Sri Khirachora Gopinatha Temple , Balasore, Odisha

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The famous temple of Sri Khira Chora Gopinatha, the Krishna Deity who stole condensed milk (Khira), also known as amrta-keli, for His most-beloved devotee - Sri Madhavendra Puri, lies in a small pastoral village named Remuna in the Balasore (Baleshwar) District of Orissa. Remuna is called Gupt Vrindavana because Sri Gopinatha had many pastimes here in the mood of Vrindavana with His intimate devotees.
Very interesting transcendental pastimes related to Their Lordships Sri Khira Chora Gopinatha.
(1) The Deity of Sri Gopinatha was carved by Lord Ramacandra Himself in Treta-yoga in the forest of Citrakuta during His fourteen year exile from Ayodhya.
(2) Srimati Sita-devi worshiped this Gopinatha Deity carved by Her husband Lord Ramacandra until the time she was kidnapped by Ravana.
(3) Lord Brahma then continued the seva-puja for the seven hundred year balance of Treta-yuga.
(4) About 800 years ago, the Lord out of His will left Citrakuta and came to Remuna through Orissan Vaishnava monarch named King Langula Nrsimha Dev.
(5) About 600 years ago, Lord Gopinatha stole Khira (condensed milk) for his dear-most devotee, Sri Madhavendra Puri, and became famous by the name Khirachora Gopinatha meaning "one who stole condensed milk."
(6) The first Chandan Yatra was done here by Sri Madhavendra Puri on the orders of Sri Gopinatha.
(7) Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited this Temple on His way from Katwa to Sri Jagannatha Puri Dhama after His sannyasa. When Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited the Khirachora Gopinatha temple in Remuna, He told the devotees traveling with Him how the Deity had come to receive the name Khirachora Gopinatha.
(8) There are also wonderful pastimes that took place with Khirachora Gopinatha’s another beloved devotee, Sri Rasikananda Dev Prabhu.
One day in the forest of Citrakuta during monsoon time, Lord Ramacandra noticed some cows munching on lush green grass. Relishing a sweet memory, Lord Ramacandra smiled slightly. Curious, Srimati Sita-devi asked what was making the Lord so joyful.
“I am remembering the pastimes I will perform in Dvapara-yuga as Krishna in Vrindavana,” answered Lord Ramacandra.
Srimati Sita-devi begged, “Please, tell me those pastimes so I can enjoy them too?”
Lord Ramacandra said, “I will appear in Vrajabhumi as Yasodanandana Sri Krishna, the beloved cowherd son of Nanda Baba and Yasoda-devi, and you will appear as Radhika, the tender child of Vrsabhanu and Kirtida. Instead of sporting on Citrakuta Hill, I will run behind the cows and play at Govardhana Hill with You and My friends like Subala, Sridama and Madhumangala. As we have this kadamba tree beside our cottage, similarly, in Vraja as Gopinatha I will relish many intimate conjugal delights with you and the asta-sakhis like Lalita and Visakha underneath the Keli Kadamba trees.”
Srimati Sita-devi, Her inquisitiveness fully aroused, softly asked Lord Ramacandra to show Her that gorgeous form. Lord Ramacandra replied, "Just wait a week. With an arrow I'll carve some pictures of those pastimes in a black rock, and you will be able to see them."
But after four days Sita said, "I can't wait any longer. Please show me what You've done."
By this time, Lord Ramacandra collected a large black stone, and using an arrow,
He first inscribed Gopala Krishna standing in a graceful three-fold bending form clutching a flute. Then on Gopala’s left, Lord Ramacandra formed Lalita-sakhi offering tambula with her right hand, and Visakha holding a tray of fruits and a water pitcher. Citra-sakhi (Sucitra) is holding a flower mala and Indulekha waits at Gopala’s feet for carana-seva. On Gopinatha’s right, Lord Ramacandra carved Campakalata with a camara fan; Ranga-devi with a tray of sandalwood paste; Tungavidya-sakhi clutching new cloth; and Sudevi preparing a flower bed. Thus Rama produced the asta-sakhis with their sevas. On either side of Gopala, Sri Rama engraved Krishna’s four dear friends: Subala, Madhumangala, Sanandana and Vidagdha along with three cows each. Three jammu (rose-apple) trees are visible above Gopala’s head along with an engraving showing the destruction of the Mathura wrestlers Canura and Mustika, Kamsa’s demoniac followers. Ananta Sesa is fanned out in the middle above the head of Gopala.
Pleased to see all this, Srimati Sita devi worshiped this Gopala Deity carved by Her husband Ramacandra until the time she was kidnapped by Ravana. Lord Brahma then continued the seva-puja for the seven hundred year balance of Treta-yuga.
When Lord Ramacandra and Sita devi were returning from Lanka after killing the demon Ravana, They stopped here for four days in a beautiful green forest called Ramaniya (today called Remuna). Sita devi wanted to bathe there in the Ganges, so Lord Ramacandra shot seven arrows into the ground and brought forth the Ganges. Today that place is called Saptashara, "seven arrows." A deity of Lord Siva named Gargasvara was later installed there. Because Lord Ramacandra felt pleasure (ramana) at that place, it came to be known as Remuna. (ref: A Glimpse of Lord Khirachora Gopinatha, published in 2004 by the Khirachora Gopinatha Temple in Remuna.)
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has established an ISKCON Centre in Toronto, Canada named after this famous deity in Remuna, Orissa. ISKCON Toronto temple is also known as “New Remuna Dhama”. The presiding deity in the temple is Sri Sri Radha Kshira Chora Gopinatha.
How did Gopinatha come from Citrakuta to Remuna?
In the thirteenth century King Langula Nrsimhadeva from Orissa was traveling to holy places with his queen and many great sages. At Citrakuta they saw the Deity of Gopala. Not knowing that Lord Brahma was coming there daily, the king was astonished that no one was worshiping such a beautiful Deity. That night the Deity appeared to the king in a dream and asked to be taken to a more populated place. The king decided to take Gopala to Jagannatha Puri.
The king selected some qualified brahmanas to worship the Deity and started for Jagannatha Puri. But when they reached Remuna, a beautiful cowherd village, Gopala again appeared to the king in a dream “I want to stay here because this lovely picturesque place, with all its milk laden cows and joyous cowherd men, reminds Me of the pleasure land of Vrindavana (Ramana Reti).” [The word Remuna comes from the word ramana, which means pleasing, charming or love’s delights.] The village people, delighted, gave the Deity large quantities of milk and milk products every day.
King Langula Narasimha Dev then built a magnificent temple for Gopala in Remuna and instituted daily worship. Seeing all the sakhis engraved on the Deity, the queen gave the Deity a new name - Sri Gopinatha, "Lord of the gopis.". (ref: A Glimpse of Lord Khirachora Gopinatha, published in 2004 by the Khirachora Gopinatha Temple in Remuna.)
How Sri Gopinatha became Khira-Chora Gopinatha
Summary from Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya-lila Chapter 4:
In his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives the following summary of the fourth chapter. Passing along the path of Chatrabhoga and coming to Vrddhamantresvara, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu reached the border of Orissa. On His way He enjoyed transcendental bliss by chanting and begging alms in different villages. In this way He reached the celebrated village of Remuna, where there is a Deity of Gopinatha. There He narrated the story of Madhavendra Puri, as He had heard it from His spiritual master, Isvara Puri. The narration is as follows.
One night while in Govardhana, Madhavendra Puri dreamed that the Gopala Deity was within the forest. The next morning he invited his neighborhood friends to accompany him to excavate the Deity from the jungle. He then established the Deity of Sri Gopalaji on top of Govardhana Hill with great pomp. Gopala was worshiped, and the Annakuta festival was observed. This festival was known everywhere, and many people from the neighboring villages came to join. One night the Gopala Deity again appeared to Madhavendra Puri in a dream and asked him to go to Jagannatha Puri to collect some sandalwood pulp and smear it on the body of the Deity. Having received this order, Madhavendra Puri immediately started for Orissa. Traveling through Bengal, he reached Remuna village and there received a pot of condensed milk (ksira) offered to the Deity of Gopinathaji. This pot of condensed milk was stolen by Gopinatha and delivered to Madhavendra Puri. Since then, the Gopinatha Deity has been known as Ksira-cora-gopinatha, the Deity who stole the pot of condensed milk. After reaching Jagannatha Puri, Madhavendra Puri received permission from the King to take out one maund of sandalwood and twenty tolas of camphor. Aided by two men, he brought these things to Remuna. Again he saw in a dream that Gopala at Govardhana Hill desired that very sandalwood to be turned into pulp mixed with camphor and smeared over the body of Gopinathaji. Understanding that that would satisfy the Gopala Deity at Govardhana, Madhavendra Puri executed the order and returned to Jagannatha Puri.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu narrated this story for Lord Nityananda Prabhu and other devotees and praised the pure devotional service of Madhavendra Puri. When He recited some verses composed by Madhavendra Puri, He went into an ecstatic mood. But when He saw that many people were assembled, He checked Himself and ate some sweet rice prasadam. Thus He passed that night, and the next morning He again started for Jagannatha Puri

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