How the boy "Markandeya" defied death?
How the lord of death fled from Lord Shiva?
Look at the external world and see what you derive? The external world can never give you even an iota of joy or satisfaction. It is a mirage like situation. You can only view it but it will never quench your thirst. But man has become ignorant. He simply follows the promptings of the mind. The mind is enslaved by the senses. This is the tragic situation. Hence, almost all people suffer from grief and pain interspersed with a little joy. If the illusory joy is not there, man will become mad. Hence God has created the universe and its inhabitants in such a way that ‘pleasure is the interval between two pains”
This gives him wisdom on the long run. In fact, pain prods him to contemplate on life. Man learns quickly when he is confronted with troubles and travails! If you keep a man in comforts and luxury forever, he will become a rogue of the first order. If the highway is without any undulation and potholes, no motorist will drive safely. Hence the highway engineers have purposely introduced humps, with color bands at frequent intervals so that the drivers will drive at normal speed and apply brakes at the ‘speed breakers’, In a similar manner, god has provisioned miseries in the life of all human beings, be him a monarch or a beggar.
There are certain laws of the universe which will not be bent for anybody’s sake. Even the incarnations of god willingly submit them to these natural laws. That death follows birth is an irrevocable law. Whether one is a prince or pauper, everyone has to meet death at the appropriate time. In Indian Railways, all the carriages are marked with a date with inscription, ‘return by”. By seeing the dates, the workers, disconnect certain carriages and send it for renovation or maintenance! In a similar manner, when Brahma, the creator sends new babies on earth, there is an invisible date marked in the baby for return (date of death). Nobody in this world can prevent such happening or postpone it even for a fraction of a second! The baby may have very rich parents who can afford the latest medical treatment in super specialty hospitals. Yet the baby will not survive beyond the date!
Here, I remember a beautiful story contained in one great epic of India. There was a pious couple living in some town and they are also reasonably wealthy. They were true devotees of Lord Shiva. Unfortunately, they had no children even after many years of marriage. They visited many shrines and prayed for progeny. At last, Lord Shiva appeared to them and asked them, ‘what they seek? The pious couple prostrated before the Lord and sought progeny! The merciful lord then put a condition. “Do you want a son who is virtuous but short-lived? Or do you want a son who is not virtuous but will live long? This condition made the couple to contemplate on the boon. Finally, they longed for the virtuous son. Lord Shiva told them that he will be highly virtuous but live until his sixteenth birthday!
The parents were happy that they got a boon from the lord. At the appropriate time, a son was born to the couple, who named him “Markandeya”. As per the boon of the Lord, the boy was highly virtuous, obedient, devoted to parents and elders, learned all good things and he endeared himself to all including the presiding deity of the temple, “Shiva Linga”. The days flew past. Good days always flee but sad days weigh upon us. He was the cynosure of entire town and most of the time; he was spending his time in the temple, meditating on the Linga form! One day, the parents found that he was approaching his sixteenth birthday and they have become crestfallen at the prospect of losing their only son!
Lord Yama, the god of death is very punctual in his duties. On that day, the boy heard that his life is going to be cut short because of pronouncement by Lord himself. Hence he started to the temple and he was engaged in deep meditation of the Lord. Yama saw that the boy was contemplating on the Lord and he encircled his little hands around the linga form. Yama saw that the time was ripe to snatch the life of Markandeya, the boy! Hence he through the rope around the boy but the rope encircled the Lord’s form. Instantly, Lord Shiva appeared which frightened the lord of death. It was a sacriligeous act on the part of god of death! Yama was shivering from top to toe. The rope snapped in between and Yama fled away fearing the curse of the Lord. The boy was in a swoon. The lord endearingly called “Markandeya! Because of your supreme faith in me, you are saved from death today. Henceforth, you will become immortal. Everyone who had assembled there praised the Lord and chanted “OM NAMASHIVAYA”