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Maitreyi – The Philosopher of Vedic Bharat

Niranjan Bhombe

Prachi Athavale

14 December 2022

"As we all know that feminism has been spurring around the world and its impact on our society....."

.....has made many women come forward and be the best of themselves.


In Bharat, we have seen some drastic changes in cultural boundaries for women from time to time. But we have also been misguided about our Hindu religion, Bharat, and its ancient culture.

We as responsible heirs of this great civilization must always try to create awareness and recollect our ancient Hindu culture as a whole which has been Bharat’s biggest heritage and has proven to be much ahead in time than today’s so-called modernized western-influenced ideals.


Maitreyi (The Wise one)

Maitreyi was a Hindu Bharatiya scholar of the later Vedic period of ancient Bharat. Her name itself means the wise one and she was indeed a wise human. She was the daughter of Rishi Mitra and the niece of Gargi Vachakanavi. She was very keen on spirituality and was also the second wife of Sage Yajnyavalkya.

Despite being the wife of sage Yajnyavalkya she is also described as an Advaita philosopher which is explained by herself to Raja Janak as a young beauty who never marries. She is also called Brahmavadini (Female expounder of Vedas).

Maitreyi and Yajnyavalkya are estimated to have lived around the 8th Century BCE. Sage Yajnyavalkya had 2 wives Katyayani who was a housewife and lived a domestic life with the sage while Maitreyi, was a scholarly wife. Katyayani is said to have agreed to their marriage because of the extreme devotion of Maitreyi towards spiritual awakening and knowledge.

While all this seems to be simple and the concept of having 2 wives was very common, the fact that Maitreyi and sage Yajnyavalkya married each other to share knowledge and spiritual growth is beyond our capacity of comprehension. Many of us will be reluctant to believe this and will just rule out any possibility of this being true.

But, this is the reality and the true essence of our culture and our religion. Our ancestors have been way ahead of times in many aspects while we are the ones judging them for being traditional and authentic. While this modern world tries to find ethnicity in other religions we had it within us all the time.

It is also said that Sage Yajnyavalkya grew in his knowledge even more as he constantly helped Maitreyi develop hers. Maitreyi had reached the highest levels too, being with sage Yajnyavalkya.

Such stories are not to be seen as mere mythological facts but are to be applied when trying to find purpose in our own life. Nowadays, many of us face difficulties in associating our daily life and purpose with our partners, it is a need of modern days to find someone who adds to our knowledge and enhances our abilities with what they have and we don’t.

Further to continue the story, Rishi Yajnyavalkya left his routine life and went on to practice spiritual awakening while his wives Maitreyi and Katyayani with their 3 children continued living in their hermitage. While leaving Maitreyi and Sage Yajnyavalkya had a dialogue which then became known to all through the scriptures and Vedas.

Sage asked permission from his wives to divide wealth between the two for the future before leaving to which Maitreyi denied asking him whether the wealth will make her ‘immortal’ and that she wanted to learn about ‘immortality’.


The dialogue read;

Then said Maitreyi: "If now, Sir, this whole earth filled with wealth were mine, would I be immortal thereby?"

"No", said Yajnavalkya. "As the life of the rich, even so, would your life be. Of immortality, however, there is no hope through wealth."

Then said Maitreyi: "What should I do with that through which I may be immortal? What you know, Sir – that, indeed, tell me!"

Yajnavalkya replied to Maitreyi: "Ah! Lo, dear as you are to us, dear is what you say! Come sit down. I will explain it to you. But while I am expounding, do seek to ponder thereon."


— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.2–4[16]


Thus, we should not forget what we want in our life and should keep analyzing ourselves and our growth from time to time and not just live in the wrong direction without adding any value to humanity, culture, religion, country, our own self, and our growth. The fact that all of this is possible only by following a path of spirituality is undeniable. It has been written and explained in various ways to us from time to time by the Hindu Dharma.

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