Markandeya Story – Lord Vishnu Tales
Markandeya was a Brahmachari. He was always busy in meditating Lord Vishnu’s (Nar Narayan’s) name. He left for the forest to do penance. Lord Indra was afraid that Markandeya may become more powerful than him due to his devotion. He was afraid that Markandeya may take his position. So he sent Kamdeva and apsaras to disturb Markandeya. But their attempts were useless. After many years Narayan appeared before him and asked for his wish, “Lord, please show me your Maya.” Markandeya said.
“As you wish son. Soon you’ll see it“, said Narayan( Lord Vishnu).
Markandeya went back to live in the ashram on the Himalayas by the Pushpabhadra river. After some time, the colour of the sky changed. Soon strong winds blew and heavy torrents of rain fell. Everywhere there was water. Slowly the water-level rose and the hills and mountains started to get submerged in it. Markandeya had to leave the ashram and he climbed up, the water- level also rose but never reached above his feet. Soon the whole Earth was immersed in water and not a single living being was in sight. But fortunately Markandeya was safe. Then Markandeya saw a banyan tree. He decided to climb the tree to sit on its highest branch and to wait till the water-level receded. As he climbed up the tree, he saw a baby on a branch. The face of the baby was glowing with celestial light. Markandeya bent down to pick the baby in his arms but the baby breathed hard. Markandeya was sucked into the baby’s mouth. Markandeya felt himself falling through a dark tunnel. Suddenly, he was on the ground. He saw a strange sight and was surprised. Everything was fine around him. The world was completely dry and there was no sign of water anywhere. The people were living their lives normally. The whole world was intact.
Suddenly a strong wind blew and Markandeya was blown away like a twig. When he landed, he found himself on the same banyan tree as before and around him the water was still there. He saw the same sight as before. Now he was not only surprised but also very confused. He saw Lord Shiva and Parvati riding the Nandi in the sky. He called them and bowed to them respectfully. He told them what all had happened. After hearing Markandeya’s words, Lord Shiva said, “Markandeya, you had wished Nar Narayan to show you his Maya. So this is it. The baby, who sucked you in, was Lord Vishnu himself. Nar Narayan is merely forms of Lord Vishnu himself.”
“Oh! Is that so? Please tell me about the Lord’s different forms,” Markandeya requested Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva told him, “The Celestial Father, Brahma, is the Creator of the whole universe. Lord Vishnu is the Protector of the whole universe. I am Mahesh, the Destroyer but I only harm the people who commit sins and not those who are holy or righteous. So Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are actually the three forms of the same Lord Parambrahma.”
After this teaching, Lord Shiva and Parvati went on their way. Markandeya went back to his ashram and spent his life meditating Narayan’s name.