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There is this popular story that Sage Markandeya was saved from death by Lord Shiva. Does any one know the source of this account? In which Purana is this described?

As far as I know there is no mention of this incident in The Shiva Maha Purana, Linga Purana, Vayu Purana, Agni Purana. I am not sure about Skanda Maha Purana. Neither do I find this in Markandeya Purana.

In The Skanda Maha Purana, Prabhasa Khanda, 209th Chapter, Lord Shiva tells Mother Parvathi that it was Lord Bhrahma who blessed the Sage Markandeya as a boy, to live for long (followed by the blessings of the other sages). Here is the reference:

https://archive.org/details/dli.bengal.10689.13000/page/n5/mode/2up (check the chapter 209)

Added more comments on this for one of my own questions here

As per the Puranas like Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Nrsimha Purana (considered as a upa-purana) it was Lord Sriman Narayana who saved sage Markandeya from the clutches of death.

That said, even in Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Brahma Purana, and Sri Skanda Maha Purana, the accounts involve Lord Shiva, (and in some accounts like the one in Sri Skanda Purana, Lord Brahma as well) with Markandeya finally offering prayers and prostrations to both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. In Bhagavatam the sage obtains boons, and in Brahma Purana, the divine sage builds a temple for Lord Shiva as per the directions of Lord Vishnu.

In The Linga Purana, there is a story very similar to the popular story of The Sage Markandeya, but involving Swetha Muni (being saved by Lord Shiva) from the clutches of death.

In Sri Skanda Maha Purana, there is the story of King Swetha (contrast with Swetha Muni of The Linga Purana) who was saved from death by Lord Shiva burning The Kala (who is portrayed as a different one from Yama).

So in which Purana do we find this account involving sage Markandeya saved by Lord Shiva?

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    Thirukadiyur amirthakdeshwar temple in tamil nadu has this history of lord shiva saving markandeya. Its a good question!!!! Nov 22, 2019 at 4:03
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    Its a Tamil Saivaite story, as far as I know.
    – user16581
    Nov 22, 2019 at 9:10
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    “Which Purana talks about the incident of Lord Shiva saving The Sage Markandeya?” None of them, it’s just folklore. Jan 26, 2020 at 5:38
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    @KeshavSrinivasan possibly. But to say that with certainty one should have scanned through all the Puranas (major as well as upa Puranas). The Puranas have mixed content on the story of The Sage Markandeya as I mentioned in my question. Some Puranas say it was Lord Narayana, and Skanda Purana says it was Lord Brahma, and some sthala Puranas say it was Lord Shiva. And given the numerous contradictions in the Puranas even about the same stories, I would not be too surprised to see this account in some Purana. Just that I didn't come across this incident anywhere. That said -
    – Vidyarthi
    Jan 26, 2020 at 6:33
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    Folklore often travels far, even if it has absolutely no scriptural backing and even if the underlying story never actually took place. And yes, I have read the 18 Mahapurana and 18 Upapuranas. Jan 26, 2020 at 13:20

4 Answers 4

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Lord Shiva saved Maharṣi Mārkaṇḍeya from the clutch of Death is present in Śiva Māhapurana,Umā-Saṃhitā and in Skanda-Māhapurāṇa, Māheśvara-khaṇḍa, Aruṇācalaāhātmya-uttarārdha itself. And the story is also mentioned clearly in Śiva Rahasya Itihāsa.


🍁 In Śiva Māhāpuraṇa :

मार्कण्डेयो मुनिवरश्चिरंजीवी महाप्रभुः । शिवभक्तवरः श्रीमाञ्शिवानुग्रहतो हरे ॥

mārkaṇḍeyo munivaraściraṃjīvī mahāprabhuḥ | śivabhaktavaraḥ śrīmāñśivānugrahato hare ||

~ Śiva Māhāpuraṇa , Umā-Saṃhitā, 2.40

O Kṛṣṇa, it was due to Śiva’s blessings that the excellent sage Mārkaṇḍeya, the holy lord and foremost among Śiva’s devotees, became long-lived.


🍁 In Skanda-Māhapurāṇa :

Nandikeśvara said to sage Mārkaṇḍeya that in previous time Lord Śiva saved Mārkaṇḍeya from Yama Dharmaraja.

Thus Nandikeśvara was entreated by the son of Mṛkaṇḍu with humility and profuse smile on the face. He told Mārkaṇḍeya who was the greatest among the devotees of Śiva and who acquired perfection of the body from Śiva pleased formerly by his devotion.

~ Skanda-Māhapurāṇa, 1.4.3.25

नंदिकेश्वर उवाच । मुने मनःपरीक्षार्थं तथा त्वं भाषितो मया । तव चेन्नाभिधास्यामि कस्य वान्यस्य कथ्यते ॥ त्वादृगन्योस्ति किं लोके शिवधर्मपरायणः । येन स्वल्पायुषाप्येवं नित्येनाभावि भक्तितः ॥ कस्यान्यस्य कृते देवः स्वस्यैवाज्ञाकरं यमम् । क्रुद्धो नियंत्रयामास चरणांगुष्ठपीडितम् ॥

~ Skanda-Māhapurāṇa, 1.4.4.1-3

Nandikeśvara said to Mārkaṇḍeya: O sage(Mārkaṇḍeya), you have been addressed in that manner by me in order to test your mental calibre. If I do not narrate it to you, to whom else is it to be narrated?

Is there any other person like you devoted to the holy cult of Śiva in this world? Though you were originally destined to be short-lived, you have become immortal by means of your devotion.

On behalf of which other persons did the Lord become angry and control Yama who executes his orders by afflicting Yama with the big toe of his foot.


🍁 In Padma Puran (Gitapress):

Here is the complete story of how Markandeya was born to Mrikandu by the grace of Lord Shiva. And Markandeya was born with a lifespan of only 16 years. Then Markandeya worshiped Shiva. At the end of 16 years Yama came to pick up Markandeya then he sang Mrityunjaya Stotra and Lord Shiva came and saved Markandeya from death and gave him long life.

Here is the link of that chapter:

https://archive.org/details/padma-puran-gita-press-gorakhpur

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Here in Padma Puran full Mrityunjaya Stotram is present...

🍁 Shri Mrityunjaya Stotram:

रत्नसानुशरासनं रजताद्रिश्रृंगनिकेतनं शिण्जिनीकृतपन्नगेश्वरमच्युतानलसायकम्। क्षिप्रदग्धपुरत्रयं त्रिदशालयैरभिवन्दितं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम: ।।1।। पंचपादपपुष्पगन्धिपदाम्बुजव्दयशोभितं भाललोचनजातपावकदग्धमन्मथविग्रहम्। भस्मदिग्धकलेवरं भवनाशिनं भवमव्ययं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम: ।।2।। मत्तवारणमुख्यचर्मकृतोत्तरीयमनोहरं पंकजनासनपद्मलोचनपूजिताड़् घ्रिसरोरुहम्। देवसिद्धतरंगिणीकरसिक्तशीतजटाधरं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम: ।।3।। कुण्डलीकृतकुण्डलीश्वरककुण्डलं वृषवाहनं नारदादिमुनीश्वरस्तुतवैभवं भुवनेश्वरम्। अन्धकान्तकमाश्रितामरपादपं शमनान्तकं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम:।।4।। यक्षराजसखं भगक्षिहरं भुजंगविभूषणं शैलराजसुतापरिष्कृतचारुवामकलेवरम्। क्ष्वेडनीलगलं परश्वधधारिणं मृगधारिणं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम:।।5।। भेषजं भवरोगिणामखिलापदामपहारिणं दक्षयज्ञविनाशिनं त्रिगुणात्मकं त्रिविलोचनम्। भुक्तिमुक्तिफलप्रदं निखिलाघसंघनिबर्हणं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम:।।6।। भक्तवत्सलमर्चतां निधिमक्षयं हरिदम्बरं सर्वभूतपतिं परात्परमप्रमेयमनूपमम्। भूमिवारिनभोहुताशनसोमपालितस्वाकृतिं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम:।।7।। विश्वसृष्टिविधायिनं पुनरेव पालनतत्परं संहरन्तमथ प्रपंचमशेषलोकनिवासिनम्। क्रीडयन्तमहर्निशं गणनाथयूथसमावृतं चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यम:।।8।। रुद्रं पशुपतिं स्थाणुं नीलकण्ठमुमापतिम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।9।। कालकण्ठं कलामूर्तिं कालाग्निं कालनाशनम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।10।। नीलकण्ठं विरुपाक्षं निर्मलं निरुपद्रवम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।11।। वामदेवं महादेवं लोकनाथं जगद्गुरुम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।12।। देवदेवं जगन्नाथं देवेशमृषभध्वजम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।13।। अनन्तमव्ययं शान्तमक्षमालाधारं हरम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।14।। आनन्दं परमं नित्यं कैवल्यपदकारणम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।15।। स्वर्गापवर्गदातारं सृष्टिस्थित्यन्तकारिणम्। नमामि शिरसा देवं किं नो मृत्यु: करिष्यति।।16।।

Translation:

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🍁 In Śiva Rahasya Itihāsa :

Dēvāḥ Ūcūḥ:

पुरा मन्नेत्रपद्येन सम्पूज्याप्तं सुदर्शनम् । दैत्येन्द्रद्रावकं साक्षाद्विश्वेशस्य कृपाबलात् ॥ मुकण्डुतनयं कालमृत्योर्योऽमोचयच्छिवः । श्वेतं च तं नृपसुतमरक्षत्कालपाशतः ।

~ Śiva Rahasya Mahētihāsa, 4th chapter, 1st amsha, verse-28,29

"In the past, I offered my lotus-like eyes to the feet of Lord Shiva. At that time, the compassionate Lord Vishweshwara granted me the divine Sudarshan Chakra, which is the destroyer of demons.

Did Lord Shiva not save Markandeya, the son of Mrikandu Rishi, from the clutches of death? Similarly, didn't he protect Shweta, the prince, from the noose of Yama's restraint?


Similarly in Śiva Rahasya Itihāsa, the very famous "Chandrashekhara Ashtakam" is present. When Yama came to take Mārkaṇdeya then Śrī Chandraśēkharā Aṣtakam was sung by Maharṣi Mārkaṇdeya to seek refuge on the Lotus feet of Lord Śiva to save him from the clutch of Death. The first verse goes as -

चन्द्रशेखर चन्द्रशेखर चन्द्रशेखर पाहि माम् । चन्द्रशेखर चन्द्रशेखर चन्द्रशेखर रक्ष माम् ॥ candraśēkharā candraśēkharā candraśēkharā pāhi mām | candraśēkharā candraśēkharā candraśēkharā rakṣa mām ||

~ Oh Chandrashekara (The Lord whose crown is the moon), please protect me. Oh Chandrashekara (The Lord whose crown is the moon), please save me.

And in Chandraśēkhārṣṭakam Mārkaṇḍeya beseeches Śiva Candraśekhara to protect him from Yama who had appeared as the bearer of early death; and Mārkaṇdeya iterates the rhetoric (that he doesn't fear Yama, because his protector is Shiva):

चन्द्रशेखरमाश्रये मम किं करिष्यति वै यमः ॥ candraśēkhāramāśrayē mama kim kariṣyati vai yamaḥ ||

I seek the refuge of that God Chandrasekhara (God Shiva, who has the moon on his head), so what can Yama do to me?

~ Shri Shivarahasya Itihasa, shivAkhyaH chaturthAMshaH, adhyAyaH 14 mArkaNDeyatapaH - kAlanigraha - mArkaNDeyavarapradAnavarNanam . 22-37

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  • thanks for the response and the evidence. It is interesting to note the story in the samkshipta Padma Purana published by Gita Press. I will accept this answer for now. But the issue is, in my copy of full Padma Purana, I don't see this story. That makes me conclude either the source of Gita Press's book is of a different recension, or it is a completely independent work with indirect roots to a version of Padma Purana (that may or may not be extant now). Unless I overlooked something, my version of Sri Padma Purana doesn't have this story.
    – Vidyarthi
    Dec 2, 2023 at 3:09
  • Yeah, I also know that. That's why I attached the link of the specific version of Padma Purana from Gitāpress too. Otherwise I just said that this is from this Puran, this chap, this verse.
    – user31702
    Dec 9, 2023 at 7:11
  • @Vidyarthi Hope you understand... Śiva Śivā 🌼
    – user31702
    Dec 9, 2023 at 7:12
  • @user31702, yes understood, thanks for the answer with the link.
    – Vidyarthi
    Feb 14 at 0:10
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I found some answers though not exactly at the level of detail I was seeking.

Turns out both Shiva Maha Purana and Srimad Bhagavata carry some reference to Lord Shiva offering blessings on The Divine Sage Markandeya for him to live till the end of the kalpa (as per Srimad Bhagavatam) or forever (as per Shiva Maha Purana).

But the story in detail like Lord Shiva emerging out of the Linga to chastise Yama is not found in any thing I have seen so far.

  1. Shiva Maha Purana - Uma Samhita 3.50

MarkandeyO munivarschiranjivi mahAprabhu |
sivabhaktavarah(a) srimAnsivAnugrahatO harE |

  1. Srimad Bhagavatam 12th Skanda 10.36

कामो महर्षे सर्वोऽयं भक्तिमांस्त्वमधोक्षजे ।
आकल्पान्ताद् यश: पुण्यमजरामरता तथा ॥ ३६ ॥
आकल्पान्ताद् => Until the kalpa ends अजरामरता => freed from old age and death

I will add more as I find. If others want to edit this with what they find please do.

Like I stated in my question, Sri Nrsimha Purana contains a detailed story of how the sage Markandeya was saved by the messengers of Lord Sriman Narayana.The Purana also contains a version of Mrtyunjaya Stotra carrying similarity with the popular Mrtyunjaya Stotra on Lord Shiva (each slokha ends with "kim no mrtyu karishyati" )

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'“Which Purana talks about the incident of Lord Shiva saving The Sage Markandeya?” None of them, it’s just folklore.'

writes a HSE poster.

This is false - since sthalapuranas are also puranas.

It is the sthlapuranam of an illustrious temple -Tirukkadaiyur Abirami temple - and many devotees recite the Abirami Andadi prayer dedicated to goddess Abirami. Because of the Markandeya story, couples come here to celebrate the husband's sixtieth birthday - believing that they would get long life also.

http://gcmouli.com/blog/tag/thirukadaiyur/

When the Devas and Asuras churned the ocean and got the nectar, they forgot to worship Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha was upset about this, and stole the pot (ghata) of nectar and hid it here in Thirukadaiyur. He created a Shiva Lingam to worship his parents and did abhishekam with the nectar. It is because of this (and the Markandeyar story) that, folks believe that if they come here, they are blessed with long years of life.

Before Markandeyar was born, his father Sage Mrukandu was given a choice – a wise boy who will not cross 16 years, or a mediocre boy who will live longer. His parents chose the first option. On the 16th year, when Lord Yama came for Markandeyar, Markandeyar hugged the Shiva Lingam. Lord Yama unleashed the death leash and it surrounded the Shiva Lingam as well. Lord Shiva became very cross and kicked Lord Yama and gave Markandeyar immortality and Moksha.

I believe this story is in the thevaram - if I get hold of it, I'll post that also.

the legendary Ravi Varma has immortalized the story with one of his portraits.

Ravi Varma's portrait of Siva, Markandeya and Yama from wiki article on "Mahamrityunjaya_Mantra":

enter image description here

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    Thank you for contributing to the discussion @TheLittleNaruto Your argument is understandable if we include sthalapuranas in the category of Puranas. While I am not taking any stand here on this inclusion, I just want to remind that sthalapuranas could also be folklore (though by no means they are proven to be so). Ideally we would like to see sthalapuranas reflected in our main Puranas, but most of the sthalapuranas are not traceable. Many Puranas have stories about various sthalams and thirthas (notable The Vamana, Varaha, Skanda Puranas, besides Vishnu Dharmottaram)- contd in the next msg
    – Vidyarthi
    Feb 29, 2020 at 18:46
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    But this story besides many other sthala puranas are not traceable that way. That gives us two choices. One is treat sthalapuranas as separate set of legends just like main and upa puranas. This would make our Purana literature split in three categories. Maha (main), Upa (ancillary), and Sthala Puranas. Take each of them separately without seeking cross validation. The alternative is take only Maha Puranas as original works and the rest as evolutions over time, or combination of folklore. Since there is no way to be certain, this classification, so far has remained some what subjective.
    – Vidyarthi
    Feb 29, 2020 at 18:49
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    That said, the issue is the conflict. If the sthalapurana says it was Lord Shiva who saved the sage, how come Nrsimha Purana says it was Lord Narayana in the form of Lord Nrsimha who saved Markandeya? Which version is right (assuming the individual does not accept unity of Lord Shiva and Lord Nrsimha. Note that this kind of unity can be argued using Upanisads like Nrsimha Tapani Upanisad, where Lord Nrsimha is extolled as Umapathi, and Pinaka Pani). So this is still a valid question as to why some sthalapuranas differ from the stories in the main and upa puranas.
    – Vidyarthi
    Feb 29, 2020 at 18:55
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    To continue, there are two sthalams in Tamil Nadu that claim to be Gajendra Moksha sthalam, Matsyavatara sthalam etc. So that gives some room to argue sthalapuranas might have been influenced by folklore. That said, I don't completely agree with @Keshav-Srinivasan because that way of seeing (this as a folklore) will make pretty much many things folklore. For example, Sri Andaal is worshiped as Bhu Devi. Unless it is found in any of the major puranas that will also be folklore, and many many other accounts. So IMHO we need to search more, and read between the lines before ruling out something
    – Vidyarthi
    Feb 29, 2020 at 19:00
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    The reason I don't subscribe to the folklore theory here is because of the following reason. Lord Shiva is portrayed as Mrtyunjaya in many of our scriptures, including texts like Rudra Yamala. Even though Nrsimha Purana says it was Lord Nrsimha who saved the sage Markandeya, Lord Vishnu / Lord Narayana is not widely worshiped with the title Mrtyunjaya. So for this pattern with this consistency & congruence to come into existence purely as folklore is bit hard, but possible. That said, note that Nrsimha Tapani Upanisad mentions the famous mantra on Lord Nrsimha with "mrtyumrtyum namamyaham"
    – Vidyarthi
    Feb 29, 2020 at 19:15
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Shiva Purana.:

O Kṛṣṇa, it was due to Śiva’s blessings that the excellent sage Mārkaṇḍeya, the holy lord and foremost among Śiva’s devotees, became immortal. (S.P. 5:2:40).

For a brahmin boy whose life came to an end and who sought refuge in him, the lord Śiva came there hurriedly and kicked Yama with his foot. (S.P. 7.1:30:48).

I hope this helps. Prd..

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