Markandeya, son of sage Mrikandu, was born because of a boon granted by Lord Siva to the sage. But the boy was destined to live a short life, and as destined, attendants of Yama came at the appointed hour to take the child’s life. But because of Markandeya’s devotion towards Lord Siva they were unable to end his life. Yama then decided that he himself would come and bring to an end the boy’s life.
The boy, who had heard from his parents about the fate in store for him, hugged the Siva Linga tightly, making it difficult for Yama to dislodge him. Yama then cast his rope, which encircled the Linga too.
Enraged at being encircled, the Lord emerged from the Linga and killed Yama.
Yama had attempted the impossible, and, therefore, was killed. Can anyone tie up God? When Lord Narayana appeared as Krishna, Yasoda did tie Him up. But that was not because of Yasoda’s might, it because of the power of her bhakti and her love for Him. God can be won over by love and devotion, never through show of power, said S. Janakirama Bhagavatar in a discourse.
Later, the Lord brought Yama back to life.
There are two gods who have important roles to play, and if they did not play their roles, life will come to a standstill.
One of them is Manmatha, God of love. Without Cupid shooting his arrows, there will be no romantic love on this earth, and without conjugal ties, there will be no propagation of the species. With no propagation of the species, there will be none to populate the world.
Role of Manmatha
Thus Manmatha plays a crucial role in keeping the world going. But if everyone who comes to this earth stays on, what is to become of the earth? So we must die, making way for the next generation, and so life goes on. Lord Siva once burnt Manmatha, angry that His penance was disturbed. Later the Lord brought him back to life.
By killing both Manmatha and Yama, the Lord showed that neither can harm His devotees.