Advaita Acharya (1434–1539), born Kamalaksha Bhattacharya, was a notable disciple and companion of the founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and guru of Haridasa Thakur. He was born at Navagrama-Laur village in the present-day Sylhet District of Bangladesh in 1434, some fifty years before Chaitanya, and spent most of his adult life in the town of Shantipur with his wife and family (Advaita Acharya had six sons, Acyutananda, Krsna Misra, Gopala dasa, Balarama, Svarupa, and Jagadisa) teaching the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita andBhagavata Purana and promoting Bhakti Yoga.
The ancestry and life of Advaita Acharya are narrated in a number of hagiographical works, which include the Balyalilasutra (1487) of Krishnadasa in Sanskrit and the Advaitasutrakadacha of Krishnadasa, the Advaitamangala of Haricharanadasa, the Advaitaprakasha of Ishana Nagara and the Advaitavilasa of Naraharidasa in Bengali. Many of his activities are described in the Chaitanya Charitamrta, the Chaitanya Mangalaand the Chaitanya Bhagavata.
Sri Krishna Chaitanya (centre), Sri Nityananda Prabhu (wearing blue), Sri Advaita Acharya (with beard), Sri Gadadhara Pandit (purple dhoti), Sri Srivas Pandit (with shaven head and saffron dhoti). Pancha-Tattva deities: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara and Srivasa, installed on a Vaishnava altar.
In his latter years Advaita Acharya became increasingly saddened by the pursuit of materialistic goals that, he believed, lead to a dysfunctional, unhappy society and concluded that the only solution was to offer prayers, begging his Supreme Lord Krishna to come as an Avatar and attract people back to the joy of the spiritual life. Advaita Acharya is said to have prayed for several months, crying out and worshipping him in the form of his Shaligram Shila with sacred Tulasi leaves and Ganges water. At the end of thirteen months during an eclipse of the full moon, his prayers were answered when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born.
He is known to have been a close friend of both Chaitanya and Nityananda in their mission of spreading the Hare Krishna mantra. Advaita Acharya is said to have told Chaitanya "Wherever you are is Vrindavan." He is considered a combined incarnation (Avatar) of both Maha Vishnu and SadaShiva (Sadashiva is Vishnu tattva & origin of Lord Shiva) within the Gaudiya tradition. On the day marking his birth members hold a celebration in his honour and read and discuss stories of his life.