Sri Acyutananda, the elder son of Advaita Gosai, was the combined form of the potencies of Kartikkeya and Achyuta Gopi. Sri Advaita Acharya was one of the primary trunks of Lord Caitanya’s desire tree of devotional service, from whom originated innumerable smaller branches and sub-branches of devotees. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself exceedingly fortunate to have been able to visit and pray at Sri Advaita Acharya’s birthplace at Laura (situated in the Sunamganj district of Bangladesh) , wherein such great personalities have exhibited their exalted heart melting pastimes.
Sri Advaita causes the descent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu :
Sri Advaita Acharya was about 50 years elder to Caitanya Mahaprabhu ,and was born in a Varendra Brahmana family in the year 1434 AD. After spending His childhood ,here at Laura, He shifted to Santipur, in West Bengal, where He began widely preaching the science of devotion. Sri Advaita Acharya is also known as Gaura-ana Thakura, or one who has caused the Supreme Lord Gaurahari to descend to this world. Seeing the degraded consciousness of people, Advaita Thakura began to ponder on how they could be delivered from the clutches of Maya. He concluded that only Lord Krishna Himself can liberate these souls from their suffering.Sri Advaita Prabhu thought that His name ‘Advaita’ would befit Him, only if He could cause the Supreme Lord to descend and inaugurate the sankirtana movement. He knew very well that lord Krishna becomes indebted to a devotee and sells Himself to one who merely offers Him tulasi leaf and a palmful of water. Considering thus, Sri Advaita Prabhu began worshipping the Supreme Lord with tulasi leaves and Ganges water, calling for Him to descend, in His loud voice. The place where Sri Advaita Acharya used to worship His saligram sila with Tulasi and Ganges water, is presently known as ‘Babla’ (Advaita Thakura’s sripat at Santipur) and is situated not very far from the Santipur railway station. Being pleased with His prayers, the Supreme Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, descended upon this world, along with His personal associates (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). In Caitanya Bhagavata , the Lord reveals to His associates that it was Advaita Acharya, who had called upon Him and caused Him to descend from vaikuntha (‘mohare anila nada vaikuntha thakiya…’).Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja mentions in Caitanya Caritamrta, that the merciful Lord Gaurahari had spread the sankirtana movement through Advaita Acharya and had delivered the world through Him.
yanra dvara kaila prabhu kirtana prachara
yanra dvara kaila prabhu jagata nishtara
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi – 6.35)
We have written extensively about Sri Advaita’s life and pastimes in another of our articles entitled – ‘Sri Advaita Acharya’s Sripat ,Santipur’. In this article, however, we shall primarily concern ourselves with the appearance and childhood pastimes of Sri Advaita Acharya and contemplate upon the exalted dham of Panatirtha.
Appearance of Sri Advaita Acharya :
As mentioned earlier, Sri Advaita acharya had appeared in this world in the year 1434 AD, in this small village of Laura, situated in the Sunamganj district of Bangladesh. This place was earlier renowned as Nabagram. Sri Bhakti Ratnakara mentions –
Bangadeshe Sri-Hatta nikata Nabagram,
Kubera Pandita tatha Nrsimha-santana
Kubera Pandita bhakti-pathe maha-dhanya,
Krishna-pada-padma bina na janaoye anya
Taichhe tanr patni Nabhadevi pativrata,
jagatera pujya jenho Advaitera mata
(Bhakti Ratnakara, 5.241-243)
In the village of Nabagram, situated near Sri-Hatta (Sylhet)
resided Kubera Pandita, the son of Nrsimha.
Kubera Pandita was renowned for his devotional sentiments towards the Supreme Lord.
He cared for nothing apart from the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
Nabhadevi was Kubera Pandita’s chaste wife.
She is our most worshipable as she is the mother of Sri Advaita acharya.
Kubera Pandita was none other than the incarnation of demigod Kuvera who had performed severe austerities desiring to obtain Lord Shiva as his son. Being satisfied, Lord Shiva granted him his wish. Accordingly, demigod Kubera subsequently appeared as Kubera Pandita, the son of King Nrsimha. And he bore Sri Advaita Acharya (the combined incarnation of Sada Shiva and Maha-Vishnu) as his son.
Kubera Pandita and Nabhadevi had their six sons and a daughter pass away soon after they were born. Feeling dejected, they visited Santipur (in West Bengal) where they bathed in the holy Ganges, distributed wealth in charity and engaged in reciting Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. They heard a divine voice echoing the sky which assured Kubera Pandita and Nabha devi that Maha-Vishnu would soon appear in their house. A few days later, the potency of Sri Advaita entered the womb of mother Nabha. All of these pastimes took place while Sri Kubera and his wife were still at Santipur. Shortly thereafter, Kubera Pandita and Nabhadevi returned to Laura. In due course of time, Sri Advaita Acharya appeared from the womb of Nabhadevi. Waves of divine ecstasy flooded people of Laura. On the advice of learned astrologers, Sri Kubera Pandita and Nabhadevi named their son Kamalaksha.
Pastimes of Panatirtha :
Nabhadevi once desired to take a dip in the holy Ganges. She saw a dream one night in which her son Kamalaksha revealed Himself as four-handed Lord Vishnu. Beholding the Supreme Lord before her, she immediately offered her prayers in glorification. Sri Advaita assured His mother and vowed to summon all the holy rivers to Laura so that she does not have to travel to bathe in the Ganges. Upon waking up, Nabhadevi seemed quite confused. Although she was initially reluctant to disclose her dream, she finally revealed it to her son on His insistence. A seven-year-old Advaita then swore again that He would bring all the holy tirthas to Laura, to fulfill the desires of His dear mother.
Thereafter during the night, Sri Advaita entered into a deep meditation and summoned the holy rivers. He then ordered them to reside at Laura during the Madhu-Krishna-Trayodasi tithi (Mahavaruni) so that His mother can bathe in them. Accordingly, Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Kaveri, Saraswati, Godavari, etc reached and gathered near the mountains of Laura. The next morning, Advaita Acharya took His mother so that she could experience the wonder with her own eyes. As soon as Advaita chanted the names of the Supreme Lord and blew upon His conch shell, the holy rivers started pouring down from the mountains. Some of them were reddish, some were bluish, some were white while some were yellow. Sri Kamalaksha introduced each of the rivers to His mother. This exalted dham came to be subsequently known as ‘Panatirtha’ as it was Advaita acharya’s vow (vow translates to ‘Pana’ in Bengali) that had caused the holy waters to descend to this place. This newly created water body came to be known as ‘Jadukata’ river as it was shaped by Advaita’s magic (magic translates to ‘Jadu’ in Bengali). Nabhadevi then bathed in these holy waters purifying her body, mind, and soul. Beholding this wondrous feat, the demigods showered flowers from the sky.
Even today, thousands and lakhs of pilgrims gather at Panatirtha during the Madhu-Krishna-Trayodasi tithi to bathe and purify their consciousness. It is believed that anyone who bathes this river on this auspicious occasion, is relieved of his sins and obtains the pure love of God. On the bank of this Jadukata river stands a beautiful temple, renowned as ‘Advaita Bari’. This temple helps us to commemorate and contemplate upon this extraordinary ancient pastime.
Sri Advaita pays obeisances unto mother Kali :
The occasion of Kali Puja was celebrated with great pomp and show at Laura. On one such year, King Divya Raya had made all the necessary arrangements. The Pandits, the brahmanas, and all the residents of Nabagram were invited to the royal palace to attend this grand festival. Sri Advaita had also come to attend the occasion along with Kubera Pandita. When the King noticed that Sri Advaita did not pay His obeisances unto the deity of goddess Kali, he requested Him to do the same. Sri Advaita, however, refused, reasoning that any person who worships other demigods or demi goddesses, instead of worshipping the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, is cast into bewilderment and material misery.
Hearing his son’s statements, Sri Kubera Pandita countered Advaita and urged Him to pay His obeisances unto Maa Kali to not disrespect her. Sri Advaita consented to fulfill his father’s desire. But as soon as Advaita acharya entered the temple and paid His prostrated obeisances, the deity of goddess Kali broke into pieces. This incident created a furor and brought the entire ceremony to an abrupt halt. The king came to tears witnessing the broken deity. Goddess Kali could not tolerate receiving obeisances from Sri Advaita (combined incarnation of Maha-Vishnu and Sada-Shiva), her most worshipable Lord.
Sri Advaita did not wish to reveal His divine identity to everyone, just yet. Hence after this pastime, He moved over to Santipur where He occupied Himself with studying devotional scriptures and propagating the glories of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since the tender age of fourteen, He began worshipping the Supreme Lord on the bank of the Ganges at Santipur, calling for the Lord to descend and deliver the world. However, every year, He visited Panatirtha on the Madhu-Krishna-Trayodashi tithi. Only the fortunate and the devoted obtained His darsana, on these occasions.
doya koro sita-pati advaita gosai
tava krpa-bale pai caitanya nitai
(song – Sri Krishna Caitanya Prabhu Doya Koro More)
Please bless us and shower your causeless mercy upon us, O Advaita Gosai, the dear husband of Sita Thakurani.
It is only on the strength of Your causeless mercy that one can obtain the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this transcendental abode of Laura (Nabagram). We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Advaita Acharya that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek His blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to See :
- The Jadukata river which was created by Advaita Acharya summoning all the holy waters.
- Sri Advaita Bari – A temple that stands on the shores of Jadukata river. This temple helps us to commemorate and contemplate upon this extraordinary ancient pastime.
- The birthplace of Sri Madhavendra Puri is situated on the other side of the Jadukata river. The place is renowned today as Brahmana-gaon. Presently, his house lies in ruins and resembles a small hilltop. Sri Advaita Acharya had taken spiritual initiation from Sri Madhavendra Puri. In Caitanya Caritamrta, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami likens the family of Gaudiya Vaishnavas to a giant desire tree of devotional service (bhakti-kalpataru).Sri Madhavendra Puri , a devotee in the line of Madhvacharya and the spiritual master of Isvara Puri, is designated as the first sprout (ankura) of this desire tree. Srila Krishnadas explains that this seed next fructified in the form of Sri Isvara Puri. Lord Caitanya, who had taken initiation from Isvara Puri, manifested Himself as the main trunk of this desire tree, upon whom all the other branches and further sub-branches of this tree rested.
Sri Madhavendra Puri resided, here at Laura, during the first part of his life. Later he shifted to Chakdaha (Nadia, West Bengal) where he accepted his sannyasa. Learn more about the glories of Sri Madhavendra Puri in our separate article, entitled – ‘Sri Khirachora Gopinatha Temple, Balasore’
How to Reach :
The ancient village of Nabagram, presently renowned as Laura, is situated in the Sunamganj district of Bangladesh. The place is around a 3 hour drive from the Sylhet International Airport. This place has since come to be renowned as ‘Panatirtha’ due to Sri Advaita Acharya’s exalted pastimes. ‘Sri Advaita Bari’ temple stands on the shores of the sacred ‘Jadukata’ river. After reaching Sunamganj ghat, one needs to cross over the river to reach ‘Manipur ghat’. From here, one can avail rickshaws to reach ‘Panatirtha’.
In order to take darsana of Sri Madhavendra’s Puri’s birthplace, one needs to cross over the Jadukata river. On the other side of the river, one needs to avail a motorbike ride (Motorbike rides are commercially available here) to reach ‘Brahmana Gaon’ where Sri Madhavendra birthplace lies in ruins today. There is also an Iskcon temple on this side of the river, where one can take some rest or avail prasadam. This place is very close to the Indian state of Meghalaya.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels of Sylhet city like ‘Farmis Garden’, ‘Hotel Noorjahan Grand’, etc. There is also an Iskcon center nearby where one can opt to stay or have his meals.
Nearest major airport – Osmani International Airport, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Nearest major Railway station – Sylhet
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)