Listen to this Audio Article
‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers its respectful obeisances and heartfelt gratitude to Sri Gopinatha jiu, whose blessings and mercy enabled us to relish the exceedingly deep and sweet reciprocations between the Lord and His dear devotees. We shall humbly try to recite to the best of our ability, the sweet pastimes of Khirachora Gopinatha Jiu, as was narrated by the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Himself, while He had visited Remuna.
On His way to Sri Jagannatha Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu along with His associates had halted at Remuna, a place which is presently located within the Balasore District of Orissa. Mahaprabhu along with all His associates offered His prostrated obeisances to Sri Gopinatha jiu, who possesses a very enchanting form. While Lord Caitanya was offering His obeisances to the deity, the helmet of flowers that adorned the crown of Sri Gopinatha fell onto Sri Caitanya. Receiving the blessings of Sri Gopinatha, Lord Caitanya began singing and dancing in ecstasy. The local devotees at the temple became amazed seeing the intense love, the beautiful form, and the transcendental qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Caitanya rested for the day at the temple because he longed to taste the sweet ‘Khira’ (a preparation of sweet rice) prasadam prepared over here, as He had heard a lot of glories of it from His spiritual master, Sri Isvara Puri. This ‘Khira’ offered over here, tastes as good as nectar, and hence it is also called Amrta-keli. Resting for the night, Lord Caitanya began narrating the story of how Lord Gopinatha jiu had become so famous and how He had come to be known as Khirachora Gopinatha.
Gopala delivers Milk to Madhavendra :
Lord Caitanya began greatly glorifying Sri Madhavendra Puri, the spiritual master of Sri Isvara Puri. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered Lord Caitanya’s visit to the birthplace of his spiritual master (Isvara Puri) in a separate article entitled – ‘Caitanya Doba ,Halisahar – The birthplace of Isvara Puri’. Here at Remuna, Lord Caitanya revealed how His spiritual grandfather, Sri Madhavendra, was almost always intoxicated in an intense love for the Supreme. He was mostly devoid of his external consciousness and had no awareness of where he was or what time of the day it was. Sometimes standing up and sometimes falling onto the ground, all the ecstatic symptoms manifested in his body.
Once while in Vrindavana, Sri Madhavendra had seated himself under a tree to take some rest after he had circumambulated Sri Govardhan jiu (a total distance of around 22 Kms). While he was sitting, a small cowherd boy came over there and offered him a pot of milk. The boy was curious as to why Madhavendra did not beg for food, and hence asked what meditation he was into. It is a general practice in India, that sannyasis, who have completely dedicated their lives unto serving the Lord, usually beg to maintain their subsistence, as they do not go out to work anymore. It is the duty of the householders to give them charity and help them survive. The boy seemed to know that Madhavendra Puri was an exalted personality completely dedicated to service of the Lord and yet he did not go out to beg. As a result, he was fasting since he didn’t have any food. Sri Madhavendra was pleased with the beauty and the sweet words of the small boy, who claimed to be a resident of that village. The boy also informed him that no one in his village fasted and if someone was fasting, then he would himself come and takes care of his diet. The boy said that he was in a hurry as he had to go milk the cows, but he would return on his way back to fetch the milk pot from Sr Madhavendra Puri.
After drinking the milk, Sri Madhavendra washed the pot and kept it aside for the cowherd boy, waiting for him to return. But the boy was nowhere to be seen. After waiting for a while, Sri Madhavendra fell asleep. The little cowherd boy then appeared in his dream in which He revealed Himself to be none other than Sri Vrajendra Nandana Krishna, who had appeared to personally shower His mercy upon him. In the dream, the boy held Madhavendra’s hand and took him towards a certain bush in the jungle, informing him that He was buried at that site for hundreds of years. The Lord also informed Madhavendra of His great distress as He suffered a lot from the severe heat, cold, wind and rains staying there. He revealed that He was Gopala, the lifter of the Govardhan hill and that He had originally been installed by King Vajranabha, the great grandson of Lord Krishna. In the course of time, when the Mughals attacked Vrindavana, the priest had hid Him in the bushes and fled. Sri Gopala had been waiting there for Sri Madhavendra ever since, in order to rescue Him from His situation (bahudina tomara patha kari nirikshana,kabe ashi madhava ama karibe sevana).
The deity of Gopala is rescued :
This is the kind of reciprocation that the Lord enjoys with His intimate associates. He keeps aside some very special services for them to do. Gopala, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was not dependent on anyone to rescue Him from the jungle and He could have done it Himself. But actually, in order to glorify Sri Madhavendra Puri, He arranged His discovery in this fashion. This is a display of the deep love that the Lord possesses for His servants. Gopala informed Sri Madhavendra that He had been purchased by his love for Him. Gopala also expressed His desire to be established in a nice temple at the top of the Govardhana Hill. He also wanted His body to be now thoroughly cleansed by pouring of a large quantity of cold water. Saying this the little boy in the dream disappeared.
Sri Madhavendra Puri woke up from his dream and began considering it. He lamented that when he had first seen the little cowherd boy, he could not recognize Him as his beloved Krishna. The next morning, he went to the village and narrated the whole story to everyone. He assembled the village people who then began digging up the concerned bush. When the Gopala deity was unearthed from inside, the people were filled with wonder and delight.
Thereafter the enchanting deity of Gopala was carried atop the Govardhan hill. He was then seated upon a beautiful throne and thoroughly cleansed with water. Hundreds of buckets of water were fetched from the Govinda Kunda. Thereafter a huge festival was observed when Sri Gopala was being installed. Innumerable food items were offered unto Him. People were sumptuously fed. The grandeur of the event was being compared to that of the annakuta festival in Dvapara. Eventually, two brahmanas arrived from Bengal, who were very dear to Madhavendra Puri. Sri Madhavendra entrusted upon them the responsibility of deity service.
Sri Madhavendra is ordered to fetch Sandalwood from Orissa :
Things continued very smoothly for the next two years. Then suddenly Gopala appeared in his dream once more. He revealed that He was still feeling intense heat and His body temperature, in spite of being bathed with so much water, did not go down. So He asked Madhavendra to go to Jagannatha Puri (Malaya Province) and fetch sandalwood, so that its paste can be smeared over His body, to cool Him down. Sri Madhavendra Puri became very happy to receive this order from His beloved Gopala and started off for Orissa.
While narrating this pastime, Lord Caitanya greatly glorified Sri Madhavendra Puri. He explained that although Orissa was thousands of miles away from Vrindavana, yet Sri Puri, did not give a second thought on whether he should undertake this journey. Without considering his personal comforts, without begging for food, Sri Madhavendra traveled for days altogether just to please his beloved Gopala.
On his way, he passed through Bengal. When he reached Santipur, Sri Advaita Acharya, begged to receive initiation from him. Sri Madhavendra complied and after initiating him continued on his journey. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered our visit to Sri Advaita’s residence in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Advaita Acharya’s Sripat ,Santipur’.Reaching Remuna (in Balasore), Sri Madhavendra obtained the mesmerizing darsana of Sri Gopinatha. Seeing His beautiful form, Sri Puri was lost for words. He began to sing and dance in ecstasy.
Gopinatha jiu steals Khira for Madhavendra :
Inquiring from the priest, Sri Puri understood that the food that was offered to Sri Gopinatha were of the highest standard. He also learned of a unique sweet rice preparation (Khira – Amrta Keli), that was offered to Gopinatha jiu every day in the evening in twelve earthen pots. Sri Madhavendra Puri thought to himself, that if someone somehow offered him this nectarian Khira, even a little, he would be able to make a similar preparation and offer it to Gopala, back in Govardhan. But Sri Madhavendra Puri didn’t reveal his desire to anyone. After the bhoga arati was completed, he paid obeisances unto the Lord and left the temple silently. Sri Madhavendra avoided begging. If without his begging, someone would offer him anything to eat, he would accept it; else he would fast. Srila Prabhupada mentions that such characteristics are symptoms of one in the Paramahamsa stage, the highest stage for a sannyasi. Sitting quietly at the city market place, Sri Madhavendra continued chanting his rounds.
An amazing pastime then took place. Gopinatha jiu appeared in the Pujari’s dream and informed him that He had purposely stolen a pot of Khira and hid it behind the curtains, out of everyone else’s sight. Gopinatha jiu added that He wanted the pot to be at once delivered to Sri Madhavendra Puri who was to be found at the marketplace. Thereafter the priest took his bath and on opening the temple door, indeed found the stolen pot of Khira behind the curtains. Fetching it, the priest arrived at the village marketplace. The priest loudly called out for Madhavendra’s name and added that there was no one in the three worlds more fortunate than him as Sri Gopinatha had taken the pains to personally steal for him (khira lana sukhe tumi karaha bhakshane, toma sama bhagyavan nahi tribhuvane).
Madhavendra Puri then identified himself and accepted the pot of Khira from the priest. When he heard how Gopinatha jiu had taken the pain to fulfill his desire, Sri Madhavendra became ecstatic. He honored the heavenly Prasada and then, breaking the pot into small pieces, tied it around his cloth. Each day, Sri Madhavendra would eat a small portion of this earthen pot and become absorbed in ecstasy. This is how the Sri Gopinatha jiu at Remuna came to be known as Khirachora Gopinatha.
Gopala instructs again :
Thereafter Sri Madhavendra Puri left for Jagannatha Puri and after collecting all the required camphor and sandalwood, returned to Remuna once again, on his way back. He offered his humble obeisances to Sri Khirachora Gopinatha and was overwhelmed with ecstatic feelings. Recognizing him, the priest offered him the due respect and also handed over a pot of Khira mahaprasadam. Sri Madhavendra relished it. He rested for the night at the temple. Thereafter, towards the end of the night, Sri Madhavendra had another dream, in which his beloved Gopala appeared and instructed him as follows – He ordered him, to smear the pulp of all the sandalwood and camphor he had fetched, on the body of Sri Gopinatha jiu. Gopala informed that He and Gopinatha were non-different and hence smearing the sandalwood on Gopinatha jiu’s body would serve the same purpose. Sri Madhavendra Puri woke up and was very happy to receive these instructions from Gopala. He made the necessary arrangements for all the sandalwood to be pasted and anointed on the body of Sri Khirachora Gopinatha jiu. All of Gopinatha jiu’s servants were also delighted. Sri Madhavendra Puri resided there at the temple in Remuna until the entire stock of sandalwood had been smeared on Sri Gopinatha jiu’s body.
On a closing note:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu states, that there is no one as fortunate as Sri Madhavendra Puri in the entire three worlds. Sri Krishna had personally appeared to deliver milk to him, had stolen khira to feed him and had instructed him thrice in his dreams. Lord Caitanya also remarks that Sri Madhavendra might have had some difficulty in traveling with such a huge stock of sandalwood and camphor all the way back from Remuna to Vrindavana. Hence, Sri Gopala wanted to relieve his dear devotee of his troubles and therefore wanted him to smear his entire stock upon Gopinatha jiu instead. In this way Madhavendra’s labors also became successful. Sri Caitanya is amazed to note the enthusiasm of Sri Madhavendra, who not possessing even a farthing with him, was unfazed to travel for thousands of kilometers overcoming difficult terrains, just to please his beloved Gopala. Such are the symptoms of pure devotees intoxicated with an intense love for Krishna. Krishnadasa kaviraja Goswami concludes this chapter in Caitanya Charitamrita proclaiming that anyone who hears this beautiful transcendental pastime with faith and devotion would surely find the lotus feet of Sri Krishna and achieve the supreme treasure of love of God.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this transcendental abode of Balasore. We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Khirachora Gopinatha jiu and Sri Madhavendra Puri that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto their lotus feet and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek their blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to See:
The same magnanimous KhiraChora Gopinatha deity continues to accept our humble service at Remuna till this day. Sri Gopinatha jiu is accompanied by two other deities today, who are worshipped in the same altar – Sri Madana Mohana and Sri Govinda Deva. They were installed there later by the great devotee Sri Rasikananda Murari, who was a disciple of Sri Syamananda pandita. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Syamananda Pandita in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Syamananda Pandita’s Bhajana Kutira & Samadhi , Kanupur (Near Balasore)’.The temple precincts also houses the pushpa samadhi of Sri Rasikananda Murari and the footprints of Lord Caitanya. Sri Rasikananda had left his body and disappeared from this world, by merging himself into the deity of Sri Gopinatha. There is also a nice Goshala here in the temple compounds ,maintained by the local devotees. The team from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself supremely fortunate to have taken the blissful darsana of mesmerising Gopinatha jiu, to have tasted the nectarian Khira prasadam and to have seeked blessings from our merciful acharyas.
Sri Madhavendra Puri’s beloved Gopala deity had been later shifted from Govardhana (in Vrindavana) to Nathdwara in Rajasthan, for fear of the attack by Muslims,during the Mughal period. The Gopala deity (Srinatha jiu as He is famously now known) is served today by the disciples of Vallabhacharya.
How to Reach :
Take a train from Kolkata/Howrah and get down at Balasore station. It is a 4-5 hours ride from kolkata. From Balasore station, you can hire a cab to take you to Khirachora Gopinatha temple (also spelt as ‘Kshirachora Gopinatha’). The temple is hardly an hour’s ride from the station.
Accommodation – One can opt to stay at any of the prominent hotels of Balasore. Else one can also avail the guesthouse facilities of the Khirachora Gopinatha temple itself. For booking your rooms in the temple guest house, please contact : (+91) 06782 224 245
The devotees are requested to contact the temple authorities to arrange for their prasadam.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Balasore
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)