it's been a two day feast of sublime vedic mantras. there's one in particular that impresses on me so much that i think to myself, i can never forget this melody. it soars and swirls everywhere in the head while massaging the heart sweetly and tenderly. then yesterday i go through a day of worldly activity. by the time i go to bed i am ready to bring up that beautiful melody of this vedic hymn. o me o my i can't recall a note. seriously. after struggling a little bit, getting frustrated a little bit i take a long sigh and let it go. somehow i have the sense that one way or another i will get it back. by the time i sit down for meditation this morning i have already forgotten about the struggle the night before. i go about my meditation ritual, calmly and happily settle into a sweet and nice state when, just like that, the melody i have been looking for arises spontaneously from within. the voice is powerful. the color is bright. the tone is crystal clear. so there i am, sitting in a comfortable and upright posture, immersed in the resounding vibration that is, as a matter of fact, soundless.
and then i remember something else. a magical story associated with this hymn. yama, the lord of death, riding on his buffalo, goes to collect a soul whose time has come to leave the body. of course this is no ordinary mortal like me. when it's time for me to go, yama sends the lowliest of his servants. so who is this guy that demands yama himself to come? look at this scene. yama can't even go inside and drag his feet the way his servant would be doing with me. yama is standing outside and says loudly, come out, markandeya. inside, this markandeya is one-pointedly doing worship to shiva lingam. what's the story with this maekandeya? he is sixteen years old. his father is a brahmin. his mother has boundless devotion. together they have done phenomenal austerities. so much so that shiva comes and asks him, what do you want. the brahmin says, i have your darshan, my lord, i don't want anything. shiva turns to his wife and asks, what do you want? his wife says, i want a child. shiva says, i can't change your destiny but since i grant you a want, you can choose between a wise child who lives to sixteen and a foolish child who lives to a hundred. the couple discusses among themselves, and says, we want a wise child. so maekandeya is born. when he is five he asks his mother, why are you crying so much since i have memory, have i done anything wrong? his mother says, again and again, no. finally maekandeya says, i will stop eating unless you tell me why are you crying so much? his mother tells him what shiva says. maekandeya says, i am five, i still have eleven years. so in the ensuing years markandeya dedicates himself to the worship of shiva. fast forward. that takes us to the moment when he is supposed to die and yama is standing outside, demanding him to go. markandeya is so immersed in the worship of shiva that he wraps himself, hand and feet, around the shiva lingam. no matter how loud and hard yama calls markandeya's mind is totally immersed in the mantra. finally yama is out of patience. he throws out a noose over markandeya's neck. but since the boy is all around the shiva lingam, the noose is all over the lord as well. at this point shiva manifests himself, with his third eyes wide open. shiva is furious. he says to yama, what are you doing? yama realizes he has done a big disrespect to his boss. what about why he is there the first place? never mind. forget it. even yama has to run for his life.
the mantra markandeya is singing with all his heart is the one that i love so much that it arises spontaneously in my meditation. me, markandeya, the beautiful melody are one.