As the final moment approached Yama's servants came near Markandeya with their ropes, but they could not go anywherenear Markendeya. They went back and then the goddess of death came herself in person to take the boy's soul. Shecould not touch Markendeya. Finally Yama had to come in person for doing the job. He stood before him seatedon his vahana, buffalo.
Yama was very angry as his servants and the goddess of Death had failed against a boy's power. He had the ropesin his hand. He could see the person who had heaped great shame on his people. Angry Yama thundered, " You youngfellow, get up. You cannot escape me. Great kings, Emperors and even sages surrendered before me meekly. My ropes could tie them easilyand I could take them to my abode. I am not frightened of your tapas, neither am I going to show mercy on you becauseyou are a small boy"
When Markandeya heard the thundering voice of Yama Dharma, he opened his eyes. He was still chanting the mantra,praising Shiva now he held the Shivalinga with both hands in an embrace. Yama Dharma cast his pasha on Markandeya.The rope covered Markandeya and the Shivalinga together. Immediately the Shivalinga broke into two and LordShankara himself came out of it. His eyes spit fire. He was very angry. As soon as his look fell on Yama, he swoonedand rolled on the ground. A little while later Yamadharma recovered and stood up. He stood before Shiva withfolded hands. He made oblations to the Lord and said, 'Bhagawan I beg you to pardon me. I just did my duty"Shiva had cooled down by then and he said,"Yama Deva, it is all right for you to do your duty. While doing your dutyyou should not be just official in your approach. You must use reason. You should know how to treat differentpeople in different situations in different ways. Further you behaved in a very arrogant way and tried to do your duty. In thisworld every rule has an exception and you should remember it. You have to use your discretion and deal with a situation according in its merir. This boy tapasvi is my devotee. He has conquered death by the power of his tapas.His fame has been established in this world forever,and he is going to become immortal"Yama Dharma had no choiceexcept to leave the place and Markandeya. He made oblations to Lord Shankara and left the place and went backto his capital.
Lord Shankara blessed Markandeya and said," Dear child, you have shown the world that seemingly impossible taskscan be achieved by devotion and tapas. May you be happy anow go to your parents and make them happy. They would feelproud of your achievements".
Markandeya fell at the feet of Lord shiva, got his blessings and returned to his parents. Mrikandu and Sumithra feltsupremely happy tosee their son come back after conquering death. They shared their happiness with the other sages in and around their ashram.
In course of time Markandeya married a girl by name Dhumorna. After a few years the couple were blessed with ason and they named him Vedashira.
Indra's effort to disturb Markandeya's Tapas
Markandeya was a great tapasvi. When Indira saw him do severe tapas, he got frightened as usual. Whatever a greatsage performed severe tapas or an emperor performed yagas, he got frightened thinking that the person was eyingat his seat. Therefore when sage Markandeya was doing severe tapas, he decided to disturb him. He sent Kamadevaalong with Vasantha and a few apsaras for the purpose. They came to the place where Markandeya was performing tapas.As soon as they enetered the place there appeared spring in all its glory. Nature bloomed. Plants and treesflowered. The entire place was filled with enticing fragrance. Gentle breeze began to blow. Gandharvas beganto sing melodiously. Apsaras began to dance gracefully. It was the oppurtune moment for Manmatha to act, he shotfive arrows at the sage. But all his efforts proved poerless as the efforts of an unfortunate and powerless as theefforts of an unfortunate and powerless person. They could not disturb Markandeya's tapas. In fact, Manmatha got frightened because he felt that he had done something wrong to a great devotee of the Lord and he was in for somedivine punishment. Therefore he ran away as if he had infuriated a snake. Devendra was surprised beyond belief whenhe came to know about the total loss of face of his men and the great power of sage Markandeya.
Darshan of Nara and Narayana:
At the end of Markandeya's tapas Lord Nara-Narayana gave darshan to the sage. When the huge but brilliant figureof the Lord, whom even the gods could not have the fortune to have a gaze at, stood before markandeya. The sagecould not believe his eyes. In great happiness and surprise, he stood up and fell at the Lord's feet and sought hisblessings. His body, mind and spirit got filled with elysian peace and bliss. He got thrilled and tears of joybegan to roll down his cheeks. As a result of it, he could not get a clear vision of the Lord. He lifted both hishands and in grant devotion he could just say,"Namo Namah".
Then he workshipped the Lord with arghya and Padya nd performed shodashopachara Pooja. The Lord accepted theSage's Pooja and He smiled and said,"O great Brahmarshi you have become a siddha as a result your devotion, studyand study and forbearance and we have been extremely pleased with you. Ask for anything you desire for. Our givingyou darshan would never go waste"
Sage Markandeya thought for a while and said,"Bhagawan, all the devas including Brahma craved for your darshanfor which they performed tapas for thousands of years by using ashtanga yoga and with great devotion and becameblessed and attained Brahmajnana. You are omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient and you blessed me with the good fortune of having darshan of you. You are standing before me. Hwo lucky am I? I do not think I can ask youfor a greater boon than this still I have a desire to see your power of maya. The Vaishnavi maya which enthralls even the devasis the thing I would like to see. Please grant me that boon and I do not desire to see or need anything else.Lord Narayana smiled and said,"So be it"...so saying He went to Badari