The Narada Purana (abridged)

2010 | 18,115 words

The Narada Purana (Nārada Purāṇa) is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It deals with the places of pilgrimages and features a dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanatkumara. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanatkumara the major places of piligrimages, their location, ...

Mrikandu had a son named Markandeya. Since Markandeya was born form Vishnu, he shone with radiance and was also a very holy man. He became well-versed in the knowledge of all the shastras (sacred texts).

Markandeya started to pray to Vishnu. Vishnu was so pleased withhim that Markandeya was granted the boon that he would compose a Purana. This was the Markandeya Purana.

The entire world is periodically destroyed and flooded with water. At the time of one such destruction, all living beings on eath were killed. But Markandeya was spared by Vishnu. He floated on the water like a dried leaf. This went on for a long, long time. To understand how long this was, one has to have some conception of the measurement of time.

The small unit of time is a nimesha, fifteen nimeshas constitute one kashtha, thirty kashthas make a kala and thirty kalas are one kshana. There are six kshanas in one danda, two dandas in one muhurta and thirty muhurtas in one day. There are thrity days in a month and each month is divided into two pakshas of fifteen days each. Two months constitute a season (ritu) and three ritus constitute an ayana. There are thus six seasons and two ayanas in a year.

The two ayanas are known as uttarayana and dakshinayana. One year for humans is equivalent to one day for the gods. Uttarayana corresponds to day for the gods and dashinayana to night.

Twelve thousand years of the gods are known as a mahayauga. Each mahayuga is divided into four sub-periods of satya yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga.

Two thousand mahayugas are merely one day for Brahma. There are fourteen eras (manvantara) in each of Brahma’s days. Brahma’s nights are just as long and it is during Brahma’s night that the world is destroyed and flooded with water. Each of Brahma’s days is called a kalpa.

A hundred years for Brahma are equivalent to a single day for Vishnu.

This gives you some idea of how long Markandeya floated on the water, throughout one of Brahma’s nights. The sight of the water everywhere frightened Markandeya out of his wits. But he continued to pray to Vishnu. And thanks to Vishnu’s blessing, no harm came Markandeya’s way.

Vishnu even appeared before the sage and said, “I shall save you. I always protect those who pray to me devoutly. Let me also tell you the signs of my true devotees. They love all other living beigns and are free of jealousy and hatred. They never cause pain to others through their thoughts, words or deeds. They are peace-loving. My devotees serve sages, guests, and parents well. They build temples and dig wells and ponds. They read and interpret the Puranas. In fact, you display all the traits of a true devotee of Vishnu’s.”

Blessed by Vishnu, Markandeya performed a lot of tapasya in the tirtha known as shalagrama.

Some other Puranas state that Markandeya became immortal due to a boon received from Vishnu. The Padma Purana however states that this boon was received from Brahma. The Markandeya Purana gives many more details about Markandeya.

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