By Stephen Knapp
|A tribal woman in traditional attire|
Sri Sita Thakurani is the eternal wife of Sri Advaita Acharya, who is considered an avatara of Maha Vishnu. Sita Thakurani is to be worshipped as much as Mother Sachidev, the mother of Sri Chaitanya. She married Advaita Acharya in Phuliya Nagara and they moved to Shantipura. Sita Thakurani was always absorbed in motherly devotion to Sri Chaitanya and would instruct Jagannatha Misra, Sri Chaitanya'sfather, on how to care for the boy.
Advaita Acharya was the one who did special worship near the Ganges in Shantipur to call the Lord to appear in this world, having felt that the conditions were so bad that only the Lord Himself could help. Thus, both Advaita Acharya and Sita Thakurani were in great bliss when Sri Chaitanya appeared in this world, and she brought Him many presents. From then on, Sri Sita Thakurani would often come to Mayapur from Shantipur to see the child and to give instructions to Sachimata about how to care for the child.
The Gaura-Ganodesha Dipika explains that Sri Sita Thakurani is an incarnation of Yogamaya. The Gaura-Parshada-Chiritvali says that in the Krishna pastimes she was Purnamasi, the mother of Sandipani Muni, grandmother of Madhumangal and Nandimukhi, and a disciple of Narada Muni. The Gaura-Ganodesha Dipika however says that Purnamasi in the Krishna pastimes went on to become Sri Govinda Acharya in the Chaitanya pastimes.
When Sri Chaitanya grew up, he went to Gaya and became initiated by Iswara Puri. Afterwards he returned to
Mayapur and started His sankirtana pastimes. Sri Advaita Acharya and Sita Thakurani were the first to worship Sri Chaitanya at the beginning of His real purpose in this world.
Young girl in traditional Rajasthani attire
After Sri Chaitanya took sanyasa and went to Jagannatha Puri to live, Sri Advaita Acharya and Sita Thakurani would go and visit Him, bringing their own son, Achyutananda. On one such occasion Sita Thakurani made many of the Lord'sfavourite preparations and invited Him to their place to take lunch. Simply to increase their ecstasy, the Lord honoured their invitation. Always being absorbed in motherly affection, she treated Him like her own son and He returned the sentiment. Sri Sita Thakurani bore three sons, Achyutananda, Krishna Mishra and Gopala Mishra. Thus, she was an inspiration for spreading the mission of the Sankirtana Movement.
Sri Jahnava Mata was born of Sri Suryadasa, along with her sister Sri Vasudha. The Gaura-Ganodesha-dipika explains that they are both expansions of Varuni (Sri Vasudha) and Revati (Jahnava Mata), and that they are both incarnations of Ananga-manjari. In time the daughters became of marriageable age and Suryadasa gave it much thought. One night he had a dream in which he gave both of his daughters to Sri Nityananda. Suryadasa then told a Brahmana friend about this and it was arranged to deliver the message to Sri Nityananda Himself. Upon hearing of it. He agreed, after which the ecstasy of Suryadasa knew no bounds.
On the order of Sachimata, Nityananda went to the house of Advaita Acharya in Shantipura. When his wife Sita Thakurani saw Vasudha and Sri Jahnava, she floated in waves of ecstasy. Sri Nityananda wandered from place to place performing many sankirtana pastimes (congregational singing of the Lord'sholy names). In due course, Sri Vasudhadevi gave birth to a daughter named Ganga and a son named Virachandra.
Arrangements were made for the wedding at Borogacchi Gram, and many devotees from all around attended (the full details of which are recorded in the Bhakti-Ratnakara). Thus, Suryadasa was most fortunate to have given both of his daughters to Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Lord Nityananda stayed in Shaligrama Pura for a while but then went to Nabadvipa to show his mother Sachideva His two wives. Sachimata was delighted to see them.
On the order of Sachimata, Nityananda went to the house of Advaita Acharya in Shantipura. When his wife Sita Thakurani saw Vasudha and Sri Jahnava, she floated in waves of ecstasy. Sri Nityananda wandered from place to place performing many sankirtana pastimes (congregational singing of the Lord'sholy names). In due course, Sri Vasudhadevi gave birth to a daughter named Ganga and a son named Virachandra. However, Sri Jahnavadevi had no children.
As time passed, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Shrivasa Pandita, and many other members of Lord Chaitanya'spersonal entourage left this world to return to the spiritual domain. Sri Jahnava Mata still wanted to inundate the world with a flood of sankirtana nectar. In Kheturi Gram at that time was a great festival to be held on the celebration day of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu'sadvent. Many devotees attended, like Narottama, Shyamananda and Shrinivas. The festival had been arranged by King Santosh Dutta. Sri Jahnava herself attended the festival and cooked the food for offering to the Gaura-Nitai deities there. After the festival for one night, they went on to Nabadvipa. However, Sri Jahnava did not get to see Sachimata, Lord Chaitanya'smother, and felt very unhappy. She went on to the home of Sripati and Srinidhi, but again was heartbroken because of not seeing Srivasa Pandit and Malinidevi there. After spending the night they went on to Shantipura and again discovered that
Women in their colourful best
Sri Jahnava Mata continued to travel with her associates and devotees, always gathering to perform sankirtana, the congregational chanting and singing of the Lord'sholy names.
Sri Advaita Acharya and his wife Sita Thakurani had also both passed away. Though greeted by their sons, Achyutananda and Gopala, Sri Jahnava was filled with grief.
Sri Jahnava Mata continued to travel with her associates and devotees, always gathering to perform sankirtana, the congregational chanting and singing of the Lord'sholy names. In this way, many devotees were able to drown themselves in the nectar of kirtana, and even many atheists and sinners were greatly purified. On one special occasion at Kheturi Gram, even Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, who had already left this world, made their divine appearance again in the midst of the kirtana.
Sri Jahnava Mata was a wonderful cook and would prepare such dishes as rice, vegetable preps, and other foods to be offered to the deities at such festivals. Thereafter, she would distribute the prasada (offered food) herself with her own hand to the great souls who were gathered there.
When Sri Jahnava went to visit Vrindavana, she was greeted by many great devotees, and her ecstasy was unlimited. The Gosvamis offered their pranams and she also offered her obeisances in return. She was very happy seeing the efforts of the Gosvamis in renovating the holy land. She toured the holy places of Vrindavana and saw the different deities. After visiting the many pilgrimage places, she returned to Gaudadesha, Bengal. While there she also visited the town of Sri Nityananda'sbirth, Ekachakra, and was filled with ecstasy to see where He partook of childhood pastimes. She continued her travels, returning to Nabadvipa and seeing the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu where she fainted in ecstasy. She then went to the nearby courtyard of Srivasa, where she spent the night and the devotees engaged in a great sankirtana, for this is where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began His Sankirtana Movement. That night she had a dream of Lord Chaitanya in which He performed different pastimes.
In this way, Jahnava Mata continued in her pastimes of travelling to visit various devotees and engaging in sankirtana festivals, cooking food to be offered to the deities, and even witnessing the appearance of Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda in the midst of some of those ecstatic kirtans. She continued to deliver the love of bhakti (devotion) to numerous people, even atheists and materialists by her mercy. Thus, being considered the divine shakti of Lord Nityananda Himself, she continued the mission of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda by her activities, which centered around sankirtana and cooking and distributing prasada to everyone.