Sage Mrukandu through intense penance sought the blessings of Lord Siva for begetting a son. Lord Siva asked him to choose either a gifted son who will have a short life of only sixteen years, or a dunce with a long life. The sage chose a gifted son and begot Markandeya, a brilliant and exemplary son destined to die in his youth. Markandeya grew up with intense devotion to Lord Siva. On the day that was to be his last on earth, he was totally immersed in his worship of the Lord. So the messengers of Yama, unable to take his life returned and reported to their master. So Yama himself came in person and saw Markandeya worshipping Siva. On seeing the terrible form of Yama, Markandeya embraced the Siva linga. Having to carry out his duty Yama threw the noose around Markandeya, which fell around the Siva linga also. Lord Siva, in anger, emerged out of the linga and killed Yama. He then revived Yama and commanded Yama not to touch the devout Markadeya; and told him that he will live forever. Thus by the grace of Lord Siva Markandeya overcame his destiny. The Inner Meaning As long as Markandeya is worshipping Siva he stands apart from Him, and so is in a state of duality. Siva in the linga form can be said to be both of form as well as formless. As form, It represents Saguna Brahman and as formless, the Nirguna Brahman or Atma. By the act of embracing the Linga, he moves on to the state of Unity or Advaitam. The wisdom that he is the imperishable Atma dawns upon him. And so he transcends Death.