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Markandeya - Shiva's Most Favourite Devotee

Markandeya – Shiva’s Most Favourite Devotee

Sage Markandeya is a revered sage who has been mentioned in many ancient Indian Vedic literature like Bhagavata Purana and Mahabharata. He was born in the clan of Bhrigu who was the Manasa Putra of Lord Brahma. There are plenty of stories of how Lord Shiva has saved Markandeya from death. The story starts when sage Mrikandu and Marudmati, his wife, worshipped Lord Shiva and wished to be blessed with a son. The couple was given two choices – have a righteous son who would have a very limited life on earth or have a son who is not enlightened but lives a long life. The couple chose the first option and Markandeya was born who was destined to die when he turned 16.

When the day came of Markandeya’s destined death, he was praying to Lord Shiva. He was a loyal and devoted follower of Lord Shiva from his childhood. Yama’s messenger came to take Markandeya’s soul but was unable to do so. Yama then decided to come on his own to take his life and fulfil the boon. He placed a nook around Markandeya’s neck and by accident, it fell on the Shivalingam that Markandeya was praying to. When Yama pulled on the rope, Lord Shiva emerged from fury and attacked Yama for his act. He defeated Yama and it came to the point of Yama’s death. Shiva then gave him his life back under the condition that his devotee would continue to live.

The Markandeya Purana and a few chapters in Bhagavata Purana describe the conversation between Markandeya and Jaimini about his prayers. Markandeya Tirtha is situated on the Yamunotri Shrine in Uttarakhand and it falls in the way of the trekking route. A temple named Markandeya Mahadeva Temple is made on the site of the river Gomati in Varanasi. Sati Purana has spoken regarding a boon given to Markandeya by Goddess Parvati. Markandeya Purana is one of the most prominent texts of the Shakti tradition.

Bhagavata Purana describes the scene of sage visiting the Narayana Rishi to ask for a boon. He prayed to the sage to display his illusory powers. Lord Vishnu came to him in the manifestation of a child floating on a leaf and declared the sage to be Time and Death itself. Sage Markandeya entered the mouth and rescued himself from the gushing water. Markandeya discovered all the worlds inside the stomach of the child including the seven regions, seven oceans etc. The lush green mountains and the widespread kingdoms, all made their presence felt in the stomach itself. The humans were there too. He was very confused and utterly speechless. He started praying frantically to the supreme Lord Vishnu for help. As soon as he started praying, he came out of the mouth and Lord Vishnu appeared to him in his original form. He blessed Markandeya and the sage spent thousands of years with the supreme lord.

Markandeya became the composer of Bala Mukundashtakam and taught Bhishma.

Click here to read about Durvasa – The Sage Who Was Born With Shiva’s Anger.

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