Markandeya. Mrikandu was a great rishi. Marudvati was his wife. For a long time they had no children.
Mrikandu was a great rishi. Marudvati was his wife. For a long time they had no children.
The rishi at once said, “God, give me that one intelligent son.” God Siva said, “Good! You shall have him.”
Soon that rishi got a son. He named him Markandeya. The boy grew to be very intelligent and handsome. The rishi invested him with sacred thread. Markandeya learnt the Vedas and Sastras easily.
As the boy was getting on to be 16, rishi Mrikandu became sadder and sadder. One day Markandeya asked his father: “Father, why do you look so sad?”
The rishi said, “Son! What shall I say? When God Siva gave you to me, he said you would live only 16 years. You are now about to reach that age. How can I and your mother bear to lose you as we will at the end of this year?”
Markandeya said, “Father! Is that the reason? God Siva is very kind to his devotees. You yourself told me that. He has saved many from death before. I shall worship God Siva day and night from today. I am sure he will save me.”
Rishi Mrikandu was very happy to hear his son say this. He blessed his son.
Markandeya built a Siva-Linga at a spot on the sea-shore. He started worshipping God Siva morning, noon and night. On the last day, Markandeya was about to sing bhajans, when Yama, the God of Death, came to him. Yama rode on a buffalo. He spoke to Markandeya, "Stop your bhajan! Your life in this world is over. Be ready to die.”
Markandeya was not afraid. He clung to the Siva-Linga as one clings to one’s mother.
Yama pulled him along with the Siva-Linga.
Then the Siva-Linga burst open and God Siva came out of it. God kicked Yama in the chest, and said, "Yama, don’t touch this boy. He is my beloved devotee. He will live forever.”
Yama went away. Markandeya then prayed to Yama even fervently.
He went home and fell at the feet of his parents. They embraced him and wept with joy.