[Advaita-l] About Yajnavalkya of BAU

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jul 19 08:39:57 CDT 2004

On Fri, 16 Jul 2004, Yann Le Boucher wrote:

> Namaste
> Does anybody can give me more details about Yajnavalkya, the central
> character of the second kandam of the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad.
> Is there any other reliable sources from where i can learn other biographic
> details on that great Rishi?

There is no full-scale biography as far as I know but we can glean some
details from the Vedas and Puranas.

> For example :
> - Who was his own guru?

Vaishampayana the shishya of Veda Vyasa.  But after quarrelling with his
teacher he received a seperate Vedic revalation from Vivasvat (the Sun)

Yajnavalkya may have defeated Uddalaka Aruni but he himself is considered
Yajnavalkyas guru according to the Vamshabrahmana.  Evidently Y. had a
history of not getting along with his teachers!

> - When and how does he himself reached Moksha?

By performing the agnihotra and other duties of a householder (grhastha)
which purified his soul until he understood the true meaning of the Vedas.
Thereupon he asked his wives for permission to leave them and took
sannyasa by which he got moksha.

This illustrates some other facts about Y.  Altough the stereotype is that
Rshis were all ascetics who lived in the jungle, Yajnavalkya was a rich
householder who lived in the capital of Mithila or Videha (which
is the northern part of the modern Indian state of Bihar.)  It was
evidently a powerful kingdom as its ruler Janaka is called a samrat
(emperor who hasdefeated all other kings.)  Yajnavalkya had another wife
apart from Maitreyi called Katyayani.

> - Apart from Janaka and Maitreyi, did he had others known disciples?

Yes, the entire lineage of the shuklayajurveda descends from him.  This is
described in the vamshabrahmana.

> - Is the Uddalaka Aruni defeated in the Brihad Aranyaka Up by Yajnavalkya
> the same person than the Uddalaka Aruni of the Chandogya Up ?

By tradition, yes.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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