Markandeya (Sanskrit: मार्कण्डेय) is an ancient rishi (sage) from the Hindu tradition, born in the clan of Bhrigu Rishi. He is celebrated as a devotee of both Shiva and Vishnu and is mentioned in a number of stories from the Puranas. The Markandeya Purana especially, comprises a dialogue between Markandeya and a sage called Jaimini, and a number of chapters in the Bhagavata Purana are dedicated to his conversations and prayers.He is also mentioned in the Mahabharata.Markandeya is venerated within all mainstream Hindu traditions.
Today, Markandeya Tirtha, where the sage Markandeya wrote the Markandeya Purana is situated on a trekking route to the Yamunotri Shrine in the Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand.
Rescued by Kalantaka-Shiva
|Lord Shiva protect Markandeya|
One legend relates the story of how Shiva protected Markandeya from the clutches of death, personified as Yama.
Mrikandu rishi and his wife Marudmati worshipped Shiva and sought from him the boon of begetting a son. As a result he was given the choice of either a gifted son, but with a short life on earth or a child of low intelligence but with a long life. Mrikandu rishi chose the former, and was blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of 12.
Markandeya grew up to be a great devotee of Shiva and on the day of his destined death he continued his worship of Shiva in his aniconic form of Shivalingam. The messengers of Yama, the god of death were unable to take away his life because of his great devotion and continual worship of Shiva. Yama then came in person to take away Markandeya's life, and sprung his noose around the young sage's neck. By accident or fate the noose mistakenly landed around the Shivalingam, and out of it, Shiva emerged in all his fury attacking Yama for his act of aggression. After defeating Yama in battle to the point of death, Shiva then revived him, under the condition that the devout youth would live forever. For this act, Shiva was thereafter known also as Kalantaka ("Ender of Death"). This was said to have happened in Thirukkadavoor in Tamilnadu.
Thus Maha Mrityunjaya Stotra is also attributed to Markandeya,and this legend of Shiva conquering death is inscribed in metal and worshipped at Thirukkadavoor in Tamilnadu, India.A similar account is also given in Narasimha Purana, although in that version Markandeya is rescued by Vishnu after he recites the Mrityunjaya Stotra.
Another story which deals with Markandeya's long life gives an account of how he lived past the death of the previous world and watched it end.
A tale from the Bhagavata Purana states that when the earth was about to be engulfed by water, Markandeya prayed to Vishnu to rescue him. Vishnu appeared in the form of a child floating on a leaf, and declared to the sage that he was Time and Death. He requested the sage to enter into his mouth and save himself from the surging water. Inside the boy's stomach Markandeya discovered all the worlds, the seven regions and the seven oceans. The mountains and the kingdoms were all there. So were all living beings. Markandeya did not know what to make of all this. He started to pray to Vishnu. No sooner had he started, than he came out of the boy's mouth. Vishnu now appeared before him and blessed him. The sage spent a thousand years with Vishnu. He composed the Bala mukundashtakam at this moment
source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markandeya