The following is an excerpt from The Nectar of Devotion by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda, The summary study of Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī
Prahlāda Mahārāja said that no one can attain the perfectional stage of devotional service without bowing down before exalted devotees. Learned sages like Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi attained perfection in devotional service simply by executing such regulative principles of service.
The following is an excerpt from A Taste of Transcendence by Śrīla Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Mahārāja (http://www.gokul.us/)
Presently, we are in this black age of Kali-yuga. The span of time for this Kali-yuga is 432,000 years. Double of this (864,000 years) is the duration of the Dvāpara-yuga. Triple of the Kali-yuga (1,296,000 years) is the duration of the Tretā-yuga and quadruple it (1,728,000 years) is the length of the Satya-yuga, the “Golden Age.” If you add the total time of these four yugas together, the sum is 4,320,000 years. If the span of time covered by these four ages is multiplied by seventy-one (306,720,000), then that is the span of life of one Manu. The fourteen Manus are sons of Brahmā, and are called “Manu” because they were created by the mind of Brahmā. The total number of years in which the lives of fourteen Manus have passed, (14 X 306,720,000 = 4,294,080,000 years) equals one day of Brahmä. Such seven days (30,058,560,000 years) would be the lifespan of Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi. How did he get such a boon?
Mṛkaṇḍa had learned from an astrologer that his son, Mārkaṇḍeya, would die at the age of ten. So, he was in a very melancholy state. He could find no peace of mind. “Here is my only son,” he thought, “and that son will die at the age of ten?” He went to his son and instructed him, “Whenever any elder person comes to see you, you should bow down to him. You should make prostrated obeisances to him.” As per the instruction of his father, whenever an elder person of respectable stature came to their house, Mārkaṇḍeya made prostrated obeisances to him.
By chance, the Saptāṛṣis (the seven ṛṣis), also the sons of Brahmä, set their holy footprints in the house of the descendants of Bṛghu, and the boy, Mārkaṇḍeya, fell flat at their feet.
The ṛṣis blessed him. “May he live eternally!” they exclaimed.
The boy’s father was astonished. He approached the ṛṣis and said, “But my son is destined to die at the age of ten. Now you have given him a boon, but will this boon be effective?”
“Oh, is that true?” the ṛṣis asked. They were perturbed because they wanted to award the child some sort of boon. They took the boy to Satya-loka, the planet of Brahmā. They told their father, “We went to this boy’s house only to set our holy footprints there and this boy, out of affection, fell flat at our feet. He is unfortunately destined to live ten years only.”
“No!” cried Brahmā. “His span of life is seven days—of mine!” Thus, Brahmā gave him this boon.
We should never ignore our superiors. We are learning this lesson from the son of Mṛkaṇḍa, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi. If we bow down to parents, elders, Vaiṣṇavas and sādhus, then by their grace, we shall be able to get things we cannot imagine. Mārkaṇḍeya is one such example.
The following is an excerpt delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, Surabhī-kuñja, Godruma, India on March 15, 2000
Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi had a benediction that he could live for seven cycles of creation, maintenance, and destruction. When destruction came, he was suffering while going under the waves and sinking in the waters of devastation. He was sorry that he had ever accepted that benediction. He received the mercy of Surabhī, however, who rescued him and manifested to him the spiritual glories of Navadvīpa-dhāma. This place is Nandagāon of Vṛndāvana.
The following is an excerpt from Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Pocket Guide (A compilation of the teachings of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja)
Surabhī-kuñja [Established by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura]
Previously a massive banyan tree stood on a high part of the Bhagavatī Bhāgīrathī’s bank, where the Surabhī cow and the king of the demigods, Indra, worshipped Śrī Gaura. During Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, Indra wanted to destroy Gokula because the residents of Vraja had stopped worshipping him. For seven days he sent torrents of rain upon Vraja, but Kṛṣṇa protected Gokula by lifting Śrī Govardhana. The pride of Indra was crushed and fear arose within him because of his offence. When he learnt from Grandfather Brahmā that Śrī Gauracandra would appear in the future, he took Mother Surabhī with him and performed austerities under a banyan tree at this lonely place in Navadvīpa, hoping to evoke His mercy.
A long time passed. Finally Śrī Gauracandra appeared before him saying, “I understand your heart. After some time I will appear in Śrī Navadvīpa and distribute the chanting of My holy name along with pure love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa to the general people. At that time you will assist Me in My pastimes.” When the Lord disappeared, Mother Surabhī made a hut under this banyan tree and became absorbed in the worship of Śrī Gauracandra here.
Since then, this place has become known as Godruma. Go means “cow” (Surabhī) and druma means “tree”.
Once during the time of cosmic devastation, Mṛkaṇḍa Ṛṣi’s son, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi, rested at this place. He had attained the age of seven kalpas (a kalpa is a day of Brahmā). During the annihilation at the end of the seventh kalpa, the Earth was submerged in water, leaving not one place visible. Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi floated in the water and finally, by immense good fortune, he came to this place in Navadvīpa.
Seeing the exhausted sage unconscious from the effect of the dashing waves, merciful Mother Surabhī lifted him from the water of devastation and brought him to her hut. When he regained consciousness, he was amazed to see that Navadvīpa-dhāma was not underwater. The sight of the beautiful forests and sub-forests filled with trees, plants, birds and animals of the thirty-two-mile large dhāma greatly pleased him. Mother Surabhī gave him her nectarean milk to drink, which fully rejuvenated him. She then instructed him to remain in Godruma and worship Śrī Gauracandra.
“This dhāma is transcendental and beyond material nature,” she said. “It cannot be seen with material eyes. Eight of the islands of Navadvīpa are like the petals of a lotus, and Śrīdhāma Māyāpura is like the pericarp of that lotus. Here, in a concealed form, all the holy places and demigods worship Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu. By worshipping Him one will attain service to Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja with the sentiment of amorous love (madhura-bhāva). Although all perfections, the eight kinds of opulence and all kinds of liberation stand at the gate of this sacred place praying for service, the devotees of Śrī Gaura reject them from afar. By worshipping Śrī Gauracandra one becomes forever free from sins and miseries, as well as from all kinds of fructified and unfructified fruitive activities, from desires for sense enjoyment, and from ignorance.” Mārkaṇḍeya therefore remained here to perform bhajana.
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Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books
by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda (Vedabase.com)