States of India
The Kshira Chora Gopinath
Location : Remuna, 9-km east of Balasore, Orissa
Presiding Deities : Lord Krishna
Renovated By : Rasikananda
The Kshira Chora Gopinath temple is located in Remuna. It is a small town located 9-km east of Balasore, about halfway between Calcutta and Puri. The name "Remuna" is derived from the word "Ramaniya" which means very beautiful.
It is said that Sri Rama carved 'Gopinath' with His arrow and that Sita worshiped this deity in Chitrakut. King Langula Narasingha Dev, the king of Orissa, brought this Deity to Remuna in the 13th century from Chitrakut. This king also arranged to have dug the two big tanks, 'Brajapokhari' and 'Kutapokhari'.
Gopinath Temple :
Sri Gopinatha is the Deity who stole sweet-rice for 'Madhavendra Puri'. Being worshiped on the altar with Sri Gopinatha are Sri 'Madana Mohana', Sri 'Govinda', 'Radha-Rasabihari', and 'Chaitanya Mahaprabhu' with Lord 'Jagannatha' on one side and numerous 'Shalagram-Shilas' on the other side.
Lord Gopinatha, flanked by Sri Govinda and Sri Madana Mohana, is made of black stone. Sri Gopinatha stands in bas-relief. Govinda and Madana Mohana, who were brought from Vrindavana in about 1938 by a devotee named "Chaitanya Dasa Babaji", are free standing.
One can get delicious 'Kshira' here call 'Amrita-Keli'. The Gopinatha Kshira is a preparation of condensed milk, sugar, and cream, with a sprinkling of raisins. It comes in pots of various sizes, which are personally tasted by Lord Gopinatha Himself. Sri Gopinatha is known as "Kshira Chora Gopinatha" because He stole and hid a pot of 'Kshira' out of love for Madhavendra Puri. 'Chora' means thief.
The Temple's Renovation :
'Rasikananda' renovated the present temple, after the prior temple built by king 'Gajapati' Maharaja 'Langula Deva' was destroyed by Muslim invaders. Rasikananda found the Gopinatha Deity in a pond 4-km from the temple, where Gopinatha was hidden to protect him from being destroyed by the Muslim king. Rasikananda was the foremost disciple of 'Syamananda', who helped transport the important writings of the 'Goswamis' from Vrindavana to Bengal. The 'Samadhi' tomb of Rasikananda 'Prabhu' is near the temple.
In the temple room one will find many pictures of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes, as well as a picture of the 'Pancatattva' over the main altar.
The 'Pujaris' every morning bathe and dress the Deities in full view of the congregated devotees. Each day a few hundred pilgrims come to this temple, and on Sundays up to a thousand people visit. The temple is located about a half a km from the village of Remuna. Western devotees are allowed in the temple.
During "Chandana-Yatra", the Deities are smeared with cooling sandalwood pulp ('Chandana'). The temple priests apply 'Chandana' to the chest of the temples' three Krishna Deities-Madana-Mohana, Govinda and Gopinatha. On 'Aksayatritiya' the Deities' entire bodies are smeared with sandalwood.
The Legend Of The Deity :
Over 500 years ago Madhavendra Puri was going to Puri to get some scented sandalwood to bring to his Sri Gopal Deity in Vrindavana. When he stopped at Remuna and saw Sri Gopinath, his heart was filled with devotion and joy. When he saw the delicious 'Kshira' offered to the Deity he desired to taste some so he could offer the same preparation to "Sri Gopal". Madhavendra Puri would only accept food that was offered to him. Because he was not offered any of the 'Kshira' he left the temple without tasting it.
After finishing the worship to Gopinath the 'Pujari' took rest. In a dream Gopinath told him to get up and take the pot of 'Kshira' that He had hidden under His garments and to give it to Madhavendra Puri. The 'Pujari' got up and found the sweet rice and brought it to Madhavendra Puri. The 'Pujari' told him "For you Sri Gopinath has stolen 'Kshira'. There is no other fortunate man like you." This is how the Deity got the name Kshira Chora Gopinath.
Madhavendra Puri established an Ashram in Remuna and stayed there for some time. The wooden sandals of Madhavendra Puri are worshiped in this Ashram.
When Lord Chaitanya came here, flowers from the body of the Deity fell down on His head. Sri Chaitanya then danced in overwhelming joy.
Other Attractions :
In the area the other places one can visit include the Samadhi of Madhavendra Puri, the Samadhi of 'Rasikananda Prabhu' (inside the Gopinatha temple compound), and a Shiva temple where "Gargamuni" is said to have had his ashram. Near the Gopinatha temple there is a Jagannatha temple and a few other temples.
How to Get There :
Rail : The nearest train junction to Remuna is at Balasore, which is the first major town in Orissa coming from Calcutta. One can get a night train from Calcutta that stops in Balasore in the early morning hours. From there one can get a taxi or bus to Remuna. If one has arrived Remuna in the morning, one can see the Deities and then catch a night train to Puri.
Road : There are regular buses from Balasore to Remuna.
Where to Stay :
Remuna is a very small village, so there are not many places to stay. There is a small guesthouse near the temple that has a few basic rooms with private bath. There is a guesthouse built by a religious lady with fairly nice facilities for those who want to stay overnight in Remuna to see the Deities. There is a good assortment of hotels in the nearby towns of Balasore and Chandipur.