RASIKĀNANDA, A GREAT DEVOTEE OF LORD GOPĪNĀTHA
Text by Bhakti Vikāśa Swami
Not long after the time of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, a king who was a Deity hater was going around smashing Deities in temples. When the people of Remuṇā heard he was coming, they hid Gopīnātha in a pond three miles away. The king was upset that he could not find Gopīnātha, so he struck and partially broke Rāmacaṇḍī, the Durgā deity.
Meanwhile, a great devotee named Rasikānanda received an order in a dream to excavate the pond where Gopīnātha had been hidden. He recovered the Gopīnātha Deity, built a temple for Him, and took charge of His worship.
Rasikānanda was the foremost disciple of Śyāmānanda, who had helped transport from Vṛndāvana to Bengal the writings of the Gosvāmīs, leaders in Lord Caitanya’s movement. Śyāmānanda had spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness extensively in Orissa, where Rasikānanda had become his disciple.
When Rasikānanda decided it was time to leave the world, he went into the Gopīnātha temple and disappeared. He had been performing saṅkīrtana in the temple courtyard with seven of his associates, and now his associates were so overwhelmed by spiritual separation that they too gave up their bodies and entered the spiritual world.
The samādhis (tombs) of Rasikānanda and these associates stand outside the temple. Each spring the people of Remuṇā hold a twelve-day festival to commemorate the passing of Rasikānanda.