Markandeya had a miraculous birth and would never grow older than sixteen years old. His father was the sage Mrikandu, whose worship pleased Siva. Appearing with a boon, Siiva asked Mrikandu whether he wanted a son who
brilliant but short-lived or dull with a long life. Mrikandu chose the brilliant son. Markandeya surpassed all his expectations in his knowledge of the Vedas and Sastras, but the years passed all too quickly. When Markandeya learned that he would soon die, he began practicing severe austerities (tapas). When Yama’s helpers came for Markandeya, they could not approach him because of the great heat from his tapas. So Yama came and threw his noose, which encircled both Markandeya and his idol of Siiva. Siiva angrily arose from the idol and killed Yama to save Markandeya, his devotee.
Markandeya practiced severe austerities through the first six manvantaras. Then in the seventh manvantara Indra tried everything to stop his devotions but could not. The Puranas state that Markandeya is still alive, sixteen years of age, and a great devotee (bhakta).