Book 12: Chapter 8
Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 12: Chapter 8: Verses 1-14
Saunaka said : 0 Suta, 0 good one, may you live long ! (Pray,) tell us one thing, 0 jewel among speakers ! You (alone) are able to show the way out to men wandering in endless darkness (in the shape of mundane existence). People speak of Markandeya (the son of Mrkanda) as a seer blessed with a long life, who remained alive even at the time of Pralaya (marking the close of a day of Brahma), by which (the whole of) this (visible) universe was swallowed up. The said Markandeya (the foremost of the scions of Bhrgu), however, was born in this (very) Kalpa and in our own race and (so far as we know) no wholesale destruction of created beings has taken place (during the present Kalpa) even to this day. It is (further) said that while drifting all alone in the single sheet of water (with which the entire world was flooded), he beheld the Supreme Person lying as a matter of fact in the form of an uncommon babe on a leaf of a banyan tree, formed in the shape of a cup. 0 Suta, this is a matter for great doubt to us, due to which there is (great) curiosity (in our mind). (Pray,) resolve the aforesaid doubt, 0 great Yogi, esteemed as you are even for your knowledge of the Puranas.  Suta replied: This inquiry made by you, 0 great sage, is (surely) intended to dispel a (great) misapprehension lurking in the mind of the people. (Moreover) in replying to this will have to be told the story of Sri Narayana, which (when sung) washes off the impurities of the Kali age. Having gone through at the hands of his father in due course the sacred rite of investiture with the sacred thread (which constitutes the second birth of a boy of the twice-born classes) and studied the Vedas in the righteous way (according to the scriptural ordinance), Markandeya was equipped (in course of time) with asceticism and knowledge of the Veda. Observing the vow of lifelong celibacy, and free from passions, he wore matted locks (on his head) and the sacred thread and a girdle of Munja grass (about his person) and used the bark for his clothing. He carried (in his hands) a staff, a handful of (the sacred) Kusa grass, a Kamandalu (a vessel made from the shell of a wild cocoanut) and the skin of a black buck and a rosary of Rudraksa beads (on his person). For the enhancement of his virtue he worshipped Sri Hari both morning and evening through the medium of the sacred fire, the sun, the preceptor and (other) Brahmanas, as well as by identifying himself with Him. Bringing food by way of alms morning and evening for the sake of his preceptor, he silently partook of it (only) when allowed by his teacher and at times remained without food if not (so) permitted (due to the sudden appearance of an unexpected guest). Remaining devoted to austerities and study of the Vedas as aforesaid and worshipping Sri Hari (the Ruler of the senses of all) for a crore of years, he conquered death, which is most difficult to conquer. Brahma (the creator), Lord Siva (the Source of the universe), Bhrgu, Daksa and all the other sons of Brahma, (nay,) men, gods, manes and other created beings were much astonished at that (extraordinary achievement of Markandeya). Observing thus the vow of lifelong celibacy and equipped with asceticism, study of the Vedas and self-control, the Yogi (Markandeya) contemplated ,on Lord Sri Hari (who is above sense-perception) with a mind that had turned inward due to (all) hindrances (in the shape of ignorance, egotism, likes and dislikes and fear of death) standing in its way having been completely destroyed. (Even) as the said Yogi was (busy) concentrating his mind through the great Yoga (of meditation on the Lord), a very long period, covering six Manvantaras, elapsed.
- [ 565 ] B.M.P. (Part II)-24