Brihadaranyaka Upanishad


The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad is believed to be one of the older, “primary” (mukhya) Upanishads. It is contained within the Shatapatha Brahmana, and its status as an independent Upanishad may be considered a secondary extraction of a portion of the Brahmana text. This makes it one of the oldest (if not the oldest) texts of the Upanishad corpus, possibly dating to as early as the 9th century BCE. It is associated with the White Yajurveda. It figures as number 10 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads and was notably commented upon by Adi Shankara.

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The Dialog between Maitreyi and Yajnavalkya exploring the nature of Bhrahman as non-dual, all-inclusive and absolute, is an inspiring episode from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

The sage Yajnavalkya had two wives: Maitreyi and Katyayani. Of these, Maitreyi was conversant with the Knowledge of Brahman, while Katyayani had an essentially feminine outlook.

One day Yajnavalkya, when he wished to embrace another mode of life, said: “Maitreyi, my dear, I am going to renounce this life to become a monk. Let me make a final settlement between you and Katyayani.”

Maitreyi said: “Venerable Sir, if indeed the whole earth full of wealth belonged to me, would I be immortal through that or not?” “No,” replied Yajnavalkya, “your life would be just like that of people who have plenty. Of Immortality, however, there is no hope through wealth.” Then Maitreyi said: “What should I do with that which would not make me immortal? Tell me, venerable Sir, of that alone which you know to be the only means of attaining Immortality.”

Yajnavalkya replied: “My dear, you have been my beloved even before and now you have resolved to know what is after my heart. If you wish, my dear, I shall explain it to you. As I explain it, meditate on what I say.”

Read More: Dialog between Maitreyi and Yajnavalkya from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.