Ajata Nagalingaswami temple in Navalgund town of Dharwad district has a unique practice of offering flowers and ‘arti’ and lighting oil lamps before a copy of the Bible. Nagalingaswamy, a yogi who lived in the 19th century, is the presiding deity here.
Temple head Veerendra Swami told The Hindu that the copy of the Bible in Kannada was published by a Committee of the Missionaries of Germans, London, and Wesleyan Missionary Societies, and printed at Mangalore in 1865.
Mr. Swami has an interesting story to relate about the origin of the temple.
Kallappa, from Mushtigeri village of Bagalkot district, was a devotee of the mother goddess. A group of Christian missionaries gave him a copy of the Bible.
Once when Nagalingaswami came to meet Kallappa, he hid the book from the yogi for some reason. However, in the course of their conversation, Nagalingaswami told him about his next birth and asked Kallappa to show him the Bible. The yogi pulled out a hook and drilled a hole in the book. He then dropped a Victorian silver coin into the hole, which came out from the other end. Nagalingaswami told Kallappa that he would take the rebirth when the hole filled on its own over a period of time. The story is part of the biography of the yogi published by the temple. Mr. Swami claimed that the hole had been shrinking over a period of time and the missing words on the perforated part had reappeared. The temple authorities have been recording the radius of this hole regularly.
One can see circular lines around the hole, which the temple authorities drew at different point in time. Anyone can access the Bible with prior permission before the morning puja. Even a ‘panja’ and a ‘sidgi’ brought here by the mystic have been preserved here.