This poem is inspired by the story of the great sage Markandeya who defeated death. Many powerful strotas such as the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra, which protect one from death are ascribed to him. He is also mentioned in many sacred epics and Puranas. The Markandeya Purana comprises of a conversation between Markandeya and the sage Jaimini, and is a storehouse of knowledge and ancient wisdom.
Mrikandu lived in a forest with Marudavati, his wife
To worship of Lord Shiva, he had dedicated his life.
In blissful devotion, they were content in the wild
Their only regret was being deprived of a child.
Lord Shiva appeared happy with years of prayers
Aware of the couple’s ardent desire of an heir
He granted them a boon and a reason to rejoice
But before that, they had to make a choice.
“Either a son who would be smart and intelligent
Well-versed and wise with memory like an elephant
But with a short life span of only sixteen years
And then he will leave for heaven leaving you in tears.
Or I will grant you a son long-lived but stupid
Foolishness in him would be firmly rooted.”
With folded hands, Mrikandu humbly replied
Choking with tears as his faith was being tried
“Bless us with an intelligent son with a kind heart
Even if his life is unfortunately cut short
For what use is a long life without a purpose
With no intelligence, such life would be worthless.”
Happily granting the boon, Lord Shiva disappeared
And a son was born for whom the couple cared.
The child Markandeya shined with a luster divine
Blissfully unaware of the destiny’s tragic design.
Mastering the Scriptures and making his parents proud
With in-depth knowledge, he was incredibly endowed.
Approaching sixteenth birthday reminded Shiva’s injunction
And now the parents were filled with sad apprehension.
Noticing their sadness, Markandeya asked for the reason
About his approaching death, he listened with rapt attention.
“Worshipping Lord Shiva , I will ask for an extended life span
To protect his devotee, only he can alter the heavenly plan.”
In sincere prayers to Shiva, now his remaining days passed
And to take his soul, Yama, the Lord of Death arrived at last.
Remembering Shiva and tightly holding the lingam he had made
Seeing the fearful form of Yama, Markandeya was afraid.
Laughing thunderously, Yama threw his noose
But unexpectedly all the hell did break loose.
Entrapping Markandeya, the noose touched the lingam
And enraged Lord Shiva burst out of the lingam.
“How dare you throw the noose on me?” Shiva shouted in anger
Furious at Yama, he refused to listen to any answer.
“This young boy has come to me in all sincerity for protection
And he shall have it. You can’t touch him.” said Shiva with affection.
Chastisized by Shiva, disappointed Yama left for his abode
A long life and immense wisdom was on Markandeya bestowed.
How far the Almighty Lord goes for devotees’ protection
And He reciprocates the devotion with love and affection.
© 2017 Shaloo Walia All rights reserved