Once upon a time...
There was a sage named Mrikandu and his wife, Marudvati, who longed to have children. Lord Shiva heard their prayers and appeared before them.
Shiva asked the couple to pick between the two:
A righteous son, but with a short life on earth
A child of low intelligence but with a long life
Shiva granted them their wish of a righteous son, named Markandeya. Once he grew up, his parents confided in him about his pre-destined death when he turns 16.
"You've always told me that Lord Shiva is very kind to His devotees. I read in the Puranas that He has saved many from death. I will worship to Shiva day and night and pray to be spared."
Markandeya remained in front of the Shivling and prayed day and light. When the dreaded day came, Lord Yama, the God of Death, arrived with a noose in his hand.
Markandeya clung on to the Shivling so tightly, that when Yama began dragging the boy, the Shivling came along too.
Enraged, Lord Shiva burst out of the Shivling, and saved the boy's life.
"Begone, Yama! This boy will live forever. He is my beloved devotee."
Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra
- Shiva is the God of both creation and destruction.
- This mantra is considered to be the most powerful of the mantras for Shiva.
- It bestows longevity, wards off calamities and prevents untimely death.
- It protects us from our deepest fear: the fear of death