Once upon a time, there lived a sage called Mrikandu with his wife Marudavati. They were childless for a long time. Mrikandu performed intense tapas in order to please Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, in all his splendor Appeared before him. I am pleased by your devotion. Ask from me any boon you desire. Oh Lord. I am childless. Grant me a son. Do you desire to have a virtuous, wise and pious son, who will live up to only sixteen years? or a dull- witted, evil-natured son who will live long? Grant me the Child who is intelligent But short life than one who is not Intelligent enough to make use of him for the right purpose. As you wish Mrikandu. You shall have him. An accomplished sage early in his childhood He was especially Devoted to Shiva. His pleasing ways endeared him to his teachers. The boy was liked by one and all. He was thus spending his days very happily. Delighting everyone by his charming looks and pleasant behavior. Sixteenth year was fast approaching. Mrikandu and his wife started becoming Apprehensive. Fearing that they would soon lose the son whom they loved so much. Father.. Why do you look so sad? Oh,My son According to Lord Shiva’s boon, You are destined to live only for sixteen years How can we withstand this? We are helpless and do not know what to do. Father.. You have taught me the Vedas, the Puranas and the Shashtras. You have taught me that, the Lord, Always listens to the sincere prayers of his devotees. It is Lord Shiva, who has decreed that I should live for sixteen years. I Shall pray to him and ask him to extend my lifespan. He will surely answer to my sincere prayers. The parents blessed him heartily and sent him for penance. Markandeya walked through a dense forest and reached the river banks. There, He made a shivalingam with sand and started performing severe penance. He was soon engrossed in deep meditation Days and nights passed. In Yamaloka, Yama ordered his servants to collect Markandeya’s soul. On reaching Markandeya’s place, they saw Markandeya meditating before the Shivalingam. Markandeya was so deep in meditation That a strange fierce light emerged from him. The light from him was burning so brightly, that the servants of yama could not get close to him. Why can’t we reach him? If we go empty hand, our master will punish us. What should we do now? I guess he’s no ordinary boy. Look over there. That Shivalingam is protecting him from us. Facing failure for the first time, the servants returned to their master. Master, we could not approach him. There was something coming from him. Something very bright, that is protecting the boy. We are very sorry for our failure. Ah! Stupids. Can’t you even take the soul from a small boy? Okay, I will take care of this myself. Saying so, Yama then picked up his noose and sat on his buffalo. And disappeared from his place. In Markandeya’s place, Yama at once realized that the boy was pure and had lived a good life. As Markandeya was a noble child, so Yama made himself visible. Markandeya, Your time on earth is up. I will not go with you. My Lord will protect me. Your time on earth is up. I have come to take you. Markandeya shook his head and hugged the Shivalinga tightly. Realizing that he had no choice, Yama threw his noose around Markandeya’s neck to pull out his soul. Unfortunately Yama’s noose fell around both Markandeya’s neck and the Shivalinga. Oh Lord, save me. To his surprise He felt the linga move with his closed eyes. He opened his eyes with astonishment. Markandeya was thrilled to see the three-eyed Lord before him. How dare you disturb him? My Lord.. His time on Earth is up. I have come. He will live forever How dare you? Every line of Shiva’s face was fierce with anger. Shiva picked up his trident and pierced Yama. Yama caught the weapon straight in his chest. He fell down dead. Immediately Lord Indra and the other Devas appeared before Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva.. We need to have a Lord of the Dead Without death, there would be no balance on earth. Please Lord.. Give Yama his life back. So that the balance of life can be restored. Yes.. Yes.. Alright. Yama shall have his life back if And only if Markandeya is spared. Markandeya will live forever. He will be the one who has conquered death. At once Yama opened his eyes, as the wound in his chest healed. Yama looked at Lord Shiva and said, Oh Lord! Forgive my mistake. Now I can understand the power of true devotion to you. Your mistakes are forgiven. Go to your heavenly abode and continue your duty. Yama and the other devas returned to their heavenly abode. Markandeya, then fell at the feet of the Lord Shiva and said, Lord, I want nothing more. I have seen you. Go back to your parents, Markandeya. Look after them for their life. After that, Roam the Earth and be peaceful doing whatever you wish. You have my blessings.