Actually, the mysterious Dandabhanga pastime of Lord Caitanya was also witnessed by one of the lenkas (confidential spies of the King), who had, in turn, returned back and informed the King about this news. It was informed that an effulgent young sannyasi from Gaudadesha (Bengal) named Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had just arrived to Puri, performing a mysterious pastime. When both the King and Queen heard about this they became over joyous and excited.
They immediately developed a strong desire to visit the site. They visited the site, and there the King, after being strongly prompted from within, installed the glorious Deity of The Supreme Lord, Sri Sri Dandabhanga Gopinath. He had also erected a small temple for His Supreme Lordship to stay.
There are ample amount of evidences that confirm the arrival of King Prathap Rudra Dev along with his wife to this site in order to establish the Deity of Dandabhanga Gopinath. Among them, some of the most prominent ones are as follows:
1. It is a known fact that King Prathap Rudra Dev was present on the planet when Mahaprabhu was performing this pastime.
2. It has been evidently mentioned in the most bonafide record book of the Sri Jagannath Mandir, named Madalapanji, that the King of Puri, Maharaja Prathap Rudra Dev along with his wife Jankadei had visited this site and established the Deity of Lord Dandabhanga Gopinath.
3. In accordance with the revenue records of Puri District, 500 years ago, this place was known as Kamalapura. But now, it is divided into 2 shasanas (sectors), which are named as Viraprathappur and Jankadeipur respectively. These two shasanas were named after the King and Queen of Puri (i.e. King Vira Prathap Rudra Dev and his Queen Jankadei), especially to memorialize their visit to this site, 500 years ago.
The glories of Lord Dandabhanga Gopinath
Sri Radha Madana Mohana, Radha Govinda Dev and Radha Gopinath symbolically represent sambandha (relationship), abidheya (means) and prayojana (need) tattva. We can see that Sri Sri Gopinath Dev, who is the Presiding Deity of prayojana tattva or the great Prema Tattva, awards the supreme mercy of Sriman Mahaprabhu, which is to distribute the extremely rare gift of Krishna-prema. Both Sriman Mahaprabhu in the form of His danda as well as Sri Gopinath Dev are personally present in this place, which is also incidentally the Atma Mandala (soul part) of Sri Jagannath Puri Dham. Since, King Prathap Rudra Dev was among the greatest devotees of the Lord, it was possible for him to immediately foresee this place as being the great Prema Dham of this age. As a result, he purposely installed a Deity of Lord Gopinath and named it as Dandabhanga Gopinath because Lord Gopinath is alone the benedictor of Prema.
The Supreme Lord, Sri Sri Dandabhanga Gopinath, is a very funny and sweetly mischievous character. There are many beautiful stories and sweet pastimes of Lord Gopinath described in some of the old palm leaf manuscripts, which are found at the temple. There is one among them, which describes how Lord Gopinath would daily come and play a game called “Guchi tandu” (a game similar to that of a rural miniature cricket) with His village kid friends. This was during the early 16th century and during those days the village inhabitants used to be very simple hearted.
At that time there was one premi bhakta (loving devotee) who used to be the pujari of the temple and who used to daily bring many different kinds of sumptuous preparations for Gopinath to eat. In this way there was a very strong, loving relationship between the both of them. However, on one fine day, while opening the temple, this pujari unexpectedly found Gopinath to be missing. He became worried and started searching for Him everywhere.
When the pujari found Gopinath playing “Guchi tandu” with His friends, he immediately caught hold of a stick and was ready to beat Him. Seeing this, Gopinath, out of fear, started running towards the alter of the temple.
Finally, in his search, he came across a field where he saw Gopinath playing “Guchi tandu” with His friends. Seeing this, he became angry and immediately caught hold of a stick to beat Him. When Gopinath realized this, out of fear He ran with great speed towards the temple and jumped over the altar, turning into the shape of His Deity. In this way, Lord Gopinath used to display many of His mischievous pastimes.
There is also another interesting pastime, which reveals information about the presence of Lord Ananta Dev. This also took place during the same period. At that time many visitors would regularly come to the temple and make many offerings for Lord Gopinath. Once there was a rich merchant among the visitors who donated a golden flute for the Lord. After the flute was donated, its news spread all over the area and in this way it also reached the ears of a thief. When the thief came to know about this flute, he became greedy and decided to steel it. Thus, one night he made an entry into the temple and successfully stole the flute, but while he was on his way out he saw a huge dreadful black snake with thousands of heads looking at him.
Out of fear he jumped and climbed a huge banyan tree. The snake also followed him and remained below the tree watching at him. The thief could not come down. A whole night passed and during the morning (mangala arati) when the pujari came back to open the temple, he saw this huge snake, watching someone from below. When he looked up he saw the thief hanging over the tree. Then when he looked down again, the snake disappeared. In this way the thief was caught. From this we can clearly deduce that Lord Ananta Dev, even now, remains personally present as the caretaker of this great Dham.
Lord Ananta Dev remained below the tree and kept a constant watch over the robber. In this way, the whole night passed and during the morning when the poojari came back to open the temple he noticed this scene.
There is also the ancient Deity of Tapovan Hanuman, which is situated next to the temple of Lord Gopinath. This Deity was established 400 years ago by Santa Tulasi Das, the great devotee of Lord Ramacandra. In this context “Tapovan” means “the forest of penance” and it specifically refers to the param dham of this age, which is the Dandabhanga Lila Tirtha.
It is said by the seers of the truth that if one remains in this great Dham especially during the time of its manifestation and practices suddha bhajana (practice of devotional service with an offense free mood) then by the causeless mercy of the two Lords [Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda] his/her advancement towards the ultimate goal of life, Krishna-prema, can become many times faster than in any other place throughout the entire universe.
The following is a small part of a conversation that was recorded regarding the topic of Dandabhanga Gopinath
Devotee: Outside the temple of Dandabhanga Gopinath there is a footprint of Lord Caitanya. Can you explain its history?
Sacinandan Das: Well, actually many people say many things. However, we have to go in accordance to the description of sastra. Or if at all at the absence of sastra, we have to take that description which has been told from generation to generation right from the period of the auspicious arrival of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
One group of saints gives this opinion that when Mahaprabhu arrived He displayed an inconceivable ecstatic expression of love of Godhead. Moreover, on the bank of river Bhargavi He was so much immersed in Sri Jagannath Prema (though He is Jagannath Himself under the guise of His chief devotee) that He ultimately caused the part of the soil, below His feet, to melt forming the shape of a footprint. However, the other groups of elderly saints say, “No“.
They say that Mahaprabhu’s footprint was there over a stone upon which He was standing and dancing ecstatically. That stone was rectangular and quite big in size. Hence, here also the Lord, after having been completely immersed in ecstatic Krishna-prema, danced causing the stone below the feet to melt forming the shape of His footprint. Later this footprint was shifted to a safe place next to the temple of Dandabhanga Gopinath. This is how the opinions differ.
However, one cannot deny the fact that Mahaprabhu walked along this way while traveling to Sri Jagannath Puri. Almost all the sastras have accepted this fact. For example, sastras like Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Caitanya Chandrodaya Nataketc. There it explains everything. That is the date when Mahaprabhu arrived there, how He ferried across the river Bhargavi and reached the holy land of Sri Dandabhanga Bhumi, how He ecstatically remained in Haribasara (remaining on fast for a whole day by only remembering the different pastimes of the Supreme Lord Sri Hari) and lastly how He performed ecstatic harinama sankirtana in the company of His associates throughout the day and night. They explain all these things. In this way, although different schools have different thoughts about this footprint, we still can draw a conclusion that this footprint was found only after Lord Caitanya expressed His deep ecstatic emotion, which resulted in the melting of the stone below.
We have seen different instances in the past. For example the one in the temple of Sri Jagannath Puri, where Sriman Mahaprabhu after holding the Garuda Stambh, at the time of taking darsana of Lord Jagannath, caused the stone to melt below Him. Due to his very high expression of spiritual ecstasy, the stone below ultimately resulted in forming the shape of His footprint. That footprint is even now being worshipped inside the premises of the Jagannath temple. All of us have seen it over there. Also another instance we can see in Sri Alarnath Mandir how ecstatically Mahaprabhu in pangs of separation rolled over a stone, slept over it and while paying His dandavat pranam expressed His devotional emotion, to cause the stone below to melt giving a print of His divine body right from head to feet.
Okay, then we have Hanumanji, the Deity of Tapovan Hanuman. Do you know? That is found very close to the Gopinath temple. Actually, Hanumanji had been to this place. I was told by a devotee, that Gopinath over here had shown His form of Lord Ramacandra to Hanumanji.
Sacinandan Das: You don’t know? That which is close to the Gopinath temple, the Hanuman temple.
Devotee: Has Hanuman visited this place?
Sacinandan Das: Yes. Of course. He has. That is why, Tulasi Das, the great devotee of Lord Rama, had installed the Deity of Tapovan Hanuman over here.
Devotee: Tulasi Das, he was present how many years ago?
Sacinandan Das: I can say that he came just little later after the disappearance of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Bhakta Tulasi Das, who was a great devotee of Lord Ramacandra, was also the compiler of the great literature named Sri Rama Carita Manasa.
There is a wonderful story of Tulasi Das, explaining about how he first came to Sri Jagannath Puri and remained there to take the darsana of Lord Jagannath, then about how he became morose by not being able to see the Rama form of Lord Jagannath, later how the Supreme Lord Ramji personally appeared to him in his dream asking him to get darsana of His (Santa Tulasi Das) all worshippable Lord Rama in the form of Sri Jagannath and then finally at the end how he succeeded in seeing the Supreme Lord Sri Jagannath as Lord Sri Ramacandra on the very alter of Sri Mandir at Sri Jagannath Puri. This is all there in that story.