He was an intellecihal giant from birth. As a young boy he studied and mastered the Vedas. Besides mastering thevarious Shastras he mastered all the great qualities expected of a good human being and in fact, he became aparagon among human beings. He showed a lot respect to teachers and elders. Whatever he met an elderly personhe would male oblaions to him and get his blessings.
One day, as usual he went to the forest to collect darbha and samith for Yajnas. On the way he saw Saptarishis.As soon as they saw Markandeya, they disguised themselves as ordinary brahmins. As soon as he saw them he prostratedbefore them as he knew that they were elders and sought their blessings in the traditional fashion, doing abhivadanaintroducing himself by saying his name, gothra, suthra, sakha and other details.
May you live for long years, they blessed him. No sooner did they utter the blessings than they realised that theboy was not destined by Lord Brahma to live long. They felt worried. They thought, 'The creator had intended theboy to live only for a few years They had made a terrible mistake. They knew that God had granted them the power that whatever they utter should prove to be true. They were not sure whu those words of blessings came out oftheir mouths. How could their words becaome true, when they go against the will of God? But they remembered that Lord Brahmahad blessed them that their words always came true. How could these two opposing things come true? This was thereason for their doubt. They wanted to clarify their doubt and they straight went to Lord Brahma and tols him whathad happened.
Lord Brahma knew what had happened. He smiled and gave them the answer which they sought. He said,"As destined byFate, this boy should die young. But he can overcome fate by severe tapas and in fact, he is going to becomeimmortal. My boon to you will never become untrue and you can rest assured." The Sapatarishis became happy thatthe boy ws given a new lease of life.
Young Markandeya showed great liking for meditation, prayer and thinking about God. All the sages living in SageMrikandu's ashram and the great rishis who visited his ashram at regular intervals liked and admired young Markandeya'sconduct. The holy couple, thought felt happy at their son's progress as a young boy, they were feeling very sadwhen they thought that he was not going to live long, but their son's future was not in their hands.
When young Markandeya saw his parents worrying most of the time, one day he asked his father and mother," My dearparents, you seem to be unhappy, what ails you? Why are you worried all the time? Kindly share your sorrow withme and if I can, I will try to lessen it. It is my duty as a son to make you happy" He pressed them hard to speak out.
Then sage Mrikandu told Markandeya all about the boon he got from Lord Shiva and the cause of his worry. Markandeyareally felt very sorry for his parents. Though he was not in a position to make them happy, he spoke to them words of courage. He said, "Dear parents do not grieve on my account. I am going to conquere death. I know that there is nothingin this world which man is not capable of acheiving by tapas. You bless me and I am going to achieve what peoplethink impossible to achieve." Mrikandu and his wife blessed their son whole heartedly and took leave of him withwith a heavy heart. Markandeya went to a quiet place on the bank of the holy Tungabhadra which takes its birth onthe slopes of the Sahyamountain. He sat under a bhadravata tree and began to perform tapas. That place was blessedwith flowering trees which gave out pleasant fragrance. The plants, trees and creepers made the place a heavenon earth. The trees bent with the weight of juicy fruits. There were also huge bamboo bushes. All round the placethere were hundereds of small huts in which holy men performed tapas.
Markendya chose a very secluded place and fixed a shiva linga on a platform and workshipped it according to the rituals fixed for the same. He began to observe strict vritas regarding food. He began to pray. He kept Lord Sankarain his heart all the time.
A few years passed and Markandeya became aware of the day of his doom as told by his parents. That morningMarkandeya had a holy bath in the river and workshipped Lord Shiva. Then he sat in Swastikasana firmly. He controlledhis senses, and fixed them in the Lord and began to do pranayama with a pure heart. He began to chant Aum. He madehis heart blossom with the chanting of Aum. Then he began to concentrate his thinking and prayer in the orbs of the sun, the moon and the fire god. He set Lord Bhavani Shankara in the center of these three. The he began tochant.
"Thryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhi Pushtivardhunam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanath Mrthyormukshi Yamamrethath"