Victory over fear
Today we will read a story about a great devotee of Shiva. Here is a picture of the Deity Shiva.
Long ago, there lived a Sage called Mrikandu and His wife. They had no children, so they prayed to Shiva and intensely chanted His Name all the time. Shiva was pleased with their devotion and appeared in front of them. He gave them a boon, saying, "I am pleased with you. You will have a very intelligent son. The only thing is that this son will live for only sixteen years.” Sage Mrikandu and His wife were very happy and thought that they will at least have the son with them for sixteen years.
Soon, Sage Mrikandu and his wife had a son. They named their son Markandeya. The boy grew up to be very intelligent and learnt all the Holy Scriptures. As Markandeya was growing-up and approaching the age of 16, the Sage grew sadder and sadder every day. One day Markandeya asked his father: "Father, why do you look so sad these days?"
The Sage said, "Son, what shall I say? We got you as a blessing from Shiva. He said that you would live only sixteen years. You are now about to reach that age.” He added further, “Your mother and I are afraid of losing you.”
Markandeya said, "Father, is that why you are sad? I cannot bear to see my parents sad. Shiva is very kind to His devotees. I will worship Shiva day and night from today onwards, to please Him. I will request Him to bless me with a long life, to make my dear parents happy.” The Sage was pleased to hear this and blessed His son.
Markandeya built a symbol that represents Shiva (called Shivalinga - shown below) near the seashore. He prayed intensely to Shiva and started worshipping Him day and night with great concentration. He was so immersed in worshipping Shiva that he did not even feel hungry or thirsty.
Almost a year passed in Markandeya’s continuous worship, without food or sleep, and the time came for Markandeya to leave this Earth. Sri Yama, the deity of Death, came to him and said, “Your life in this world is over. Be ready to die."
Markandeya was not afraid and continued repeating Shiva’s Name. He clung to the Shivalinga just like a child clings to the mother, with full faith that Shiva would save him. Immediately, Shiva appeared in front of Markandeya and Sri Yama, and said, “Markandeya is my beloved devotee. He will live for many years!" Sri Yama nodded in approval and disappeared. Joyous, Markandeya paid gratitude at Shiva’s feet.
Thus, Markandeya returned home to his parents. They all paid gratitude to God and lived together in joy, doing daily spiritual practice. This devotee Markandeya went on to become a great Sage and lived for many years.
Moral: The above story shows how God responds by even prolonging our life when we call on Him sincerely and regularly. Thus, like Markandeya, we too, can chant and pray sincerely as we go about our daily routine, to get God’s protection and blessings in everything we do.
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