The British ruled Indian subcontinent for hundreds of years, and built many churches and cathedrals. But in the 1880s, a Shiva temple in Agar Malwa, Madhya Pradesh, was renovated and almost rebuilt by Lt. Col. Martin as per the wish o her wife — the only Shiva temple ever made by an Englishman in India.
In 1879, when there was British were ruling in India, Lt. Col. Martin of Agar Malwa was leading the British army in the war against Afghanistan.
Col. Martin used to regularly send messages of his well-being to his wife. The war continued for long & Lady Martin stopped getting messages. She was very upset in the vicinity of Malwa far away from Kabul or Afghanistan.
Once riding on her horse, she was to pass by the temple of Baijnath Mahadev. She was quite attracted to the sound of Conch & Mantra. She went inside the Temple and came to know that the Brahmanas were worshipping Lord Shiva. They saw her sad face and asked her problem. She explained everything to them. They told her that Lord Shiva listens to the prayers of devotees and takes them out of difficult situations in no time. With the advice of the Brahmanas she started the “Laghurudri Anushtthan” of the Mantra: “Om Namah Shivaya” for 11 days. She prayed to Lord Shiva that if her husband reaches home safely, then she would get the temple renovated.
On the last of the “Laghurudri” a messenger came and gave a letter to her. Her husband had written: “I was regularly sending messages to you from the battle grounds but suddenly the Pathan Muslims surrounded us from all sides. We were entrapped in a situation where there was no scope of escaping death. Suddenly, I saw a Yogi of India with long hair, carrying a Trident (weapon with three pointers- Trishul). His personality was amazing and he was manoeuvring his weapon with a magnificent style. Seeing this great man, the Pathans started running back. With his grace our bad times turned into moments of victory. This was possible only because of that man of India wearing a lion skin & carrying a three-pointer weapon. That great Yogi told me that I should not worry and that he had come to rescue me because he was very pleased with my wife’s prayers.”
Tears of joy were falling down to the eyes of Lady Martin while reading the letter. Her heart was overwhelmed with joy and reverence. She fell beneath the stone symbol (Lingam) of Lord Shiva and burst in tears.
After a few weeks Col. Martin returned. Lady Martin narrated the whole incident to him. Now both husband & wife became devotees of Lord Shiva. In 1883 they donated Rs. 15,000 for renovating the temple. The information engraved slab for the same is still there in the Baijnath Mahadev Temple of Agar Malwa. This is the only Hindu temple built by the British.
When Lady Martin sailed for England with Col Martin, she said that they would make a Shiva Temple at their home and pray to Him till the end of life. The later life of Martins in England are not know to us!
The local Govt and the Shri Baijnath Mahadev Pravandh Samiti are managing all the pilgrimage activities related to Baijnath Dham, Agar-Malwa, including health-hygiene, daily prasadm, dormitory guests house etc in a commendable way.
The Baijnath Pashu (cattle) Mela of Agar-Mlawa on the month of Chaitra and Kartik months are quite famous. Thousand of pilgrims use to converge here in every Purnima, Mondays of Shravan month and on also in Shiva Ratri. The last Monday of Shravan month is celebrated as the annual function of “Shiv Swari”. Lakhs of devotees come here to participate in this rally of Baba Baijanath Ji in Agar- Malwa.
Courtesy: New Indian Express and hinduexistence.org