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Rare Seated Krishna Temple – Tota Gopinath Temple – Story – History

The Tota Gopinath Temple, located in the Yameshwara Tota area of Sri Jagannath Puri Dham, stands out among Krishna temples due to its rare depiction of Krishna in a seated posture. Most temples feature Bhagavan Sri Krishna standing, making this temple exceptionally unique. The murti, or idol, worshipped here was discovered by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a revered figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. The temple holds significant historical and spiritual importance, deeply connected to the devotion of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu towards Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

Discovery and Significance

After 5000 years of Kali-yuga had passed, Lord Krishna, along with Srimati Radharani, incarnated as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to propagate the chanting of Krishna's holy names as the sole path to salvation in this age. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established Jagannath Puri as his primary center for spreading Vaishnavism.

While in Jagannath Puri, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, immersed in his love for Krishna, mistook the sand dunes of Chataka Parvata for Govardhana Hill and the nearby sea for the Yamuna River. In a state of ecstatic devotion, he began digging in the sand and unearthed the deity of Lord Krishna, whom he named Gopinath. Since the deity was found in a garden (tota), it was named Tota Gopinath. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu entrusted the worship of this deity to his dearest disciple, Sri Gadadhara Pandit, an incarnation of Srimati Radharani. Gadadhara Pandit served Gopinath with immense love and devotion.

Daily Worship and the Transformation of the Deity

Every day, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Gadadhara Pandit's house for darshan of Tota Gopinath, and Gadadhara Pandit would read the Srimad-Bhagavatam to him. When Nityananda Prabhu, a close associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, visited Puri, Gadadhara Pandit warmly welcomed him and served delicious offerings to both Nityananda Prabhu and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Originally, the deity of Gopinath in the Tota Gopinath Temple was in a standing pose, depicted in a tribhangi form, with his body bent in three places. The deity's beauty was so captivating that it drew devotees like a powerful magnet.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Disappearance and the Deity's Transformation

After 48 years of manifesting his divine pastimes on earth, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu concluded his avatar. During a kirtana at the Tota Gopinath Temple, he entered the altar in a state of divine ecstasy and disappeared into the deity. The spot where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu merged with the deity is marked by a golden line near the knee of Lord Tota Gopinath.

Following Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's disappearance, Gadadhara Pandit was overcome with grief and became physically weakened. Struggling to decorate and garland the tall deity, Gadadhara Pandit received a divine vision where Lord Gopinath assured him that he would become shorter to facilitate his service. The next morning, Gadadhara Pandit found that Gopinath had indeed seated himself in a padmasana posture, making it easier for him to continue his worship.

Devotion and Divine Grace

This transformation of the deity illustrates the profound bond between the Lord and his devotees. It highlights how Krishna, pleased by his devotees' unwavering devotion and service, continuously finds ways to reciprocate their love. Since that day, the seated Lord Tota Gopinath has been worshipped by devotees, who come from far and wide to seek his darshan.

The Tota Gopinath Temple remains a testament to the divine relationship between Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Gadadhara Pandit, and Lord Krishna, underscoring the Lord's willingness to serve and accommodate his devotees' needs.

Within the Tota Gopinath Temple, three altars stand adorned. Positioned at the central altar is Sri Tota Gopinath, flanked by the divine presences of Srimati Radharani and Lalita. Radharani, depicted with a vina, and Lalita Sakhi, with a flute, both share a rare three-bent form, a sight scarcely witnessed elsewhere. Their ebony complexion reflects their absorption in the essence of Lord Krishna.

To the left, Sri Balarama graces the altar, serenading with his flute, accompanied by Revati and Varuni.

On the right side of the temple, the altar hosts Gaura Gadadhara and the revered Radha Madana Mohana, consecrated by Sri Mamu Thakura. Adorning the temple's walls are exquisite paintings illustrating the divine exploits of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu.