The Pancha Tattva (Pancha means ‘five’ and tattva means ‘truth’) incarnate along with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord, and in this way, He manifests the sankirtana movement in this world with great pleasure. Spiritually there are no differences between these five truths, for on the transcendental platform everything is absolute. Yet at the same time, there are also varieties in the spiritual world and it is important to differentiate between them to taste these spiritual varieties. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, who are together known as the Pancha Tattva, had distributed the holy name of Lord Krishna to invoke the love of Godhead throughout the universe.
Pancha Tattvatmakam Krishnam
Bhakta rupa svarupakam
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).
The three predominators – Lord Chaitanya, Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acharya are worshipable by all living entities. The fourth principle, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, is to be understood as their worshiper. There are innumerable pure unalloyed devotees of the Lord headed by Srivasa Pandita. The associates of the Lord in His various pastimes are all His confidential eternal devotees. Only with them does the Lord appear to propound the sankirtana movement. It is only with their help that the Lord relishes the mellows of conjugal love and then distributes this love of God to the general populace.
Sri Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is a storehouse of transcendental love. This storehouse which is full of divine love certainly existed, even when Krishna manifested His pastimes in this world 5000 years ago. However the store had remained sealed from the general populace. But when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advented along with His associates, the Pancha Tattva, they cut that seal open and plundered the storehouse to taste this transcendental love for Krishna. The more they tasted it, the more they craved for it. The Pancha Tattva danced, laughed, cried, and chanted like madmen and in this way distributed love of godhead to one and all. While distributing this rare treasure of divine love, there was no consideration as to who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place.
Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pancha Tattva distributed love of Godhead. Although the members of the Pancha Tattva looted the storehouse of love, there was never any scarcity of divine love. This wonderful storehouse is so complete, that its supply increases hundreds of times as this love gets shared. The flood of love swelled in all directions. Young, old and children were all inundated in an ocean of devotional ecstasy.
Taking Shelter of the Pancha Tattva :
It is important to mention in this regard, that the devotees of Lord Chaitanya, always seek shelter of the most magnanimous Lord Chaitanya and His beloved associates before chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. So first of all we chant the below Pancha Tattva Mahamantra before we proceed to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
Pancha Tattva Mantra :
‘Jaya Sri Krishna Caitanya, Prabhu Nityananda ,Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa adi Gaura bhakta vrinda’
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara Pandit, Srivasa Thakura and all the devotees of Lord Caitanya.
Hare Krishna Mahamantra :
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Chanting the holy names of Pancha Tattva bestows upon us their causeless mercy enabling us to chant Sri Krishna’s names without committing any offenses.There are ten offenses in the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, but these are not considered in the chanting of the Pancha-tattva mantra.
Lord Chaitanya is known as “maha-vadanyavatara”, the most magnanimous incarnation, for He does not consider the offenses of the fallen souls. The Hare Krishna Mahamantra is our prayer to the Supreme Lord and His energies to engage us eternally in their loving devotional service.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Sri Chaitanya is none other than the Supreme Lord Himself. What the Upanishads call the impersonal brahman is but the effulgence of His body, and the supersoul is nothing but a manifestation of His plenary portion. Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself, full with six opulences – power, wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty and renunciation. He is the Supreme absolute truth and there is none greater than or equal to Him. He had appeared in the age of Kali out of His causeless mercy to bestow what no of God incarnation has ever granted before; the most exalted and radiant mellows of devotional service; the mellows of conjugal love. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna possessed an intense desire to savor the supreme transcendental bliss that Srimati Radharani experienced by serving Him. Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer, however, Srimati Radhika, the Supreme enjoyed, experiences a higher degree of ecstasy by serving Sri Krishna.This is something that bewilders even the Supreme Lord and He wanted to experience this first hand, to properly appreciate Radharani’s position. Krishna also wanted to understand the transcendental mellow of Himself and how He was a reservoir of all sweetness that drove His devotees crazy. He desired to understand the depths of Srimati Radharani’s love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relished through Her love and the happiness She felt when She enjoyed the sweetness of His love.
Hence taking up the mood (bhava), being richly endowed with Her emotions, and the golden bodily complexion (kanti) of Srimati Radharani, Sri Krishna descended as Lord Chaitanya in the holy land of Navadvipa (situated in West bengal, India). He appeared from the womb of Saci devi as the moon appears out of the ocean. The land of Navadvipa was perceived and created by Srimati Radharani Herself to pleasure Her worshipable master. Sri Chaitanya’s heart was an image of Srimati Radhika’s emotions – greatly turbulent with the feelings of union (sambhoga) and separation (vipralambha) with Krishna. Hence, it is stated that there is no difference between Lord Chaitanya and the combination of Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani (Sri Krishna Chaitanya ,Radha Krishna Nahe anya). Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura exclaims that Sri Chaitanya is not simply Krishna or simply Radhika. Instead, He is the intense embrace of Sri Radha and Krishna. Such is the intensity of their embrace that the divine couple becomes inseparable and merges into one form. Sri Krishna is then ornamented with the deep mood of Radharani and gets completely covered by Her bodily effulgence.Such is the Supreme position of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the most munificent incarnation of the Supreme. Lord Chaitanya freely gives what no other incarnation of the Supreme Lord has ever given before – the pure ecstatic love of God. He does not consider one’s qualifications or background or pedigree before bestowing this supreme gift upon them, receiving which one achieves the ultimate perfection of his human life. This ecstatic love of God eludes the great demigods like Brahma, Shiva and Indra. Even Lakshmi devi, the wife of Lord Narayana, hankers to receive it. A yogi cannot achieve it, even after performing severe austerities for thousands of years. A Jnani cannot smell it even after analysing and carefully studying the whole of the vedic scriptures. This ecstatic love of God is extremely rare but it can be easily achieved by the causeless mercy of Lord Gauranga (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). That is why Lord Chaitanya is known to be the essence of all the other incarnations of the Supreme – ‘Avatara sar Gaura avatara’.
Lord Narayana reveals this secret of all secrets to Devi Katyayani (Durga) :
E mor antara hiya, tomare kahila iha
Sambari rakhoho nija mone
Saba avatara sar , Kali Gora avatara
Nistariba lok nijagune
(Chaitanya Mangala, text 272)
(Lord Narayana continued) ‘Now I have revealed my heart to you. Please keep this secret carefully locked away in your heart. Lord Gauranga, who shall appear in this age of kali, is the essence of all the other incarnations of the supreme. By the strength of His transcendental qualities, He shall deliver all people in Kali Yuga’.
That is why Sri Chaitanya Chandramrita states :
Rakso-daitya-kulam hatam kiyad idam yogadi-vartma-kriya-
Margo va prakati-kritah kiyad idam sristy adhikam va kiyat
Mediny-uddharanadikam kiyad idam premojjvalaya maha-
Bhakter vartma-karim param bhagavatas Chaitanya-murtim stumah
(Chaitanya Chandramrita, Text 7)
What benefit did the world derive when the incarnations of the supreme Lord like Ramachandra, Nrsimha, and many others killed so many raksasa and Daityas ? What was the benefit derived when Lord Kapila and other incarnations reveal the paths of sankhya and yoga ? Is it of great glory that Lord Brahma and other guna-avataras create, maintain and destroy the material universes ? How auspicious is it that Lord Varahadeva lifted and rescued the earth from the garbhodaka ocean ? We do not consider these pastimes to be so important. The most important of all things is that Lord Chaitanya has revealed the great splendour of pure ecstatic love for Himself. Let us glorify that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Along with His associates, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has manifested the most blissful , heart rending pastimes that has ever been witnessed in human history. In fact, some of the eternal associates of the Lord have experienced a greater degree of transcendental ecstasy being part of the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya, as compared to being part of Sri Krishna’s vrindavana pastimes, as confirmed in the below verse.
Ati aparupa leela prakashila prabhu
Chari yuge adbhut katha nahi shune kabhu
(Chaitanya Mangala , 1.94)
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had manifested the most wonderful incomparable pastimes, never heard before in any of the four yugas.
Sri Chaitanya Chandramrita confirms that obtaining the causeless mercy of Lord Gauranga is the ultimate perfection in the life of a spiritual practitioner. He, who achieves it, hankers for nothing else in this entire creation. The heavenly abodes and the pursuits of liberation appear very insignificant to such a fortunate soul.
Kaivalyam narakayate tri dasa pur akasha puspayate
Durdantendriya kala sarpa patali protkhata damstrayate
Visvam purna sukhayate vidhi mahendradis ca kitayate
Yat karunya kataksa vaibhav-avatam tam Gauram eva stumah
(Chaitanya Chandramrita, text 5)
For those who have attained the merciful sidelong glance of Lord Gauranga, impersonal liberation (merging into the brahmajyoti) becomes as painful as going to hell, the heavenly cities of the demigods seem to be as trivial as mere flowers floating in the sky, the venomous and poisonous fangs of the untamable black snakes of the senses become extracted and uprooted,the whole world which is otherwise full of misery becomes full of supreme joy and the exalted positions of Brahma, Indra and all the demigods become as insignificant as those of tiny insects. Let us glorify that supremely merciful Lord Gauranga.
Lord Nityananda :
Sankarshana (one of the Catur bhujas comprising Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha), Sesha Naga and the Vishnus who lie on the causal ocean (Maha Visnu), Garbha ocean (Garbhodaksayi Vishnu) and the ocean of milk (Ksirodakasayi Vishnu) are Lord Nityananda’s plenary potions or plenary portions of His plenary portions. He is full of opulences and resides in the spiritual world (Vaikuntha loka), far beyond the material creation. Maha Vishnu, lying in the causal ocean, is a partial expansion of Lord Nityananda. He is the master of Maya (illusory energy of the Supreme), and is the shelter of all universes. Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, is also one of the plenary expansions of Lord Nityananda. A lotus sprouts from the navel of Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, which serves as the birthplace of Lord Brahma, the architect of the universe. The stem of that lotus is the resting place of a multitude of planets. Ksirodakasayi Vishnu, who rests in the ocean of milk and who is the supersoul in the heart of all living entities is also an expansion of Lord Nityananda. Ksirodakasayi Vishnu is also the maintainer of all universes. Sesha Naga, the divine snake with thousands of hoods, who acts as the comfortable resting bed of Lord Vishnu, is also an expansion of Lord Nityananda.
Sri Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda are like the sun and the moon. They have arisen together on the horizon of Bengal to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all. Their appearance has saturated the world with joy and enlightened the living beings with the knowledge of Absolute truth. Lord Nityananda is none other than Lord Balarama, the first bodily expansion of Krishna and He assists Sri Krishna in His transcendental pastimes. That original Krishna appeared in Navadvipa as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Balarama appeared with Him as Lord Nityananda.
Sri Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the month of Magha, around the year 1474 AD ,in the small village of Ekachakra, situated in the Birbhum district of West Bengal.Sri Hadai Ojha and Srimati Padmavati Devi were His proud parents.Sri Hadai Pandita was the appearance of the combined potencies of Sri Vasudeva (father of Balarama) and Sri Dasaratha (father of Lakshmana) while Srimati Padmavati was the incarnation of the potencies of Rohini (mother Of Balarama) and Sumitra (mother of Lakshmana). Such was Lord Nityananda’s magnanimity, such was His mood, that He freely distributed the treasure of the Lord’s love, obtaining which is rare even for demigods like Brahma, to one and all without judging one’s qualification (Brahma-ra durlabha prema sabakare yache). His uncommon unique pastimes moved even the atheists to cry tears of love. Lord Nitai (Nityananda) was almost completely devoid of any external consciousness and remained intoxicated in an ecstatic love of God. In such a state of utter ecstasy, He would sometimes jump high up in the air or at other times roll over the ground, while continuously glorifying the Supreme Lord. Sometimes He would laugh and at other times, streams of tears would roll down His beautiful eyes.
He would hold straw between His teeth and beg whomever He saw to worship Lord Chaitanya and thereby purchase Him in return (jaare dekhe taare kohe dante trna dhori, amare kiniya loho bhojo Gaurahari). Saying thus, He would roll over the ground in ecstasy, and would appear like a golden mountain tumbling in the dust (eto boli Nityananda bhume gadi jaya, shonara parvata jeno dhulate lutaya). His uncommon nature and mesmerizing features amazed one and all.
In the words of Locana Das Thakura :
locana bole mor nitai jeba na bhajilo
janiya suniya sei atma-ghati hoilo
Locana das proclaims, that whoever has not worshipped Lord Nityananda or has not taken advantage of the excellent opportunity offered by Him, knowingly commits suicide.
Advaita Acharya :
Advaita acharya is the incarnation of Maha Vishnu, whose primary role is to create the cosmic world through the actions of the material energy (Maya). As He is non-different from the Supreme Lord Hari, hence He is named Advaita (non-different). As He disseminates the cult of devotion, hence He is called Acharya. Maha-Vishnu performs all the functions for the creation of innumerable universes. He creates and maintains them with His external energy. Sri Advaita Acharya is the direct incarnation and is the primary limb of Maha-Vishnu. Sri Advaita’s features, activities and name are always auspicious. Just as He had formerly created the universes, Advaita Acharya has now descended to participate in Lord Chaitanya’s movement and introduce the path of devotional service (bhakti). He taught Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam in the light of devotional service. Since He is a limb or part of the lotus-eyed Supreme Lord, He also bears the name ‘Kamalaksha’. Sri Advaita Acharya caused the advent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in this world, by praying and worshiping Krishna with tulasi leaves and water and calling upon Him in a loud voice. It is through Advaita Acharya that Lord Chaitanya had spread the sankirtana movement and thereby delivered the world.
In Sri Gaura Gannodesha dipika, Kavi Karnapura 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 Chaitanya’s pastimes as Sita Thakurani, the wife of Advaita Acharya.His second wife, Sri devi, was also an expansion of Yogamaya devi.Sri Achyutananda, 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 Chaitanya’s desire tree of devotional service, from whom originated innumerable smaller branches and sub-branches of devotees.
Sri Advaita Acharya was about 50 years elder to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ,and was born in a Varendra Brahmana family in the year 1434 AD. He was born in the village of Lauda, in Sylhet (present Bangladesh). Seeing the people of the world completely immersed in material activities and suffer greatly the pangs of material miseries, Advaita Acharya became pained at heart.Overwhelmed with compassion, He began teaching Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, by explaining their purports in accordance to the science of devotional service, and decrying the paths of philosophical speculation and fruitive activities. Namacharya Haridasa Thakura and several other elderly vaishnavas, regularly congregated at Advaita Prabhu’s house and together discussed the glories of the Supreme Lord. Visvarupa, an expansion of Lord Balarama and the elder brother of Lord Chaitanya, was also among those who graced His audience.
gita bhagavata kahe acharya gosai
jnana-karma nindi kare bhaktira badai
(Chaitanya Caritamrta, Adi , 13.64)
Gadadhara Pandita :
Kavi Karnapura has mentioned in his Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika, that Radharani, the daughter of King Vrishabhanu, had appeared as Sri Gadadhara Pandita in Gaura Lila. Kavi Karnapura further adds that Lalita devi, who is also known as anuradha (as she always follows Srimati Radharani) had also entered the body of Gadadhara pandita.Thus Gadadhara Pandita was the combined incarnation of both Radharani and Lalita sakhi. Gadadhara Pandita was born of Sri Madhava Mishra and Srimati Ratnavati Devi who lived very close to the house of Jagannatha Mishra in Mayapur. According to Gaura Gannodesha dipika, Maharaja Vrishabhanu incarnated as Sri Madhava Mishra in the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya. Sri Gadadhara Pandita was a year younger to Lord Gaurahari and they were very intimate friends since their childhood. From His very childhood, Srila Gadadhara Pandita manifested the qualities of patience, serenity and renunciation.
The devotees headed by Gadadhara Pandita are to be recognized as the incarnations of the internal potency (Hladini shakti) of the Supreme Lord. They are confidential devotees engaged in the service of the Lord. Gadadhara is the incarnation of devotional energy. In this incarnation, Srimati Radharani was able to spend time with Her Lord as an intimate associate who helped spread the pastimes and glories of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Srivasa Thakura :
According to Sri Gaura Gannoddesha Dipika, Srivasa Pandita is none other than the incarnation of Narada Muni, who had appeared to assist his beloved Lord enact the heart melting pastimes of Navadvipa. There are innumerable devotees of the Lord of whom Srivasa Thakura is the foremost.
Srivasa pandita , and his family members had originally hailed from Srihatta (Sylhet,currently situated in Bangladesh) and later moved over to reside at Navadvipa.Srivasa Pandita had appeared in this world about 30 years before the birth of Lord Chaitanya. He is one of the members of the pancha-tattva (the five members representing the five diversities of the Absolute truth) and represents the pure devotee of the Lord. Sri Jaladhar Pandita, a traditional brahmin, fathered five glorious sons – Nalina , Srivasa , Srinidhi, Sripati and Sriram. Nalina Pandita, the eldest of them all, was the father of Narayani Devi who subsequently became the mother of Srila Vrindavana das Thakura, the author of Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata, the heart melting biography of Lord Chaitanya. Sriram pandita, Srivasa’s younger brother ,was the incarnation of Parvata Muni, a close friend of sage Narada.Srimati Malini Devi ,the wife of Srivasa pandita, was previously the nurse Ambika in Krishna lila, who used to feed little Krishna ,with her own breast milk. Malini devi was an intimate friend and companion of Saci mata, and regularly shared her advice on how to raise up mischievous Nimai.Later, after Lord Gaurasundara had accepted His sannyasa initiation and moved over to Jagannatha Puri, Srivasa pandita together with his family, being unable to bear the mournful separation from their beloved Lord, shifted to a place called Halisahar, located on the other side of the Ganges.
Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami reveals in Chaitanya Charitamrta that Lord Chaitanya eternally resides and performs His sweet ecstatic pastimes at four holy places, and Srivasa Angan is one of them.Yogpeeth, wherever Lord Nityananda dances (nityananda nartane) and Raghava Bhavan, the house of Raghava pandita, being the other three.
saci-ra mandire ar nityananda nartane
srivasa kirtane, ar raghava bhavane
ei chari thani prabhu-ra sada abirbhava
premakrishta haya, prabhura sahaja swabhava
(Chaitanya Caritamrta, Antya – 2.34-35)
Every night the Lord would meet with all His associates at Srivasa Pandita’s house (Srivasa Angan) and engage in ecstatic dancing and loud congregational chanting of the holy names. There are innumerable pastimes that our sweet Lord had enacted at Srivasa Angan, just by mere contemplation upon which ,can award one with the highest benediction of Krishna Prema.