Maitreyi lived about the same time as Gargi, another well known philosopher of India. She is listed as one of the two wives of the sage Yajnavalkya, the philosopher who Gargi is reputed to have questioned.
Maitreyi was well versed in the Hindu scriptures and was known as a ‘brahmavadinin’ ie., “women seers who had the vision of Mantras and Vedic truth”. Of the thousand hymns in the Rig Veda, about 10 are credited to this woman
One story of her life says that she did not want to marry Yajnavalkay so much as she wanted to become his disciple and as a spiritual companion practice sadhana.( doing spiritual practice). It I said that she went to his wife, Katyayani and explained that she wanted to become a disciple and live with him. Katyayani gave her permission and she became part of the household
Maitreyi is said to have contributed to Yajnavalkay’s knowledge, personality and spiritual growth. A commonly told story concerns the day that Yajnavalkay decided to abandon his worldly life and take the vows of an ascetic or sanyasi . He called his two wives together to give his worldly possessions to them so he would be free to pursue the fourth stage of life, that of the sanyasi.
There ensued a dialogue between the two of them which was begun when she asked if she could become immortal through wealth.
Yajnavialkay replied that it would be impossible, that at best one could become one of the more well to do on earth. She asked that he teach her the best path. He then discoursed on the Absolute Self, the nature of its existence and the way to attain infinite knowledge and immortality.
This is found in the second and fourth chapters of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
This page was last updated 12/13/14