How the Deity Came to Remuṇā
Text by His Holiness Bhakti Vikāśa Swami
Śrī Kaiśorānandadeva Gosvāmī, a disciple of Rasikānanda wrote a book in Oriya, the language of Orissa, telling how the Gopīnātha Deity came to Remuṇā.
The book relates that in Tretā-yuga, more than a million years ago, the Supreme Lord Rāmacandra and His wife, Sītā Devī, lived for some time at Citrakūṭa, in north central India. Once during the rainy season a strong storm forced Rāma and Sītā to take shelter in the āśrama of some sages. On seeing the many cows in the āśrama and hearing their mooing, Lord Rāmacandra told Sītā, “Seeing all these cows, I’m reminded of My pastimes in Dvāpara-yuga.” Lord Rāma was referring to His later appearance as Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Sītā Devī said, “What do You mean? Please tell me about those pastimes.”
Lord Rāma 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 Sītā said, “I can’t wait any longer. Please show me what You’ve done.”
To please her, Lord Rāmacandra then showed her the carvings. He had completed a Deity of Gopāla Kṛṣṇa (His back still attached to the stone) and, on the stone itself, drawings of Kṛṣṇa’s eight principal gopīs (cowherd girlfriends) and four maid-servants to the gopīs. Also depicted were twelve cows, Lord Balarāma wrestling Muṣṭika, Lord Kṛṣṇa wrestling Cāṇūra, and a few other scenes.
Pleased to see all this, Sītā began worshiping the Gopāla Deity at Citrakūṭa.
After a few days Rāma and Sītā left, so Lord Brahmā, the creator of the universe, came and took over the worship of the Deity (a service he was to perform through the rest of Tretā-yuga, through Dvāpara-yuga, and for several centuries of Kali-yuga).
When Lord Rāmacandra returned to India from Laṅkā after killing the demon Rāvaṇa, He stopped for four days at the place now known as Remuṇā. Sītā Devī wanted to bathe there in the Ganges, so Lord Rāma shot seven arrows into the ground and brought forth the Ganges. Today that place is called Saptasara, “seven arrows.” A deity of Lord Śiva named Gargasvara was later installed there. Nearby stands a deity of Durgā Devī known as Rāmacaṇḍī. Because Lord Rāmacandra felt pleasure (ramaṇa) at that place, it came to be known as Remuṇā.
In the thirteenth century King Laṅgula Narasiṁhadeva from Orissa was traveling to holy places with his queen and many great sages. At Citrakūṭa they saw the Deity of Gopāla. Not knowing that Lord Brahmā 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 Gopāla to Jagannātha Purī.
The king selected some qualified brāhmaṇas to worship the Deity and started for Purī. But when they reached Remuṇā, a beautiful cowherd village, Gopāla again appeared to the king in a dream and asked to be installed and worshiped there. The village people, delighted, gave the Deity large quantities of milk and milk products every day. The queen noticed that the Deity was accompanied by carvings of the eight principal gopīs, so she named Him Gopīnātha, “Lord of the gopīs.”