Lord Advaita Acharya gives Gauranga Mantra Diksha Nityananda Gauranga Nama Tattva Essay fresh from the pen of Swami Gaurangapada, written on 14th February 2005.
Shrila Ishana Thakura, the author of Shri Advaita Prakasha was the most confidential servant of Shrila Advaita Acharya and Shrimati Shachimata, the divine mother of the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. His great devotion and pure unalloyed devotional service has been immmesely glorified by Shrila Vrindavana dasa Thakura in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata and also by Shrila Narahari Chakravarti Thakura in Bhakti Ratnakara when he took Shrila Shrinivasa Acharya on Shri Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama. If one reads some of the strikingly astonishing and scripturally confirmed pastimes in Advaita Prakasha, one can understand that whole scripture cannot be the imagination or speculation of some later person. There are so many philosophical truths about the Holy Name and Pastimes of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Lord Advaita Acharya in this scripture Advaita Prakasha which cannot be proved by anyone as wrong or contrary to the scriptures in any way. If Shrila Ishana Thakura had indeed written Shri Advaita Prakasha in the first place (there is no proof to suggest to the contrary), then one may end up committing an offense against this scripture by rejecting it fully due to the seemingly improper decriptions of some few parts because there is no more greater devotee of Lord Gauranga than Shrila Ishana Thakura in the three worlds. Because when one rejects it completely then one may be rejecting many words which have been directly written by Shrila Ishana Thakura also so one must be very careful to pass such judgements unless one is on the platform of Mahabhagavatas like Shrila Ishana Thakura himself and Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.
Since some few parts of Shri Advaita Prakasha seem to have been added or changed later or they do not seem consistent with the other authentic biographies of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada did not authorize the whole scripture in it's entirety and said that it contains some such inconsistent parts. But since the scripture contains some very beautiful and extraordinary pastimes of Lord Advaita Acharya and Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu, in the absence of direct proof that the scripture was not originally written by Shrila Ishana Thakura himself, the scripture cannot be rejected wholesale.
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada has written a few lines (that is the only direct mention in all his writings and teachings about this scipture) of cautioning us because he was concerned that innocent people should not accept some portions of the book fully but he never said that the book was not originally written by Shrila Ishana Thakura nor did he reject all the pastimes described in Shri Advaita Prakasha by lumping them all as unbonafide. So one may not advocate this book for deep and repeated studying and reading but some of the most glorious pastimes of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Lord Advaita Acharya in Advaita Prakasha which are very much in line with the scriptures can be read sometimes and accepted since they are the pure glorification of the Lord fully in accordance with the scriptures by His pure devotee Shrila Ishana Thakura.
One may raise this question that who can understand which pastimes are in line with the Vedic scriptures and which are not? The answer is that it is not very difficult to understand for a devotee who is well-versed amd who has taken shelter in Gauranga Nama Lila Tattva by constantly reading all the authentic biographies of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Even a child will become a learned and advanced soul by hearing and reading Lord Gauranga's pastimes and chanting His Holy Names. Such a devotee can easily understand whether the pastimes are in line with the scriptures or not by the mercy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu.
Though this is not in context to the discussion about Advaita Prakasha, we would also like to state here that there are many examples of the pastimes of the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu being described in totally different ways in each of the three authentic biographies of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu: Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita and Shri Chaitanya Mangala. One example of this is the esoteric pastime of Lord Nityananda breaking the sannyasa staff of Lord Gauranga. The location of this pastime differs in these three biographies and also the details, coversations etc. This does not mean that we try to find fault with any one of the three scriptures or reject it. That would be a heinous offense. Instead we should understand that since the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu performs different and variegated (not monotonous) pastimes when He advents once in every day (kalpa) of Brahma, the vision of different variegated flavors of His pastimes may arise in the hearts of His pure confidential associates when they sit down to write biographies of His transcendental pastimes. Thus they may differ from each other in many details of the pastimes because one author may be describing the pastimes of this Kali Yuga and another author maybe describing the different pastimes which Lord Gauranga performed in another day of Brahma. They write what the Lord reveals to them in their heart as they see the pastimes while writing. And Lord Gauranga may reveal to them His pastimes in different way performed by Him in different kalpas. In this way we should understand the difference in descriptions of the unlimitedly variegated pastimes of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu by His different intimate devotees which are being manifested every second in the spiritual and material worlds.
Back to our subject, the authenticity of the most sublime pastime of the Initiation (Mahadiksha) imparted by Lord Shri Advaita Acharya, who is Lord Sadashiva and Lord Maha Vishnu combined, to the divine mother (Shachidevi) and father (Jagannatha Mishra) of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu in the 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala Mantra - Gauranga Mantraraja, just before the advent of Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu in the womb of Shrimati Shachidevi, cannot be directly negated in any manner. Someone may state that since the pastime is not mentioned in any other authentic biography, so it cannot be accepted. But this cannot be the case, because there are so many pastimes of Lord Gauranga which are described in Shrila Lochana Thakura's Shri Chaitanya Mangala which are not there in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata and Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita and so on. The Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu pastimes are so unlimitedly and boundlessly expanding at every moment that one cannot touch even a drop of those pastimes even after describing them in millions of verses and pages. So no one can claim that one book or a few books contain all the pastimes of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
Secondly this pastime of Initiation (Gauranga Mantra Diksha) of Shrimati Shachidevi and Shri Jagannatha Mishra by Shrila Advaita Acharya into the 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala Mantra - which is confirmed by Seventh Goswami Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as the GaurAnga (Gau + ra + a + nga) Mantraraja, cannot be claimed by anyone as being added later or extrapolated due to lack of any direct proof in this regard. The 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala - Gauranga Mantraraja was not being chanted by devotees of the Advaita Parivara or any other Parivara who have been thought of being responsible for later adding or changing something from the scripture Advaita Prakasha. So one does not find any selfish interests which may have resulted in adding this pastime later in Shri Advaita Prakasha. The 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala - Gauranga Mantra was rarely known to even the majority of the followers so how can one prove that it was added into Advaita Prakasha by someone else later? It was not that some group was going to be benefitted by adding this description of the Gauranga Mantra in Advaita Prakasha because very few even knew about it nor was this the agenda of any group again because the Gaura Gopala Mantra was very confidential and rarely known even among devotee circles.
The most confidential glories of the 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala - Gauranga Mantraraja were fully known to Lord Advaita Acharya who is Lord Vishnu Himself and also by His mercy to His most intimate servant Shrila Ishana Thakura, the author of this scripture Shri Advaita Prakasha. Thus there is no proof to suggest that this pastime of Gauranga Mantra Diksha by Lord Advaita Acharya was a later added pastime and there are ample reasons to accept this pastime as part of the original writings of Shrila Ishana Thakura.
For those who do not want to accept, there is nothing which can be done and they are free to continue thinking whatever they want. But for the pleasure of those nectar-seeking devotees we would like to describe this beautiful pastime here with the original Bengali verses. After hearing this pastime, one understands that it was the 4-syllable Gauranga Mantra Diksha (Initiation) from the lotus mouth of none other than Lord Advaita Acharya which made Shrimati Shachimata qualified to have the Supreme Absolute Truth and the Cause of All Causes Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu in her womb and which made Shrila Jagannatha Mishra qualified to become the father of the Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Who in turn is actually the grandfather of all souls in creation.
"Then the moon-like Lord Advaita Chandra imparted the 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala Mahamantra to both of them."
Verse 49 mantra pana donhakare haila bhavodgama, prabhura pranami kare sa dainya stavana.
"Of receiving the Gaura Gopala Mahamantra, the pure ecstatic transcendental love of Shachimata and Jagannatha Mishra was awakened and they offered their obeisances to Lord Advaita Acharya and offered prayers unto Him with great humility.
Verse 50 "krishna matir astu" bali prabhu vara dila, bhojana kariya tabe nija sthane gela.
"Lord Advaita Acharya offered them the benediction 'May your consciousness always remain in Lord Krishna!' and after honoring prasadam He returned to His home."
Verse 51 dina kata pare shachira haila garbhadhana, tahe prakatila visvarupa guna dhama.
"Some days after receiving the Gaura Gopala Mantra, Shimati Shachimata became pregnant and the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead Lord Nityananda partially manifested in her womb as Shri Vishvarupa."
Verse 52 mahasankarshana bali prabhu jare kaya, tahana mahima caturbhuja na janaya.
"Lord Advaita Acharya would always call Lord Vishvarupa as Maha Sankarshana and he would day that even the 4-handed Vishnu Tattvas did not understand the full glories of Lord Shri Vishvarupa."
Thus we see that the Gauranga (Gaura Gopala) Mantra is not just chanted and meditated on by the sadhakas or spiritual practioners but it is chanted and worshiped by the eternally perfect and liberated Associates of the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu like the mother and father of the Lord Himself and also by Lord Advaita Acharya who is Maha Vishnu, the partial expansion of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Shrimati Shachimata is the combined incarnation of none other than Yashoda, Devaki, Kaushalya, Aditi, Prishni etc. and Shri Jagannatha Mishra is the combined incarnation of Nanda Maharaja, Vasudeva, Dasharatha, Kashyapa, Sutapa etc. So even these two most greatest and exalted personalities had to accept Gauranga Mantra Diksha from Lord Advaita Acharya Himself to become qualified to get the most fortunate position in creation which is to become the mother and father of Lord Vishvarupa Mahasankarshana and then Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself, the crest-jewel of all Incarnations of Lord Krishna.
Also it has been later described that when Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared from the womb of Shachimata, He personally requested Lord Advaita Acharya to impart the Hare Krishna Mahamantra Diksha to both of them, so Lord Advaita Acharya imparted the Hare Krishna Mahamantra to both of them under the neem tree in the courtyard after hearing it directly from the Lord and also reminded them again about the potency of the previously imparted Gauranga Mantra Dikshao. So they received both the Mantras from Lord Advaita Acharya by the mercy of Lord Gauranga Himself. Thus both Gauranama and Harinama should both go hand in hand in our chanting practices. Lord Nityananda Prabhu's Mission is to spread the Gauranga Mantra and Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu's Mission is to spread the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and both the Mission should be practiced and preached by the devotees.
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Shrila Prabhupada has clearly stated and explained in their commentaries to Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita,Antya lila 2.31, that the 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala Mantra is the Gauranga Mantra which has 4 transcendental syllables Gau-ra-a-nga so no one should maintain any doubts about it. Some have a misconception that the "raa" in Gauraanga is just one syllable so they can count only 3-Syllables in the Gauranga Mantra. The "raa" is not one syllable but it is a conjunct of two syllables ra + a as per the Sankrit language. Shrila Prabhupada states that the 4-syllables of Gau-ra-a-nga are totally non-different from the 4-syllables of Ra-dha-Kri-shna or from the 4-Syllables of Ha-re-Kri-shna so one gets absolutely the same benefit in chanting either of Them because They are Mantras and Names of the same personality Lord Shri Gauranga-Krishna. Unless one accepts the authority and proper knowledge from our Acharyas one will not even be able to see the Gauranga Mantra in the scriptures what to speak of chanting It.
Lord Advaita Acharya states here that He received the 4-Syllable Gaura Gopala - Gauranga Mantra in a dream. As we read in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu used to appear many times to Lord Advaita Acharya in a dream. So it must be none other than Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself who must have imparted Gauranga Mantra Diksha to Lord Advaita Acharya. Here Shrila Ishana Thakura calls the Gaura Gopala Mantra also as the Mahamantra. For practical purposes, so as not to confuse the Gaura Gopala Mantra with the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, Gaura Mantras like the Gauranga Mantra etc. are also known as the Mantrarajas or King of all Mantras as per Urdhvamnaya Samhita. Also the Rasika Acharya Shrila Shivananda Sena was chanting the Gaura Gopala - Gauranga Mantraraja contsantly as his most worshipable Ista Mantra so he must have also received Gauranga Mantra Diksha from Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu or Lord Nityananda Prabhu or Lord Advaita Acharya. As we already know, Lord Nityananda Prabhu was constantly chanting the Gauranga Mantra and imploring each and every soul in creation to chant and sing the Gauranga Mantra through His divine song sung by Shrila Prabhupada and Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami...bhaja gauranga kaha gauranga laha gaurangera nama re, je jana gauranga bhaje sei mora prana re..."Worship Lord Gauranga, speak the Holy Name of Gauranga and chant the Gauranga Mantra always. Those who worship Lord Gauranga in this way are My dear life and soul."
Thus the potency and infinite glories of accepting Gauranga Mantra Diksha from a staunch and realized devotee of Lords Nityananda, Gauranga and Advaita, cannot be fully described in words. Shachimata and Jagannatha Mishra not only accepted Gauranga Mantra Diksha from Lord Advaita Acharya but accepted full 100% Gauranga Mantra Ashraya or shelter of chanting the most powerful Gauranga Mantraraja. This sincerity, devotion and staunch faith in the Holy Name of Gauranga attracted Lord Krishna to personally and fully advent as Lord Vishvarupa (partial incarnation of Lord Nityananda) and Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu in their home. This is the supreme power of the Gauranga Mantraraja as it pulls both the Lords Nityananda and Gauranga towards us. In the same way those devotees who accept Gauranga Mantra Diksha and sincerely worship and chant the Gauranga (Gaura Gopala) Mantraraja along with the Nityananda Mantraraja and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra will very soon find that the Supreme Personalities of Godhead Lord Nityananda-Balarama and Lord Gauranga-Krishna will take birth in their hearts.
To conclude, I would like to add that we have began this most merciful process of Gauranga Mantra Diksha humbly following in the footsteps of the most munificent Lord Advaita Acharya who imparted Gauranga Mantra Diksha to the mother and father of the Lord and the most magnanimous Lord Nityananda Prabhu who is always chanting, preaching and spreading Gauranga Nama, not to get some cheap and perishable name and fame in this world and neither to gain followers and money, but for the sole purpose of enabling Lord Gauranga to take birth in the hearts of all the souls of Kali Yuga as Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura states that Gauranga's Holy Name is the only hope of deliverance for the souls of Kali Yuga.
Thus who believe in this beautiful transcendental pastime will understand that Gauranga Mantra Diksha is not a new thing but it has been performed and practiced by our Acharyas. We do not want to force anyone who does not want to believe in this pastime and thus does not accept the sublime process of Gauranga Mantra Diksha. It is our free will whether to do it or not. But even if one accepts or does not accept this pastime, the critical fact still is very clear and loud as stated by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in Shri Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya which no one can ever dare to refute...kali jivera aparadha asankhya durvara, gaura nama vina tara nahika uddhara..."The offenses of the souls of Kali Yuga are unlimited and insurmountable. Thus no one can ever be delivered in Kali Yuga without regularly chanting Lord Gauranga's Holy Name."
The Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna can be chanted and spread even without the process of Gauranga Mantra Diksha with success but it is even better if we follow in the footsteps of our Lords and Acharyas and humbly accept the Mantras and spiritual shelter and guidance from the Guru who is Their realized devotee, to get the maximum effect. Without the guidance of a Guru and without a vow to chant being taken at the time of Diksha, it is very easy to get sidetracked and bewildered because of the strong and formidable influence of the illusory energy and give up chanting and thus end up loosing this most valuable opportunity of this human form of life. We pray to Lord Nityananda Balarama that the devotees who accept Gauranga Mantra Diksha will accept full whole-hearted shelter Ashraya of the Gauranga Mantraraja along with Nityananda Mantraja and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and thus become very advanced and self-realized quickly so that they will be empowered to impart Gauranga Mantra Diksha to others in their own lands and thus deliver this supremely merciful Holy Name of Gauranga to every town and village of the whole world fulfilling the prophecy of the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself, which will thus eventually enable the whole world to offenselessly vibrate Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and go to the supremely blissful spiritual abode of Lord Gauranga-Krishna where there is no birth, death, disease, old age and return.