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Lord Shiva and Uma glorify Markandeya Rishi.
After witnessing this opulent display of the bewildering potency, Markandeya Rishi took shelter of the Supreme Lord, while saying, “I take shelter of the soles of Your lotus feet, which award fearlessness to all who surrender to them. Even great demigods are bewildered by Your illusory energy, which appears to them in the guise of knowledge.”
At this time, Lord Shiva was travelling through the sky on his bull carrier, accompanied by his consort and other associates. When she spotted Markandeya Rishi, absorbed in trance, the goddess Uma said, “My lord, just see how this learned brahmana is completely motionless, in trance. Because you are the bestower of perfection upon those who perform austerity, please give this sage what is obviously due him.”
Lord Shiva replied, “Surely this brahmana doesn’t want any benediction, not even liberation, for he has attained pure devotional service unto the Supreme Lord. Still, let us talk to him, for association with saintly devotees is life’s greatest gain.”
Thereafter, when Lord Shiva and his wife appeared before him, Markandeya failed to even notice them, because he was so absorbed in meditation that his material mind had stopped functioning. Lord Shiva understood very well that Markandeya was neither aware of himself, nor the external world. So, he utilized his mystic power to enter within the sky of Markandeya’s heart, just as air easily passes through an opening.
Markandeya saw Lord Shiva suddenly appear within his heart. His golden hair was like lightning, he had three eyes and ten arms. His tall body shone like the rising sun and he was dressed in a tiger skin. In his hands, he carried a trident, bow, arrows, sword, shield, prayer beads, damaru drum, skull and an ax. Being astonished, Markandeya came out of trance and wondered, “Who is this? Where has he come from?”
Upon opening his eyes, Markandeya saw Lord Rudra, along with Uma and their followers, and so he offered his obeisances by bowing his head. The rishi then offered them words of welcome, sitting places, water for washing their feet, scented drinking water, flower garlands, lamps and prayers.
Being very satisfied, Lord Shiva smiled and said, “Please ask for some benediction, for among all givers of benedictions, we three- Brahma, Vishnu, and I- are the best. Seeing us never goes in vain because simply by seeing us, a mortal becomes immortal. All of the presiding deities of the planets, along with Lord Brahma- the Supreme Lord, Hari- and I- glorify, worship and assist those saintly brahmanas who are always peaceful, free from material attachment, compassionate to all, purely devoted to us, devoid of hatred, and endowed with equal vision. Such devotees do not even differentiate between themselves and other living entities, and so what to speak of Lord Vishnu, Brahma and myself.”
“By bathing at holy places and by worshiping the demigods in the temples, the conditioned souls become purified only after a considerable time. But, just by seeing you, one is immediately purified. Indeed, even the worst sinners and social outcastes become purified just by hearing about personalities like you. Just imagine, then, how purified they become by speaking with you.”
By drinking with his ears Lord Shiva’s nectarean words, Markandeya Rishi’s exhaustion, caused by wandering about in the water of dissolution, became mitigated.
He then said, “It is very difficult for an embodied soul to understand the pastimes of the universal controllers, for such lords sometimes bow down to and praise the very living beings that they rule. Generally, it is just to induce the embodied souls to accept religious principles that the authorized teachers exhibit ideal behavior, while praising the proper behavior of others. This apparent humility is a show of great mercy.”
“O all-pervading lord, since I have received the benediction of seeing you, what other benediction can I ask for? Simply by seeing you, a person fulfills all his desires and he can achieve anything imaginable. Still, I do ask for one benediction- let me have unfailing devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees, especially you.”
Lord Shiva, after being encouraged by his consort, replied, “O great sage, because you are devoted to Lord Adhoksaja- all of your desires will be fulfilled. Until the very end of creation, you will enjoy pious fame and freedom from old age and death. O brahmana, may you have perfect knowledge of past, present and future, along with realization of the Supreme. Because you have the brilliance of an ideal brahmana, may you achieve the post of spiritual master of the Puranas.”
Lord Shiva then departed, and while going, he continued to describe to his consort how the great sage had experienced a direct exhibition of the Lord’s illusory potency.
Even today, Markandeya Rishi, the best of the descendents of Bhrigu, travels about this world, fully absorbed in loving devotion to the Supreme Lord. This narration conveys the transcendental potency of the Supreme Lord, and anyone who properly narrates or hears it will never again undergo material existence.