Once when sage Markandeya was performing sandhyavandana on the bank of river Pushtabhadra, suddenly a storm began to blow. It became terrible. It began to make a terrible noise. black clouds covered the sky and it became darkall of a sudden Lightning and thunder followed. It began to pour in torrents. Presently the earth was engulfed in ocean from all sides. The rain did not subside, on the other hand it became more severe. The ocean was in hightide. Mountain sized waves began to roll.
The sage could see thousands of crocodiles come floating. Whirls in the water began to draw everything into thebowels of the ocean. For a minute the sage could not understand what it was all about. It was one huge mass ofwater on all the three worlds were going to get drowned.
It was a frightful and deafening sight. The terrible lightning and thunder added to the terrible fear the sagehad in his mind. One by one all the high places to be gobbled up by the surging water.
Everything in the World, plants, animals, creatures and humans seemed to have lost all hopes of survival. Therewas great confusion everywhere. Even great Markandeya was filled with fear, concern, confusion and those turned himsad. He could not for a moment think what was going to happen to the earth as a whole. He was just watchingdumbly, the things being gobbled up by the surging water. He at once visualized the deluge. (Mahapralaya) Thickclouds continued to pour down and the water in the ocean began to swell. Sage Markandeya got a strange feelingthat the earth with all its living and non-living things, space, heaven, all the planets and the milky way -everything was being gobbled up by the surging water and he alone was the survivor. It was a strange feelingand he could not think or see things properly. He began to behave like a mad blind man, with disheveled hair.He began to run here and there and all over , to all appearance, he seemed to be trying to save his life fromdisaster. He was very hungry and it added to his misery. Now and then he saw huge crocodiles and whales tryingto attack him. On one side he felt the terrible storm lashing at him, on the other side the huge waves were rolling over him. He was being tossed up and down. Sometimes he would be wandering sometimes being tossed upby the huge waves, now and then he would fall on the ground uncouncious. He was very tired. He could not distinguishbetween land and water. In fact, he lost all his power of sensory perception. At times he felt that he was suckedinto the depths of the sea or being lashed at by the huge waves. He was in a state of deep shock. The sea-creatureswould attack each other fiercely and he felt he was caught between them. Sometimes he was sad and at other times he wouldbe fascinated at everything he saw around. Sometimes he would be experiencing situation of sadness at anothertime he would feel happy at the happenings around him. For a few minutes he would feel terribly frightened, aminute later the fear of death would engulf him. Sometimes he would get the feeling that some dreaded diseasewas troubling him. In some way sage Markandeya was ensnared by the tentacles of Lord Mahavishnuis maya. In thisway he spent thousands and lakhs of yeas struggling in the sea of deluge.
As he was moving about in the ocean for long number of years, at a particular moment he felt that he saw a smallbut beautiful banian tree full of attractive flowers anf fuits. It was on a raised ground. What attracted himmost was the figure of a cute little child lying in a leaf which was shaped like a cup, on a branch on the north-eastern side of the tree. Words failed him and he could not describe the exquisite beauty of the child and itsbeautiful body was shining brilliantly like an emarald and the brilliant light emanating from the child's facedrove away darkness all around. Its voice was very melodious. Its chest was wide and attractive. Its nose wasslightly bent as the beak of a parrot. The brow of the child was beautifully shaped. It had black curly hairand the curls were hanging on the face seemed to be flying as a result of the air the child breathed. Its earswere shaped like a conch and from them hung two attractive pomegranate flowers. The child was smiling. Its smilewas white as nectar and its lips were red like a coral. The corner of the child's eyes had the color of a lotusflower. Its pleasing look and smile, its round deep naval, attractive pair of hands and the depression on thestamach when it breathed, all these made the child extemely attractive. The child which was exquisitely beautifulwas holding one of its legs with his hands and was chewing the toe. When sage Markandeya saw the divine childhe was pleasntly surprised.
As soon as his eyes fell on the divine child all his pain, weariness and mental anguish seemed to disappear. He experienced bliss and with wide open eyes he began to gaze at the child. He was thrilled at the sight. This wonder was not an ordinary one. The very sight of the child brought to his mind a lot of ideas, feelings and emotions.He went near the child and was about to ask "Who are you?"
when he was near the child he was sucked by the force of the breathing of the child and straight he went into itsnostril like a small insect. When he entered the child's body, the scenes he saw there were great.
It was beyond belief and description. He saw the sky, planets, thousands and thousands of contellations of stars,mountains, seas and oceans, directions, devas, rakshasas forests, various countries, innumerable number of rivers, towns and cities with all their population, villages with green field and cattle, people of various varnas and ashramasdoing their duties as per dictates of dharma, the five elements and all the things made out of them.
It was a gloryious sight. He felt as if he was in a land created by the Lord where life goes on smoothly with all its activities. In short the entire cosmos was in front of him in all its reality. Mankandeya could see the Himalayanmountain ranges, the river Purshpabhadra, his ashram on its bank and the sages performing tapas in front of innumerable huts. As he was wondering at the great creation, he was thrown out by the force of the child's breathingand fell on the water as before. Yet he could see the same paltform, the banyan tree and the divine child sleeping in a small bowl made of leaves. he felt that the child was looking at him and its eyes were full of love. The child was none other than Ashokshaja who was beyond sensory perception in the form of a little boy, who was kindenough to give darshan to sage markandeya. As soon as he saw the child, whose image he had alrady fixed in his heart, wanted to go near and embrace it. Therefore he began to move forward towards the child. When he was almost at the reach of the child, Yogesgwara and the one who lives in every heart, disappeared as the sage's eyes werefixed on him. Markandeya was broken-hearted. His efforts ended in failure as the efforts of an unlucky man. Assoon as the child disappeared, the banyan tree also disappeared. The huge mass of water and the other scenes of delugealso disappeared. Sage Markandeya felt that he was sitting in front of his ashram in a yogic pose performing tapasas usual.
In this way sage Markandeya was blessed by Lord NaraNarayana, as per the promise he had given the sage. He couldsee the actual form of the Lord's Vashnavi Maya. Sage Markandeya was very happy.