Appearance day of Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī

In honor of the Appearance day of Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī (the eternal wife of Sri Advaita Acharya), we are posting a brief pastime from Srila Prabhupada’s Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: Ādi-līlā Chapter 13, Text 111-119, which gives the following account of Sita Thakurani’s visit to the house of Jagannatha Mishra after the birth of the Lord

One day shortly after Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was born, Advaita Ācārya’s wife, Sītādevī, who is worshipable by the whole world, took her husband’s permission and went to see that topmost child with all kinds of gifts and presentations

She brought different kinds of golden ornaments, including bangles for the hand, armlets, necklaces and anklets.

There were also tiger nails set in gold, waist decorations of silk and lace, ornaments for the hands and legs, nicely printed silken sārīs and a child’s garment, also made of silk. Many other riches, including gold and silver coins, were also presented to the child.

Riding in a palanquin covered with cloth and accompanied by maidservants, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī came to the house of Jagannātha Miśra, bringing with her many auspicious articles such as fresh grass, paddy, gorocana, turmeric, kuṅkuma and sandalwood. All these presentations filled a large basket.

When Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī came to the house of Śacīdevī, bringing with her many kinds of eatables, dresses and other gifts, she was astonished to see the newly born child, for she appreciated that except for a difference in color, the child was directly Kṛṣṇa of Gokula Himself.

Seeing the transcendental bodily effulgence of the child, each of His nicely constructed limbs full of auspicious signs and resembling a form of gold, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī was very much pleased, and because of her maternal affection, she felt as if her heart were melting.

She blessed the newly born child by placing fresh grass and paddy on His head and saying, “May You be blessed with a long duration of life.” But being afraid of ghosts and witches, she gave the child the name Nimāi.

On the day the mother and son bathed and left the maternity home, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī gave them all kinds of ornaments and garments and then also honored Jagannātha Miśra. Then Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī, being honored by mother Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra, was greatly happy within her mind, and thus she returned home.

In this way mother Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra, having obtained a son who was the husband of the goddess of fortune, had all their desires fulfilled. Their house was always filled with riches and grains. As they saw the beloved body of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, day after day their pleasure increased.

For full Text and Purport

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Ādi-līlā Chapter 13, Text 111-

TEXT 111

advaita-ācārya-bhāryā, jagat-pūjitā āryā,
nāma tāṅra ’sītā ṭhākurāṇī’
ācāryera ājñā pāñā, gela upahāra lañā,
dekhite bālaka-śiromaṇi

advaita-ācārya-bhāryā—the wife of Advaita Ācārya; jagat-pūjitā—worshiped by the whole world; āryā—the most advanced cultured lady; nāma—name; tāṅra—her; sītā ṭhākurāṇī—mother Sītā; ācāryera ājñā pāñā—taking the order of Advaita Ācārya; gela—went; upahāra—presentation; lañā—taking; dekhite—to see; bālaka—the child; śiromaṇi—topmost.

One day shortly after Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was born, Advaita Ācārya’s wife, Sītādevī, who is worshipable by the whole world, took her husband’s permission and went to see that topmost child with all kinds of gifts and presentations

PURPORT

It appears that Advaita Ācārya had two different houses, one at Śāntipura and one at Navadvīpa. When Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was born, Advaita Ācārya was residing not at His Navadvīpa house but at His Śāntipura house. Therefore, as formerly explained (text 99), from Advaita’s old paternal house in Śāntipura (nijālaya)Sītā came to Navadvīpa to present gifts to the newly born child, Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

TEXT 112

suvarṇera kaḍi-ba-uli, rajatamudrā-pāśuli,
suvarṇera aṅgada, kaṅkaṇa
du-bāhute divya śaṅkha, rajatera malabaṅka,
svarṇa-mudrāra nānā hāragaṇa

suvarṇera—made of gold; kaḍi-ba-uli—bangles worn on the hand; rajata-mudrā—gold coins; pāśuli—a kind of ornament covering the foot; suvarṇera—made of gold; aṅgada—a kind of ornament; kaṅkaṇa—another kind of ornament for the hand; du-bāhute—in two arms; divya—celestial; śaṅkha—conchshell; rajatera—made of gold; malabaṅka—bangles for the foot; svarṇa-mudrāra—made of gold; nānā—varieties; hāra-gaṇa—necklaces.

She brought different kinds of golden ornaments, including bangles for the hand, armlets, necklaces and anklets.

TEXT 113

vyāghra-nakha hema-jaḍi, kaṭi-paṭṭasūtra-ḍorī
hasta-padera yata ābharaṇa
citra-varṇa paṭṭa-sāḍī, buni photo paṭṭapāḍī,
svarṇa-raupya-mudrā bahu-dhana

vyāghra-nakha—tiger nails; hema-jaḍi—set in gold; kaṭi-paṭṭasūtra-ḍorī—silken thread for the waist; hasta-padera—of the hands and legs; yata—all kinds of; ābharaṇa—ornaments; citra-varṇa—printed with varieties of colors; paṭṭa-sāḍī—silken sārīs; buni—woven; photo—small jackets for children; paṭṭa-pāḍī—with embroidery of silk; svarṇa—gold; raupya—silver; mudrā—coins; bahu-dhana—all kinds of riches.

There were also tiger nails set in gold, waist decorations of silk and lace, ornaments for the hands and legs, nicely printed silken sārīs and a child’s garment, also made of silk. Many other riches, including gold and silver coins, were also presented to the child.

PURPORT

From the gifts presented by Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī, Advaita Ācārya’s wife, it appears that Advaita Ācārya was at that time a very rich man. Although brāhmaṇas are not the rich men of society, Advaita Ācārya, being the leader of the brāhmaṇas in Śāntipura, was considerably well-to-do. Therefore He presented many ornaments to the baby, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. But Kamalākānta Viśvāsa’s asking for three hundred rupees from the King of Jagannātha Purī, Mahārāja Pratāparudra, on the plea that Advaita Ācārya was in debt for that amount, indicates that such a rich man, who could present many valuable ornaments, sārīs, etc., thought it difficult to repay three hundred rupees. Therefore the value of a rupee at that time was many thousands of times greater than it is now. At the present, no one feels difficulty over a debt of three hundred rupees, nor can an ordinary man accumulate such valuable ornaments to present to a friend’s son. Probably the value of three hundred rupees at that time was equal to the present value of thirty thousand rupees.

TEXT 114

durvā, dhānya, gorocana, haridrā, kuṅkuma, candana,
maṅgala-dravya pātra bhariyā
vastra-gupta dolā caḍi’ saṅge lañā dāsī ceḍī,
vastrālaṅkāra peṭāri bhariyā

durvā—fresh grass; dhānya—rice paddy; gorocana—a yellow patch for the head of a cow; haridrā—turmeric; kuṅkuma—a kind of scent produced in Kashmir; candana—sandalwood; maṅgala-dravya—auspicious things; pātra bhariyā—filling up a dish; vastra-gupta—covered by cloth; dolā—palanquin; caḍi’-riding; saṅge—along with; lañā—taking; dāsī—maidservant; ceḍī—female attendants; vastra-alaṅkāra—ornaments and clothes; petāri—basket; bhariyā—filled up.

Riding in a palanquin covered with cloth and accompanied by maidservants, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī came to the house of Jagannātha Miśra, bringing with her many auspicious articles such as fresh grass, paddy, gorocana, turmeric, kuṅkuma and sandalwood. All these presentations filled a large basket.

PURPORT

The words vastra-gupta dolā are very significant in this verse. Even fifty or sixty years ago in Calcutta, all respectable ladies would go to a neighboring place riding on a palanquin carried by four men. The palanquin was covered with soft cotton, and in that way there was no chance to see a respectable lady traveling in public. Ladies, especially those coming from respectable families, could not be seen by ordinary men. This system is still current in remote places. The Sanskrit word asūrya-paśyā indicates that a respectable lady could not be seen even by the sun. In the oriental culture this system was very much prevalent and was strictly observed by respectable ladies, both Hindu and Muslim. We have actual experience in our childhood that our mother would not go next door to her house to observe an invitation by walking; she would go in either a carriage or a palanquin carried by four men. This custom was also strictly followed five hundred years ago, and the wife of Advaita Ācārya, being a very respectable lady, observed the customary rules current in that social environment.

TEXT 115

bhakṣya, bhojya, upahāra, saṅge la-ila bahu bhāra,
śacī-gṛhe haila upanīta
dekhiyā bālaka-ṭhāma, sākṣāt gokula-kāna,
varṇa-mātra dekhi viparīta

bhakṣya—foods; bhojya—fried foods; upahāra—presentation; saṅge—along with her; la-ila—took; bahu bhāra—many packages; śacī-gṛhe—in the house of mother Śacī; haila—was; upanīta—carried; dekhiyā—seeing; bālaka-ṭhāma—the feature of the child; sākṣāt—directly; gokula-kāna—Lord Kṛṣṇa of Gokula; varṇa-mātra—only the color; dekhi—seeing; viparīta—opposite.

When Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī came to the house of Śacīdevī, bringing with her many kinds of eatables, dresses and other gifts, she was astonished to see the newly born child, for she appreciated that except for a difference in color, the child was directly Kṛṣṇa of Gokula Himself.

PURPORT

A peṭāri is a kind of big basket that is carried in pairs on the ends of a rod balanced over the shoulders. The man who carries such a load is called a bhārī. This system of carrying luggage and packages is still current in India and other oriental countries, and we have seen that the same system is still current even in Jakarta, Indonesia.

TEXT 116

sarva aṅga–sunirmāṇa, suvarṇa-pratimā-bhāna,
sarva aṅga–sulakṣaṇamaya
bālakera divya jyoti, dekhi’ pāila bahu prīti,
vātsalyete dravila hṛdaya

sarva aṅga—all different parts of the body; sunirmāṇa—well constructed; suvarṇa—gold; pratimā—form; bhāna—like; sarva—all; aṅga—parts of the body; sulakṣaṇa-maya—full of auspicious signs; bālakera—of the child; divya—transcendental; jyoti—effulgence; dekhi’-seeing; pāila—got; bahu—much; prīti—satisfaction; vātsalyete—by parental affection; dravila—melted; hṛdaya—her heart.

Seeing the transcendental bodily effulgence of the child, each of His nicely constructed limbs full of auspicious signs and resembling a form of gold, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī was very much pleased, and because of her maternal affection, she felt as if her heart were melting.

TEXT 117

durvā, dhānya, dila śīrṣe, kaila bahu āśīṣe,
cirajīvī hao dui bhāi
ḍākinī-śāṅkhinī haite, śaṅkā upajila cite,
ḍare nāma thuila ’nimāi’

durvā—fresh grass; dhānya—paddy; dila—gave; śīrṣe—on the head; kaila—did; bahu—with much; āśīṣe—blessing; cira-jīvī—live long; hao—become; dui bhāi—two brothers; ḍākinī-śāṅkhinī—ghosts and witches; haite—from; śaṅkā—doubt; upajila—grew; cite—in the heart; ḍare—out of fear; nāma—name; thuila—kept; nimāi—Lord Caitanya’s childhood name, derived from the nima (nimba) tree.

TRANSLATION

She blessed the newly born child by placing fresh grass and paddy on His head and saying, “May You be blessed with a long duration of life.” But being afraid of ghosts and witches, she gave the child the name Nimāi.

PURPORT

Ḍākinī and Śāṅkhinī are two companions of Lord Śiva and his wife who are supposed to be extremely inauspicious, having been born of ghostly life. It is believed that such inauspicious living creatures cannot go near a nima tree. At least medically it is accepted that nima wood is extremely antiseptic, and formerly it was customary to have a nima tree in front of one’s house. On very large roads in India, especially in Uttar Pradesh, there are hundreds and thousands of nima trees. Nima wood is so antiseptic that the Āyurvedic science uses it to cure leprosy. Medical scientists have extracted the active principle of the nima tree, which is called margosic acid. Nima is used for many purposes, especially to brush the teeth. In Indian villages ninety percent of the people use nima twigs for this purpose. Because of all the antiseptic effects of the nima tree and because Lord Caitanya was born beneath a nima tree, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī gave the Lord the name Nimāi. Later in His youth He was celebrated as Nimāi Paṇḍita, and in the neighborhood villages He was called by that name, although His real name was Viśvambhara.

TEXT 118

putramātā-snānadine, dila vastra vibhūṣaṇe,
putra-saha miśrere sammāni’
śacī-miśrera pūjā lañā, manete hariṣa hañā,
ghare āilā sītā ṭhākurāṇī

putra-mātā—of the mother and child; snāna-dine—on the day of bathing; dila—gave; vastra—cloth; vibhūṣaṇe—ornaments; putra-saha—with the child; miśrere—unto Jagannātha Miśra; sammāni’-congratulating; śacī—Śacīdevī; miśrera—Jagannātha Miśra; pūjā—honor; lañā—receiving; manete—within the mind; hariṣa—pleased; hañā—becoming; ghare—home; āilā—returned; sītā ṭhākurāṇī—mother Sītā, wife of Advaita Ācārya.

On the day the mother and son bathed and left the maternity home, Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī gave them all kinds of ornaments and garments and then also honored Jagannātha Miśra. Then Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī, being honored by mother Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra, was greatly happy within her mind, and thus she returned home.

PURPORT

On the fifth day from the birth of a child, as also on the ninth day, the mother bathes either in the Ganges or in a sacred place. This is called niṣkrāmaṇa, or the ceremony of coming out of the maternity home. Nowadays the maternity home is a hospital, but formerly in every respectable house one room was set aside as a maternity home where children would take birth, and on the ninth day after the birth of a child the mother would come into the regular rooms in the ceremony called niṣkrāmaṇa. Of the ten purificatory processes, niṣkrāmaṇa is one. Formerly, especially in Bengal, the higher castes observed four months after the birth of a child as a quarantine. At the end of the fourth month, the mother first had to see the sun rise. Later the higher castes, namely, the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas, observed only twenty-one days as a quarantine, whereas the śūdras had to observe thirty days. For the sections of society known as kartābhajā and satīmā, the mother of the child was immediately purified after the quarantine by the throwing of hari-nuṭa, small pieces of sweetmeat, in saṅkīrtana. Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra, with the newly born child, were honored by Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī. Similarly, while Sītā Ṭhākurāṇī was returning home, she was also honored by Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra. That was the system in respectable families of Bengal.

TEXT 119

aiche śacī-jagannātha, putra pāñā lakṣmīnātha,
pūrṇa ha-ila sakala vāñchita
dhana-dhānye bhare ghara, lokamānya kalevara,
dine dine haya ānandita

aiche—in that way; śacī-jagannātha—mother Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra; putra—son; pāñā—having obtained; lakṣmī-nātha—personally the husband of the goddess of fortune; pūrṇa—fulfilled; ha-ila—became; sakala—all; vāñchita—desires; dhana-dhānye—with riches and grains; bhare ghara—the house filled up; loka-mānya kalevara—the body beloved by the people in general; dine dine—day after day; haya—becomes; ānandita—pleased.

In this way mother Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra, having obtained a son who was the husband of the goddess of fortune, had all their desires fulfilled. Their house was always filled with riches and grains. As they saw the beloved body of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, day after day their pleasure increased.

PURPORT

Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore everyone offered their respects to Him. Even the denizens of heaven used to come in the dress of ordinary men to offer their respect to the Lord. His father and mother, Jagannātha Miśra and Śacīdevī, seeing the honor of their transcendental son, also became very much pleased within their hearts.

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